The U.S. Forest Service has burned more than 480 acres in the Flying J Project, an effort on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona to protect the community of Tusayan. The project is outside the Grand Canyon National Park and represents a small part of a larger effort to use controlled burns on more than 4,500 acres of the forest. So far, nearly 1,900 acres have been treated. (U.S. Forest Service/Holly Krake)
The loss of property and firefighters during wildfires are a reminder of the challenges we face in reducing the risks associated with large, unpredictable wildfires. Climate change, drought, insect infestations, changing land-use patterns, and other factors have contributed to increases in the complexity and in the numbers of wildfires across the United States.
Over the past four decades, some states such as Arizona and Idaho have seen the number of large fires burning each year more than triple. In many other western states, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wyoming, the number of large fires has doubled, according to a report by Climate Central. Average spring and summer temperatures across 11 Western states have increased by more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, contributing to higher wildfire risks. In Arizona, spring temperatures have warmed faster than any other state in the U.S., rising nearly 1 degree per decade since 1970, which likely played a role in the increasing number of fires in the state. Read more »
Sonia Kendrick, who founded Feed Iowa First, a non-profit organization in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was among a small group of local leaders across the nation recognized by the White House recently as “Women Veteran Leader Champions of Change.” The event on March 25 honored women veterans, highlighting their incredible contributions to the country’s business, public and community-service sectors.
Kendrick served in Afghanistan and upon her return was drawn to fighting hunger issues in Iowa through locally-grown food. By identifying available land around churches and other sites in the Cedar Rapids area and securing access to it, she and other volunteers have grown, harvested and donated thousands of pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries and the Meals on Wheels program. Read more »
Jeff and Kim Essig gave their blueberry farm a boost with a microloan to help purchase equipment that will further expand their operation.
This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
USDA’s Microloan program allows beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process, and up to seven years to repay. Through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) USDA is focused on increasing opportunities for farmers and ranchers and has made several modifications to farm loan programs, including making Microloans to beginning farmers and veterans exempt from direct loan term limits. Producers have more flexible access to credit for initial start-up expenses, family living expenses, minor farm improvements and hoop houses to extend the growing season.
Kentucky couple Kim and Jeff Essig, owners of Middlebridge Blueberry Farm, know about the benefits of the Microloan program first-hand. Kim shares their story: Read more »
Molly Stetz, a graduate student in wetland ecology in New York, gives of her time and expertise to NRCS through the Earth Team program. NRCS photo.
When not in class, Molly Stetz volunteered her time to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), assisting with the agency’s efforts to restore wetlands and curb other environmental concerns.
As part of National Volunteer Week, NRCS is celebrating the contributions of volunteers like Stetz that help the agency advance the conservation mission through Earth Team.
Stetz, a graduate student in wetland ecology at the State University of New York at Brockport, donated more than 900 hours to NRCS through the agency’s Earth Team volunteer program. Read more »
Drs. Rebecca Efroymson and Bill Hargrove held a recent science club meeting in Haw Creek Elementary School’s computer lab. (U.S. Forest Service/Stephanie Worley Firley)
When he was a child, Forest Service scientist Bill Hargrove burnt off his eyebrows making rocket fuel, blew up a sealed jar of cultured yeast and started a bathroom fire while doing sterile transfers for a carrot tissue culture. Fortunately, he survived his early scientific experiments and is now inspiring a new generation of young students.
America’s farmers and ranchers are a diverse bunch. They span the gamut – from farm families in operation for many generations to new and beginning farmers just getting their agricultural businesses started; from farmers raising commodities for export to farmers engaging in robust domestic and regional markets; from farmers managing big operations to smaller farmers tilling a few acres and everything in between.
No matter the size, type or history of their operation, there is one thing all farmers and ranchers agree on—accessing appropriate capital can be one of the biggest challenges to building a successful farm enterprise. And often, it’s important to start with the basics. Read more »