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New Solar Energy System Powers Scenic Area Visitor Center on California’s Inyo National Forest

The Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitors Center is a large public building that is used by more than 140,000 visitors a year. With steeply rising utility costs over the last decade limited funding for operational costs were suggesting shorter operating hours and reduced seasonal openings to save money. To avoid limiting public services, the Forest Service began to explore alternative solutions.

A new photovoltaic system for the Mono Basin Visitor Center on the Inyo National Forest will save taxpayers an estimated $20-25,000 in energy costs. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service photo

A new photovoltaic system for the Mono Basin Visitor Center on the Inyo National Forest will save taxpayers an estimated $20-25,000 in energy costs. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service photo

Situated in a climate where the sun shines an average of 289 days of the year, installation of a photovoltaic power system for the visitor center offered a logical opportunity to cut energy costs and reduce the agency’s carbon footprint.  In 2010, Forest Service Recovery Act funding offered the opportunity for the investment for the energy and money saving technology. Read more »

Introducing the Regional Food Hub Guide: An Innovative Tool for Growing Local Food Systems

Regional Food Hub Resource Guide.  The guide is a collection of information, resources and background on everything needed to develop or participate in a regional food hub.

Regional Food Hub Resource Guide. The guide is a collection of information, resources and background on everything needed to develop or participate in a regional food hub.

What can farmers and ranchers do if they’re interested in selling locally but don’t have the resources to run their own trucks, processing plants or marketing strategies?  What can institutional buyers, –like schools, hospital and retailers — do to offer more local food to their customers? A regional food hub is one possible answer.

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USDA Holds First Tribal Collaboration Meeting with Alaska Tribal Governments

As rural communities begin to shake off the remnants of a record-breaking winter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development – along with several sister agencies – held the first of several Alaska Tribal Collaboration meetings in Bethel on Friday, April 13.

In a state home to nearly half of our nation’s federally-recognized tribes, President Obama’s mandate for federal agencies to “engage in regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration” with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes carries with it particular importance.

Fifteen tribal representatives and a handful of their non-profit partners from throughout the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region, gathered at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center for a day-long session with representatives from Rural Development; Natural Resource Conservation Service; Farm Service Agency; Housing & Urban Development; Small Business Administration, and the Denali Commission. Read more »

Earth Day, USDA, and NRCS: A Winning Combination for the Environment

Local children planting pollinator plants.

Local children planting pollinator plants.

Who would have thought when we celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970 that we would still be celebrating it 42 years later? Earth Day is a great time to highlight what the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is doing to benefit the soil, water, air, plants and wildlife for productive lands and healthy ecosystems. Read more »

Earth Day Funding Celebration in Montross, Virginia

Speaking to a room full of happy citizens in Westmoreland County, Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein congratulated them on the new sewer extension project that will be a real game changer for their community. “I am proud to mark Earth Day 2012 with this partnership between Rural Development and the Community and it is infrastructure projects like this that ensures that rural communities have their basic needs met in terms of clean water and modern, up-to-date sewer facilities,” said Adelstein.   The ceremony highlighted the new $5.6 million dollar regional sewer extension project that will upon completion provide over 450 new homes and numerous businesses in the area with connectivity to the Coles Point wastewater treatment plant.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Darryl Fisher-Chairman of the Westmoreland Board of Supervisor and local business owner said, “We would not be able to move forward in this community without this critical assistance.  We have several areas of the community where land just would not be suitable for individual septic systems to construct homes and businesses and this new extension will provide us viable options for the future of this region. Read more »

Let’s End Beetlemania Together

ALB damage featuring tunneling and exit holes on cut trees

ALB damage featuring tunneling and exit holes on cut trees

Imagining our communities without trees is hard to fathom.  Unfortunately, there is an insect that threatens the trees we love – the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).  It’s an invasive insect that feeds on certain species of hardwood trees, eventually killing them.  Since its discovery in the United States, the beetle has caused tens-of-thousands of trees to be destroyed in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and most recently in Ohio. Read more »