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Rocky Mountain Region Leads Effort to Address Watershed Health on White River National Forest

In the wake of the 2012 summer fires, Colorado’s most precious natural resource, water, is a top priority for state, municipal, and federal agencies. Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service are leaders in addressing water issues and growing concerns over watershed health. Just under two years ago, both partnered to combine approximately $33 million in funding to target specific areas for restoration and mitigation work to reduce potential fire impact in key watersheds that supply water to Front Range communities.

Two new projects of the Denver Water partnership are underway on the White River National Forest on the Dillon Ranger District near Breckenridge, Colo. These projects target “zones of concern” identified by the Blue River Watershed Assessment in collaboration with the Forest Service and Denver Water. Cary Green, the East Zone timber management assistant said, “The partnership is hugely beneficial to cost-sharing vegetative treatments in the Blue River Watershed. Together, we are able to improve forest health, forest vegetative diversity, and achieve substantial fuels reduction in and around high priority watersheds.” Read more »

Found a Problem With Your Food? USDA Wants To Know About It

Have you ever opened a package from the grocery store to find that something wasn’t right about it, and then wondered who to call to report a problem?  The company’s toll-free number? The grocery store that sold it? Or someone else? If that product involves meat, poultry, or a processed egg product, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service just made it easier consumers to alert the agency to food safety problems, any time of the day or night.

The Electronic Consumer Complaint Form (ECCF), which became available on FSIS’s website this morning, will allow consumers to submit the important information FSIS needs to begin an investigation in just six steps. Consumers will be requested to provide details on:

  • When and where the product was purchased;
  • When and how the problem was noticed;
  • And how the agency can contact you for more information. Personal information is optional and will be used solely for the agency’s investigative purposes and product tracking. Read more »

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan Visits Common Ground Fair in Maine, Meets with Farmers, Growers and Area USDA Officials

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan addresses a crowd during her keynote address. Standing next to Merrigan is Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Executive Director Russell Libby.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan addresses a crowd during her keynote address. Standing next to Merrigan is Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Executive Director Russell Libby.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan visited the Common Ground Fair on Sunday as a part of her visit to Maine. While at the fair, the Deputy Secretary met with leaders from USDA agencies as well as numerous Maine farmers and gardeners.

During her keynote address at the fair, Merrigan discussed organic farming as well as the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Through this initiative, USDA integrates programs and policies that stimulate food- and agriculturally-based community economic development; fosters new opportunities for farmers and ranchers; promotes locally and regionally produced and processed foods; cultivates healthy eating habits and educated, empowered consumers; expands access to affordable fresh and local food; and demonstrates the connection between food, agriculture, community and the environment. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/26/12

U.S Winter Wheat Progress - Percent Planted as of September 23, 2012

U.S Winter Wheat Progress - Percent Planted as of September 23, 2012

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

Based on data since 1995, U.S. corn and soybean harvests are proceeding at a record pace.  By September 23, more than one-third (39%) of the corn had been harvested, three times the five-year average of 13%.  During the preceding 17 years, the record amount of U.S. corn harvested by September 23 had been 24% in 2000.  Similarly, more than one-fifth (22%) of the soybeans had been harvested by September 23.  Prior to this year, the record-setting soybean harvest pace by September 23 had been 18% in 2000. Read more »

Thurgood Marshall College Fund Students Gain Experience with APHIS Wildlife Services

Thurgood Marshall College Fund interns Joseph Williams (left) and Aaron Thomas.

Thurgood Marshall College Fund interns Joseph Williams (left) and Aaron Thomas.

For Joseph Williams and Aaron Thomas, the experience couldn’t have been better.

“I’m from Tuskegee University in Alabama, and I never thought I’d experience all four seasons in one day,” notes Aaron, a student intern with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) program. Read more »

US Forest Service Uses Old Land Deeds to See Forests of Long Ago

Trees on historic survey maps were used to determine property lines (photo credit: Melissa Thomas-Van Gundy, U.S. Forest Service)

Trees on historic survey maps were used to determine property lines (photo credit: Melissa Thomas-Van Gundy, U.S. Forest Service)

Forest restoration would be a lot easier if people who lived a couple of centuries ago could just tell us about the forest as they knew it.

For Melissa Thomas-Van Gundy, a U.S. Forest Service scientist, using original land deeds from colonial America is as close as you can get to actually being there. Based in Parsons, W.Va., Thomas-Van Gundy is using a unique digitized dataset built with original land deeds to determine what a West Virginia forest looked like before European settlement. Read more »