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Category: Forestry

Citizen Scientists Help Monitor Nation’s Watershed Health

Citizen scientist volunteer Kenny Moore

Citizen scientist volunteer Kenny Moore collects a water sample from one of over 60 project sites. All volunteers are trained to follow the collection requirements that ensure their samples can be accurately analyzed in the lab. They also visit the same site four times a year even in winter. Photo credit: Leanne Veldhuis

What do adventurers, microplastics, and your national forests have in common?

Water.

Our national forests and the glaciers, lakes, and rivers running through them form the headwaters for the majority of America’s drinking water. This includes many of our big cities and growing urban centers, even those that are far away from national forests. Because of its importance, protecting clean, abundant water is a priority for the U.S. Forest Service, and thankfully, it’s a priority of a growing number of our partners. Read more »

Cold War Heroes Honored by U.S. Forest Service

A vault filled with personal mementos from the victims’ loved ones lies at the foot of the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Memorial

A vault filled with personal mementos from the victims’ loved ones lies at the foot of the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Memorial. The marble slab that covers it is blank, signifying the secrecy under which these heroes worked. Photo credit: US Forest Service

The Cold War was called a war for a reason—many died in the defense of democracy and free markets.

To honor those who died in the Cold War era, which lasted for more than 40 years, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’ Spring Mountains National Recreation Area partnered with Silent Heroes of the Cold War and GO Mt. Charleston to dedicate the Visitor Gateway site, home to the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Memorial.

The new site is our nation’s first national memorial honoring the lives lost during the Cold War. Read more »

Following Water in the Rocky Mountains

Tom Brown hiking Chasm Lake

Tom Brown hiking Chasm Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo credit: Tom Brown

In cycling the Continental Divide in Colorado, you get a vivid picture of where much of our water comes from. During my long bike rides up there, I commonly find snow still melting in June. This snowmelt adds to streamflow that becomes our renewable water supply and my drinking water supply.

The part of rain and snowfall that does not naturally go back into the atmosphere becomes our water supply and it varies greatly across the United States. In the wettest regions, such as New England, precipitation is plentiful and about half of it ends up in streams or replenishes ground water supplies. Read more »

Alaska Beavers Entertain Web Cam Viewers Around the World

A busy beaver gathering a tree sprig

A busy beaver gathers a tree sprig to help build his lodge on Steep Creek on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Photo courtesy of Don Martin, Tongass National Forest

Two beavers sleep peacefully in their den on Steep Creek in Juneau, Alaska, never realizing they are being watched via a hidden infrared camera. Hundreds of viewers tune-in to a live video feed on the U.S. Forest Service YouTube Channel throughout the day to see the beavers come and go, breathing rhythmically as they nap and then stretch, chew and scratch an occasional itch.

Although the beaver cam is now an established fixture at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, it started out of simple curiosity according to Pete Schneider, a natural resource specialist for the Tongass National Forest. He and fisheries biologist Don Martin first experimented with a beaver cam in 2004 after they saw a cache of food in front of a beaver lodge on Steep Creek. It was a sure indication that beavers, who have a tendency to move around, were actually using the lodge at the time. They decided to run electricity through a conduit to that location in order to power an infrared camera. Read more »

FAS Capacity-Building Efforts in Central America Yield Benefits There and at Home

Pablo Chacón, a Guatemalan farmer

Pablo Chacón, a Guatemalan farmer, takes notes at the CATIE dairy farm and research center in Turrialba, Costa Rica, where he is studying agroforestry on an FAS-funded scholarship.

Pablo Chacón, a young Guatemalan farmer who is studying agroforestry at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, can now show the people in his home community how livestock grazing and hardwood forests can co-exist and prosper. Earlier this month, he told me and other Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) visitors to CATIE that the education he gained from his FAS-funded scholarship to CATIE has equipped him to be a change maker.

“CATIE’s research in the tropics shows that degraded lands can be restored using combined forest and pastoral production systems,” Chacón said. “The benefits of trees in pastures are clear: The shade helps reduce stress in animals during the dry season, keeps moisture in the soil and retains the strength of pastures during the dry season.” Read more »

Wildlife Underpass to Benefit Animals, Drivers

Members of the Highway 89 Stewardship Team

Members of the Highway 89 Stewardship Team ceremonially broke ground in early May to begin construction on two wildlife underpasses in northeast California. Photo credit: Sagehen Creek Field Station

Every year in the U.S. roughly 200 people are killed in as many as 2 million wildlife-vehicle collisions and at a cost of more than $8 billion, according to the Western Transportation Institute.

But the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station scientists, along with their collaborators in the Highway 89 Stewardship Team, are paving the way to reduce those statistics with their latest project. The team broke ground last May on its second and third wildlife underpasses along a 25-mile stretch of Highway 89 between Truckee and Sierraville, California. Read more »