Champaign's yard-waste program begins today with slight change

CHAMPAIGN — Yard-waste pickup begins today in Champaign, and if all goes according to plan, most residents won't notice a difference in the curbside program.

But behind the scenes is a bit different. City officials hope they can provide better service and save nearly $50,000 by doing the pickup themselves.

Vermilion County coal mine proposal up for public input

GEORGETOWN — Those for and against development of a new coal mine in Vermilion County are expected at a public meeting Tuesday night in Georgetown, where both sides will make comments that state officials will consider in deciding whether to grant Sunrise Coal a mining permit.

Vermilion County has a long history of coal mining, but has not had an active mine in several years.

Environmental Almanac: Urbana oaks living links to Big Grove

When people think about the landscape of central Illinois prior to European settlement, they tend to think prairie, vast expanses of flat land covered in tall grass and tall flowers. And for the most part, that image is pretty accurate.

Director of UI Prairie Research Institute stepping down

CHAMPAIGN — The founding director of the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute is stepping down after six years and plans to retire next year.

William Shilts has been head of the research institute since it was created in 2008 to house state scientific surveys when they were transferred to the UI from the state's Department of Natural Resources.

Environmental Almanac: Local action on global warming

Work on an addition to our chicken coop prevented me from attending the People's Climate March in New York last weekend, and my invitation to the U.N. Climate Summit that followed must have gotten hung up in the mail.

So this week's column provides a look at local action on global warming.

Environmental Almanac: An ecological look at the humble acorn

Last week I found a walnut on my windowsill, lovely and round with an unblemished bright green husk. Soon after, another appeared stuck in the wheel of my car. Now they're cached everywhere around the outside of our house, from the shelf on the grill to the flowerpots on the deck.

Future of food waste to be discussed at Monday forum

CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition is inviting restaurants, hotels and other businesses that produce food scraps — or have a way to use them for compost — to take part in a forum from noon to 4 p.m. Monday at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St..

State closes Kickapoo pond

OAKWOOD — Runoff into a pond at Kickapoo State Park has prompted state officials to close that body of water to the public and notify the Illinois attorney general's office for possible enforcement action.

Leaf-burning rules may be in wind for Tolono

TOLONO — Village officials are trying to decide how to deal with the issue of leaf burning.

After some residents complained about the smoke created, Tolono village board members this week discussed whether to ban leaf burning altogether or to restrict the times it's allowed.

River cleanup volunteers needed for North Fork

DANVILLE — Volunteers are needed to help clean up a stretch of the North Fork River that runs through Ellsworth Park on Saturday.

The cleanup is being sponsored by the city's Parks and Recreation Division and Keep Vermilion County Beautiful.

It will be held from 10 a.m. to noon during the annual Vermilion River Festival at the park, 100 Ellworth Ave., Danville.