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Forest Service Brings People Together for National Public Lands Day

A Forest Service employee, along with Woodsy Owl, pose with kids from the Girl Scott’s Daisy program during National Public Lands Day (Photo Credit: US Forest Service.)

A Forest Service employee, along with Woodsy Owl, pose with kids from the Girl Scott’s Daisy program during National Public Lands Day (Photo Credit: US Forest Service.

Organizing the largest single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands in the country, National Public Lands Day, is no easy feat for the U.S. Forest Service. That’s 40 days of volunteer projects, BioBlitzes, fishing derbies, and educational events, all of which are registered with the National Environmental Education Foundation, the organization that started National Public Lands Day 23 years ago. Read more »

Seeing is believing

Every year the U.S. Forest Service thinks of a new and fun way to encourage folks to see fall colors on their National Forests and Grasslands.

Every year the U.S. Forest Service thinks of a new and fun way to encourage folks to see fall colors on their National Forests and Grasslands.

Fall is perhaps one of the most beautiful times of the year in North America and every year the U.S. Forest Service celebrates with the launch of our Fall Colors Webpage

The changing myriad of colors on trees from bright reds, brilliant oranges and bold yellows really make for a stunning backdrop to any family photo album. That’s why this year we have created our own road trip photo album with the help of a really cool app called Story Map. Read more »

Ranchers Continue to Lead Successful Conservation Efforts for Sage Grouse

Utah rancher Bill Kennedy worked with NRCS through SGI to improve his working rangelands for sage grouse and livestock. Photo by Jesse Bussard.

Utah rancher Bill Kennedy worked with NRCS through SGI to improve his working rangelands for sage grouse and livestock. Photo by Jesse Bussard.

This past April, we woke up at 3 a.m. and made our way to a blind amid an expanse of sagebrush on a ranch in central Montana. When the sun rose that morning, I saw my first sage grouse–actually, I got to see more than 100 of them!–when the birds arrived at the lek site for their famous tail-shaking springtime courtship dance.

Seeing sage grouse in action reminded me how important it is to do what we do here at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). I saw firsthand how agriculture and wildlife can co-exist and thrive. In the West, we work with over 1,300 ranchers through the NRCS-led Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) to improve their ranching operations while also helping this iconic bird. Read more »

Students Get Involved in School Lunch through School Lunch Advisory Councils

There are many ways Team Nutrition schools are involving students in the development of school meal menus and health promotion activities.  These activities can help schools offer nutritious foods in a manner that appeals to children and can help students learn about nutrition and school foodservice.  This guest blog highlights promising strategies for involving students in school meals through the use of School Lunch Advisory Councils.  It also describes how Montana students are playing a role in helping their schools implement Smarter Lunchrooms techniques to reduce food waste and increase consumption of healthful foods.  

Interested in implementing Smarter Lunchrooms techniques at your school? Get started with this free self-assessment checklist from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program. Team Nutrition provides nutrition education materials, training tools, and grants to assist schools in creating healthier environments. Learn more about Team Nutrition and how to become a Team Nutrition school at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/team-nutrition. Read more »

Flooding: A Checklist for Small and Very Small Meat, Poultry and Egg Inspection Processing Plants

Flooded out roads in Cass County, North Dakota.

Flooded out roads in Cass County, North Dakota.

Rivers rise. The ground is saturated. Levees fail. Floods happen, and they happen beside rivers, along the coasts, in deserts and in city streets. Flooding might be a fact of nature but that does not mean you have to lose your business and possessions to flood waters. 

It is never too early to prepare.  Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan. Read more »

New Allowances for Including a “Non-GMO” Statement on Certified Organic Meat and Poultry Products

New procedures by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service allows certified organic meat and poultry producers to obtain approval of non-GMO label claims based on their organic certification.

New procedures by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service allows certified organic meat and poultry producers to obtain approval of non-GMO label claims based on their organic certification.

Organic meat and poultry producers can now use a streamlined process to get approval for labels verifying that their products do not include genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.  These products may also now use a “Non-GMO” label claim.  Because of this, we’re updating a previous blog from our “Organic 101” series.

In 2014, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) streamlined procedures for including a “non-genetically engineered” statement on the label of organic meat and poultry products.  This continues to be consistent with organic regulations, which have always prohibited the use of GE in all organic products.  Today, FSIS is adding further process improvements and labeling flexibilities, in light of recently passed legislation.  Many organic stakeholders have expressed an interest in using “Non-GMO” label claims to clearly communicate to consumers that organic products do not contain genetically engineered ingredients, and that organic animals were not fed genetically engineered feed.  Read more »