Longleaf pine plantations of trees approximately 25 years old have received their first commercial thinning on the Conecuh National Forest. Photo credit: Jim Guldin, US Forest Service
Drought, especially prolonged or severe drought, can be a major stress in forest ecosystems. Drought can kill trees directly or indirectly through insect attack or wildfire. Both of which are more likely to occur during drought.
Tree mortality impacts most of the ecosystem services provided by forests, including the amount of wood that grows, how much carbon is captured and stored, the health of critical wildlife habitat, water yield and quality, and even whether it’s safe to pursue recreational activities such as hiking or hunting. Read more »
U.C. Berkeley biologists Cameron Williams and Rikke Naesborg measure the trunk diameter of a giant sequoia in Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park. Photo credit: Anthony R. Ambrose
“A mature Giant Sequoia can use 500-800 gallons of water every day during the summer,” said Anthony Ambrose, a tree biologist at U.C. Berkeley. “That’s a lot of water necessary for just one tree.”
For the first time in at least 125 years, Giant Sequoias in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California are showing significant amounts of “dieback” in their foliage due to several years of drought. Read more »
U.S. Drought Monitor Drought Assessment map
Drought patterns have always fluctuated and are expected to become increasingly dynamic in the years to come, making managing working lands profitably more of a challenge. Because specific actions for building resilience to drought vary with location and forest type, USDA is helping land managers connect with experts and find region-specific information and tools through the USDA Climate Hubs.
Recent historical drought events vary from region to region, with the western U.S. showing a trend toward dry conditions while trends in the East are more complex. So how can land managers mitigate the impacts of drought on their lands? Read more »
Emergency haying and grazing provisions provided through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) allow ranchers like Jeremiah Liebl to weather severe drought conditions by providing valuable hay and pasture for livestock in Colorado.
In 2012, USDA designated 2,245 counties in 39 states as disaster areas due to drought, or 71 percent of the United States. Many of the country’s livestock producers faced the ultimate decision – liquidate or figure out a way to survive.
Ranchers across the state had planned to graze their livestock through the spring and summer, but found their pastures scorched by the hot sun, and their ponds dry. Read more »
USDA Results: Caring for our Land, Air and Water. Preserving Precious Natural Resources for Tomorrow.
At the beginning of this year, we launched a year-long reflection on USDA-wide results achieved over the course of this Administration. This week begins a month-long focus on seven years of USDA accomplishments to preserve our natural resources for tomorrow’s generations – accomplishments that have only been made possible with the hard work of our staff at USDA and the support of our steadfast partners.
I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to build lasting partnerships to care for our nation’s unparalleled public lands and support producers as they conserve our nation’s land, water and soil. Please take some time to read a full story of our results on my Medium page at: www.medium.com/usda-results. Read more »
In addition to the impact on the region’s water supply, lower reservoir levels, such as shown in Lake Meade in Nevada, have an adverse effect on outdoor recreation activities and the businesses that support them. (U.S. Geological Survey)
Drought is inevitable, a recurring natural event – or series of events – that can be felt over a season or a severe, longer lasting natural event that has social and economic consequences.
But how land managers prepare for or react at any stage of a drought in today’s world with the increasing effects of climate change and the information they use is the focus of a new report by the U.S. Forest Service, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis. The exhaustive report evaluates appropriate ways to quantify and monitor drought, assesses consequences for forests and rangelands, and identifies potential adaption strategies. Read more »