The Weeks Act, which went into effect on March 1, 1911, has been identified as one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation in American history.
In the early 1900s the public began to embrace a more proactive attitude toward conserving public lands. Just the year before, in 1910, Gifford Pinchot started the Forest Service. Before the Weeks Act, lands set aside for conservation were all located in the West and were created from large blocks of land in the public domain. Millions of acres of bare, eroded lands dotted the Eastern states from cut-over and farmed-out lands. In the West, the epic wildfires of 1910 fueled support for the Act. Read more »
Once a month in winter and spring, snow surveyors from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) head for the hills to measure the mountain snowpack. These trained observers ski, snowshoe or snowmobile to established snow measurement courses to record snow data the old fashioned way – by hand. Read more »
I was honored to host a panel last week at the Department of Agriculture’s Ag Outlook Forum to showcase the impact of USDA broadband programs on so many in rural communities. Our February 25th Rural Development panel, “Building a Stronger Rural Infrastructure: Broadband,” portrayed the ripple effect these investments have.
We heard from Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, which has provided electric power to consumers since WWII. They got into the broadband business because they recognized a need. Like many with a sense of community and knowledge of how broadband affects economic development, they successfully applied for Recovery Act broadband funding from USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency. “This will ultimately change the landscape of New Mexico,” Luis told the audience. “This is an opportunity for us to partner with colleges, health care facilities and the community to expand businesses, hire more employees, build markets and improve healthcare. To think that a small co-op in New Mexico can turn a project into a model program nationwide is exciting.” Read more »
If you’ve ever remodeled an existing home, you can appreciate this problem. Sometimes things just get complicated.
The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in Alaska needed to grow. The original 9,000 square foot building, constructed in 1997, no longer met the needs of the area, so an expansion was undertaken. That’s when the problems surfaced. A corner of the warehouse which houses USDA commodity food products had sunk, due to an old bury pit that had not been documented. That issue, plus the need for new food cooling equipment, heating system upgrades, and handicap-accessible washrooms, a waiting room, an arctic entry and more warehouse space caused the food bank to turn to USDA Rural Development for a Community Facilities Direct Loan. Read more »