Fields-Johnson rotates his goats and sheep through the thinned stands to browse on honeysuckle and other understory vegetation. (Photo courtesy of Tom Ward and Colleen Rossier)
Throughout his life, Chris Fields-Johnson has been keenly aware of the need to preserve the natural landscapes, which provide us with clean air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat. As a graduate student of soil science at Virginia State and Polytechnic University, a forestry undergraduate, a student of Tom Brown, Jr.’s Tracker School and a former employee of the Virginia Department of Forestry, he also knows much of the science behind soil restoration and forestry. These experiences have given him a strong desire to turn his knowledge into action by managing land in the most beneficial way possible.
To make this dream a reality, he began converting a 250-acre loblolly pine plantation in Scottsville, Virginia., into a goat and sheep silvopasture system that resembles a pine savanna landscape. Silvopasture combines trees with forage and livestock production. The trees are managed for high-value sawlogs and, at the same time, provide shade and shelter for livestock and forage, reducing livestock stress and sometimes improving forage quality. Fields-Johnson and friends have spent many weekends thinning and pruning trees by hand, conducting controlled burns, fighting invasive plants and experimenting with forage establishment while they also learn how to raise goats and sheep. Read more »
G.R.A.C.E Memorial in Glen Rock, New Jersey, is in Veterans Park directly across from the town's commuter train station. The site was chosen by the Glen Rock Assistance Council and Endowment after input of family members in the community directly affected by 9/11. (Courtesy Living Memorials Project National Registry)
Living memorials serve as a reminder of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends—but also of the power of community to reflect, rebuild and renew. Our research suggests that living memorials demonstrate the role of nature in contemporary times not only as a symbol, but as an innate and purposeful response to loss that calls forth a common humanity and compassion for others.
In other words, they demonstrate how people use nature to be resilient to loss. Read more »
Wildland fires burn intensely and creating a defensible space around your home can be the difference between a close call and destruction. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service
We’ve all seen the heart-wrenching images on TV: lives and property destroyed by wildland fire. And, this fire season, with over eight million acres burned, we are seeing these images more frequently.
Most of us think nothing can be done to protect a home from the onslaught of a raging wildland fire. Don’t be fooled, there is a way to protect your home. The U.S. Forest Service calls it Fire Wise. Read more »
Standing in a disturbed patch of forest, Menominee forester Jeff Grignon looks around and explains, “My role is to regenerate the forest, maintain the forest, create diversity, and look toward the future.” This task is becoming increasingly challenging as growing forest health issues intersect with additional stressors brought about by climate change in the forests of the Menominee Nation and elsewhere.
As a leader in forestry and natural resource conservation, USDA has a long history of working with tribes to address their management issues and concerns. Climate change is an active part of that discussion, and has been increasing through development of the new USDA Regional Climate Hubs. The network of Hubs deliver science-based knowledge, practical information, and program support to help natural resource managers, producers, and landowners make climate-informed decisions and then implement those decisions. Read more »
The new trail was constructed with a more gradual grade to allow elderly members of the Land Grant Association easier access to the cemetery. (USFS Photo)
Since the 1800s, heirs of the San Joaquin del Rio de Chama Land Grant in northern New Mexico have been tending to graves and religious sites in a small cemetery at the top of a mesa in the Chama River Canyon. For at least three decades, they had to travel by foot up the hill to reach the cemetery, which was assumed to lie within the boundaries of the Chama River Canyon Wilderness Area.
Under that Wilderness designation, motorized access to the site was prohibited. As the trail disintegrated, elderly members of the community were no longer able to make the journey. Through a unique effort, the Forest Service found a way to provide easier access to the cemetery. Read more »
Dr. Richard Reynolds talks with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species. Photo credit: Jennifer Hayes, US Forest Service
It started with a call from a concerned landowner living on Pine Country Lane, nestled in the foothills just west of Denver. The landscape spread out before them was scarred from previous high-severity fires, the homeowners told their local Conservation District.
Their home was sitting at the top of a hill in a tinderbox surrounded by dense forests dying from bark beetle and tussock moth invasions. Decades of fire suppression has altered forests on the Front Range. These forests were historically adapted to frequent low-severity fire and, with suppression, have become fuel-dense and are now comprised of a different species mix. Read more »