This graphic shows past records and predictions based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Provided the by U.S. Forest Service.
Weather…. We all care about it. In many communities, local TV and radio weather forecasters are celebrities, and for good reason. While we can’t do much about the weather, it affects us all every day.
During last week’s Agricultural Outlook Forum two sessions drew exceptionally large crowds. One was the Friday afternoon “Weather and Agriculture” segment and another was the morning “Markets and Weather” presentation. While no one can say for sure what the weather outlook will be for the 2014 summer growing season, Brad Rippey, agricultural meteorologist with USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), Eric Luebehusen, OCE ag. meteorologist and Anthony Artusa, meteorologist with the Climate Protection Section of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made some observations and predictions in the afternoon session. The snowpack in the West’s Sierra Nevada is far below normal. The Western winter wet season has been a bust, with winter precipitation less than 10 percent of average in some areas. California, the Great Basin and southern Great Plains are in drought. The meteorologists said California, the lower gulf coast and much of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas could see above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation in March, April and May. According to Rippey, “We need a miracle March in 2014 to avoid major problems in California.” The most current information is available through NOAA’s Seasonal Drought Outlook map and the USDA drought monitor. Read more »
(left to right): David Leffler, Director General, Ministry of Environmental Protection; Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF World Chairman; David Brand, KKL-JNF Chief Forester; Hadas Magen Molho, Head of International Relations for the Minister; Jane Leche, Public Affairs, U.S. Forest Service; Maribeth Gustafson, Deputy Regional Forester of Operations, U.S. Forest Service; Rene Reinhard, JNF Chief of Staff; (back right) Chris Soriano, International Programs, U.S. Forest Service; and Damian Rawoot, International Programs, U.S. Forest Service take in the views from 11,900 feet at the top of Loveland Pass. (U.S. Forest Service)
In the late 1980s, Israel experienced one of its worst fire seasons ever. Devastating blazes ravaged the forested corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The U.S. Forest Service responded by sending a technical team to assess the damage and subsequently recommended future mitigation and management strategies. Thus, a cooperative exchange program between the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (JNF-KKL) and the U.S. Forest Service was born.
Earlier this fall, a team from the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, headed by Deputy Regional Forester Maribeth Gustafson, hosted a small group of guests from Israel. They included Minister of the Environment Amir Peretz; David Leffler, director general from the Ministry of Environmental Protection; Efi Stenzler, the JNF-KKL World Chairman; David Brand, the KKL Chief Forester, and four other staff members. Read more »
Today’s college students and young professionals are particularly attuned to the environmental issues that face our nation. Universities across the United States are often stuck with excess food left over from dining halls, sporting events, and other social gatherings that more often than not goes directly into the dumpsters. While many young adults across the country are working their way through school and loan payments, they are also becoming increasingly cognizant of the efforts underway at their Universities to reduce food waste.
In a recent study conducted by The Princeton Review, 69 percent of college applicants claim that a University’s environmental commitment would contribute to their decision to apply or attend the school. Fortunately for college students, there are several innovative and environmentally friendly ways to deal with excess food waste on-campus. Read more »
At this very moment, an underappreciated tool for combating climate change may be hiding in your chiller drawer or at the back of your pantry. By keeping that limp carrot or dusty box of pasta out of our nation’s landfills, you can help reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste going to landfills (accounting for over 20% by weight) and that that landfills are the third largest source of methane (16% of national total). By reducing the amount of food we toss into the trash, we can help reduce these potent greenhouse gas emissions.
The benefits do not stop there, however. Read more »
Nuangola lakeside homes, surrounding roads and outbuildings, are experiencing little impact during the sewer extension construction project.
As a sewer extension project winds through the lakeside community portion of Nuangola, Pennsylvania, residents are experiencing minimal impact. Last year, Nuangola Borough received $4.4 million in USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program (WEP) loans and $3.9 million in WEP grants to fund the installation of a low pressure wastewater collection system for the borough. Treatment of the wastewater collected will be done by the neighboring authority’s existing sewage treatment facility. The system will serve an estimated 420 homes. Read more »
Today the Obama Administration announced a Presidential Memorandum that expands a government-wide effort to improve the Federal permitting and review process. This is a big step for USDA because it will help us ensure timely decision-making and review of infrastructure projects, while ensuring the environmental protections that stand at the heart of the review process.
It’s very important to President Obama and I that well-managed, beneficial projects aren’t held up by unnecessary delays. USDA is committed to the President’s goals of modernizing the permitting and review of infrastructure projects because our efforts are particularly important in rural America. By ensuring timely review of projects, we can better carry out our mission to strengthen community infrastructure and provide opportunities for rural America to create clean, renewable energy. By fostering greater transparency and predictability in the Federal permitting process, we’ll be able to deliver better value for the taxpayer while still avoiding negative impacts to our natural and cultural resources, which remain equally important drivers of economic opportunity. Read more »