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Managing Risk: Key to Climate Change Adaptation for Resource Managers (Part One)

We face multiple risks every day as resource managers. We are pretty good at intuitively understanding the likelihoods of different hazards, the uncertainties around them, and their potential impacts on the resources we value, and we use this understanding in our resource management decisions. But the risks we manage are rapidly changing with the climate. Sustainability can no longer presume stationarity. To sustain the benefits of our forests and grasslands, our risk management approach itself must adapt to changing means and extremes. We may have to become even better at the techniques and principles of risk management. Our experience and intuition will only take us so far in a rapidly changing world.

Risk can be defined as exposure to a chance of loss. Losses can be ecological, social, or economic, expressed in absolute terms or in a sense of failure to reach a goal or a desired condition. The link between exposure and loss is vulnerability, shaped by the likelihood and magnitude of hazards (stressors) and by the sensitivity of resources to stressors and its capacity to cope with and recover from stress. Understanding exposures, vulnerabilities, and losses and taking actions to reduce losses within the limits of financial and organizational capacities is the discipline of risk management. Risk management can allow us to capture opportunities as well as reduce or avoid losses. A stressor event – fire, epidemic, flood, landslide – can create opportunities for transition to more resilient conditions, for retreat from high exposure zones, or for learning to avoid similar losses in other places. Read more »

En Honor a los Granjeros de Nacionalidad Hispana

Toda la nacion esta celebrando el mes de la Hispanidad, enfatizando un sin numero de logros y contribuciones realizadas por los Hispano-Americanos en una diversicad de industrias, incluyendo la agricultura. Read more »

Museum Recognizes Hunger in the South

I didn’t know there was a museum devoted to southern food until our regional administrator, Bill Ludwig, was notified that he had been selected to receive their inaugural Humanitarian Award for Public Service. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is appropriately located in New Orleans, where food is definitely an art form!

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig holds the inaugural Humanitarian Award for Public Service, which was presented to him by Liz Williams, president and director of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans, La.

Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig holds the inaugural Humanitarian Award for Public Service, which was presented to him by Liz Williams, president and director of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans, La.

When I asked museum president and director Liz Williams about the inspiration for the award, she said, “We wanted to create an award that reflects that public service and being a humanitarian can work hand in hand.  We wanted a person who had long service, who was doing good, and who was doing that good just because, and not to get recognition.  We considered others, but Bill rose to the top.” Read more »

Deputy Agriculture Under Secretary Outlines Job Creation Programs During a Meeting with Faith-Based Organizations

I had the privilege recently of spending time with people who are committed to improving their neighborhoods and communities.  On September 22nd, the White House hosted a symposium on promoting economic recovery and job creation through Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (FBNP).   Faith and community leaders from across the nation joined together to learn what the Federal Government is doing to support economic development by working in partnership with faith based and community organizations.

The symposium began with remarks by Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of FBNP, and SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns.  Participants received an overview of how government agencies are working with faith-based and community organizations to support economic development and create jobs. Read more »

Windham County, Vermont Tropical Storm Irene Farm Recovery Tour with Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan

Last week, we welcomed Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to Vermont as she toured farms to see recovery efforts after Tropical Storm Irene.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan speaking with farmers at the Robb Family Farm near Brattleboro, VT.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan speaking with farmers at the Robb Family Farm near Brattleboro, VT.

Our first stop was the Wheeler Farm, a 100 acre 50-cow grass based farm just north of Wilmington, one of the hardest hit communities in the state.  Visible water marks were higher than the historic flood of 1927 and hurricane of 1938.  The group welcomed Deputy Secretary Merrigan on the porch of the historic farmhouse, which had just escaped the flood waters by a few inches.  As we pulled onto the farm’s access road, a large grader and dump truck continued work to repair washed away segments. Read more »

White House Rural Council Feedback Report

Cross posted from the White House Blog

Since the establishment of the White House Rural Council in June, President Barack Obama, a number of senior Administration officials and I met with folks throughout the country to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing rural America. By hosting the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, as part of the President’s three-day Bus Tour in August, in addition to nearly 200 roundtable discussions with business and agricultural leaders in rural communities, we learned what rural Americans think are the most important issues to ensure that their future is bright and prosperous. Read more »