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Canadian Wildfire Smoke Covers Siouxland; Drought Still Plagues Much of Iowa

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The National Weather Service issued an Air Quality Alert for northwest Iowa through this afternoon. The wildfires near Lake Winnipeg, Canada, drifted southward and will move through Sioux Falls and the Sioux City area. There were six out-of-control fires near Lake Winnipeg in Canada as of noon yesterday, with the biggest measuring more than 300 square miles. Those sensitive to smoke or with existing health conditions could experience health effects due to the smoke.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows more than 70% of Iowa is now suffering from some level of drought. That's up a couple of percentages from a week before. Areas of severe drought, ranging from the northernmost Iowa counties down to central Iowa, increased from 26% to 29%. 

 

 South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is barring the state's Department of Education from applying for federal grants in history or civics over concerns about how certain teachings on systemic racism would be tied to the grants. This month, the U.S. Department of Education backed away from proposed grant guidelines that suggested using curricula that teach racism is embedded into the country's institutions. Even with the guideline changes, South Dakota's Republican governor still wants no part in the grants. She says they advocate for critical race theory. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has said the grants would still allow local decision-making.

 

Gender identity references have mainly been stricken from the 2nd draft of Nebraska health education standards. Governor Pete Rickett yesterday criticized the revised proposed health-education standards from the Nebraska Department of Education for including the concept of gender identity, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The new draft makes scant reference to gender identity, though it's not entirely gone. Ricketts has been touring the state calling for scrapping sex-education topics from the standards, saying they were not age-appropriate and developed with input from activists.

 

An Omaha meat processor has recalled more than 295,000 pounds of raw beef products intended to be made into ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Greater Omaha Packing's recall Thursday. The beef products were produced on July 13 and bear establishment number "EST. 960A" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The packages were distributed in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska. 

 

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Iowa will purchase Camp Joy Hollow, a 356-acre property located in Westfield, Iowa, in September. Following its purchase, TNC will introduce conservation management to the property's woodlands and prairie to benefit migratory birds and other wildlife in the area. 

In addition, the property will be opened to the public for hiking, bird watching, and other non-consumptive uses on its miles of hiking trails, which connects with the adjacent Five Ridge Prairie, which is owned and managed by Plymouth County Conservation.

Gril Scouts of Greater Iowa will have a no-cost lease for continued use of the Joy Hollow property.

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