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Category: Forestry

Volunteers Put Down Roots to Keep Kenai Peninsula Stream Banks Healthy

Fishermen on a backwater channel of the Kenai River

The Stream Watch Volunteer Program reaches out to many fishermen who congregate on the Kenai Peninsula each summer season for the annual salmon runs. These enthusiasts are fishing on a backwater channel of the Kenai River just downstream of the Kenai/Russian Rivers confluence. (Photo courtesy of Ron Neibrugge)

The river banks of the Upper Kenai and Russian Rivers in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula are known to attract some of the most avid fishermen. In the last couple decades, they have also lured a growing number of citizen volunteers who are equally passionate about an environmental stewardship mission to protect them.

The diverse system of plants that grow along the two rivers and their stream beds control erosion and help filter and keep those waters clean. But over decades of use, the numbers of anglers visiting these special places have left their mark. Read more »

Bison are back and here to stay at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Bison on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Bison on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Photo credit: Gary Chancey, US Forest Service.

Guest Post by Hannah Ettema of the National Forest Foundation.

It was like stepping back through time on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Some 200 years ago, when bison prominently roamed the Illinois landscape, kicking up dust as they ran in the herd before settling against a back-drop of tall prairie grasses.

That scene from the past is actually part of the Midewin’s future as four bulls and 23 cows were introduced to their new 1,200 acre enclosure. The first to arrive were the bulls, one 2-year-old and three 3-year-olds, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colo. Read more »

Seventy Years Could Not Erase the Memory of a Wildfire Hero

Deidra McGee holding the award she was given by the Triple Nickles Association

Deidra McGee holds the award she was given by the Triple Nickles Association. Photo credit: US Forest Service

It’s been a busy few months for the Triple Nickles, the U.S. Forest Service’s first African-American smoke jumping crew. On Aug. 6 of this year a member of the crew who was the first recorded death of a hot shot wildland firefighter was posthumously honored at his gravesite that was recently found after a long search.

Seventy years ago, Pfc. Malvin L. Brown of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion known as the Triple Nickles, died while serving his country. Because of the racism prevalent in the segregated U.S military of the 1940s, Brown wasn’t given a burial with the honors he had earned. Read more »

A Look at Life in the Wildland Urban Interface

A house threatened by a forest fire in central Oregon

A house threatened by a forest fire in central Oregon. Photo credit: US Forest Service

If I were to go running on my favorite trail on the west side of town and ask one of the homeowners, whose house abuts the natural area, to describe where they live, I am guessing they would first say Fort Collins, or maybe offer the name of their neighborhood, followed by “at the base of the foothills.” I am almost certain they would not tell me that they live in the “wildland urban interface.” Yet, that is exactly where they live.

There is a growing population that seeks refuge in and near forests and other natural areas. Not for hiking, biking, and picnicking, but rather to live, in primary residences and second homes. The beauty of the landscape is a great impetus for deciding where to locate. This inspiring beauty, however, masks a wide range of potential threats, of which many homeowners are unaware. Read more »

Celebrate the Mysterious World of Caves, a Home for Bats during International Bat Week

Lesser long-nosed bat pollinating a saguaro cactus in the desert Southwest

Lesser long-nosed bat pollinating a saguaro cactus in the desert Southwest. Photo: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International

What images enter your mind when you think of caves or bats? Many people’s initial thoughts center around small spaces, dark places and the misleading myths surrounding the world’s only flying mammal. Both caves and bats are part of a fascinating story found in your national forests and grasslands.

“Natural caves are some of the most unique and complex resources managed by the Forest Service,” said Cynthia Sandeno, a wildlife biologist for the Forest Service’s Eastern Region. “Caves are also home to many living things like bats that play a vital role in our everyday lives, by controlling insects and pollinating plants like agave.” Read more »

The Biology of Fall Leaves: It’s all about Chemistry

Aspens in the Fishlake National Forest

The golden leaves of aspens shimmer in the midst of other fall colors on the Fishlake National Forest in Utah. (U.S. Forest Service)

Forests become a veritable garden in the fall, presenting a riot of color in national forests as well as on the streets where we live.

But what exactly is going on in those leaves? How – and why – do leaves change color, and why is there so much variety? It boils down to chemistry. Read more »