Much of the beauty in American agricultural landscapes is complemented by the trees in those landscapes. We depend on these tree’s products every day–from the paper our children use in school, to many of the fruits we eat, the wood burning in our fireplaces, and the wildlife habitat created by those trees and forests.
Forests are vital to our economy, as well. Trees are part of forest ecosystems that play a critical role in our livelihoods, providing environmental, economic and social values. Agroforestry practices support agricultural production and help improve water quality and air quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat. These working trees can also grow fiber, food, and energy. And with the U.S. Census Bureau projecting a population surge to nine billion by 2044, forests and agroforests can help meet the growing demands for food, shelter, medicine, and recreation. Read more »
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 »
Deer mice and chipmunks were among the dominant small mammals in the study area and were mostly unaffected by the fuel reduction treatments. (Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org)
Forest managers in the western United States often face difficult choices when it comes to reducing wildfire hazards while also maintaining wildlife habitat in forests that have changed dramatically in the last century.
The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and partners are working to find the balance between forest restoration and habitat conservation in a new era of forest management. Read more »
Soybeans show the effect of the Texas drought near Navasota, TX on Aug. 21, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.
We know that there are climate change risks and vulnerabilities facing agriculture that have significant implications not just for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, but for all Americans and the world. That’s why we are working on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, severe weather and temperature extremes.
Today’s release of the USDA Sustainability Plans and Climate Change Adaptation Plans coincide with the fifth anniversary of President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, which set aggressive energy, climate and environmental targets for agencies, and detail how USDA’s actions have already contributed to reducing the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 17 percent since 2008 – the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road. Read more »
Dick Fitzgerald, Forest Management Assistant Director for the Forest Service, says it’s the variety of work and working with the highly-educated sharp young folk in the agency that contributes to his joy of the work challenge. (U.S. Forest Service)
When a forester embraces the various challenges of his job – such as timber management, building roads, squelching wildfires or perhaps even national policy issues – you can count on the variety of experiences and the ever-changing nature of the job to provide interest.
For Dick Fitzgerald, currently the agency’s assistant director of forest management in the Washington Office, it became a 57-year career and running. He began by working summers in a fire lookout before becoming full time as a junior forester, as it was known in those days. He also worked as a district ranger, managed timber sales and served as a regional silviculturist in two of the agency’s nine regions.
“Each job has had its challenges,” Fitzgerald said. “During my first jobs, I was out in the country in places where a lot of folks had never been locating and developing roads to support the mission. Working as a district ranger, I worked with the public from local areas, trying to balance a forest’s timber or range or recreation agenda.” Read more »