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USDA to Co-Host Pacific Northwest Wood-to-Biofuel Conference

In conjunction with Washington State University Extension, USDA is co-hosting the Northwest Wood-Based Biofuels/Co-Products Conference in late April. The conference will be April 28-30, 2014 in Seattle, Wash.

The goal of the conference is to bring together the community of researchers, business leaders, government agencies, and economic development personnel to share and exchange research findings, ideas, and strategies for the common goal of sustainable development of wood-based bio-refineries for production of biofuels and co-products in the Pacific Northwest. Read more »

National Forest Works With Florida Officials, Off-Highway Vehicle Users, to Build Trailhead

A trail rider expert from Red Hills Powersports of Tallahassee, Fla., answers questions from a young boy from nearby Crawfordville, Fla., during the grand opening of the Springhill Motorcycle Trailhead.  Forest Service engineers designed the recreational trailhead area to include spacious parking for visitors with trailers to offload motorcycles. (U.S. Forest Service Photo/Susan Blake)

A trail rider expert from Red Hills Powersports of Tallahassee, Fla., answers questions from a young boy from nearby Crawfordville, Fla., during the grand opening of the Springhill Motorcycle Trailhead. Forest Service engineers designed the recreational trailhead area to include spacious parking for visitors with trailers to offload motorcycles. (U.S. Forest Service Photo/Susan Blake)

For many, the “great” in “the great outdoors” answers the call to hit the open road with body, soul and little else except their motorcycle. That got a little easier on the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida with the opening of a new trailhead beckoning riders with easier trail access and opportunity to ride for recreation.

The grand opening of the new Springhill Motorcycle Trailhead south of Tallahassee, Fla., highlights the U.S. Forest Service policy to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use.

The project includes a new, single-span aluminum bridge to connect the forest’s separate motorized northern and southern trails. The prefabricated 90-foot Fisher Creek Bridge, shipped in two sections, replaces an older, antiquated bridge that stretched across the waterway. Read more »

The Modern Farmer and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Get Started page is a new addition to the NRCS website, and it provides the steps to assistance.

The Get Started page is a new addition to the NRCS website, and it provides the steps to assistance.

For generations, children have been singing about the farmer, his wife and kids, and even the mouse and the cheese. But today, a modern farmer is more likely to be using the mouse on his computer (or more realistically, a smartphone or tablet) than dancing around a small wooded valley with his family and farm animals.

The website of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, nrcs.usda.gov, has been evolving to keep pace with the needs of today’s farmer. Our mission is to provide American farmers, ranchers and other visitors with the tools and resources they are looking for on a site that is easy to use and navigate. Read more »

Grandparents Help Kids Develop Good Eating Habits

Grandchildren are a treasure.

Grandchildren are a treasure.

Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure.  From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver.  Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices–an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren.

As a proud grandmother, I can attest that grandkids learn by example!  They mimic everything you do, so be a healthy role model by taking care of yourself and they will learn to value healthy habits.  Use ChooseMyPlate.gov to guide your food choices and better understand the nutrition needs of young children in your life.  Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store.  Talk about the choices you are making—choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables.  Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Encourage them to be active throughout the day. Read more »

The Women of Agriculture: Paving the Path for a New Tomorrow

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden looks over olive blooms with Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard owner Sandy Winokur in Elemendorf, TX on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. USDA photo by Melissa Blair.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden looks over olive blooms with Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard owner Sandy Winokur in Elemendorf, TX on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. USDA photo by Melissa Blair.

During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an important call to action for our country:

“This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I would like to call attention to the remarkable work of women of agriculture. Not only are women the heart of many family farming operations across the country, women are starting and growing their own agricultural businesses– creating opportunity and economic growth for their families and in their local communities. Read more »

Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement Heroes in Western North Carolina

For six years, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Office Jason Crisp and his K-9 partner Maros patrolled the Grandfather Ranger District on the Pisgah National Forest. They were killed during a search for a homicide suspect. (U.S. Forest Service)

For six years, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Office Jason Crisp and his K-9 partner Maros patrolled the Grandfather Ranger District on the Pisgah National Forest. They were killed during a search for a homicide suspect. (U.S. Forest Service)

Law-enforcement peers, U.S. Forest Service employees, dignitaries and friends gathered at the McDowell County High School in Marion, N.C. last week to honor Forest Service law enforcement officer Jason Crisp and his K-9 partner, Maros. Among the memorial service attendees were 75 K-9 officers and their partners who paid tribute to both fallen officers.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory were among the thousands who filled the school’s gymnasium.

Crisp and Maros were shot and killed on March 12 pursuing a suspect who, just hours earlier, had allegedly killed his father and step-mother. As they had so many times before, Crisp and Maros were working to keep the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, and surrounding area safe. Read more »