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Oregon Forest Becomes Setting for a Cooperative Thinning Venture

Industry, academic and representative of non-profits tour the Willamette National Forest east of Eugene, Ore. The U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with the North Santiam Watershed Council, is working with companies in the region to establish a special forest products industry to thin the stands and harvest products such as moss, boughs, posts and poles, logs and firewood. (OSU Photo)

Industry, academic and representative of non-profits tour the Willamette National Forest east of Eugene, Ore. The U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with the North Santiam Watershed Council, is working with companies in the region to establish a special forest products industry to thin the stands and harvest products such as moss, boughs, posts and poles, logs and firewood. (OSU Photo)

In Oregon, huge swaths of the Willamette National Forest, perhaps as much as 12,000 acres, has stands of trees less than 40 years old that have never been thinned. The firs are crowded together, making it hard for sunlight to reach them. Competition for resources has made them susceptible to insects, disease, blowdowns and snow breakage. Trees that should be 13 to 14 feet apart are suffocating just eight feet from their neighbors. Read more »

You’re Invited! Join Us for Virtual Office Hours on Rural Economic Issues and #AskUSDA

Rural communities are the backbone of our nation’s economy. This past year, food and agriculture exports from rural America reached their highest levels ever and the industry supported more than 1.15 million American jobs. America’s agricultural trade surplus also reached record levels. This is partly the result of a comprehensive rural strategy implemented to spur innovation, increase export levels, invest in clean energy, and expand opportunities for rural enterprises on and off the farm that create jobs. In the last few years, USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program and our Business and Industry Guarantee program has created jobs and has helped millions of rural Americans address essential challenges in health care, education, public service and public safety.  And now we want to hear YOUR voice.

On the heels of the 1 year anniversary of the White House Rural Council, and to celebrate National Homeownership Month, I will host the 3rd installment of Virtual Office Hours. The topic will be economic development in our nation’s rural communities, including the great strides that have been made in agricultural economy and the important role housing plays in creating jobs, maintaining viable rural communities, and contributing to the economy. Read more »

USDA Encourages Summer Travelers to Protect American Agriculture by Not Packing a Pest

Whether you’re studying abroad in Europe, traveling on business in Asia, or taking that dream vacation to Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is urging summer travelers to join us in the fight against invasive pests by not packing a pest.

While agricultural products make tempting souvenirs, invasive pests can hitchhike on fruits, vegetables, meats, processed foods, plants, and handicraft items.  If these invasive pests were to become established in the United States, they could devastate urban and rural landscapes and cost billions of dollars in lost revenue and eradication efforts.  As a result, APHIS restricts or prohibits the entry of certain agricultural products from foreign countries and from Hawaii and U.S. territories. Read more »

Celebrating National Get Outdoors Day with the U.S. Forest Service

(From Left to Right) National Get Outdoors Day Colorado Coordinator Susan Alden-Weingardt, Smokey Bear, Mayor Michael Hancock, and Emcee, Coach Stacy Fowler celebrate National Get Outdoors Day Colorado 2012 on the main stage of the event.

(From Left to Right) National Get Outdoors Day Colorado Coordinator Susan Alden-Weingardt, Smokey Bear, Mayor Michael Hancock, and Emcee, Coach Stacy Fowler celebrate National Get Outdoors Day Colorado 2012 on the main stage of the event.

Thousands of people across the nation attended a variety of events on U.S. Forest Service lands as part of the 5th annual National Get Outdoors Day.

NationalGetOutdoorsDay.Org is a campaign that encourages Americans, especially young people, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lifestyles, connect with nature and embrace public lands. The event also supports President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside! initiative. Read more »

USDA Helps Improve Native Health Care in Rural Alaska

For most Americans, advanced health care facilities that can treat almost any kind of ailment are just a short drive away.  But picture you or a loved one in your rural community enduring a life-threatening illness or injury, and having to travel hundreds of miles for medical attention.  Compounding the issue are the often treacherous travel conditions during the winter months when remote roads are hazardous, and sometimes closed due to weather.

It’s no wonder that the community of Tazlina, Alaska, in the Copper River Valley, welcomed the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Copper River Native Association’s new health care and administrative facility on a 10 acre site.  The project is a joint venture between USDA Rural Development through a Community Facilities direct loan; U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the State of Alaska. This new facility will replace the existing 40-year old scattered site facilities that were originally slated to be decommissioned or demolished in 1985.  The land has been provided by Ahtna, Incorporated, A Native regional corporation, on a 99 year lease. Read more »