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Rain? Drought? Cold? Hot? New US Forest Service Report Seeks to Clarify Use of Climate Information

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

People often get confused when observed weather patterns run contrary to climate projections.  For instance, those living in the Mid-Atlantic States hear from experts that the region has now moved into a dry savanna-like climate zone, but yet two winters ago over 40 inches of snow fell in a single month.  But weather is highly variable regardless of the state of the climate.  Individual weather events like this one are different than “climate,” which refers to long-term trends over decades.  And further, climate change could produce more extremes at both ends of the weather spectrum even while a region shifts into a seemingly contrary climate state.

In an attempt to make science and technical concepts of projecting climate change clearer to the public, the U.S. Forest Service has published a report simplifying complex information and resources. Read more »

As Bats Swoop, Students Swoon to Learn More About Them During USDA Webcast

Consider the bat – you know, the flying type that swoops out of urban eaves or rural caves usually at dawn or dusk. What do you know about the central roles they play in controlling insect populations, balancing ecosystems or pollinating flowers, fruits and vegetables?

Rob Mies, author, director, and founder of the Organization for Bat Conservation gives a presentation sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service in U.S. Department of Agriculture's, Jefferson Auditiorium, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2012. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

Rob Mies, author, director, and founder of the Organization for Bat Conservation gives a presentation sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service in U.S. Department of Agriculture's Jefferson Auditiorium, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2012. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

Last week, students in grades four through eight and educators from around the country did more than just consider the bat. They met a number of live bats via an hour-long Washington, D.C., Bats!LIVE distance learning seminar (view online video) including a little brown bat, a vampire bat and a straw-colored fruit bat with a six-foot wingspan. They asked questions of bat biologists, learned about threats to bats and what everyone can do to help bats in their own communities. Read more »

People’s Garden in Tipton, Iowa Celebrates USDA’s 150th Anniversary by Growing “Abraham Lincoln” Tomatoes

To help celebrate USDA’s 150th anniversary which was on May 15th, USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle (left in photo) and community volunteer Josh Meier, planted special heirloom “Abraham Lincoln” tomatoes at Hardacre Community Garden in Tipton, Iowa.

To help celebrate USDA’s 150th anniversary which was on May 15th, USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle (left in photo) and community volunteer Josh Meier, planted special heirloom “Abraham Lincoln” tomatoes at Hardacre Community Garden in Tipton, Iowa.

To help celebrate USDA’s 150th anniversary which was on May 15th, USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle (left in photo) and community volunteer Josh Meier, planted special heirloom “Abraham Lincoln” tomatoes at Hardacre Community Garden in Tipton, Iowa.

Tipton’s Hardacre Community Garden was recognized as a USDA “People’s Garden” in 2009.  The public is welcome to see this People’s Garden on Saturday, June 9th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Read more »

Don’t Get Burned by Foodborne Illness this Memorial Day

Tips to prepare your burgers, chicken, and hot dogs safely

With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, people all over the country are stocking up on charcoal and filling their propane tanks in preparation for another cookout season.  As Americans begin to focus on spending more time outdoors and grilling meals with family and friends, it is important to ensure that grillers are also taking the necessary steps to ensure food safety this season.

As you kick off the summer grilling season, keep your food safe by remembering these four steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.  Be sure that you start with clean surfaces and clean hands, and remember to separate raw meat and poultry from your veggies and cooked foods.  Also, the most import tool you have at your grill is your food thermometer.  Before you take your burgers, hot dogs or chicken off the grill, check the temperature (click here for temperature recommendations). Read more »

USDA Tribal Collaboration Meetings Continue in Southeast Alaska

Left to Right:  Tim Gillen (Wrangell Cooperative Association); Delores Churchill (Ketchikan Indian Community); Frank Demmert, Jr. (Klawock Cooperative Association) and Rob Sanderson (Ketchikan Indian Community)

Left to Right: Tim Gillen (Wrangell Cooperative Association); Delores Churchill (Ketchikan Indian Community); Frank Demmert, Jr. (Klawock Cooperative Association) and Rob Sanderson (Ketchikan Indian Community)

The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the country, and constitutes 85 percent of the land mass in Southeast Alaska.  No doubt, land management issues in Southeast were a main topic of discussion at the Tribal Collaboration Meeting held in Ketchikan on May 4th. Read more »

Forest Service Lines up 500 Jobs for Young Conservationists

When President Obama recently called on federal agencies to help young people find more work in the great outdoors, the U.S. Forest Service – with 193 million acres of prime outdoor space —responded quickly with jobs for hundreds of underserved youths.

The America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists initiative will fund 20 projects, providing more than 500 young people with the experience of a lifetime working on public lands this summer work season. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced $3.7 million in competitive grants through the initiative. Read more »