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Mudding On National Forests Is Illegal and Destructive

The aftermath of "mudders" driving their vehicles through a pristine meadow on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington. Participants could face charges including malicious mischief and fines up to and including paying for the costs of restoration. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The aftermath of "mudders" driving their vehicles through a pristine meadow on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington. Participants could face charges including malicious mischief and fines up to and including paying for the costs of restoration. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Mudders, take note: It is against the law to tear up forest roads and meadows for fun, and the legal and financial consequences can be steep. Tearing up high-country meadows with four-wheel-drive and off-road vehicles destroys wildlife habitat and ecosystems.

During a recent investigation, Forest Service law enforcement officers gathered information about mudding that occurred over Memorial Day weekend on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest at Buck Lake Campground, near Winthrop, Wash. Read more »

Digitizing Our Agricultural History; 77 Years of Annual Statistics Now Online

<em>Agricultural Statistics</em> has a long history of publication and is an important archive for researchers to study the history of U.S. farming.

Agricultural Statistics has a long history of publication and is an important archive for researchers to study the history of U.S. farming.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Did you know that more than 11 million Americans worked on farms in 1930, of which 8.3 million were family workers? Compare that to the fewer than 1.5 million workers employed in agriculture during the peak harvest months of 2011.

Every year, the Department of Agriculture releases a reference book of major agricultural statistics for the United States and countries around the world. It is a one-stop location for annual production, consumption, trade, and price data for all sorts of crops and livestock, as well as spending for government programs, farm economics, and lots of other statistics important to our country’s agricultural system. Agricultural Statistics has a long history of publication, and is an important archive for researchers to study the history of U.S. farming. Read more »

Smokey Bear Gives Bear Hugs in New Wildfire Prevention Campaign

Imagine dousing your campfire then getting a big bear hug from Smokey Bear, the iconic symbol of wildfire prevention for nearly 70 years.

That’s the idea behind three videos in a new series of Smokey Bear public service advertisements released July 12, 2013, designed to raise awareness about wildfire prevention. The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest running PSA campaign in U.S. History. The new ads will feature his well-known tagline, “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.” The new twist is the bear hugs. Read more »

Acting Under Secretary Discusses Food Hubs, Inspects USDA-Funded Life-Saving Helicopters, Medical Facilities, in New York

We recently hosted Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien for a series of site visits and a roundtable with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Western New York state focusing on the possibilities, advantages and challenges of expanding the presence of food hubs throughout the state. I was able to join the Under Secretary as we spoke with rural stakeholders, business owners and farmers from East Aurora, N.Y.

We heard from rural stakeholders, business owners and farmers who knew best what the opportunities and challenges were as we and Senator Gillibrand’s staff shared what resources were available. After all, increasing the number of food hubs will increase market expansion for our farmers goods, providing access to affordable and healthy foods will greatly contribute to the health and well-being of the state and its citizens. Read more »

Forest Service IT Specialist Excels for Northern Research Station

Jim Lootens-White, an information technology specialist for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, is featured in a recent online profile. He shares his interests in web development projects to explain the Station’s research results. (Forest Service photo)

Jim Lootens-White, an information technology specialist for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, is featured in a recent online profile. He shares his interests in web development projects to explain the Station’s research results. (Forest Service photo)

Jim Lootens-White, an information technology specialist for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, has a keen interest in interpreting scientific data and developing web projects to highlight the compelling research accomplishments of the station’s scientists.

As an IT specialist for the web, Lootens-White says the work is constantly changing. Read more »

A Community Rallies to Save its Historic Theater

The 1911-built Scenic Theater in Lisbon, N.D. With support from USDA, the theater, a focal point for the community, will continue to operate. USDA photo.

The 1911-built Scenic Theater in Lisbon, N.D. With support from USDA, the theater, a focal point for the community, will continue to operate. USDA photo.

The Scenic Theater in Lisbon, North Dakota, like many small-town theaters, was struggling with the high cost to convert from a film to digital format. Film had been an industry standard for more than a hundred years, but Hollywood studios will stop printing on actual film by the end of the year.

Established in 1911, the Scenic is the oldest, continually operating theater in the United States. Due to the digital upgrade, theater owners, Al and Betty Michels, were worried that it would be forced to go dark for the first time. To make the transition, all new equipment would have to be purchased and installed, which would cost close to $100,000. With this daunting number, the community rallied to help preserve the historic theater. Read more »