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Emergency Watershed Protection Program Saves New Mexico Community

Assessing the Track Fire aftermath: NRCS New Mexico employee Brian Schwebke (far right), a member of the NRCS Damage Survey Report Team, and officials of the City of Raton, view a sediment pond. Assessing the Track Fire aftermath: NRCS New Mexico employee Brian Schwebke (far right), a member of the NRCS Damage Survey Report Team, and officials of the City of Raton, view a sediment pond.

Assessing the Track Fire aftermath: NRCS New Mexico employee Brian Schwebke (far right), a member of the NRCS Damage Survey Report Team, and officials of the City of Raton, view a sediment pond.

Disaster struck northern New Mexico on June 12, 2011, as the human-caused “Track Fire” exploded north of Raton, in Colfax County. Within 72 hours, 27,790 acres were scorched in New Mexico and Colorado. Luckily, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was able to begin the restoration of the Lake Maloya watershed area almost immediately through its Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program. Read more »

USDA Welcomes Appointment of U.S. Ambassador Ertharin Cousin as the World Food Programme’s Executive Director

There is good news!  Earlier this week Ambassador Ertharin Cousin was appointed as Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. The WFP, based in Rome, is the world’s largest humanitarian agency. Its objective is to provide food aid to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people with the intent of ultimately ending the need for food aid by eradicating hunger and poverty.

Ambassador Cousin is uniquely qualified to assume this prominent position. I have had the opportunity to spend time with her in one of the grandest cities in the world.  For more than two years, she has been living in Rome, where she has served as our country’s Representative to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.  In this role, Ambassador Cousin has provided critical leadership in helping to carry out President Obama’s global food security policies.  She is full of energy, ideas, and optimism.  Secretary Vilsack and I greatly appreciate Ambassador Cousin’s support in fulfilling the United States’ strategic objectives with the three Rome-based U.N. agencies. We know she will bring the same level of dedication to her new role. Read more »

4-H Farmers Market Connects Oklahoma Community

Loyal Doers 4-H Club members get produce ready for their community farmers market.  The market was started by the club as a response to the needs of the community, and helps teach members the fundamentals of agriculture and community involvement.  Photo by Bradley D. James

Loyal Doers 4-H Club members get produce ready for their community farmers market. The market was started by the club as a response to the needs of the community, and helps teach members the fundamentals of agriculture and community involvement. Photo by Bradley D. James

This summer, the Loyal Doers 4-H Club in Hooker, Oklahoma, successfully held the state’s first 4-H-sponsored farmers market.  The market was a huge success, and the youth gained firsthand knowledge about growing produce and getting involved in the community.  It also helped the community connect with the farmers that produce their food while offering them a wonderful selection of fresh, wholesome products. Read more »

US Forest Service Trains Fire Brigades in the Brazilian Amazon

Fire brigades in the Brazilian Amazon listen to Scott Dehnisch, a U.S. Forest Service employee.  Photo courtesy of Forrest Behm.

Fire brigades in the Brazilian Amazon listen to Scott Dehnisch, a U.S. Forest Service employee. Photo courtesy of Forrest Behm.

Since 1991, the U.S. Forest Service has worked to develop a program focusing on improving sustainable forest management and administration, fire management and prevention and special uses in protected areas in Brazil.  The emphasis has been on exchanging experiences with a focus on critical issues such as curbing illegal logging and preserving public forests. Read more »

California Welcomes Wild Wolf for First time in 87 Years

A gray wolf (not OR7)

A gray wolf (not OR7)

For the first time in almost 90 years, the state of California has become home to a wolf.

A few days shy of the new  year, OR7 meandered alone into the Golden State after crossing the state border shared by Oregon. The 2-year-old gray wolf is the first and only documented wolf in California since 1924, and is protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Read more »

Bringing Quality, Clean Water to the Residents of South Dakota

When USDA Rural Development funds a water system (as it did 800 times last year across the Nation), work doesn’t stop when the system is activated.  It has to be maintained. The South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems annually holds a training event where operators, managers, and board members can gain tangible knowledge ranging from energy audits to infrastructure rehabilitation.  Staff from South Dakota USDA Rural Development (RD) contributes to the training to make it an annual success.

Recently, Community Program Director Doug Roehl was a speaker at the training covering the opportunities for funding.  Area Directors from across the State networked with the water districts in their area; learning about future needs in infrastructure and the changing needs of water users.  On the final day of the event, an awards event was held where USDA RD Community Program Specialist, Pat Hemen, received the “Friend of Rural Water” award.  The distinguished Friend of Rural Water title is awarded to agencies, organizations, or individuals who have supported rural water improvements.  Hemen was acknowledged for his guidance and technical assistance before and after the funding process.  Hemen as well as other staff acted as judges for the annual SD Water Taste Test Award as well. Read more »