The 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree shimmers like a thousand stars after a lighting ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert H. Westover)
A crown jewel of American Christmas trees lit the night sky Dec. 3 as thousands of lights burst around the 88-foot-tall 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree. A momentary hush of silent awe overcame the crowd gathered on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol to witness the ceremony that has origins dating back to 1964.
An eight-point star shimmered at the top of the 79-year-old Englemann spruce harvested from the Colville National Forest in Washington State. Decorating the tree are hundreds of ornaments made by people of Washington, many of them drawn and glued together by school children. Read more »
Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California (USDA-NRCS photo by Ron Nichols).
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 portfolio.
An award-winning watershed assessment tool, the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA), was deployed to assess potential Rim Fire threats in Yosemite National Park in California. The park experienced a devastating fire that began on August 17, 2013, and took several months to contain. The fire burned more than 400 square miles in and around the park, cost $125.8 million to date, and is considered one of the largest wildfires in California’s history.
BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) is a multi-agency group that includes USDA’s Forest Service and others, and is responsible for identifying potential threats such as downstream flooding and developing plans to rehabilitate and restore burned areas. BAER teams use AGWA to target immediate efforts to prevent threats to people, wildlife and the land. Using AGWA combined with the burn severity map produced by BAER teams, experts can rapidly pull together information on pre- and post-fire conditions. For example, knowing where to apply mulch after a fire can reduce runoff and erosion and can help minimize downstream risks from fire induced land cover and soil changes. Read more »
NRCS joins others to celebrate World Soil Day on Dec. 5.
In the minds of many, a freshly tilled field is picturesque – clean and ready for the next planting. But according to a soil health expert, what looks good to the eye, isn’t always good for the soil – or a farmer’s bottom line.
Thursday, on World Soil Day, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating the importance of healthy soils and sharing how farmers and ranchers can help care for it through conservation practices like no-till.
When soil is heavily tilled, the stalks from the previous crop are chopped, and the top several inches of soil structure are disturbed. Conventional thought suggests this fluffing action allows for better seed placement, but Ray Archuleta, NRCS conservation agronomist, said that no-till systems, especially when combined with cover crops, are better – and lead to healthier, more drought-resistant soil.
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Although birch trees can’t literally walk, warming temperatures are causing a gradual migration of these and other tree and plant species to northern or higher elevation climates. USDA photo.
With large areas of our planet heating up because of climate change, some trees (and plants) are pulling up roots and heading north, to higher elevations and to cooling climes—well, sort of.
A U.S. Forest Service-led study suggests there are a few dozen tree species in the eastern U.S. that are moving north at an unexpected rate.
“For some plants and trees, moving north is real and their only chance for survival,” said Chris Woodall, a research forester for Northern Research Station and the study’s author. “Our study confirms a link between global warming and forest migration. It’s no longer conjecture.” Read more »
Los días festivos son una buena ocasión para reunirse con familia y amigos. Pero cuando no se cuenta con tiempo y el presupuesto es limitado, preparar comidas saludables se convierte en un reto. Teniendo esto en cuenta, el USDA ofrece consejos saludables con el interés de ofrecer alternativas fáciles y de bajo costo que toda su familia indudablemente disfrutará. Read more »
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will host a Twitter chat on holiday meal budget tips on Wednesday, December 4, at 3 pm EST.
Holiday celebrations are a great time to gather with family and friends. But when you’re on a tight budget and pressed for time, it can be challenging to prepare a nutritious, timely meal for your loved ones. With that in mind, USDA offers these healthy tips for creating low-cost meals your whole family will enjoy: Read more »