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Posts tagged: Colorado

Innovation in Conservation – A New Slate of NRCS Environmental Markets Projects

A wheat field

50,000 acres of rangeland in North and South Dakota have permanent protection when enrolled into a carbon offset program through a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant. These offsets will be sold on the voluntary market. Photo credit: Scott Bauer.

Environmental markets—the buying and selling of ecosystem services like clean air and water, and wildlife habitat—help more private landowners get conservation on the ground. Markets attract non-Federal funding to conservation, complement USDA’s work with agricultural producers, and can yield natural resource improvement at a lower cost to other approaches.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a Federal leader in supporting the development of environmental markets, largely through its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. Among CIG recipients are one of the earliest and most successful water quality trading programs in Ohio’s Great Miami River watershed and the Ohio River Basin water quality trading program, a recipient of the U.S. Water Prize this year. Also through CIG, USDA hosted an event in November 2014 celebrating a first-of-its-kind transaction—the purchase by Chevrolet of carbon credits generated on ranch lands in North Dakota. Read more »

Preserving “Heirloom” Collections – Microbial, That Is

Plant molecular pathologist Yulin Jia samples a field for rice blast disease

Plant molecular pathologist Yulin Jia samples a field in Columbia for rice blast disease. (Photo by Fernando Correa).

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

As a plant pathologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Rice Research Unit in Beaumont, Texas, Toni Marchetti oversaw a new program in 1972 to develop new cultivars that better resisted costly diseases like rice blast.  

Marchetti retired from ARS in 2001, leaving behind not only a legacy of excellence in rice breeding and plant pathology, but also a prized collection of 1,000 rice blast specimens he isolated from Texas, Arkansas, and other rice-growing states. The Beaumont unit was closed in 2012, and the collection was relocated to ARS’s Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Read more »

Working Together to Restore the Colorado Front Range

Dr. Richard Reynolds talking with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species

Dr. Richard Reynolds talks with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species. Photo credit: Jennifer Hayes, US Forest Service

It started with a call from a concerned landowner living on Pine Country Lane, nestled in the foothills just west of Denver. The landscape spread out before them was scarred from previous high-severity fires, the homeowners told their local Conservation District.

Their home was sitting at the top of a hill in a tinderbox surrounded by dense forests dying from bark beetle and tussock moth invasions. Decades of fire suppression has altered forests on the Front Range. These forests were historically adapted to frequent low-severity fire and, with suppression, have become fuel-dense and are now comprised of a different species mix. Read more »

Apalachicola National Forest Restores National Historic Landmark

Youth workers constructing an Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility-compliant trail

Youth workers construct an Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility-compliant trail leading to the central kiosk and earthen fort. Local volunteers, HistoriCorps partners from Colorado and Texas Conservation Corps members participated in the two-week renovation on the Apalachicola National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Jesse English)

The drive to Fort Gadsden’s Historic Site on the Apalachicola National Forest is something reminiscent of a nature documentary. Towering pines line the highway while vibrant wildflowers bloom throughout the fields. Local volunteers and Apalachicola National Forest employees are busily working in the stifling heat on a restoration project at this National Historic Landmark, the only one located in the southeast on National Forest Service land. The volunteers include: a team of workers from Colorado called ‘HistoriCorps,’ and a cadre from the Texas Conservation Corps at American Youthworks.

“Without volunteers like us, a lot of these things just go to waste and rot away because nobody has the money, the time, or the work force to do it,” said Amanda Tulley, a HistoriCorps partner from Denver. Read more »

Potato Grower Improves Operations From Soil to Store

Sheldon Rockey, co-owner of White Rock Specialties of Mosca, Colorado

Sheldon Rockey, co-owner of White Rock Specialties of Mosca, Colorado.

What do you get when you combine an abandoned rural high school, two Colorado farm families and potatoes? White Rock Specialties.

The innovative potato packing facility in Mosca, Colorado, is an economic driver for valley potato growers and employment in this small, unincorporated community in the San Luis Valley.

For generations, the Rockey and New families have been farming in the valley. Each family business had their own potato packing facilities, however, time and an increase in demand for their products proved the old equipment too inefficient. Discussions started between the families and it was decided a couple years ago to merge their packing businesses and White Rock Specialties was formed. Read more »

Recognizing the Value of Cleaner Watersheds

A watershed in the Stanislaus National Forest, located in the Sierra Nevada region of California

A watershed in the Stanislaus National Forest, located in the Sierra Nevada region of California. Photo credit: US Forest Service

The mission of the Forest Service is to “sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” The provisioning of water resources – notably clean drinking water and flood control – is central to this. Growing demand for our water resources, spurred by population growth, and the effects of climate change further challenge the Forest Service to successfully meet the needs of present and future generations.

In the western United States – where water flowing from national forests makes up nearly two-thirds of public and commercial water supplies – water scarcity and wildfire threats have galvanized diverse stakeholders to invest in healthy headwaters. Local communities, public utility companies, businesses, non-governmental organizations and state and local agencies are investing in watershed restoration to avoid catastrophic economic losses. Read more »