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Forest Service Celebrates Working Side-by-Side with Indian Tribes

Leech Lake Wildland Fire Crew members George Jacobs, Tim Bebeau, Charlie Blackwell and Daniel Wind. (Courtesy Leech Lake Wildland Fire Crew)

Leech Lake Wildland Fire Crew members George Jacobs, Tim Bebeau, Charlie Blackwell and Daniel Wind. (Courtesy Leech Lake Wildland Fire Crew)

Establishing trust and building relationships are key factors in working with Indian Tribes across the country. One of the most historic partnerships between the U.S. Forest Service and an Indian Tribe has been forged between the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Chippewa National Forest.

“This [partnership] essentially took more than 100 years to craft,” said Fred Clark, director of Office Tribal Relations for the Forest Service. “It allows the Forest Service and the Tribe to move toward a positive future, while not forgetting the history that brought us all this far.”

The Chippewa National Forest and the Tribe have worked together on road maintenance, non-native species control, fuels treatments, tree planting and prescribed fire support since 2010. Read more »

USDA Researchers Study Hydromulches with Guar Gum Substitutes

ARS scientists are studying alternative, less expensive binders for hydromulch, a mixture of seed, mulch, water and other ingredients sprayed on bare soil. The binder helps the hydromulch stick together. (ARS photo)

ARS scientists are studying alternative, less expensive binders for hydromulch, a mixture of seed, mulch, water and other ingredients sprayed on bare soil. The binder helps the hydromulch stick together. (ARS photo)

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.

In the depths of winter, planting grass seed isn’t at the top of one’s to-do list. But soon, spring will arrive and landscaping companies will be out, spraying that green mixture of seed and mulch on patches of bare ground.

Hydromulch, a temporary, porous layer that can help protect newly sown seeds, contains water, dye, a mulching material, and a binder, which keeps the mulch intact. Typically the binder is made from guar gum, made by grinding beans of the guar plant into powder. When water is added, the powder forms a viscous gum. Read more »

Where the Moon Trees Grow

Official NASA portrait of Stuart Roosa (Courtesy NASA)

Official NASA portrait of Stuart Roosa (Courtesy NASA)

Many space enthusiasts know that one of the U.S. Forest Service’s most famous former employees was astronaut Stuart Roosa. The smokejumper circled the moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 14 mission more than 40 years ago.

However, what most folks don’t know is that Roosa brought a group of tiny travelers along for the ride. After all these years, they’re still among us today, living quietly across the United States. Their names – Douglas fir, sequoia and loblolly pine – are familiar to most everyone because they were seeds from these and other well-known tree species. Read more »

Native Homeownership Coalition Continues its Work in South Dakota

South Dakota United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks (right) meets with Colleen Steele, Executive Director, Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial. USDA photo.

South Dakota United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks (right) meets with Colleen Steele, Executive Director, Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial. USDA photo.

“Being a homeowner is absolutely rewarding to my family and me. Owning my own home means stability, safety and accomplishment in our lives,” said Stephanie Richards-Apple.  She purchased her home through Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial.  Mazaska is a partner to USDA Rural Development in South Dakota and a member of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (Coalition).   Richards-Apple worked with Mazaska to make the step from tenant to homeowner.  Her story highlights the importance of the work of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition.

The Coalition is a partnership of Federal and State agencies, Housing Development Authorities and non-profit entities that share the common goal of improving Native homeownership in South Dakota.  South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks welcomed over 50 participants at a coalition-sponsored training session in Pierre, SD and stated “We strive to advocate and strengthen families and Native communities through homeownership; it isn’t often that the Native and non-native housing organizations get to learn from each other.” Read more »

Enhancing the Local School Wellness Environment

USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton thanks Food Service Staff at Valley Intermediate School for their dedication to the children’s health.

USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton thanks Food Service Staff at Valley Intermediate School for their dedication to the children’s health.

Local school wellness policies are an important tool for parents, local educational agencies, and school districts to promote student wellness, prevent and reduce childhood obesity, and provide assurance that school meal guidelines meet federal standards. They help communicate nutrition guidelines for all foods available on the school campus and include goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other activities that help improve overall student wellness.

While visiting schools across the nation, I have seen firsthand how important local wellness policies are, and we here at USDA aren’t the only ones who think so. Over two dozen national associations and organizations have joined the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Education in sharing information and resources about local school wellness policies. In fact, this group has issued a joint statement recognizing the role schools play in promoting wellness among staff, students, and families. Read more »

Safety Datapalooza: Opening Up Data To Better Protect Public Health

An estimated 1 million illnesses can be attributed to Salmonella every year. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced its Salmonella Action Plan to help reduce the number of illnesses associated with FSIS-regulated products using new standards, strategies and innovation. When the Agency learned of the upcoming Safety Datapalooza on January 14, Chief Information Officer Janet Stevens knew they wanted in. “As lead of our Agency’s innovation Strategic Goal, I knew the value of leveraging the public through challenges, unconferences and datapaloozas,” said Stevens, “This was a wonderful opportunity to bring together data scientists, technologists and practitioners to generate ideas to help save lives.” Read more »