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USDA Northeastern Regional Climate Hub Gets Ready to Help Producers, Forest Managers, Deal with Challenges

Mt. Washington, in the White Mountains National Forest, NH. USDA photo by J. Knowlton.

Mt. Washington, in the White Mountains National Forest, NH. USDA photo by J. Knowlton.

If you work outside, you care about the weather. But if your business depends on the weather, you should care about the climate.

Those of us who have lived in the Northeast for years know that something is up with the weather.  It’s more changeable; too wet one month, too dry the next.  Spring is coming earlier but late frosts linger and fall seems to stretch on.  This year’s cold winter reminds us of what winters used to be like.

The emerging science just confirms what we already feel in our bones; over recent times, the usual weather, the climate, has been changing.  Over the last 60 years extreme rainfall events in the Northeast have gotten larger and are occurring more often, with the most significant increases occurring most recently. In my home state, New Hampshire, medium-sized storms that used to happen only once in 12 months are now happening more than twice as often.  Satellites show that spring green-up is happening sooner and fall is now starting about two weeks later than it did only 30 years ago.

These changes can dramatically affect whether a producer achieves their management goals. Soils can be too wet for planting, the snowpack not sufficient for winter timber harvest, sugar maple sap may start to flow sooner, and so on.  Producers in the Northeast could use help dealing with these weather and climate challenges—and the USDA Northeastern Regional Climate Hub aims to do just that.

As the leader of the Northeast Hub, I hope to help our producers and forest managers continue to adapt and thrive despite the changes they’re facing. This means finding options that help them maintain profitability, productivity, and conservation values in the face of increased weather variability and longer term changes. As a tree physiologist, my career has been filled with the challenges of learning how climate factors affect forest function and growth, and helping to define the beneficial roles forests play in regulating the climate system.  Now comes the even greater challenge of sifting through the deluge of climate information and working with producers and land owners to come up with new options to meet their management objectives.

In the Northeast I am extremely fortunate to work with such an experienced and knowledgeable Climate Hub team that has been pulled from across USDA Agencies to pool resources and maximize our ability to cover the diversity of agricultural and forest lands in our region.  Our team of co-Directors includes Lindsey Rustad, a Forest Service Ecologist with a focus on climate change impacts on forests, and Agricultural Research Service Scientists Peter Kleinman, Howard Skinner, Donna Gibson, and Leon Kochian, with expertise in farm nutrient management, pasture greenhouse gas emissions, biological control of pests and pathogens, and genes and mechanisms for crop adaptation. Co-Director Darren Hickman is director of Natural Resources Conservation Service’s East National Technology Support Center.  We’ll call on the expertise of Federal, State, and Local extension agents as well as the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science to get the word out. Together, we will work with additional partners including Land Grant Universities, NGO’s, States, Tribes, producer groups, and of course, producers themselves, to find strategies that allow the farmers and foresters of the Northeast to attain or exceed their management objectives no matter what the weather – or the climate.

3 Responses to “USDA Northeastern Regional Climate Hub Gets Ready to Help Producers, Forest Managers, Deal with Challenges”

  1. John Woodrum says:

    As a New Englander, I am used to the four seasons, which has always brought me back to CT after my earlier years of hitch-hiking across America, and living off the land. California was boring, yet AZ had some great attractions, along with Delaware, Colorado, and Seattle, which I found to be the most beautiful city in this country, lest the rainfall. I first started at Paul Smith’s College in upstate N.Y., until that went ‘south’, due to the fact that I am also epileptic, which in all my travels, have proved that it is not a disability, but a catalyst. I even wrote a book on my travels-”Have Thumb, Will Travel: A Samaritan’s Walk”, showing how one with my condition can ( and did ) see this country, with no limits. I still spend as much time as possible either hiking or fishing, because that is what brings me closer to nature, and to how our earlier relatives used to live. As you know, we here in CT have had our share of snow this year, but that’s New England. To me, each season has it’s own beauty, such as the blossoms of spring (yet watch for the flooding also), the enjoyable days of picnicking and fishing in the summer (yet watch out for the ‘skeeters & all), the beautiful autumn colors, which bring the warning of winter, (but after or short hurricane season), and the first snows of the winter, which gives most people the warm feeling of togetherness while Xmas approaches. So, all in all, I feel we have the best area of the U.S.A. to live in. If one would rather look at snow on a postcard, then it’s time for them to move. Just to say, my main interest in Forestry was conservation & wildlife management, to where if any animals were to be a threat to man, I would be part of the team to ‘move’ them and tag them.

  2. Anita Watson says:

    * The Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Reactor 4 in the Ukraine caused severe radioactive contamination in April 1986. Industrial Hemp has been used to remove contaminants from the soils, called phytoremediation.
    * The first crop grown in many states was hemp. 1850 was a peak year for Kentucky producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the 20th Century; (State Archives).

    * Oldest known records of hemp farming go back 5000 years in China. For more than 1000 years before the time of Christ until 1883 AD Cannabis Sativa was our planet’s most important industry for thousands of products & enterprises producing the overall majority of the earth’s fiber, fabric, lighting oil, incense, fiberglass replacement, lightweight sandwich boards, composite woods, kitty litter, potting mix, nappies, feminine care products, fuel, medicines & paper, as well as a primary source of protein for humans & animals.

    * In 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works to implement such programs (Department of Agriculture).
    I hope that Anglo Americans will not discriminate when it comes to Hemp Licensing.
    http://www.hemp-technologies.com/page33/page33.html

  3. Jacob McCandless says:

    “if any animals were to be a threat to man, I would be part of the team to ‘move’ them and tag them.”

    I don’t meet many animals that are a threat. Just saying.

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