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Category: Conservation

Environmental Markets Help Improve Water Quality

Environmental Markets graphic

Environmental trading markets are springing up across the nation.

Environmental trading markets are springing up across the nation with goals of facilitating the buying and selling of ecosystem services and helping more private landowners get conservation on the ground.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in December 2014 to announce the state’s first trade under its nutrient trading program for stormwater. Read more »

NRCS Helps to Keep Native American Traditions Alive

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Mississippi soil conservation technician Allen Hughes displays baskets made from Southeastern longleaf pine needles in Poplarville, MS

NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Allen Hughes mailed longleaf pine needles from his backyard to Oregon to be used to weave baskets, a Native American tradition across the U.S. Photo: Justin Fritscher, NRCS.

The 567 federally-recognized Native American Tribes are unique in their own way—from their languages and family structure, to their clothing and food. Tribes are working hard to revive their roots to help reconnect their heritage to the land, rekindle their spiritual bonds and cultural traditions, and raise awareness amongst future generations; especially tribal youth in line to inherit the land.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with the tribes like the Choctaw Indians, comprised of nearly 10,000 members across the United States, to farm and harvest hickory king corn and other heirloom white varieties, and process them to make hominy. Hominy is made from dried corn kernels, but it is expensive to purchase. NRCS provides the tribe with technical assistance to help transform idle land into a hominy-making enterprise–enabling the tribe to provide their own locally-grown, fresh produce, and cut their expenses by growing the corn. Read more »

Ranchers Using NRCS Conservation Practices Boost Prairie Chicken Occupancy

Lesser prairie-chickens

Lesser prairie-chickens benefit from lands where a rancher is using prescribed grazing, according to a new report. Photo courtesy of Nick Richter.

Habitat conservation practices make a difference for lesser prairie-chickens. That’s the finding of a recent scientific study – the first part of a multi-year study – described in a new report from the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI).

LPCI, led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), works with partner organizations and ranchers to improve habitat and address threats to the bird. Since 2010, more than 1 million acres of habitat have been restored on working lands. Read more »

Do It Yourself: Expert Help for Improving Bobwhite Habitat on Your Land

A northern bobwhite

The northern bobwhite is often referred to as an “edge” species, seeking habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures and abandoned lands. NRCS photo by Stephen Kirkpatrick.

If you’re looking to save money around the house, you can find hundreds of helpful videos on a wide variety of “do it yourself” repair and remodeling projects. Social media and other online networking tools can put you in touch with experts to answer your questions along the way.

Well, wildlife habitat can be DIY, too. As a partner biologist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), I work one-on-one with landowners in Virginia to help them make wildlife-friendly improvements to their property, specifically improvements that benefit the northern bobwhite and associated species. Read more »

Pennsylvania Landowners Helping Indiana Bat through ‘Spooky’ Declines

NRCS Chief Jason Weller with Tom Belinda and Rob Clauto

NRCS Chief Jason Weller (left) visited with NRCS District Conservationist Rob Clauto (center) and Blair County landowner Tom Belinda (right) to see some of the practices at work on the land.

When most people think of bats, images of dark caves, vampires and Halloween come to mind. But actually, bats get a bad rap, and we often don’t know how important they are for controlling insects, pollinating plants, dispersing seeds and improving biodiversity.

Many of our nation’s bats are facing population declines to near-extinction levels, primarily because of disease and loss of habitat. One of those species is the Indiana bat, an endangered species that has experienced rapid declines since the 1960s. Read more »

Join the Bat Squad and Pull for Bats during Bat Week

Jennifer Redell with a straw-coloured fruit bat

Jennifer Redell, a conservation biologist/cave and mine specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, gives a close up and personal look at a straw-coloured fruit bat, the most widely distributed of the African fruit bats. Bats fulfill many important ecosystem functions, such as pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds during their flights. (U.S. Forest Service)

Bats have quite the list of positive effects in our world, from the billions of dollars they save in pesticides to natural pollination and seed spreading. Bats eat about one-half of their body weight in insects each night.

We need bats.

In honor of our furry, flying mammal friends, consider pulling for bats during Bat Week from Oct. 24-31. You can make a difference, whether you get a group together to literally pull invasive plants to help improve habitat and food for bats or figuratively “pull” for bats by sharing why they are important to our ecosystem with your friends and family. And, the great news is that you don’t have to be an adult to help bats. Read more »