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Smokey Bear on Ice — a Winning Combination

The “Great Smokey Sphinx,” the largest sculpting effort by Forest Service volunteers, put the Payette National Forest on the snow sculpture scene at the McCall (Idaho) Winter Carnival snow sculpture contest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The “Great Smokey Sphinx,” the largest sculpting effort by Forest Service volunteers, put the Payette National Forest on the snow sculpture scene at the McCall (Idaho) Winter Carnival snow sculpture contest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

A team of volunteers from the Payette National Forest have sculpted “Smokey’s Magic” a 12-foot high, 3 foot deep sculpture of Smokey Bear in a wizard’s cloak with snowball in hand for the popular Winter Carnival in nearby McCall, Idaho.   The Forest Service team, whose members all volunteer their off-duty time to the sculpting, are always determined to make a good showing. And Smokey Bear is routinely part of their team. Read more »

Updated Web Tool Maps U.S. Food Access in Greater Detail

Users of ERS’s Food Access Research Atlas can opt to view low-income census tracts (shaded in gold and in light blue) in a selected area of the country. The gold-shading indicates low-income tracts where a substantial number or portion of residents live at least 0.5 mile from a supermarket in urban areas or at least 10 miles in rural areas. (Central Connecticut)

Users of ERS’s Food Access Research Atlas can opt to view low-income census tracts (shaded in gold and in light blue) in a selected area of the country. The gold-shading indicates low-income tracts where a substantial number or portion of residents live at least 0.5 mile from a supermarket in urban areas or at least 10 miles in rural areas. (Central Connecticut)

Access to stores that carry healthy, affordable food can play an important role in people’s nutrition and overall health. Ensuring access to healthy food is a priority for USDA and a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Read more »

USDA Announcing Action Plan on Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites

As part of President Obama’s commitment to honoring Government-to-Government relationships with Tribal Nations, the federal government is continuing to strengthen its relationships in Indian Country. The Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Defense, Interior, and Energy joined the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and released an action plan to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding interagency coordination and collaboration for the protection of Indian Sacred Sites.

Last week during the National Congress of American Indian’s (NCAI) Executive Council Winter Session, USDA Deputy Undersecretary, Arthur “Butch” Blazer, announced that he will help  lead USDA’s efforts for the implementation of the MOU.  Due to his expertise Blazer is the ideal choice to lead the USDA component of the Action Plan.  Prior to his position at USDA, Blazer served as the New Mexico State Forester where he was the first Native American to hold that position. During his tenure as State Forester, he was also named as Chair of the Council of Western State Foresters and Co-Chair for the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. A member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, he was also his tribe’s lead forestry official and has been intimately involved in Tribal issues throughout his life.  Read more »