Environmental Almanac: Good things happening at Homer Lake

How do you make a well-loved forest preserve even better?

One way is to develop it. Toward that end, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District recently completed installation of what's called a natural playscape at Homer Lake. The playscape differs from a typical playground in that it uses natural materials — plants, boulders, logs and earth mounds — rather than plastic and metal.

Fisher area residents blame irrigation well for drying up theirs

FISHER — MJ Shields grew up about a mile from where she now lives in the country between Fisher and Dewey.

"That's why I moved out there, because I love to be in the country," Shields said of her home of the past three years.

$5.7 million grant to UI to find ozone-resistant corn

CHAMPAIGN — On an ozone action day, when air quality levels are unhealthy, especially for people with conditions like asthma, even plants feel the stress.

Governments submit application on Mahomet Aquifer to EPA

CHAMPAIGN — Area government agencies on Wednesday officially started the Mahomet Aquifer on the path toward federal protection.

Vote delayed on treated water, sewer lines for coal mine

HOMER — Another meeting has been scheduled to discuss the sale of treated water and sewer services to Sunrise Coal by the village.

Environmental Almanac: Holiday gift ideas for the environmentally inclined

I'm conflicted when it comes to holiday gift buying. On one side, my inner curmudgeon urges me to opt out as far as possible. Isn't this focus on new stuff at odds with people reducing their negative impacts on the planet? Bah, humbug.

On the other side, I enjoy giving and receiving gifts as much as anyone else. Curmudgeon be gone; let's open presents!

UI urged to dump coal holdings

URBANA — Students at the University of Illinois are urging trustees not to invest the UI's money in coal, saying the fossil fuel accelerates climate change and endangers the environment and human health.

The university has no direct investments in coal, a spokesman said Friday, but it's not ready to make any changes to its investment policy.

Danville yard waste collection to stop, will resume in January

DANVILLE — The city's weekly yard waste collection program will stop Dec. 14, but residents will have another opportunity for yard waste pickup during a two-week period in early January.

Oakwood to lose water late Wednesday

OAKWOOD — Water in Oakwood will be shut off for an hour late Wednesday for a water main project.

Water won't be available from 11:30 p.m. Wednesday until 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Residents are asked to boil water for at least 24 hours after the initial shut-off.

I Hotel's roof goes green

CHAMPAIGN — The view out the upper-floor windows at Champaign's I Hotel got a little greener this fall.

About 3,000 square feet of the flat black roof over the adjacent University of Illinois Conference Center is now covered with a colorful mixture of hardy sedum plants, in shades of red, green and yellow.