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Category: Conservation

Secretary’s Column: Partnerships Power Conservation Efforts

When USDA launched the Regional Conservation Partnership Program several months ago, we talked about our hope that this new way of doing business would build coalitions of unlikely partners and bring new money and resources for conservation projects to the table.

The overwhelmingly positive response to this new approach has far exceeded our initial expectations. Over the past several months, nearly 5,000 partners have come together to submit nearly 600 pre-proposals to USDA. All told, these coalitions of partners requested more than six times the $394 million in funding available from USDA for the first round of conservation projects, in addition to bringing their own, matching resources to the table. Read more »

Making Artisan Cheese, a Couple Preserves a Way of Life

Nancy Mims tests a batch of cheese. NRCS photo.

Nancy Mims tests a batch of cheese. NRCS photo.

John and Nancy Mims never imagined they would be running a dairy when they met at the University of Florida and married 40-some years ago.  He was going to be an architect and a pilot, and she was going to be a nurse.

They were going to move to the Caribbean. But then John was drafted.  After a six-year stint in the Navy, Nancy’s father died, and they went home to help her mother on the dairy where Nancy grew up. They ended up buying the dairy in 1980.

It is a lifestyle the two have grown to love and they have worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to protect their way of life. Read more »

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 »