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New Satellite Will Help USDA Provide More Information to Farmers

Satellites orbiting the Earth help us in countless ways. For example, they allow the GPS in our smartphones to tell us where we are located and they help us watch football games on weekends. And now a new NASA satellite scheduled for launch in 2014—the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) instrument—will help USDA better predict agricultural productivity and forecast drought conditions.

There are three things of utmost importance to farmers—soil, sun and water. SMAP will serve at the junction of two of these variables, helping USDA and others improve its knowledge and understanding of soil moisture. Measuring soil moisture helps scientists, farmers, water managers and others understand how much water will be available at any given time, which influences the key decisions they make about managing and using water supplies. Read more »

Garlic Mustard, Not Your Average Garnish

An example of the invasiveness of the garlic mustard plant.  (Photo credit: Steven Katovich, U.S. Forest Service)

An example of the invasiveness of the garlic mustard plant. (Photo credit: Steven Katovich, U.S. Forest Service)

Year three of the “Garlic Mustard Challenge” produced a bumper crop, not for hot dog relish, but bags of the non-native invasive species garlic mustard.  The goals of this challenge and the weed pull are not simply in eradicating the invasive garlic mustard plant, but also in educating and inspiring individuals to get out and enjoy our national forests and grasslands. Read more »

Faces of the Forest: Meet Estelle Bowman

When Estelle Bowman was a little girl, she tagged along to meetings with attorneys who worked with her mother in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Shiprock, N.M. As she grew older on the Navajo reservation town, she knew that she would one day become an attorney and serve her Navajo community.

Over the years, Bowman has done both and more. Today, the former district prosecutor for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice is the assistant director of the Office of Tribal Relations in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Forest Service. Read more »

US Forest Service Study Finds Sparse Marten Detections Linked to Decline in Habitat

A marten in the snow, by Nathan Stone, US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station

A marten in the snow. (Credit Nathan Stone, US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station)

The wily and elusive American marten, which looks like a cross between a mink and a fox, is getting even harder to find according to recent study by the US Forest Service. Read more »

New “Get Involved” Site Helps Us Work Together to Reach More Folks Who Need Help

Looking to help USDA fight hunger and obesity? The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has launched a new webpage just for you! The “Get Involved” webpage is full of tools your organization can use to improve outreach efforts for food help programs like SNAP, Summer Food, CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals, and more. When you visit our site you’ll discover how your organization, or even you as an individual, can dive into FNS outreach.

Visitors to the page are greeted by a section across the top of the page that says, “Start Here - If you are new to FNS, click here to learn how to… serve meals, get funding, end hunger, provide nutrition ed., join webinars, and much more.” This page offers information for organizations that want to get started and have done limited or no outreach with FNS in the past. It connects them with an overview of FNS food help programs, and it gets them to resources they need to start a meal or outreach program from scratch. Read more »

Kick the Tires and Light the Fires

Students, speakers, and honored guests cut the ribbon at Southern Reynolds County R-II School Districts wood chip fired heating plant. USFS photo.

Students, speakers, and honored guests cut the ribbon at Southern Reynolds County R-II School Districts wood chip fired heating plant. USFS photo.

The Missouri “Fuels for Schools” projects, funded by Forest Service Recovery Act dollars, are converting aging heating machinery in six schools with woody biomass systems in and around the Ozarks. Read more »