Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Category: Conservation

How USDA’s Snow Survey Program Got Started

James E. Church pictured in 1920. Courtesy of University of Reno, Nevada.

James E. Church pictured in 1920. Courtesy of University of Reno, Nevada.

James E. Church was a man who answered his calling. Like a real-life Indiana Jones, Professor Church pursued adventure around the world, ending a war and helping to found the Snow Survey Program on the way. Every hero needs a cause; Church found his in snow.

Born in Michigan in 1869, Church moved west in 1901 to teach classics and art history at the University of Nevada, Reno. The nearby Sierra Nevada fascinated him. He hiked there often, publishing his mountaineering accounts in the Sierra Club newsletter. Read more »

From Soils to Suitcase, Oregon Geologist Travels the World to Help Those in Need

Paul Pedone, a geologist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, poses for a photo with Zebitt in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia while working on a school construction project with Engineers Without Borders. Photo courtesy of Paul Pedone.

Paul Pedone, a geologist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, poses for a photo with Zebitt in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia while working on a school construction project with Engineers Without Borders. Photo courtesy of Paul Pedone.

When most people think about retirement, they think of sitting on a beach, reading books, or relaxing. Paul Pedone, has different plans. As a newly-registered member of Engineers Without Borders, Pedone is traveling across the globe to do what he does best — study the soil.

“I was looking for a meaningful retirement opportunity, so I got involved with our local EWB chapter here in Portland,” said Pedone, a geologist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Oregon. “I started working with a group of students at Portland State University as a mentor for their EWB program.”

Pedone has worked for NRCS for 43 years, and as the prospect of retirement nears, his work with EWB provides a pathway to continue his service to the environment and to others. Read more »

American Farmland Trust and Many Others Thankful for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine presents NRCS Chief Jason Weller (right) with a thank you card with more than 1,300 signatures. NRCS photo.

American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine presents NRCS Chief Jason Weller (right) with a thank you card with more than 1,300 signatures. NRCS photo.

As a part of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing and hearing about the impact our work is having on the communities we serve.

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine. He presented me with a card signed by more than 1,300 people thanking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and NRCS for the successful launch of the newest Farm Bill conservation program – the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Read more »

USDA’s Bay Delta Initiative Enables Landowners to Remove Insecticides from California’s Walker Creek

Special tours continue to be a part of Colusa Glenn Subwatershed Program’s educational outreach to growers to encourage the use of good conservation management practices. NRCS photo.

Special tours continue to be a part of Colusa Glenn Subwatershed Program’s educational outreach to growers to encourage the use of good conservation management practices. NRCS photo.

Water in California’s Walker Creek is now safer for residents, farmers and wildlife because of the hard work of conservationists, with funding made available through Bay Delta Initiative, (BDI), an effort of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS).

The Bay Delta region, located in the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds of California, encompasses over 38 million acres and is one of the most important estuary systems in the nation. BDI helps clean and conserve water in this region as well as enhance wildlife habitat. Read more »

Cutting Edge Genetics Research for Wildlife and Fish Conservation

Kellie Carim, eDNA coordinator for the Genomics Center, collects and processes samples. (Photos by Michael Schwartz (left) and Katie Zarn, U.S. Forest Service)

Kellie Carim, eDNA coordinator for the Genomics Center, collects and processes samples. (Photos by Michael Schwartz (left) and Katie Zarn, U.S. Forest Service)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

The U.S. Forest Service has a long history as a leader in conservation genetics, and this recently took an exciting step forward with the launch of the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation.

The Forest Service’s wildlife genetics lab, which has been central to the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s conservation genetics program since 1998, has been reorganized and renamed to better reflect the scope of its work nationwide. The Center is a leading edge facility for advanced genomics research, nationally recognized, and works extensively with states, tribes, universities and private groups to address the management issues of over 60 fish and wildlife species. Read more »

USDA and Pheasants Forever Renew Partnership to Conservation

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini speaks at the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini speaks at the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.

I recently attended the 2015 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met with sportsmen, farmers, young people, wildlife biologists and others who are committed to strengthening wildlife habitat throughout America. It was exciting to see firsthand the passion for the native and restored grasslands and woodlands that typify the rural American landscape.

I had the honor of speaking to the group, where I highlighted the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  CRP, one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the nation, is designed to reduce soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife. Interested landowners can establish long-term USDA-approved grasses or trees in exchange for USDA helping with the cost of establishing the plants and providing annual payments for 10 to 15 years. The covers along fields, streams and rivers prevent soil and nutrients from washing into waterways, reduce soil erosion that may otherwise contribute to poor air and water quality, and provide valuable habitat for wildlife. Read more »