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Category: Conservation

World Soil Day – A Time to Celebrate the Foundation of Agriculture

Amy Overstreet holding soil

Amy Overstreet, NRCS Public Information Officer, created a video series for the 2015 International Year of Soils to raise awareness and appreciation for everything that soil provides.

Last year during the International Year of Soils (IYS), I had the incredible opportunity to help the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) spread the word about the many life-giving functions of soil. As part of this effort, I traveled to New York City to attend the kickoff ceremony for IYS at the United Nations, which was held on World Soil Day.

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly designated December 5 as World Soil Day. It is observed this day each year to honor the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, the world’s longest reigning monarch, who passed away in October. He played a pivotal role in the promotion of soil science and conservation, and was a leader in sustainable land resource management. Read more »

Artisan Cheese Makers Embrace Voluntary Conservation at Award-Winning Vermont Dairy

Cheesemakers left to right: Creamery Manager and Head Cheesemaker Leslie Goff (center) with Consider Bardwell owner Angela Miller (right) and cheesemaker Anastasia Barrett. Photo: Amy Overstreet, NRCS Vermont.

Cheesemakers left to right: Creamery Manager and Head Cheesemaker Leslie Goff (center) with Consider Bardwell owner Angela Miller (right) and cheesemaker Anastasia Barrett. Photo: Amy Overstreet, NRCS Vermont.

The story behind Vermont’s Consider Bardwell could be the plot for a great movie. The lead characters are Russell and Angela, two New York City executives who decide in their fifties that they want to buy a farm, raise goats, and be artisan cheesemakers. The setting is a 300-acre dairy farm and cheese operation in West Pawlet, Vermont. And the twist…they had no previous farming experience.

What could have been a comedy is an inspiring story of dedication and perseverance. This is the true tale of an architect and a literary agent who pursue a dream to farm sustainably through a voluntary conservation approach, and create a unique farm-to-plate product. Their partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is helping to ensure the health of the natural resources on their farm. Read more »

Sagebrush Songbirds under the Sage Grouse Umbrella

New maps reveal the patterns of abundance of sagebrush songbirds, based on Breeding Bird Survey count data combined with sagebrush cover, landform, and climate variables. Shown here is the range-wide relative abundance of Brewer’s sparrow. Map courtesy Patrick Donnelly, IWJV.

New maps reveal the patterns of abundance of sagebrush songbirds, based on Breeding Bird Survey count data combined with sagebrush cover, landform, and climate variables. Shown here is the range-wide relative abundance of Brewer’s sparrow. Map courtesy Patrick Donnelly, IWJV.

The charismatic sage grouse is often in the spotlight as the flagship species in the sagebrush ecosystem. The smaller songbirds that live alongside the grouse don’t always attract as much attention, but they are also good indicators of how the sagebrush range is faring.

Recently, in a project funded by the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Intermountain West Joint Venture (IMJV), scientists set out to evaluate whether investments in sage grouse conservation serve as an “umbrella” that extends benefits to other sagebrush-dependent wildlife, too. These findings are summarized in a new Science to Solutions report by SGI, a partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

Digitally discover your public lands using the new Forest Service Visitor Map

Visitor Map screenshot shows a sampling of Yonder images from national forests and grasslands throughout the country. (U.S. Forest Service.)

Visitor Map screenshot shows a sampling of Yonder images from national forests and grasslands throughout the country. (U.S. Forest Service.)

There are few better ways to plan your get away on a national forests or grasslands than to use the Forest Service’s online Visitor Map. With thousands of recreation areas, roads and an increasing number of trail systems, you can digitally explore and plan your next adventure from home before you even hit the road.

 With recently updated features, finding the perfect forest or grassland location is easier than ever. 

Read more »

Advocacy and Outreach – Keys to Success in Serving Farmers, Ranchers and the Future of Agriculture in Underserved Communities

Ribbon Cutting for the Socially Disadvantage Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University

Ribbon Cutting for the Socially Disadvantage Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University

Day in, day out, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) brings programs to many farmers and ranchers as well as opportunities to students. As I meet with farmers, ranchers and USDA interns, a sense of great appreciation and anticipation wells up for the future of agriculture. One of the USDA offices that serves these farmers and students is the Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO). OAO staff connect with farmers, community organizers, veterans, educators and students to bring opportunities and services.

OAO works with community-based organizations to ensure access to USDA programs and services for underserved and limited-resource communities and farmers. A major program is the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program).  Forty-five projects from organizations representing 25 States were awarded $8.8 million in 2016. This included a second year of $400,000 for the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University. Read more »

USDA Helps Iraqi War Veteran Enhance Conservation On Farm

Adam Boge shows the height of the elevated ridges on his cropland and corn residue, key elements in his ridge till system to manage soil erosion and improve soil health.

Adam Boge shows the height of the elevated ridges on his cropland and corn residue, key elements in his ridge till system to manage soil erosion and improve soil health.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping Iraq War veteran Adam Boge improve technology and other efficiencies in his new farming operation, allowing the Ventura farmer to prepare for long-term success in the first full year on his own.

Boge enlisted in the Army directly out of high school. After his initial military service, he attended Iowa State University for Ag Systems Technology and Mechanical Engineering. College was interrupted, however, by his Iraq deployment. Boge represented the Army National Guard’s 1133rd Transportation Company out of Mason City for 15 months throughout 2003 and 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Read more »