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Category: Conservation

Community Combats Pollution in Inlet, Succeeds in Restoring Oyster Populations

The inlet once suffered from pollution. But the nearby community gathered together to improve water quality by preventing runoff of sediment and nutrients. Now, oysters thrive. NRCS photo.

The inlet once suffered from pollution. But the nearby community gathered together to improve water quality by preventing runoff of sediment and nutrients. Now, oysters thrive. NRCS photo.

Two years ago, the Nisqually Shellfish Farm south of Belfair, Wash. didn’t have a chance. Runoff from surrounding homes and dairy farms polluted Henderson Inlet, and the state declared the water unfit for raising shellfish for human consumption.

Worsening the problem, the place was overrun with an invasive species, the Japanese oyster drill, which feeds on and kills shellfish.

But water quality in the inlet, which flows into Puget Sound, is improving. Last year, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) began working with a nearby tribe and shellfish producers to monitor and remove the Japanese oyster drill. Read more »

New USDA Methods Will Help Land Owners Manage Carbon and Greenhouse Gases

A new report issued today by USDA should help farmers and ranchers make informed decisions resulting in better soil and ultimately reduce greenhouse emissions.

A new report issued today by USDA should help farmers and ranchers make informed decisions resulting in better soil and ultimately reduce greenhouse emissions.

For the past 3 years, I have worked with a team of experts and scores of reviewers on a report published today, Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture and Forestry: Methods for Entity-Scale Inventory.

If you are a landowner, scientist, or conservationist looking for new tools to estimate carbon storage and greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes, you will want to take a look at this report.  It provides the scientific basis and methodology to assess the GHG benefits of conservation practices and farm, ranch and forest management. This information will help producers gauge progress in building healthy, carbon-rich soils and, ultimately, more resilient production of food, fiber and fuel. Read more »

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 »

Conservation Work Restores Habitat for At-Risk Wildlife and Plants on Hawaiian Island

NRCS Soil Conservationist Jessica Ludgate with Molokai Land Trust Executive Director Butch Haase monitor growth of native plants at Hui Ho'olana's nursery. NRCS photo. Photo used with permission.

NRCS Soil Conservationist Jessica Ludgate with Molokai Land Trust Executive Director Butch Haase monitor growth of native plants at Hui Ho'olana’s nursery. NRCS photo. Photo used with permission.

The Molokai Land Trust (MLT) is a partner of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in its efforts to restore native landscapes on the Island of Molokai in Hawaii. MLT and NRCS have partnered together on many projects, including the one highlighted in this post. Justin Fritscher, NRCS.

The endangered wedge-tailed shearwater and other at-risk plant and wildlife species find sanctuary in the coastal dune ecosystem of Hawaii. But like many native ecosystems in the state, this one suffers from the effects of human development and invasive plants and animals.

In an effort to restore ecosystems in the region, the Molokai Land Trust, or MLT, on the Island of Molokai, is working to restore and replant native vegetation and remove threats from invasive species. Read more »

Hawaiian Canoe Carries Pledge of Conservation Around the World

Representatives from multiple conservation groups aboard the Hokule’a, a double-hulled voyaging canoe. The Hokule’a will carry a signed pledge promoting world conservation to its 26 ports of call. (Courtesy Hawaii Conservation Alliance)

Representatives from multiple conservation groups aboard the Hokule’a, a double-hulled voyaging canoe. The Hokule’a will carry a signed pledge promoting world conservation to its 26 ports of call. (Courtesy Hawaii Conservation Alliance)

On May 30, the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a set sail from the Hawaiian Islands on a more than 50,000-mile, 26-country journey around the world. The crew’s mission: to spread the word about the importance of world conservation.

The dual-masted, 62-foot Hōkūle‘a, along with her escort the voyaging canoe Hikianalia, will travel to Tahiti, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa around Cape Horn, Brazil and Florida, and through the Panama Canal before heading to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). At Rapa Nui, younger crewmembers will take the helm and sail back to Hawaii. Read more »

Longleaf Pines Flourish on an East Texas Ranch

Simon Winston and his family recently won the national Leopold Conservation Award for their conservation work.

Simon Winston and his family recently won the national Leopold Conservation Award for their conservation work.

In deep East Texas, pine trees are king. Towering pines line the roads and blanket the rolling countryside and national forests. Loblolly and slash pine dominate the landscape in contrast to the area’s historic longleaf pine trees that once reigned.

The reduced number of longleaf pines has not gone unnoticed by landowners and conservationists. In response to the striking loss of longleaf pine trees from Texas to Florida, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the national Longleaf Pine Initiative, which provides technical and financial assistance for conservation practices that help restore longleaf pine forests and enhance existing pine stands. Read more »