A pine burns with snow on the ground on the Boise National Forest (Photo Credit: US Forest Service)
There was a time when fire season for Western states meant only certain months out of the year. Not so long ago the U.S. Forest Service considered it primarily a summer problem with a few regions breaking the trend in early spring and late fall.
But climate change, according to most wildland fire experts, has turned fire season into a year-round issue.
What used to slow down fire season was winter—a long and cold time of year with lots of snow that killed off many invasive or destructive pests and filled rivers and reservoirs with ample water to supply the needs of millions living in the West. Read more »
Deer mice and chipmunks were among the dominant small mammals in the study area and were mostly unaffected by the fuel reduction treatments. (Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org)
Forest managers in the western United States often face difficult choices when it comes to reducing wildfire hazards while also maintaining wildlife habitat in forests that have changed dramatically in the last century.
The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and partners are working to find the balance between forest restoration and habitat conservation in a new era of forest management. Read more »
An aerial view of mastication efforts to remove pinyon and juniper trees encroaching in bi-state sage grouse habitat on a Smith Valley rancher’s Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment, east of Minden, Nevada. The pinyon and juniper removal is part of an NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative project near the Conifer Forum field tour location. (Photo courtesy NRCS)
Bi-state sage-grouse, a geographically distinct population of small game bird that lives along the border of Nevada and California, rely on a healthy sagebrush ecosystem. One of the largest habitat threats to the sage-grouse is the encroachment of pinyon and juniper trees.
Once pinyon and juniper trees move into a sagebrush-steppe area, they act simultaneously like straws and umbrellas — sucking out what little water hits the soil, while providing a canopy to catch rainfall so little moisture reaches the plants and shrubs below the trees. Little by little, the trees can close in on an area, squeezing out precious habitat for the sage-grouse. They also deter sage-grouse from landing in the area, as the birds are frightful of these tall, foreign objects that interrupt their flight path and provide a perch for predators. Read more »
Cross-posted from the White House Council of Economic Advisers blog:
Last year, the President directed Vice President Biden to lead a review of federal job training programs in order to identify and implement steps to make these programs more “job-driven” and responsive to the needs of employers. The idea was that — even as the economy continues to recover, with more open jobs than at any point since 2001 — we need to do more to make sure that we are giving workers the skills they need to compete for those jobs. This is core to the President’s vision for “middle-class economics,” in which Americans who are unemployed or in low-wage jobs have the opportunity to train and find jobs that create pathways to the middle-class.
Friday, as part of this effort, Secretaries Vilsack and Perez announced $200 million for projects designed to identify the most effective strategies to help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) improve their skills and find jobs. Read more »
Conrad Estrada (third from left) with students from “Jóvenes en Acción” – Youth in Action. This program provides Mexican high school students the opportunity to experience the United States and develop their leadership skills.
When Dr. Conrad Estrada became an APHIS Foreign Service Officer (FSO), his goal was to get out of his comfort zone, “not only in the geographic sense, but also on a personal and professional level.”
Six years later, the veterinarian admits he got both wishes. Trained in Peru, Estrada earned his master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine at the University of California-Davis before joining the APHIS Foreign Service in 2009. He is now the APHIS Foreign Service (FS) area director in Brasilia, Brazil, a job that “has offered me a great opportunity to expand my horizons, as well as increase my understanding of an integrated agricultural global market.” Read more »
NRCS staff participated in a cover crop field day in Merced County, California as part of its tour of the state to look at ways farmers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon on their lands. NRCS photo by Kari Cohen.
Staff from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon visited California recently to meet with state officials and farmers and ranchers to discuss how farms and ranches can store carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and potentially benefit financially by providing greenhouse gas offsets under California’s cap-and-trade program.
Also along for the trip were researchers from Colorado State University, who partnered with NRCS to develop USDA’s greenhouse gas accounting tool called COMET-FARM. The tool enables producers and technical specialists to estimate the beneficial impacts of implementing conservation practices that store carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read more »