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Posts tagged: Christmas

Christmas Tree Grower Branches Out

Christmas trees are a staple crop for many farms in Oregon, including this tree farm off Interstate 5. (NRCS photo)

Christmas trees are a staple crop for many farms in Oregon, including this tree farm off Interstate 5. (NRCS photo)

During a time of year more often associated with consumption than conservation, Daniel Logan, owner and operator of Logan Tree Farm near North Plains, Ore., shows that managing and preserving the land yields both profit and holiday cheer.

Raising Christmas trees is a family business for Logan, who can remember pruning and clipping trees as early as six years old. His family has grown Christmas trees in the area since 1883, and he continues the tradition, managing about 35 acres of Christmas trees, including Douglas, Noble, Grand and Nordmann Firs. Read more »

A Home for the Holidays

Robert Tapia, a single father of two, is pictured outside the Reedley, Calif. home he proudly helped build with ten other families through USDA's Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program in partnership with Self-Help Enterprises, which celebrated the completion of its 6,000th home last week. (USDA photo)

Robert Tapia, a single father of two, is pictured outside the Reedley, Calif. home he proudly helped build with ten other families through USDA's Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program in partnership with Self-Help Enterprises, which celebrated the completion of its 6,000th home last week. (USDA photo)

The holidays will be extra special this year for 11 families in Reedley, Calif., who received the keys to their homes during a celebration ceremony December 19. The group spent nearly 10 months building each other’s homes through USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program.

The rules of the program are simple, though not necessarily easy. Ten- to 12 families are grouped together to pool their efforts. Each family is required to put in a minimum of 40 hours a week working on all the homes and no one moves in until every home is completed. Together, families pour foundations, frame homes, install electrical wiring, hang doors and windows and even lay tile and paint. Their labor – “sweat equity” – acts as a down payment for the home, and USDA Rural Development provides the families with mortgages through the Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program. Read more »

Recycling Christmas Trees on National Forests a Seasonal Tradition

Recycled trees placed in a fish crib. (U.S. Forest Service)

Recycled trees placed in a fish crib. (U.S. Forest Service)

For many, purchasing or cutting a Christmas tree is a favorite seasonal tradition. But what do you do with your trees after the festivities end?

Tree recycling after the holidays has become part of community traditions on several Eastern Region national forests. Recycled trees can be used to establish fish habitats, create mulch for future plantings and build soil erosion barriers. Using the trees for these purposes also keeps them from filling up local landfills.

Land managers of several national forests in the area have found that the old Christmas trees can be used to make a cozy home for schools of fish. Fish habitats create ideal spawning grounds to ensure successful reproduction, a place of refuge and shade for the young, and shelter from predators. Also, fish habitats provide a food source – a breeding ground for algae and plankton to attract bait fish and lure larger fish to favorite fishing spots. Read more »

NEWSFLASH — Santa’s Reindeer Issued Permit from USDA to Enter the U.S.

BREAKING NEWS out of Washington DC as the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited.  The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 6 PM December 24, 2013 and 6 AM December 25, 2013, through or over any northern border port.

“During this season of giving, USDA wants to do everything in its power to help Santa,” said Dr. John R. Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer.  “We agreed to waive the normal application fees and entry inspection/overtime costs, provided he winks his eye and wishes port personnel a Merry Christmas at the time of crossing.” Read more »

My Family’s Christmas Tree, from a Colorado National Forest

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (second from right) and his family recently at Pike National Forest in Colorado. USDA photo.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (second from right) and his family recently at Pike National Forest in Colorado. USDA photo.

Across the nation, 193 million acres of National Forest land provide incredible benefits to every American – from outdoor recreation opportunities to cleaner air, soil and water that impact folks from all walks of life.

And with a simple permit and some planning ahead, a National Forest can also provide a great Christmas tree during the holidays – as well as an incredible experience in visiting the forest. This year my family joined thousands of others in venturing onto a National Forest to find our tree.

Our visit to Pike National Forest in Colorado was truly memorable. The Forest encompasses more than one million acres, is home to many exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, resources and landscapes such as the 14,110-foot Pikes Peak. The forest also is home to the headwaters of the South Platte River, which provides 60 percent of the Denver metropolitan area’s water supply. Read more »

Oh Silent Light of the Capitol Christmas Tree

The 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree shimmers like a thousand stars after a lighting ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert H. Westover)

The 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree shimmers like a thousand stars after a lighting ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert H. Westover)

A crown jewel of American Christmas trees lit the night sky Dec. 3 as thousands of lights burst around the 88-foot-tall 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree. A momentary hush of silent awe overcame the crowd gathered on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol to witness the ceremony that has origins dating back to 1964.

An eight-point star shimmered at the top of the 79-year-old Englemann spruce harvested from the Colville National Forest in Washington State. Decorating the tree are hundreds of ornaments made by people of Washington, many of them drawn and glued together by school children. Read more »