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Los Padres National Forest Seeks to Preserve Remote Sacred Native American Sites

Deep inside the San Rafael Wilderness, employees from the Los Padres National Forest are working to inventory centuries-old Chumash sacred sites impacted by devastating wildfires.

Despite closure orders that restrict public access in America’s first congressionally designated wilderness, forest officials are concerned that site barriers and interpretive signs charred in the fires no longer adequately protect these vulnerable sites from further degradation.

Los Padres Tribal Liaison Pete Crowheart and Forest Archaeologist Loreen Lomax recently led a team of resource specialists on a 10-mile, nine-hour hike to evaluate two sites scorched in the 2007 Zaca Fire. They documented the extent of the damage and developed ideas for repairing the barriers and signs. One of California’s largest wildfires, the Zaca burned 237,000 acres over nine weeks. Fire-cost recovery funds recently secured by the forest are fueling restoration projects within the Zaca’s massive footprint. Read more »

What’s Ahead for Global Food Security?

Woman farmers in Kenya, a country where food security is projected to improve over the next decade Photo: World Food Programme

Woman farmers in Kenya, a country where food security is projected to improve over the next decade Photo: World Food Programme

The Economic Research Service (ERS) has, since the late 1970s, reported annually on food security in a number of developing countries. A key indicator is the number of food-insecure people (those who each consume less than a nutritional target of 2,100 calories per day). In the latest report, we estimate food security in 76 countries, in four regions. Read more »

USDA-Funded North Valley Health Center in Minnesota Expected to Improve Rural Quality of Life

Minnesota Rural Development State Director Landkamer, fourth from the right, breaking ground on the new North Valley Health Center in Warren, Minn.

Ground was broken on the new 43,000 square-foot North Valley Health Center on July 26. It will be located next to the Good Samaritan Nursing Home and will feature a larger physical therapy department, full handicap accessibility and covered entrances, among other enhancements.Community members came together to build the first hospital in Warren, Minn., all the way back in 1905. Today, the community is coming together once again to build a new innovative healthcare facility that will continue the tradition of strong rural healthcare in the community of 1,500. Read more »

Texas Ranchers Want More Chickens

L.H. Webb, a rancher in Pampa, Texas, addresses the group at the training on his ranch to explain the management practices he has implemented to benefit the lesser prairie-chicken.

L.H. Webb, a rancher in Pampa, Texas, addresses the group at the training on his ranch to explain the management practices he has implemented to benefit the lesser prairie-chicken.

Cattle ranchers in the Texas Panhandle are interested in raising more than just cattle and grass. They also want to raise chickens—lesser prairie-chickens, to be exact!

The lesser prairie-chicken is a ground-nesting bird native to the mixed-grass prairies of the Texas panhandle, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Lesser prairie-chickens are known for the unique mating dance performed by the colorful males. Read more »

Help USDA Fight Hungry Pests: Keep an Eye Out for Asian Longhorned Beetle

An adult Asian Longhorned Beetle

Throughout August, a little-known beetle may emerge from the trees in your community. You might see its long black and white antennae inching out from a dime-shaped hole in your favorite tree. The pest, named the Asian longhorned beetle, kills trees from the inside out. It attacks 13 types of hardwood trees. Read more »

South Dakota is SET for Regional Planning

South Dakota has been awarded two regional training opportunities through the Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative.  USDA Rural Development (USDA RD), the nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers and South Dakota State University Extension are collaborating for this initiative.

“While USDA RD staff directly impact communities with housing services and integral community infrastructure, the SET process is going to be one more way for communities to strive for economic vitality, improved quality of life, and sustainability,” said USDA RD South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks, “In the end, everyone works together so that rural communities can address a broad range of other needs such as regional based planning and leadership development.” Read more »