Gov. Quinn Requests Statewide Drought Disaster Declaration

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According to CBS News , Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is requesting that the United States Department of Agriculture designate Illinois as a drought disaster area. The governor has officially sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack with the hopes that he will approve a disaster declaration for practically all counties in Illinois.

Here are some facts and details about the governor's request and what it would mean for the state, as well as how the multi-state drought is specifically impacting Illinois:

* If Illinois disaster's declaration is approved by the USDA, practically all of the 102 state counties would be able to apply for federal grants and loans to help combat the damage done by the drought.

* Approximately 95 percent of Illinois was designated as being in a severe drought or worse last week and the state has not seen any improvements, a major problem considering it is the second largest producer of corn and soybeans in the nation, added Reuters .

* This is a major increase over the previous week in which 66 percent of the state fell under the same drought category. Not only has a lack of precipitation caused major problems but sweltering heat has persisted as well.

* WJBC reported that the drought could potentially impact Illinois' famous annual state fair, which runs from Aug. 10 to 19, by decreasing turnout.

* Bob Flider, the current acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said that people who typically would attend the fair could still be trying to harvest their crops with the climate conditions pushing back their harvest schedules.

* The Prairie State's wildlife are being affected by drought conditions and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has already found hundreds of fish kills statewide, noted Gatehouse News Service .

* In the past week, the Illinois DNR documented a fish kill on Powerton Lake, a cooling reservoir for a power plant off the Illinois River, in which hundreds of thousands of dead fish were found.

* There is also concern over an increase in the spread of disease among the state's deer population as limited water sources put more deer and insects, which carry several diseases, in closer proximity to one another.

* Of the conditions in Illinois, Gov. Quinn said, "You can see firsthand how depleted, how serious ... this drought is. This is the heart and soul of the Illinois economy. Forty percent of our economy depends on our agriculture, on our corn and our soybeans and our livestock," according to the Huffington Post .

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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