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Pacific NW Ski Area Association Honors Forest Service Scientists

In recognition of their nearly 70 years of combined service to the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, Garth Ferber, Kenny Kramer, and Mark Moore are sharing the group’s 2012 Partner of the Year awards.

The three are meteorologists employed by the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center– a unit of the U.S. Forest Service located in National Weather Service Forecast Office in Seattle, Wash.

The Partner honor is reserved for a Forest Service employee who significantly and decisively helps to improve the quality and safety of Pacific Northwest winter sports facilities. This year the Association broke with tradition and presented three awards. Read more »

MyPlate Celebrates Its First Anniversary; Prompting People to Eat Healthy

MyPlate Food Icon

MyPlate Food Icon

June 2, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the release of MyPlate food icon.  At ceremonies a year earlier, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government’s new food icon to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate, which replaced MyPyramid, is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them by going to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.  The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.  On September 30, MiPlato, a Spanish version of MyPlate was released by Secretary Vilsack, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and White House Chef Sam Kass to reach the Hispanic population in the United States.  Today, MyPlate and MiPlato are among the most recognized food images developed by the government. Read more »

Symposium on Sustainability Solutions

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.

Sustainability is an important issue in government, with city planners, state agencies, and the federal government all talking about ways they can adapt to climate change, population growth, and the increasing pressures on natural resources that are coming as the century unfolds.  So, in order to further the conversation about sustainability in the federal government, the National Academy of Sciences held a two and a half day symposium on science, innovation, and partnerships for sustainability solutions on May 16-18, in Washington DC. Read more »

Forest Service Chief Pitches in to Help Plant Trees

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently threw out the first pitch at a Potomac Nationals baseball game during their Forest Service Night Out in Woodbridge, Va.

The event publicized the Break a Bat/Plant a Tree partnership between the Potomac Nationals—a Class A Advanced Affiliate of the Washington Nationals—and the Forest Service.

The agreement calls for a tree to be planted on the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest for each bat broken during Potomac Nationals home games. Through the first 17 home games this season, 18 bats have been broken at Pfitzner Stadium – a pace that could mean 80 trees planted after the season. Read more »

Rain? Drought? Cold? Hot? New US Forest Service Report Seeks to Clarify Use of Climate Information

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.

People often get confused when observed weather patterns run contrary to climate projections.  For instance, those living in the Mid-Atlantic States hear from experts that the region has now moved into a dry savanna-like climate zone, but yet two winters ago over 40 inches of snow fell in a single month.  But weather is highly variable regardless of the state of the climate.  Individual weather events like this one are different than “climate,” which refers to long-term trends over decades.  And further, climate change could produce more extremes at both ends of the weather spectrum even while a region shifts into a seemingly contrary climate state.

In an attempt to make science and technical concepts of projecting climate change clearer to the public, the U.S. Forest Service has published a report simplifying complex information and resources. Read more »

As Bats Swoop, Students Swoon to Learn More About Them During USDA Webcast

Consider the bat – you know, the flying type that swoops out of urban eaves or rural caves usually at dawn or dusk. What do you know about the central roles they play in controlling insect populations, balancing ecosystems or pollinating flowers, fruits and vegetables?

Rob Mies, author, director, and founder of the Organization for Bat Conservation gives a presentation sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service in U.S. Department of Agriculture's, Jefferson Auditiorium, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2012. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

Rob Mies, author, director, and founder of the Organization for Bat Conservation gives a presentation sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service in U.S. Department of Agriculture's Jefferson Auditiorium, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2012. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

Last week, students in grades four through eight and educators from around the country did more than just consider the bat. They met a number of live bats via an hour-long Washington, D.C., Bats!LIVE distance learning seminar (view online video) including a little brown bat, a vampire bat and a straw-colored fruit bat with a six-foot wingspan. They asked questions of bat biologists, learned about threats to bats and what everyone can do to help bats in their own communities. Read more »