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New Federal Conservation Council Boosts America’s Outdoors

Hunters, fishers and all wildlife enthusiasts – there’s a new USDA and Department of Interior council that is going to make the great outdoors even greater for you.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar have announced the new Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council that will advise government on wildlife conservation and hunting issues. The Secretaries were joined by Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana for the announcement at the Theodore Roosevelt Island national memorial in Washington, D.C.

Sparked by the spirit Theodore Roosevelt, the new council focuses on the importance of hunting and fishing in American life and their connections to healthy lands and native species.

The new council replaces the Sporting Conservation Council, bringing in members from the hunting and shooting sports industries and representatives of the nation’s major hunting organizations.

The council will provide a forum for sports men and women to advise the Federal government on wildlife and habitat conservation. New opportunities partnerships will abound as the council brings together the public, the sporting conservation community, the shooting and hunting sports industry, wildlife conservation organizations, the States, Native American tribes, and the Federal government.

USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Forest Service and the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management will provide support and guidance to the council.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (left), Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (center) and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (left), Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (center) and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, share a light moment before the announcement of the creation of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council a new cooperative Federal advisory council on wildlife conservation and hunting Issues. The Advisory Council will provide advice to the government on wildlife conservation and hunting issues and promote efforts to preserve America’s hunting heritage for future generations. The event took place in Washington, D.C. on February 4, 2010.

From left: Tom Strickland, Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Department of Interior, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer sign the proclamation creating the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council a new Federal advisory council on wildlife conservation and hunting Issues on Theodore Roosevelt Island National Monument in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2010.
From left: Tom Strickland, Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Department of Interior, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer sign the proclamation creating the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council a new Federal advisory council on wildlife conservation and hunting Issues on Theodore Roosevelt Island National Monument in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2010.


Submitted by Brad Fisher, Public Affairs Specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington,

Langston, Oklahoma’s Clinic gets a Dental Program, More Services with Recovery Act Funding

Langston, Oklahoma is a lot like many rural towns across the country; it has an aging population and a growing need for health care facilities.  Now, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Langston will be able to renovate and expand its local health clinic. Read more »

Texans Talk Broadband in the Lone Star State

Approximately 200 Texans from across the Lone Star State traveled to San Antonio earlier this week to discuss opportunities to extend broadband to unserved and underserved communities in the fourth of 10 public broadband workshops held nationally.  The demand for broadband is sweeping the nation and changing the way we live, work  and stay connected to loved ones.

Rural communities without access to broadband are falling into a technological gap that will affect generations if not rectified quickly.  Recent studies show that while 80 percent of Texas is classified as rural, only 38 percent of this demographic has access to the internet.  That equates to 62 percent of our state’s rural population not having access to the worldwide marketplace, educational information, and telemedicine.

“The opportunity has never been greater for rural communities to benefit from recovery act funds that will improve broadband services and enhance rural business entrepreneurship, educational distance learning and telemedicine capabilities, while diversifying farmers and ranchers marketing capabilities,” commented Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director.

Keynote speaker, USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Victor Vasquez, outlined the President’s goal to stimulate the economy and the importance of broadband to communities in rural areas – to businesses, citizens and anchor institutions.  He said everyone has a need for broadband connection which will enable them to meet the challenges of competing in a global economy and to be in the mainstream of trade and the cultural evolution.  He stressed the importance of listening to the changes and the details of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in order to compete favorably and that building networks were as important to building the infrastructure as they are to building good business coalitions.

Workshop attendees were given information on how to apply for the second round of broadband grants and loans under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is making $4.8 billion available to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure.   The desire is strong among community leaders to ensure rural Texans step onto the information bandwagon sooner rather than later.  Applications will be accepted until March 15, 2010 and all awards will be announced by September 30, 2010.

For information on more workshops and archived webcasts, visit http://www.broadbandusa.gov.  Additional forums will be held over the next two weeks at the following locations: February 4, Sioux Falls, SD; February 5, Detroit, MI; February 9, Blacksburg, VA; February 11, Fayetteville, NC; and February 12, Atlanta, GA.

Texas Broadband
USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development, Victor Vasquez, addresses the Broadband Workshop in San Antonio, Texas.

Texas Broadband
USDA Rural Development Texas State Director, Paco Valentin, welcomes participants to the Broadband Workshop in San
Antonio, Texas.

Written by Gayle Cargo, Public Information Coordinator, Rural Development-Texas

Lively Discussion at Pennsylvania Jobs and Economic Growth Roundtable

Late last month Bill Wehry, State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency and I warmly welcomed a crowd of over 35 to the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Building for a roundtable discussion on jobs and economic growth in Pennsylvania. This event was held on a Monday following an intense snowstorm.  Read more »

Resolved: A Food-Safe 2010

It’s that time of year again, when we all make promises to “do better” or “do more” in the new year. These may include getting more exercise, doing more reading, or eating better. But one of the most important resolutions for you and your family is to improve food safety in your home and workplace. 

Here are just a few food safety resolutions for 2010:

  • Buy a food thermometer. You’ve been told to do it. You’ve thought about it. This year, do it. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know if meat, poultry and fish are cooked to a safe temperature. You can’t tell just by looking at the color.
  • Use appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer. The temperature in the refrigerator should be below 40 degrees F; the freezer should be 0 degrees F or below.  These settings ensure food stays out of the “Danger Zone” where bacteria multiply.
  • Do not leave pizza sitting out for longer than two hours. Foods that sit out for more than two hours at room temperature–or 1 hour if the room or outdoor temperature is over 90 degrees F–can support bacteria growth.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. If you’re not sure if your food has been sitting out too long, throw it away.  Remember, your health is worth more than the cost of any food you try to save.
  • Keep your hands clean. This cannot be stressed enough. Clean hands prevent the transfer of bacteria to other surfaces or food items and prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before and after preparing food, using the bathroom, changing diapers and touching pets.
  • Toss leftovers and take-out or ready-to-eat foods that have been sitting in your refrigerator for four days or longer.
  • Don’t get rid of old leftovers or take-out food by feeding it to your pets! Pets can get foodborne illness just as we can. If you shouldn’t eat it, then your pet shouldn’t eat it either.

Make this New Year a safe one by promising to follow proper food handling, preparation and storage practices. This is one resolution it’s important to keep all year—for yourself and your family.

If you have food safety questions, you can contact “Ask Karen,” our virtual representative, at www.askkaren.gov; call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline and speak to a live representative at 1-888-674-6854, TTY: 1-800-256-7027; or type a question on our “Live Chat” site at http://askkaren.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/askkaren.cfg/php/enduser/chat.php. Visit www.foodsafety.gov for safety information on all types of foods.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Facility Goes Green

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest new Supervisor’s Office in Rhinelander, Wisc., was re-engineered with “green” features. The use of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding helped complete its restoration.  Here students from the USDA Forest Service’s Blackwell Job Corps Center help with the restoration on this 3 year project. Read more »