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Preserving an Ancient Hawaiian Treasure

(L-R) Flint Hughes, research ecologist at the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, and Rebecca Most from The Nature Conservancy transport debris across the anchialine pool to a staging area where it will be chipped into mulch. (U.S. Forest Service)

(L-R) Flint Hughes, research ecologist at the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, and Rebecca Most from The Nature Conservancy transport debris across the anchialine pool to a staging area where it will be chipped into mulch. (U.S. Forest Service)

It’s National Preservation Month, and people all over the country are participating in events to enrich and preserve the treasures within their communities that make them special.

Staff from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station recently helped to restore an ancient Hawaiian fishpond in Kīholo, Hawaii, that has a rich history and tradition of providing a sustainable food source for the surrounding communities on the Big Island. Working in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and Hui Aloha Kīholo, Station staff from the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry cleared and hauled debris from the fishpond perimeter in order to reduce the accumulation of sediments caused by overhanging non-native plants, which improved foraging habitat for native fish and turtles. The group also replanted culturally and ecologically appropriate native species, restored habitat for rare invertebrate species, removed invasive weeds, and participated in native plant care within an area surrounding a nearby anchialine pool, which will be used as a nursery for future restoration activities. Read more »

Watching Our Water

Preventing movement of agricultural chemicals from crop fields to streams is a key part of protecting our water quality.  Here, an ARS scientist examines a farmer’s subsurface drain pipe.  Photo by ARS.

Preventing movement of agricultural chemicals from crop fields to streams is a key part of protecting our water quality. Here, an ARS scientist examines a farmer’s subsurface drain pipe. Photo by ARS.

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

There’s no farming without water. Recent droughts in the United States and elsewhere underscore our need to conserve water in agricultural production, and studies have identified agricultural management practices that help protect water quality.  USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers are making key contributions to these efforts.

For instance, ARS scientists use moisture information collected by satellites to develop the Evaporative Stress Index.  In 2012, this tool predicted that drought conditions were developing weeks before other drought monitoring networks made the same call. ARS researchers also use satellite data to design methods of estimating rainfall amounts in regions where setting up sampling stations would be a challenge, work that has long-range potential for improving precipitation estimates globally. Read more »

Boston Beats the Asian Longhorned Beetle

Retiring APHIS State Plant Health Director for Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island Patty Douglass inspects ALB damaged wood in Massachusetts.

Retiring APHIS State Plant Health Director for Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island Patty Douglass inspects ALB damaged wood in Massachusetts.

One of the things I consider a highlight of my career and that I will always remember is our successful response to the July 2010 detection of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in Boston, Massachusetts.  As I attended the May 12 ceremony commemorating the eradication of the ALB infestation in Boston and listened to the speakers share their thoughts about what it took to get us there, I had a deep sense of appreciation for the partnership among the state and federal cooperators who worked together to bring us to that day.  It was swift action and continued diligence that protected Boston’s trees from further destruction.

APHIS and its cooperators were able to accomplish the goal of eradicating ALB in Boston in less than 4 years.  Thanks also go to a community member who reported the infestation early.  That early detection and report resulted in the loss of only 6 infested trees.

But as I celebrate our first victory over the invasive pest in Massachusetts, I am compelled to ask you to remain vigilant in inspecting your trees regularly for signs of the beetle and report any suspicious damage to your State Plant Health Director. Read more »