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Be Prepared When Visiting our National Forests — What to do if you Encounter a Marijuana Cultivation Site

Be aware of your surroundings when visiting National Forest System land.  Deception Creek Trail. Willamette National Forest, Oregon. (US Forest Service photo)

Be aware of your surroundings when visiting National Forest System land. Deception Creek Trail. Willamette National Forest, Oregon. (US Forest Service photo)

Two bow hunters recently discovered a marijuana grow site on the White River National Forest, one of the most visited forests in the country.

The site, located near Redstone, Colo., contained 3,375 marijuana plants with an estimated value of $8.4 million. Forest Service crews removed the plants, dismantled the irrigation system and removed items left in a make-shift camp used by the growers. Helicopters assisted by airlifting the plants and other debris associated with the illegal growing site from the area. No arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation. Read more »

PLANTS Database Provides Answers for Vegetative Questions

Daucus:  Top-view of the flower structure of Daucus carota, Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot, Bedford County, Virginia.  Doug Goldman, USDA-NRCS-NPDT

Daucus: Top-view of the flower structure of Daucus carota, Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot, Bedford County, Virginia. Doug Goldman, USDA-NRCS-NPDT

Recently the PLANTS website crossed a milestone with the uploading of its 50,000th image. The database, managed by the National Plant Data Team at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s East National Technology Support Center, hosts images of plants that grow in the U.S. and its territories.

The PLANTS site is one of USDA’s most frequently visited websites.

Besides images, PLANTS provides basic information on plants, including scientific names and distribution. It is used worldwide by scientists, educators, conservationists, students, farmers, horticulturists and others. All of this information assists people in identifying plants with the correct scientific names. Read more »

Organic International – Opening New Markets for American Organic Producers

This partnership is a win for the American economy and sets the foundation for additional organic agricultural trade agreements in Asia.

This partnership is a win for the American economy and sets the foundation for additional organic agricultural trade agreements in Asia.

Today, we celebrate a historical announcement in the global organic community – beginning in 2014 organic products certified in Japan or in the U.S. may be sold as organic in either country.

The United States has trade arrangements with several nations to facilitate the global exchange of organic products. This particular partnership will streamline access to the growing Japanese organic market for American farmers and processors, benefiting the thriving organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale. Equally important is that consumers benefit from a diverse array of organic products year-round. Read more »

Food Safety and Chicken Served in the National School Lunch Program

In response to a recent report about chicken served in the National School Lunch Program, I wanted to provide some clarification.  Food safety is one of our highest priorities, and USDA is committed to ensuring that food served through the National School Lunch Program is both healthy and safe.

Schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program receive some of their foods through the USDA, and the rest is purchased on the commercial market.  USDA is only involved in the purchases that are made through our program, and all of the food provided through USDA is 100 percent domestically grown and produced. Read more »

Young Texas Trio Brings Technology to the Farm

The Gruhlkey brothers – Brittan, 24, Braden 25, and Cameron 20 – worked with NRCS through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative to adopt better equipment and techniques to manage their water use. USDA photo.

The Gruhlkey brothers – Brittan, 24, Braden 25, and Cameron 20 – worked with NRCS through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative to adopt better equipment and techniques to manage their water use. USDA photo.

The tales of young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs launching new ventures out of Silicon Valley are common. But what about three 20-something brothers who live – not in some high tech mecca – but near the small community of Wildorado, Texas, who started a new business venture?

The Gruhlkey brothers – Brittan, 24, Braden, 25, and Cameron, 20 – are farming cotton, corn, sorghum and wheat while showing how technology plays an important role in farming. The average age of Texas farmers is nearly 60 years old, making their enterprise a unique one and they’re doing this amid huge challenges, including an ongoing drought and a growing demand for water. Read more »

Students Reduce Erosion on the Hoosier National Forest

The Ohio River Foundation crewmembers Lydia Cook, Rose Guardino, Rose Johnson, Catherine Kagemann, Callie Schulenburg, and Brynne Taylor build a pollinator habitat. USFS Photo.

The Ohio River Foundation crewmembers Lydia Cook, Rose Guardino, Rose Johnson, Catherine Kagemann, Callie Schulenburg, and Brynne Taylor build a pollinator habitat. USFS Photo.

Streams will flow more freely and bees will have a new home on the Hoosier National Forest, thanks to the work of six young women from central Indiana.

The women — recent high school graduates from Bloomington High School North and South, a high school senior from Bedford, Ind., and an Indiana University student – spent three weeks in July working on ecological restoration projects in the forest.

The crew was hired by the Ohio River Foundation and funded through grants from Duke Energy-Indiana, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Read more »