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US Forest Service’s Largest Experimental Forest is an Example of Cooperative Research

The Olympic Experimental State Forest Area

The Olympic Experimental State Forest Area

The Olympic Experimental State Forest is the largest site in the U.S. Forest Service’s national network of experimental forests and it’s the only representative of the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate rain forest ecosystem, which is known for its extreme rainfall and growth rates.

Its large size, encompassing 270,000 acres, and history of innovation make this a forest that offers many opportunities for research and monitoring. Read more »

New USDA Efforts to Spur Technology and Innovation

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

From desktops to tablets, and from floppy disks to flash drives, technology is constantly changing. Each new idea is developed in an effort to solve old problems.  That’s why the White House issued a plan last year to help stimulate our nation’s economic development and create jobs by accelerating Federal science and technology (S&T) innovations.

To support that plan, USDA agencies with science research missions that develop innovations in agriculture and that support businesses that adopt innovations for commercialization will work together to foster technology transfer to support U.S. business growth. Read more »

Fall Wildflowers are Part of the Fall Colors Parade in the East and South-Central United States

Amongst the falling leaves, you might discover the frost flowers of dittany (Cunila origanoides). Its former light blue flowers have come and gone, its seed cast to the wind, but from the base of their stems you may be lucky enough to see what looks like curling ribbons of ice, one last gem of their blooming glory, a frost flower.  Courtesy of Kathy Phelps.

Amongst the falling leaves, you might discover the frost flowers of dittany (Cunila origanoides). Its former light blue flowers have come and gone, its seed cast to the wind, but from the base of their stems you may be lucky enough to see what looks like curling ribbons of ice, one last gem of their blooming glory, a frost flower. Courtesy of Kathy Phelps.

Fall is a wonderful time to find an amazing array of wildflowers on your national forests and grasslands. But before you venture out, take a moment for a sneak preview on the U.S. Forest Service’s Fall Colors web site for a few ideas to plan your visit

Early morning hikers who are out and about in the hardwood forests of the south-central and eastern United States may be lucky enough to observe the second flowering of dittany (Cunila origanoides). Also known as frost flowers, they are found in late autumn on crisp, frosty mornings. Though they are not true flowers, they are just as beautiful. Read more »

USDA Secretary Vilsack Tours the Forest Products Laboratory

Research Microbiologist Carol Clausen discusses wood durability and protection research with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during his visit to the Forest Products Laboratory.

Research Microbiologist Carol Clausen discusses wood durability and protection research with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during his visit to the Forest Products Laboratory.

The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) recently guided USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack through its unique set of research facilities. Basic and applied research at FPL supports a number of objectives, including forest management and restoration, the wise use of forest resources, job creation, and expanding economic opportunities through public-private partnerships on a national scale.

Throughout his tour, Secretary Vilsack talked with lab leadership about FPL’s diverse and innovative research efforts. Project leaders used the opportunity to field questions from the Secretary and explain work ranging from wood preservation and durability to advances in “green” building strategies and technology, use of beetle-killed trees, work on historic timber bridges, and advances in nanocellulose-related materials and applications. Read more »

Upper Tygart Valley Watershed Project

The Elkwater Fork Dam with fall foliage. A paved accessible fishing area below the dam provides an area for those with physical impairments to fish in the stilling basin.

The Elkwater Fork Dam with fall foliage. A paved accessible fishing area below the dam provides an area for those with physical impairments to fish in the stilling basin.

In 1993, several towns in Upper Tygart Valley Watershed in Randolph County, W.Va., experienced a dangerous shortage of water. At a critical point, the water plant was within 72 hours of completely running out of water. Soon after that, local community groups, interested citizens and government agencies began working toward a solution to avoid future water shortages.

The solution they ultimately settled on was to build a dam on the Elkwater Fork of the Tygart River. The dam would create a new reservoir that would provide a dependable water source for the 27,000 people in the watershed. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Listening to Communities and Strengthening Drought Relief

For many producers and rural communities, the summer of 2012 has been defined by a record drought.

From the early days of this disaster, USDA has taken action to help. We’ve streamlined our disaster designation process, provided easier access to farm credit, opened more conservation lands for emergency haying and grazing, and much more.

Meanwhile, we continue to convene regular meetings of White House Rural Council to coordinate the Federal response and identify every effort we can take to provide additional help and assistance.

For example, the Small Business Administration and National Credit Union Administration have worked to increase emergency lending for small businesses.  The Department of Interior has opened more Federal land for grazing.  The Department of Transportation has taken measures to get more trucks on the road in the relief effort.  And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to preserve navigation routes on drought-stricken waterways. Read more »