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Posts tagged: Conservation

Community Unites to Help At-Risk New England Cottontail

Local boy scout troop members and their families posing with bundles of shrubs and planting bars

Local boy scout troop members and their families pose with bundles of shrubs and planting bars at the edge of a wetland where they are planting shrubs for New England cottontail habitat. Photo by Phillip Brown, Audubon.

A New Hampshire community came together to help restore habitat for the New England cottontail, a native rabbit of the region. For this rabbit, habitat restoration is pretty simple, planting the shrubs that are the cornerstones of its ideal habitat.

Nearly 40 volunteers gathered in April to plant more than 5,000 shrubs at Smith Sisters Wildlife Sanctuary, a 115-acre sanctuary managed by Audubon. Volunteers planted 10 different shrub species, including elderberry, dogwoods, Virginia rose, American hazelnut, fragrant sumac, eastern red-cedar, nannyberry and arrowwood viburnum. Read more »

NRCS Volunteers Gain Experience and Help Further Conservation Efforts

Morgan Boggs, NRCS Earth Team volunteer in Browning, Montana

Morgan Boggs, NRCS Earth Team volunteer in Browning, Montana. Photo credit: NRCS Montana.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA) have partnered in a pilot project to provide new opportunities for Native American high school students across the west.

Morgan Boggs, a high school senior in Browning, Montana, was one of three Montana high school seniors selected by INCA. Through this pilot program, students sign up as NRCS Earth Team volunteers to work side-by-side with NRCS professionals. This on-the-job training increases the students’ qualifications for the USDA Pathways Internship Program, which employs college students working toward a degree in natural resources. Read more »

Late Blight: A Ripening Issue for Central Pennsylvania Farmers

A hoop house on Tamarack Farm in Spring Mills, PA.

A hoop house on Tamarack Farm in Spring Mills, PA.

Perhaps there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Many farmers in central Pennsylvania would aptly agree to this notion after experiencing above average amounts of rainfall this summer. In fact, rainfall during June and July in central Pennsylvania was more than four inches above average. The high summer temperatures coupled with these increased wet conditions quickly produced ideal habitats for many plant borne diseases. One disease in particular that inflicted dramatic damage upon many local farmers this past summer was late blight. One may recall that this was the plant disease responsible for the Irish Potato Famine back in the mid-nineteenth century. In memory of this historical event, late blight is nothing to take lightly.  Read more »

Maryland Dairy Farmers Work to Improve the Health of Estuaries

Dairy farmers Matt and Debbie Hoff with their daughters Courtney, Brook and Alicia

Dairy farmers Matt and Debbie Hoff with their daughters Courtney, Brook and Alicia. Photo credit: Genevieve Lister.

Producing high quality, nutritious milk may be a top priority for Coldsprings Farm, but it is not the farm’s only accomplishment. Nestled between the rolling acres and lush green meadows of New Windsor, Maryland, lies a showcase of a dairy farm where owners Matt and Debbie Hoff are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to reduce runoff of nutrients and sediment, leading to cleaner water downstream.

This is especially important, as Coldsprings Farm sits amid the Monocacy watershed, which eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Read more »

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 »

Montana Soil Conservationist, Organic Farmer Work Together to Reach Conservation Goals

Ben Ferencz and Julie Pavlock of Foothills Farm in St. Ignatius, Montana with their hoop house in background

Ben Ferencz and Julie Pavlock of Foothills Farm in St. Ignatius, Montana discuss working with NRCS. Their hoop house is in the background. Photo credit: Suzanne Pender

When I learned that the “This American Land” public television series was headed to Montana, I knew this would be a great opportunity to highlight organic producers and the work USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is doing to increase conservation across the state. I’ve been working for NRCS for 10 years and in the Ronan, Montana, field office since 2010. Since transferring to Ronan, I’ve devoted much of my time to providing technical and financial assistance to beginning farmers in the area – especially landowners who are engaged or interested in diversified organic vegetable production for local markets. 

Building lasting relationships goes hand-in-hand with getting conservation on the ground. So, when Ben Ferencz and Julie Pavlock of Foothills Farm in St. Ignatius were interested in expanding their farm, they reached out to me about available NRCS programs. Read more »