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A Coat of Many Colors Cloaks Autumn in the Bitterroot National Forest

The Oregon grape in its fall coloring is a collage of green and pinkish-red leaves and blue fruits that resemble grapes. Photo copyright by Al Schneider.

The Oregon grape in its fall coloring is a collage of green and pinkish-red leaves and blue fruits that resemble grapes. Photo copyright by Al Schneider.

Several plant species around Montana make their transition from summer to winter unique. This is highlighted in the Bitterroot National Forest.

The Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens), a sub-shrub evergreen, maintains its leaves throughout the winter. In the summer, its leaves are green while it produces yellow flowers. In the fall, its leaves create a beautiful, eye-catching palette of reds in contrast to its purple berries. Oregon-grape is found throughout the Ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests. Read more »

Fourth Grader Donates to Waldo Canyon Fire Restoration Effort

Eric Zanotto, Pikes Peak Fire Management Officer (Left) Allan Hahn Pikes Peak District Ranger (front center) Fourth Grader Evan Gassiot (center) Jeff Hovermale, Lands and Minerals staff (Right)  at Pikes Peak Ranger District in Colorado

Eric Zanotto, Pikes Peak Fire Management Officer (Left) Allan Hahn Pikes Peak District Ranger (front center) Fourth Grader Evan Gassiot (center) Jeff Hovermale, Lands and Minerals staff (Right) at Pikes Peak Ranger District in Colorado

As elementary school students, most kids are thinking about doing well in class, finishing their homework, participating in after school activities, playing video games and receiving presents.

However, fourth grader Evan Gassiot decided not to receive birthday gifts this year. Read more »

USDA Funds Upgrade Storm Sirens in Four Rural Minnesota Communities

Tyler, Minn., is a long way from New York City, but the small-town of 1,143 people has something in common with the Big Apple: Both have recently had to deal with major weather events.

Obviously, the destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is on a much wider scale than what Tyler experienced when a tornado leveled homes and businesses on July 1, 2011. But both disasters highlight the importance of emergency preparedness, whether you live in a high-rise in midtown Manhattan, or on a farm in Tyler.

Rural communities face unique challenges when dealing with emergency response and major weather events. It’s essential that small towns have the latest technology and equipment to keep residents safe during an emergency. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Helping Communities Impacted by Disaster

This year, many Americans have been impacted by a wide range of natural disasters. Many have seen their homes perish or their livelihoods turned upside down – sometimes overnight. Tragically, some have lost their lives.

Many Americans don’t know it, but USDA often plays a key role in disaster assistance and recovery. We take this responsibility seriously.  Today, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we’re working to help.

More than 250 U.S. Forest Service personnel have been sent to affected states, to assist in disaster response.  USDA staff members are helping rural electric and water utility companies assess outages and damage.  We are working with impacted States to assess the need for emergency food assistance.  And we are in constant contact with FEMA, additional Federal agencies, and State and local governments to ensure a coordinated response. Read more »

Ute Tribe in Rocky Mountain Region Honors 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree

Seventy-Three foot Engleman Spruce selected from White River National Forest  in Colorado as 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree. PHOTO CREDIT:  Ted Bechtol, superintendent, Architect of the Capitol

Seventy-Three foot Engleman Spruce selected from White River National Forest in Colorado as 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree. Photo: Ted Bechtol, superintendent, Architect of the Capitol.

This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree is coming from the White River National Forest in the Rocky Mountain Region and will be harvested at a private ceremony today, Nov. 2.  Forest Service employees and the non-profit partner Choose Outdoors are hard at work planning the public tree celebration taking place on Nov. 3. Read more »

Colonias Receive Support from USDA Rural Development

For thousands of families and communities along the US/Mexico border, USDA Rural Development (RD) has provided help…and hope.

Over the past four years we have invested more than $1.2 billion dollars in Colonias in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas—financing a range of projects from clinics and hospitals to water and waste water systems, from state-of-the-art energy-saving photovoltaic solar energy systems to child care centers, from local rural businesses to food banks.

Colonias are neighborhoods or communities within 150 miles of the U.S./Mexico border that are economically distressed. For many the basic infrastructure that most Americans take for granted is non-existent. Such was the case on the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona. Most of the homesites on this sprawling reservation are miles from the nearest water/waste water infrastructure. Homes were built years ago without indoor plumbing…and the hope of adding sanitary facilities was stymied by the lack of access to treatment facilities. Read more »