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: Forestry

Celebrating World Water Day along the Eastern Continental Divide

Graphic showing the streamflow from the Monongahela National Forest to the Gulf of Mexico

Streamflow that originates on the Monongahela National Forest flows to the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. During that journey, it supplies drinking water to many municipalities in nine states and Washington, DC. (US Forest Service graphic)

Today, March 22, is World Water Day, and the U.S. Forest Service joins the international community in celebrating water and inspiring good stewardship of this vital resource. Forests are essential to our survival and well-being due in large part to the ecosystem services they provide, including our fresh water.

Surface water that originates on our national forests has many important purposes, one of which is providing drinking water for millions of people in the United States. Surface water is water in rivers, streams, creeks, lakes and reservoirs. Surrounding trees and forests play a major role in keeping these waterways clean and healthy. Read more »

International Day of Forests 2016

Alternare instructors demonstrating proactive land management practices

Alternare instructors demonstrating proactive land management practices. Photo credit: Alternare

March 21, 2016 marks the United Nations’ fourth annual International Day of Forests, a day to celebrate the important and diverse contributions of the world’s forests. As it has from the start, the U.S. Forest Service commemorates the day and works with international partners throughout the year to protect the health of forest ecosystems worldwide.

For over 50 years, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has partnered with Mexico and Canada through the North American Forest Commission, one of six regional forestry commissions under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Read more »

Celebrating International Day of Forests with a Splash

Forest Service employees and volunteers removing giant cane in the Big Tujunga watershed

Forest Service employees and volunteers remove giant cane in the Big Tujunga watershed in summer 2015. Photo credit: National Forest Foundation

In a changing climate, it takes elaborate and energetic collaboration to preserve forests around the world, and there is no better celebration of trees than water conservation.  The United Nation’s International Day of Forests, this March 21, is a time for heightening awareness of these partnerships, their ambitions, and the values and services forests provide.

Events that disturb the forest on a landscape scale often dramatically alter all of the resources that characterize a healthy ecosystem. This is something the U.S. Forest Service is all too familiar with as every year more fires burn earlier in the fire season and many have grown in scale. Read more »

A River Runs Through It – An Oregon National Forest at the Heart of a Movement

A Wild Spring Chinook Salmon

Arising in the Willamette National Forest, the Mckenzie River is one of the largest Willamette River tributaries and is a stronghold for Wild Spring Chinook Salmon that rely on its pure water and clean gravels to spawn. Photo: David Herasimtschuk, Freshwaters Illustrated

Oregon’s McKenzie River has a lot to boast about. One of the cleanest and coldest rivers in the country, it’s the most important tributary for wild spring Chinook salmon and Bull trout production in the entire Willamette River Basin. It’s part of more than 100 miles of streams that the Willamette National Forest and many partners have restored over the last 10 years.

“What happens around these headwaters has important implications downstream,” said Kate Meyer, a fisheries biologist on the Willamette National Forest. “Land managed by the Forest Service makes up 66 percent of the McKenzie River Sub-basin and 24 percent of the Willamette River Basin, and it’s the source of 74 percent and 31 percent of the water feeding each river respectively.” Read more »

Managing Forests in the Face of Drought – There is Help!

Forests on the Conecuh National Forest

Longleaf pine plantations of trees approximately 25 years old have received their first commercial thinning on the Conecuh National Forest. Photo credit: Jim Guldin, US Forest Service

Drought, especially prolonged or severe drought, can be a major stress in forest ecosystems.  Drought can kill trees directly or indirectly through insect attack or wildfire. Both of which are more likely to occur during drought.

Tree mortality impacts most of the ecosystem services provided by forests, including the amount of wood that grows, how much carbon is captured and stored, the health of critical wildlife habitat, water yield and quality, and even whether it’s safe to pursue recreational activities such as hiking or hunting. Read more »

The Building Blocks of Forest Restoration Partnerships

A forest in a wetland

Isolated depressional wetlands are an integral part of the local ecosystem and often provide wetland restoration opportunities.

Is it possible to simultaneously promote natural resources conservation and the growth of businesses that impact the environment?  Yes.  One way to do so is through “compensatory mitigation.” Compensatory mitigation is the preservation, restoration and/or establishment of a resource to offset unavoidable adverse impacts to the resource elsewhere.

For example, a compensatory mitigation agreement created in 2013 helped advance conservation in Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests in South Carolina and business growth in the surrounding area.  Here’s how:  Under the agreement, three local businesses supported restoration projects that improved aquatic resources located inside the Forests in order to mitigate projects that had unavoidable impacts on wetlands located outside the Forests, typically within the same ecosystem.  The three participating businesses were: Duke Energy, Boeing, and The City of Charleston.  Unavoidable impacts to streams, wetlands and salt marsh were mitigated under the novel agreement. Read more »