Living Lands and Water Barge Tour

During Tugfest 2014 in Port Byron, Illinois the Living Lands and Waters barges were berthed offshore and open for tours. Here’s a short tour and quotes from Chad Pregracke’s dad and one of his former board members. Chad wasn’t there Saturday or else I would have interviewed him too.

Tugfest is an annual event held on the Mississippi River in Le Claire, Iowa and Port Byron. Teams play tug-of-war with a giant rope stretched across the river. The festival offers rides, arcade games, live music, food vendors and fireworks.


Latest Study Says Widely Used Pesticide is Killing Bees

A new Harvard University study published this month in the Bulletin of Inscectology says that “sub-lethal exposure of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid or clothianidin” causes Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD is responsible for wiping out millions of pollinators vital to the reproduction of crops and other plants.

Here’s two articles detailing that recent Harvard study: Discover online / Christian Science Monitor

Recently on Iowa Public Radio, Iowa State University entomologist Donald Lewis told host Charity Nebbe that Iowa has lost about 70 percent of its bees due to bad weather and other factors.

Neonicotinoid pesticides are manufactured by Bayer CropScience, Inc. An article published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune says Bayer disputes the findings that their products are harmful to bees.

European Union nations have already banned, for two years beginning December 2013, the use of neonicotinoids on their crops.

Here’s a link to the EU press release regarding the ban.

Be Sure to Watch CNN Heroes, Sunday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

One of the Quad Cities own local heroes, Chad Pregracke, will receive a special honor Sunday night from CNN. His non-profit organization, Living Lands and Waters, has enlisted the help of tens of thousands of volunteers to help clean up the Mississippi and other rivers.  Over the years LLW has expanded its conservation efforts to include teacher workshops, field trip opportunities on the barge that serves as a floating classroom, and many other advocacy activities.

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Have you heard about “The Health Sherpa” site?

11.11.13     Love it or hate it, Americans now have the right to sign up for health insurance that cannot be denied or cancelled. But the government site,, which debuted at the start of October, has been buggy, unreliable and in a state of disrepair for weeks.
So three young code wizards from California decided to harvest the basic facts from the official site and build a helper site.  Their invention is called The Health Sherpa. It is a simple, bare presentation of arguably two of the most important questions health insurance seekers might ask: how much is my policy going to cost and will I qualify for a subsidy to help me pay for it?
I first heard of this site from CBS News.  Other stories about it can be found here and here.
The term “sherpa” refers to the Tibetan guides who lead climbers through the Himalayas with great skill. Happy climbing.

Syngenta Agrees to Compensate Communities for Expense of Removing Atrazine

6/5/12   Link to the lawsuit website.    Link to the AP story.   Link to the AgNet audio story.   
Iowa Public Radio reported this morning that Quad Cities water treatment facilities are included as plaintiffs.  That information has not yet been independently confirmed.