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USDA Conservationist Recognizes Iconic Microsoft “Wallpaper” from Field Work

Microsoft used this photo titled “Bliss” for the default wallpaper on its XP operating system. Photo by Charles O’Rear.

Microsoft used this photo titled “Bliss” for the default wallpaper on its XP operating system. Photo by Charles O’Rear.

Windows XP was recently retired along with the iconic photo of a verdant green field on rolling hills that was the operating system’s default wallpaper.

This photo, called “Bliss,” had puzzled me for some time as it looked so familiar. Read more »

’68 Olympians return to Echo Summit

John Carlos breaks the tape and sets a world record of 19.7 seconds in the 200-meter final during the Olympic Trials in September 1968. Tommie Smith (right) placed second, and Larry Questad (red shorts and white jersey) was third. (Courtesy Track & Field News/Rich Clarkson)

John Carlos breaks the tape and sets a world record of 19.7 seconds in the 200-meter final during the Olympic Trials in September 1968. Tommie Smith (right) placed second, and Larry Questad (red shorts and white jersey) was third. (Courtesy Track & Field News/Rich Clarkson)

On June 27, 11 members of the 1968 U.S. Olympic men’s track and field team returned to the Eldorado National Forest to commemorate the site that helped catapult them to 24 medals — including 12 gold — in the Summer Games that year.

Nearly 46 years ago, Echo Summit, on the forest 10 miles west of South Lake Tahoe in California, was the site of a high-elevation training facility. At an elevation of 7,377 feet, the 400-meter oval track, carved out of a stand of pine trees, was designed to prepare athletes for high-altitude conditions that were similar to those in Mexico City, where the Games would be held. The site was later declared a California historic landmark. Read more »

It’s National Wildflower Week! Get a Little Wild with Flowers on National Forests and Grasslands

Birdseye (Hiawatha) Bird’s-eye primrose (Primula misstassincia) is found on the Hiawatha National Forest’s Pointe Aux Chenes Natural Area. It is the only true primrose native to the region with concentrations found near the shores of the Great Lakes. Inland, it is found in local fens, calcareous banks and sandstone cliffs. (U.S. Forest Service/Sara Davis)

Birdseye (Hiawatha) Bird’s-eye primrose (Primula misstassincia) is found on the Hiawatha National Forest’s Pointe Aux Chenes Natural Area. It is the only true primrose native to the region with concentrations found near the shores of the Great Lakes. Inland, it is found in local fens, calcareous banks and sandstone cliffs. (U.S. Forest Service/Sara Davis)

Hyacinth (Hoosier) The wild hyacinth are native perennial wildflowers that love full sun to slight shade and moist, rich soil. (U.S. Forest Service)

Hyacinth (Hoosier) The wild hyacinth are native perennial wildflowers that love full sun to slight shade and moist, rich soil. (U.S. Forest Service)

Walking along the peaceful Hunter Creek Road in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, in the Hoosier National Forest, you catch a glimpse of beautiful periwinkle flowers swaying in the warm spring air. A short hike uphill and you are immersed in the full bloom of wild hyacinth, along with other delightful wildflowers such as twinleaf and trout lily.

While getting caught up in the beauty and serenity of this colorful scene, you may observe a white-tailed deer, raccoon, fox squirrel, red-shouldered hawk or scarlet tanager. This enchanted corner of the Hoosier National Forest is its only congressionally designated wilderness. It boasts plentiful spring flora thanks to its proximity to a geologic feature known as the Mount Carmel Fault. And, this is just one of 82 Wildflower Viewing Areas in the Forest Service’s Eastern Region

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With 20 Years of Leadership and Vision, Tribal Water Project Heralds New Opportunities for Prosperity

Ninety-four year old former Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Member Marcella Le Beau celebrates the final stages of a major project underway to bring abundant and safe water to the Cheyenne River Reservation.

Ninety-four year old former Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Member Marcella Le Beau celebrates the final stages of a major project underway to bring abundant and safe water to the Cheyenne River Reservation.

Over 20 years ago, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Member, Marcella Le Beau had a vision for her community. She was part of the initial planning process to bring abundant, safe drinking water to her tribe in north central South Dakota. It has been a multi-year undertaking beginning with a new water intake on the Missouri River. Today, the second phase is underway to increase the undersized water treatment plant. On Earth Day last week, I had the honor of gathering with Marcella, Senator Tim Johnson, and others on the ground where the new plant and trunk line from the Missouri River will be built.

“It is a momentous day for our Cheyenne River Sioux family,” Marcella told me, “We have worked a very long time, with many dedicated people involved, to make this happen.”

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Conservation Easement Helps Family Revive Treasured Wetland

 

The Nelson family worked with USDA to repair and enhance a wetland with a conservation easement.

The Nelson family worked with USDA to repair and enhance a wetland with a conservation easement.

The Conservation Easement boundary on the Nelson ranch.

The Conservation Easement boundary on the Nelson ranch.

Born in Tacoma, Wash., Thomas “Tom” Nelson remembers spending his summers at his parents’ cabin in Swan Valley, Mont. “My mom would load us all up in the car or on the train and head over,” Tom said. He recalls how excited he was to hear his mom say, “go play!”

“And, boy did we,” he said. “We would pull some nice fish out of the beaver pond on Barber Creek for breakfast and just run freely. That was exciting for city kids.”

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Secretary’s Column: Landmark Farm Bill Support for Conservation Helps to Boost Rural Economy

Rural Americans have always had a strong connection to the land. Since 2009 alone, more than 500,000 farmers, ranchers and rural land owners across the country have embarked on record conservation projects with USDA as a partner. This week, USDA built on those efforts by announcing two new conservation programs that provide producers with even stronger tools to protect land and water resources across rural America.

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) were both established under the 2014 Farm Bill. ACEP, which streamlines several existing USDA easement programs, makes available $366 million per year to a variety of public and private partners for conservation easements. The easements provided through ACEP help ensure the long-term viability of our food supply by preventing conversion of productive lands to non-agricultural use, while simultaneously protecting critical wetland resources.

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