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Category: Forestry

Un-Paving the Way to Successful Outdoor Education in Urban Settings

Children from Warren Village discover hiding spots for bugs at Warren Village’s new Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom in Denver. (Courtesy of Dexter Lane, Nature Explore)

Children from Warren Village discover hiding spots for bugs at Warren Village’s new Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom in Denver. (Courtesy of Dexter Lane, Nature Explore)

Mothers sit and laugh together, shaded by newly planted trees. They look on while their children play and explore in dirt and grass at the new Outdoor Nature Explore Classroom of Warren Village in the heart of Denver, Colorado.

A U.S. Forest Service grant of $100,000 and a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation made the outdoor classroom possible.

This new outdoor space is un-paving the way to outdoor education opportunities for urban children in Denver, planting the seeds of inspired outdoor learning through the use of nature play spaces. In contrast to the previous hardened playground with sticky asphalt and hot metal slides, children of Warren Village are now immersed in a nature play zone of trees, shade, dirt, flowers, plants, stumps, stones and water. Read more »

US Forest Service Asks: How Does Your Marshmallow Roast?

S’mores, a treat whose recipe first appeared in the 1927 Girl Scouts Handbook, is a staple of National Roasted Marshmallow Day (Aug. 30). (Think Stock/Getty Images)

S’mores, a treat whose recipe first appeared in the 1927 Girl Scouts Handbook, is a staple of National Roasted Marshmallow Day (Aug. 30). (Think Stock/Getty Images)

Some wonderful memories are born around a fire ring. But whether you are camping, “glamping” or sitting with friends and family in your backyard, waning evenings typically include one campfire staple: marshmallows.

So, on the eve of National Roasted Marshmallow Day (Aug. 30), we pay tribute to the sweet ingredient that makes any form of outdoor gathering, well, sweeter.

For some, the best use of marshmallows is as the gooey main ingredient of s’mores. Take a graham cracker, place a section of chocolate on it, and then carefully place a freshly roasted marshmallow on top of the candy bar. Top the marshmallow off with another graham cracker, carefully squeezing the campfire dessert sandwich together as the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate. Read more »

Annual Salmon Migration Continues in Steep Creek on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

The male sockeye salmon has a larger head with elongated jaws, hooked snouts and strongly developed teeth. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The male sockeye salmon has a larger head with elongated jaws, hooked snouts and strongly developed teeth. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Since the second week in July, locals and visitors alike have congregated on the viewing platforms above Steep Creek near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau, Alaska to enjoy the sockeye salmon migration.

From mid-July through the end of August, the sockeye salmon enter the creek to dig redds (nests), find mates and spawn. For thousands of viewers this annual show is seen not in person but on the screens of their computers or smart phones, thanks to the Steep Creek salmon cam. Read more »

Get Back, Give Back: Federal Retiree Begins New ‘Career’ with US Forest Service

Bob Steelquist retired from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in May 2014 after a long public-service career that also included the National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound Water Quality Authority. He lives on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State, and recently began his second career as a volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service. (Courtesy Bob Steelquist). Forest Service photo.

Bob Steelquist retired from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in May 2014 after a long public-service career that also included the National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound Water Quality Authority. He lives on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State, and recently began his second career as a volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service. (Courtesy Bob Steelquist). Forest Service photo.

After nearly 32 years of combined federal and state natural resource management public service, I retired.

I have been blessed with a rewarding career. But before that final day working in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary arrived, I had already applied for and been accepted as a volunteer wilderness ranger in the Pasayten Wilderness of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State. It was the best promotion of my career. Read more »

Seeds for New Book on Wildland-Urban Interface Planted on Fireline

Lincoln Bramwell, Chief Historian, U.S. Forest Service (Courtesy Tim Palmer)

Lincoln Bramwell, Chief Historian, U.S. Forest Service (Courtesy Tim Palmer)

For the better part of a decade, Lincoln Bramwell spent summers fighting wildfires across the West for the U.S. Forest Service. But over the years he spent on the fireline, he began to see his job change in ways that felt more obvious and dangerous.

This is because Bramwell began to see more homes on mountain slopes and ridges. An increasing wildland-urban interface adds challenges further complicated by public demands that firefighters make heroic stands to save houses from approaching wildfires.

What struck Lincoln was how entire subdivisions rolled over the rough mountain landscape nestled into the forest and shielded from view from the main road. And not all of these homes looked new. In fact, from his observations, many seemed quite old. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Skyrocketing Fire Costs

Spiraling firefighting costs have shrunk the budget for critical forest and rangeland priorities, including investing in Forest Service programs designed to mitigate the impacts of wildfire.

Spiraling firefighting costs have shrunk the budget for critical forest and rangeland priorities, including investing in Forest Service programs designed to mitigate the impacts of wildfire.

Over the past twenty years, a changing climate, population growth near forests and rangelands, and the buildup of brush and other fuels have dramatically increased the severity of wildfires and the damage that they cause to our natural lands and communities. Year after year, fire seasons grow longer and longer, destroying homes, threatening critical infrastructure and the watersheds that provide clean drinking water to millions of people. Between 1980 and 2011, the average annual number of fires on Federal land more than doubled, and the total area burned annually tripled. Even as fire seasons have grown, the way we pay to fight these fires remains unchanged – and fundamentally broken.

The Forest Service’s firefighting appropriation has rapidly increased as a proportion of the Forest Service’s overall budget, increasing from 16 percent in 1995 to 42 percent today. As the costs of wildfires have spiraled out of control, it has shrunk the budget of other Forest Service programs, taking millions of dollars from other critical forest health and land management priorities in order to pay for them. What’s more, often the programs we are forced to divert funds from are the very programs which help to mitigate the impact of wildfires. Read more »