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US Forest Service Highlights Scenic Drives for Enjoying the North Carolina’s Fall Foliage

Recreationalist enjoying fall at Cheoah Point in the Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest

Recreationalist enjoying fall at Cheoah Point in the Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest

The US Forest Service has launched a Leaf Viewing in Western North Carolina webpage for 2012 featuring scenic drives and areas in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests for enjoying fall foliage. Visitors to the site will see pictures and get directions to enjoy the kaleidoscope of glorious leaf colors North Carolina has to offer.

Leaf Viewing in Western North Carolina describes the types of mountain trees that visitors will see during peak season at high, middle and low elevations. For example, the Cherohala Skyway in Graham County enables travelers to enjoy a variety of colorful, high-elevation trees in late September. Read more »

Food Safety Gets Personal: Meet FSIS Veterinarian Dr. Regina Tan

Dr. Regina Tan says three words best describe her work at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service: “I save lives.” As Director of the Applied Epidemiology Division for FSIS’s Office of Public Health Science, Dr. Tan and her staff are responsible for detecting health hazards in food, like disease-causing bacteria, allergens, strange objects, or diseases humans can catch from animals.

“This job is very personal to me. I have a son who depends on me to make sure he is safe. I think of this work by putting the faces of my family to it,” Dr. Tan has said. Read more »

Baby Bobcat “Chips” Rescued From Chips Fire

Chips’ savior - Mad River Hand Crew superintendent, Tad Hair. US Forest Service photo

Chips’ savior - Mad River Hand Crew superintendent, Tad Hair. US Forest Service photo

While conducting patrol and mop-up operations on the north end of the Chips Fire burning on the Plumas and Lassen National Forests in Northern California on Aug. 25, the Mad River Hand Crew encountered a remarkable sight; a baby bobcat!  It was found wandering along the side of the road, alone and dazed.  “It seemed to be confused,” said Tad Hair, the Mad River Hand Crew superintendent who spotted the kit.

According to Hair, it was the size of a domestic kitten and seemed to have impaired vision, perhaps from the smoke and ash in its eyes.  “It was walking in circles near a stump” said Hair.  Once they verified that there were no obvious physical injuries on the kit the crew attempted to walk away, but she swiftly followed the sounds of their movements. Each time the crew would stop, she would curl up on Hair’s boots, snuggling into his chaps. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/5/12

Isaac's impacts: Locally heavy rains and strong winds from the Gulf Coast region to the corn belt.

Isaac's impacts: Locally heavy rains and strong winds from the Gulf Coast region to the corn belt.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

Hurricane Isaac moved ashore early Wednesday, August 29, in southeastern Louisiana with maximum sustained winds near 80 mph.  Once inland, the storm steadily weakened, losing its tropical characteristics over Missouri on Saturday, September 1.  Nevertheless, Isaac’s remnant circulation continued to drift across the eastern Corn Belt during the Labor Day weekend, generating locally heavy showers from the lower Midwest into the mid-Atlantic region.   Storm-total rainfall reached 10 to 20 inches in the central Gulf Coast region, while some drought-affected areas in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois received in excess of 4 inches.  In the Mid-South and lower Midwest, positive effects of Isaac’s rainfall included replenishment of soil moisture in preparation for the soft red winter wheat planting season and starting the process of pasture recovery. Read more »

Local Advocacy Group Steps up to Protect Quality of Lake Water on the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama

Volunteer Mimi Barkley of Houston, Ala., removes litter from the banks of Smith Lake during the Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers campaign to clean-up Alabama Waterways in June 2008. Through the hard work of volunteers, approximately 180 tons of litter has been removed from more than 166 river miles within the Winston County area (Photo courtesy of LaVerne Matheson).

Volunteer Mimi Barkley of Houston, Ala., removes litter from the banks of Smith Lake during the Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers campaign to clean-up Alabama Waterways in June 2008. Through the hard work of volunteers, approximately 180 tons of litter has been removed from more than 166 river miles within the Winston County area (Photo courtesy of LaVerne Matheson).

The beauty of a partnership involves dedicated partners on both sides. The volunteers with the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Group donate their time each year to protect shorelines on the Bankhead National Forest, an effort greatly appreciated by the forest’s staff. Read more »

French Students Who Designed U.S. Embassy People’s Garden Visit USDA Headquarters

French students from Ecole Du Breuil, School of Horticulture and Landscaping Techniques, Paris, France. The students visited the United States Department of Agriculture People’s Garden in Washington, D.C., on September 4, 2012.

French students from Ecole Du Breuil, School of Horticulture and Landscaping Techniques, Paris, France. The students visited the United States Department of Agriculture People’s Garden in Washington, D.C., on September 4, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

After a morning visit to the White House Kitchen garden, 27 students from Ecole Du Breuil, the leading school of Horticulture and Landscaping Techniques of the City of Paris, France, spent the afternoon visiting the USDA People’s Garden. All of these students are interested in landscape design and are receiving special training so they can pursue this important work as a career. These young people, like many others from around the world, are taking an interest in agriculture after being involved in a People’s Garden project in their community. Read more »