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Forest Service Hosts Two-Day National Science Forum to Discuss Planning Rule

The Forest Service is collaboratively developing a new planning rule for the National Forest System that will be rooted in science. The collaborative dialog really opened up March 29-30 in Washington DC at the National Science Forum. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the Forum in demonstration of his support of a new planning rule that embraces participation and is science-based.

 The Science Forum was just the first of many opportunities for the public to participate in the development of a new planning rule. In fact, on April 1st and 2nd a National Roundtable discussion is taking place. To view the schedule and watch live selections of National Roundtables.  We are also inviting people to join the Virtual Roundtable at our planning rule blog.

 The Forum was designed to provide scientific information to serve as the foundation for future collaborative meetings and aid in integrating science into the development of the next planning rule.  During the Forum, scientists shared in discussion on the latest science on topics such as restoration, climate change, watershed health, diversity, and the national forest’s contribution to vibrant local economies. The entire forum was made available on a streaming live web cast and online participants were able to participate and ask questions of the scientists via the planning ruleblog. We heard diverse viewpoints and we’re excited to keep the conversation going.

 An interim summary of some of the major themes discussed at the Forum is available now on online. This product shares some highlights of the science and viewpoints offered by Science Forum presenters, attendees and online participants. A more complete summary of the Science Forum will be available in coming weeks. Panelist’s presentations are also available on the planning rule Web site, and it is our intent to post video segments from the Science Forum on the planning rule web site in the coming weeks.

 Our collaborative process to develop the planning rule is in the early stages. We are continually adding new and broader opportunities to get involved. If you’ve got ideas, let us know what they are by commenting on our blog. Check our Web site for the latest, or follow the Forest Service on Twitter.

 The current schedule of future National and Regional Roundtables can be found here.

 Secretary Vilsack addresses attendees of the Science Forum expressing support for a new planning rule.  Secretary Vilsack addresses attendees of the Science Forum expressing support for a new planning rule. 

Panelists, from left to right: Dr. Kevin McKelvey, Marilyn Stoll, Dr. Gary Morishima, Dr. Bill Zielinski

USDA Business Programs Administrator Promotes Job Opportunities at Nebraska Conference

USDA Rural Business-Cooperatives programs  Administrator Judith Canales was the luncheon speaker earlier this week to a crowd of nearly 100 at the Rural Jobs, Rural Opportunities conference hosted by Nebraska Rural Development in Kearney. The conference was a follow up to the Rural Jobs Forum held early in January.

At the January Jobs Forum, the critical elements identified for Nebraska were the rural economy, cutting edge technology, youth retention, community investment, business education and training, the creation of better paying jobs, and financial resources offered by local, state and federal agencies.   To move the discussion forward on these issues, panel experts at the March 29 conference discussed broadband, local foods, eco tourism, guaranteed loans/access to credit, business opportunities/business transition, renewable energy, revolving loan funds and local funding for community economic development.

Administrator Canales also led a roundtable discussion with economic developers and lenders at the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, where the details and benefits of the Business and Industry programs and funding available to businesses through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were discussed.  Nebraska lenders provided suggestions to Ms. Canales on improvements that might be made to the Business and Industry programs to increase its use in rural Nebraska.

Co-conveners for the conference included the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, Nebraska Cattlemen, U.S. Forest Service, Nebraska Community Foundation, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, Nebraska Rural Initiative, and the Nebraska Resource Conservation and Development. 

 Ms. Canales and Nebraska RD State Director Maxine Moul also provided interviews to two TV stations, the daily newspaper and two radio stations.

By Nebraska Rural Development Public Information Officer Vicki A. Schurman