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Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Visits Vermont’s Brattleboro Food Coop

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of touring the southern part of Vermont with US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan with Alex Gyori, General Manager of Brattleboro Food Coop.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan with Alex Gyori, General Manager of Brattleboro Food Coop.

On Monday, we went from farm to farm along the Route 9 corridor and  met with some of the incredibly courageous farm families who are putting their lives back together after Tropical Storm Irene.  Loss of land, loss of crops and feed are just a few of the many challenges they are facing with amazing dignity. The purpose of the tour spearheaded by State Ag Secretary, Chuck Ross, was to make sure that those in need were aware of all of the programs USDA and the State had to offer.  In addition, he wanted our Washington visitor to see the stunning resilience of Vermont’s farm families.  A group that included Bob Paquin, FSA; Vicky Drew, NRCS; staff of Sen. Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch also shared their admiration for the strength of these individuals. Read more »

US Forest Service Scientist Awarded High Honor by President Obama


President Obama has named Dr. Samuel L. Zelinka, a U.S. Forest Service scientist, as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. This year Dr. Zelinka joins 93 other scientists and researchers in the annual award.


Dr. Samuel L. Zelinka of the USDA Forest Products Lab

Dr. Samuel L. Zelinka of the USDA Forest Products Lab


Dr. Zelinka works at the U.S. Forest Services world renowned Forest Products Lab (FPL), in Madison, WI. His expertise is in corrosion of metal fasteners in wood, electrical properties of wood and research on wood-moisture relations. Read more »

Resilient like a Fox

Rare red foxes are making a surprising comeback according to U.S. Forest Service scientists who have released information claiming that at least six Sierra Nevada red foxes, a species once believed to have been nearly wiped out in the 1920s, are roaming in the wilderness south of Yosemite.

Although there is another known small population in another region of California the new find of just a half dozen of these fury and foxy animals still makes the species extremely rare. Now experts are expanding their studies in hopes of finding more red foxes in the Yosemite area. Read more »

Fill ‘Er Up … With Grass and Twigs?

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport served as a dramatic backdrop today for an announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that  delivers $136 million in research and development grants to public and  private sector partners in 22 states. In short, the grants look to make energy for autos and marine and jet crafts from plants. By unlocking that potential—known as bioenergy—Vilsack said a “next-generation of biofuels” would create new economies in rural areas across the United States. Eventually, these regional, renewable energy markets will generate sustainable jobs and decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil. And that future, said Vilsack, is closer than we think.

“This is an opportunity to take woody biomass from our forests to create fuel for jets to fly anywhere in the world,” said Vilsack. “This is a great day for our country. We’re building something new, creating jobs everywhere in the country.” Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Study Finds Climate Change to Affect Future Western Trout

A Trout

A Trout

A study authored by the U.S. Forest Service and other organizations including Trout Unlimited finds that global warming is expected to reduce the distribution of trout in the western U.S. because warmer streams will be less suitable for their growth and survival. Read more »

NRCS Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is honoring contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our nation during National Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual commemoration held Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Each year, this time is set aside to celebrate the history, achievements, culture and contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

“Many Backgrounds, Many Stories…One American Spirit” is the theme of this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month. Jennifer Van Eps, NRCS Visual Information Specialist in Spokane, WA, was awarded first place in the agency’s annual poster contest for her entry and it will serve as NRCS’ official poster for 2011. (The poster is used to raise awareness throughout the agency of National Hispanic Heritage Month, and is not available externally.) Read more »