A forest visitor admires an old growth forest on the Mt. Hood National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
The U.S. Forest Service wants you to remember the last time you lay on the grass and looked up and were inspired by tree branches swaying in the breeze—or when you sat under an old oak tree feeling the rough bark of its trunk against your back. If you can’t remember, or you’ve never done these things you should because according to the Arbor Day Foundation, America has the “grandest trees on earth – the largest, the oldest and some of the most magnificent.”
The City of Kasaan’s new 150,000 gallon water storage tank. Quality water for an Alaska Native Community provided through the USDA Rural Alaska Village Grant Program, Photo taken by Jerry Cnossen, Project Superintendent for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and used with permission.
The rural Native village of Kasaan is located in Southeast Alaska and is nearly 700 miles north of Seattle. Earth Day 2013 highlighted USDA Rural Development’s efforts to improve environmental and health conditions in rural Alaskan communities. Part of that effort is the successful completion of the Kasaan Water Project.
Two yellow cedar trees have fallen victim to the yellow cedar decline; the smaller tree on the right recently died, the larger tree on the left is slowly dying. U.S. Forest Service photo by Mary Stensvold.
Yellow-cedar is an ecologically, culturally, and economically important tree species in the coastal temperate rainforests of Alaska and British Columbia. This slow-growing tree has few natural insect and disease agents and is capable of living more than 1000 years.
But less snow in Alaska’s winters is leading to the demise of yellow cedar trees at and just above sea level. During hard freezes when little or no snow is on the ground to insulate the yellow cedar’s shallow roots, the roots freeze. Ultimately this leads to the tree’s death. This yellow cedar decline has occurred over the past 100 years. Read more »
The citizens of Fort Yukon are predominantly Alaskan Natives who live a subsistence lifestyle, relying on fish from the Yukon River as one of their main food sources. The community is not accessible by road and all supplies are either barged in during the short summer or flown in at extreme expense. An entire year’s fuel supply for the village’s vehicles, heating and power is held in a 750,000 gallon tank farm. Read more »
Rural Americans face many unique challenges – and every day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides assistance to help grow American agriculture and increase opportunity for rural communities. Unfortunately, 90 percent of America’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America–and we can’t allow these areas to be left behind. This week, USDA is further expanding a program to partner with rural communities and regions on projects they support to promote economic growth. Through this initiative, known as the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, USDA helps communities leverage their resources to access programs, promote economic development and create more jobs. Read more »
The thought of having to hand-carry a honey bucket, (a five gallon pail filled with human waste) out of your house and dump it to an outdoor common collection container in winter temperatures that drop to -55 °F, is an unpleasant scenario. For some residents in the community of Lower Kalskag, and other rural Alaskan communities, this is a reality. They have no indoor plumbing, and no indoor hot or cold running water.
The community of Lower Kalskag, Alaska, is remotely located 350 miles west of Anchorage in a persistent poverty area. This small, predominantly Alaska Native community has a population of around 280 and roughly fifty percent of its homes still lack adequate sanitation systems. The lack of sanitation services is a dire health and safety issue faced daily by a number of rural Alaska residents. Read more »