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Thursday #AskUSDA Twitter Chat: USDA Conservation Efforts and Reconnecting with the Great Outdoors

Do you have questions about national conservation or wildlife preservation efforts? Have you ever wondered about the effect of wildfires in our national forests? Wondering how you can give back to the great outdoors? You’re in luck!

USDA Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Environment and Climate Change Robert Bonnie will be hosting a live Virtual Office Hours session on Twitter this Thursday to answer your questions about USDA’s record conservation achievements and efforts to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors. Read more »

Special Delivery: Colorado Christmas Tree Arrives at U.S. Capitol

Former US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell delivers 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree

Former US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell delivers 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree

Every year, the Forest Service plays an integral role in providing the annual Capitol Christmas Tree, known as “The People’s tree”, from one of the agency’s 155 national forests to bedazzle the U.S. Capitol lawn. This year’s tree, a 73-foot Engleman Spruce, comes from the White River National Forest, in central Colorado.

Have you ever wondered how this tree gets transported from one of our many national forests to the nation’s capital? Read more »

South Dakota USDA Staff Observes Native American Heritage Month

South Dakota Rural Housing Specialist Kenneth Lynch with this year’s Native American Heritage Month poster.

South Dakota Rural Housing Specialist Kenneth Lynch with this year’s Native American Heritage Month poster.

USDA Rural Development in South Dakota is celebrating the Annual Native American Heritage Month of November through traditional stories, original Native American artwork and friendly competition, helping those inside and outside of USDA to learn and enjoy Native American history and culture. This sharing will continue throughout the month of November, culminating with a Native American interactive day on Wednesday, November 28, which will include traditional teachings, a light meal, and fun-filled games for all participants. Read more »

Jamaica and the United States Team Up to Keep Out Invasive Pests

Launch of “Traveler’s Don’t Pack a Pest” outreach campaign at Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston, Jamaica.  From left: Damion Crawford, Minister of State, Jamaica Ministry of Tourism; Shannon Shepp, Deputy Commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Dr. Raymond Brown, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of United States, Kingston, Jamaica; Jennifer Lemly, Director, Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative, USDA/APHIS; Dr. Marc Panton, Chief Technical Director, Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; and Major Richard Reese, Commissioner of Customs, Jamaica Customs.

Launch of “Traveler’s Don’t Pack a Pest” outreach campaign at Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston, Jamaica. From left: Damion Crawford, Minister of State, Jamaica Ministry of Tourism; Shannon Shepp, Deputy Commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Dr. Raymond Brown, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of United States, Kingston, Jamaica; Jennifer Lemly, Director, Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative, USDA/APHIS; Dr. Marc Panton, Chief Technical Director, Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; and Major Richard Reese, Commissioner of Customs, Jamaica Customs.

The “Don’t Pack a Pest” campaign went international last month as Jamaica enthusiastically kicked off its own version of the outreach initiative in Montego Bay and Kingston.  The Florida-based program warns the public about the risks of bringing undeclared agricultural products—and hitchhiking invasive pests—from one country to another.  It’s a cooperative effort among the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and now the Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Recognizing Native American Heritage Month

This November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has joined Americans across the country in recognizing Native American Heritage Month. We’ve taken time to honor the contributions of more than 5 million Native Americans across the United States. We’ve also reaffirmed our special relationship with those who live, work and raise their families in rural America.

Rural America provides so much to all of us – abundant food, clean water, beautiful outdoor spaces, renewable energy and more. The positive impact of our rural areas is further strengthened by the diversity, knowledge and tradition of Tribal communities.  

Today, more than 55 million acres across America is Tribal land, much of it in rural areas. Agriculture is a leading employer in Tribal communities. The number of Native American producers is on the rise, up almost 90 percent. Read more »

Forest Service International Programs Leads Study Tour for Chileans

During an eight-day trip, Toby Bloom, Forest Service International Programs specialist, led four delegates from the Chilean Forest Commission to the Southwest Region to learn ways to involve indigenous groups in public use planning and environmental outreach.  The group visited the Jemez Pueblo Visitor Center, Zuni Pueblo, and several national forests and reserves with significance to Native American tribes. The visitors met with the Kaibab National Forest Cooperative Management team to discuss their roles in collaborating and communicating with the seven tribes bordering the forest.

Local and regional Forest Service staff shared with the Chileans the types of conflicts or concerns they deal with on a daily basis, such as how to manage sacred sites and cultural resources/plants within the forest, how to keep tribes informed about Forest Service activities, and how to solicit feedback on management activities including fuel reduction, concession infrastructure, hunting and other permits. Read more »