The bees' needs

Editor's note: Today kicks off an occasional new series in The News-Gazette. This story, and others that will follow, began as a project in a University of Illinois course called Science Journalism, taught by lecturer Jennifer Follis.

By Austin Keating

Letter from Birdland: Keep the Boneyard clean

In Birdland, the grass is greening up, and the bulbs are starting to blossom.

62 questions

SIDELL — Sunrise Coal officials described the state's 62-pronged request for more information about plans to develop their Bulldog mine in southwestern Vermilion County "as a benchmark that brings us one step closer to approval."

State releases modification letter for proposed Vermilion County mine

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has released the modification letter it sent to a company proposing to building a coal mine in southwestern Vermilion County.

Tornado recovery continues with tree planting

The head of the Champaign County Farm Bureau says the planting of trees in some areas damaged from the 2013 tornado, is an important part of the recovery process.

Last spring, around 200 trees were planted in Gifford and in some rural areas in the northern and southern parts of Champaign County that were damaged by the tornado in November of 2013.

Environmental Almanac: Fire a powerful land management tool

If you take advantage of the warmer days to visit local natural areas in the weeks to come, you're likely to encounter patches of land blackened by fire. These are places where you expect to see tallgrass prairie, but, for the moment, there's nothing to block your view of a robin on the ground 50 yards away.

State seeks more information on plans for coal mine

SIDELL — It could be another year before the state of Illinois grants or denies Sunrise Coal a permit to mine coal in Vermilion County.

Volunteers needed for April 18 Boneyard event

CHAMPAIGN — Boneyard Creek Community Day will celebrate its 10th anniversary on April 18 with a variety of cleanup and educational activities.

This year's event will be begin at 9 a.m. at Scott Park.

From there, volunteers of all ages will be sent to work sites to take part in everything from children's activities to creek projects.

Environmental Almanac: Another March Madness

One of the early season highlights of birding in central Illinois is the widespread return in March of a bird called the American woodcock. Indeed, for some birders, this phenomenon holds just as much interest as that other popular event this time of year — March Madness.

Ammons' aquifer bill clears committee, but will wait for revision

SPRINGFIELD — A bill aimed at banning the disposal of hazardous PCBs and manufactured gas plant wastes at any landfill over the Mahomet Aquifer cleared an Illinois House committee Tuesday.

But like an identical bill in the Senate, House Bill 1326 will be held on the House floor pending further clarification, said its sponsor, Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana.