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Enhanced and Updated USDA Energy Website Makes Information Easy to Access

In January 2012, USDA launched its brand new Energy Web site.  The site contains agricultural, economic, and social data on renewable energy to assist stakeholders, public users, state and local government in identifying opportunities, activities and USDA’s projects in renewable energy.  The Energy Web information is available through several associated online tools, such as USDA Energy Investment Maps, the Renewable Energy Tool, Energy Matrix, Investment Projects Reports, as well as helpful state links to energy resources within individual states.

Today, USDA is launching an updated version of the Energy Web site.  Thanks to suggestions from our users this version 2.0 site will provide new resources; new reporting features and the investment data is current thru August 2012.   We appreciate your ongoing comments and suggestions and we look forward to your continuous support to make this website your website for USDA renewable energy. Read more »

Forest Service Firefighters Clear Roads for Delivery of Hurricane Sandy Relief Supplies and for Power Restoration

US Forest Service wildland firefighters and interagency crews mobilized to assist with Hurricane Sandy response. Rachel Smith ESF4 Lead at FEMA Region 1 Regional Response Coordination Center Maynard, Mass., on Oct. 30, 2012. US Forest Service photo/Rachael Smith.

US Forest Service wildland firefighters and interagency crews mobilized to assist with Hurricane Sandy response. Rachel Smith ESF4 Lead at FEMA Region 1 Regional Response Coordination Center Maynard, Mass., on Oct. 30, 2012. US Forest Service photo/Rachael Smith.

When Hurricane Sandy arrived in New Jersey and New York, so did the Forest Service and other interagency wildland firefighting specialists filling orders from FEMA and assisting in the massive clean-up effort that is critically needed on the East Coast.

“Our Incident Management Teams bring skills in organization, planning and logistics to meet the needs of communities tragically affected by Hurricane Sandy,” said Tidwell. “Crews are clearing downed trees, providing support to local emergency response agencies and assisting at FEMA facilities.” Read more »

Partnership with USDA Cultivates New Possibilities for Farm Worker Families

For Martin Paredes and his family (pictured here), Castle Rock Apartments provide good quality rental housing for working families, while serving as a stepping stone to home ownership.

For Martin Paredes and his family (pictured here), Castle Rock Apartments provide good quality rental housing for working families, while serving as a stepping stone to home ownership.

Boardman, Oregon, is a port town of just over 3,000 on the banks of the Columbia River surrounded by productive farm lands. These resources have helped the community generate above-average economic growth through its agricultural, food processing, manufacturing, and shipping sectors. As these industries have grown, however, a significant shortage of affordable workforce housing has made finding and keeping skilled employees difficult and hinders further economic development in this promising community.

In order to secure affordable housing, many who work in Boardman have had to endure long commutes from outlying towns or settle for homes that simply did not meet their families’ needs. Martin Paredes, Olgalibia Rosales Rivera, and their four children are one such family. Due to a lack of rental options in the community, the family was living in a two-bedroom apartment in a part of town that offered few family-friendly amenities and services. Read more »

A Coat of Many Colors Cloaks Autumn in the Bitterroot National Forest

The Oregon grape in its fall coloring is a collage of green and pinkish-red leaves and blue fruits that resemble grapes. Photo copyright by Al Schneider.

The Oregon grape in its fall coloring is a collage of green and pinkish-red leaves and blue fruits that resemble grapes. Photo copyright by Al Schneider.

Several plant species around Montana make their transition from summer to winter unique. This is highlighted in the Bitterroot National Forest.

The Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens), a sub-shrub evergreen, maintains its leaves throughout the winter. In the summer, its leaves are green while it produces yellow flowers. In the fall, its leaves create a beautiful, eye-catching palette of reds in contrast to its purple berries. Oregon-grape is found throughout the Ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests. Read more »

Fourth Grader Donates to Waldo Canyon Fire Restoration Effort

Eric Zanotto, Pikes Peak Fire Management Officer (Left) Allan Hahn Pikes Peak District Ranger (front center) Fourth Grader Evan Gassiot (center) Jeff Hovermale, Lands and Minerals staff (Right)  at Pikes Peak Ranger District in Colorado

Eric Zanotto, Pikes Peak Fire Management Officer (Left) Allan Hahn Pikes Peak District Ranger (front center) Fourth Grader Evan Gassiot (center) Jeff Hovermale, Lands and Minerals staff (Right) at Pikes Peak Ranger District in Colorado

As elementary school students, most kids are thinking about doing well in class, finishing their homework, participating in after school activities, playing video games and receiving presents.

However, fourth grader Evan Gassiot decided not to receive birthday gifts this year. Read more »

USDA Funds Upgrade Storm Sirens in Four Rural Minnesota Communities

Tyler, Minn., is a long way from New York City, but the small-town of 1,143 people has something in common with the Big Apple: Both have recently had to deal with major weather events.

Obviously, the destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is on a much wider scale than what Tyler experienced when a tornado leveled homes and businesses on July 1, 2011. But both disasters highlight the importance of emergency preparedness, whether you live in a high-rise in midtown Manhattan, or on a farm in Tyler.

Rural communities face unique challenges when dealing with emergency response and major weather events. It’s essential that small towns have the latest technology and equipment to keep residents safe during an emergency. Read more »