Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker staffing the USDA booth at the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival along with representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service on August 13.
I recently had the privilege of representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development at the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival in southwestern Oregon. We stood side-by-side with our counterparts at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service. When this festival began 25 years ago, the idea of a government agency participating was unthinkable. At that time, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals had no assurance of equal treatment when requesting government services or financial assistance. In fact, it was not so long ago that federal employees suspected of being gay were fired from their jobs. This sad chapter in our history saw careers destroyed and lives irreparably damaged.
I am deeply proud of the tremendous progress we have made nationally and at home here in Oregon to correct those past mistakes. USDA has been among the first federal departments to participate in Pride festivals across Oregon, and we have been leading the way nationally in the arena of LGBT civil rights. We were one of the first federal departments to enact protections specifically on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. USDA has instituted training for our employees, and we have been making a concerted effort to reach out to our LGBT customers, partners, and potential future employees. As I handed out information on the financial programs in Rural Development and the career opportunities available with USDA in a park festooned with rainbows, I experienced first-hand the incredible strides we have made in recent years toward a new era of civil rights. Read more »
Drought-stressed saplings begin to shed their leaves early in a Michigan forest. Photo credit: US Forest Service
When I hear the word drought I imagine dusty rangelands and drying lakes. But it’s hard to imagine tumbleweeds blowing through the Northern Forests of the Midwest and Northeast regions. In fact, these forests have seen overall wetter conditions in recent decades and their annual precipitation is expected to continue increasing with the changing climate.
So why worry about droughts in these northern forests? Read more »
Volunteers traversing the North Cascades Mountains looking to track butterflies. Photo credit: National Park Service
Have you ever seen a cool bird in your backyard and wondered if there was some way to share what you saw with others? Better yet, have you thought about sharing your observations and having them used to help study and conserve those birds? These thoughts are an indicator that you might have the makings of a great citizen scientist!
The Forest Service is engaged in a wide variety of citizen science projects that encourage public involvement in natural and cultural resource science and conservation. Volunteers can contribute by forming research questions, collecting and analyzing data, or interpreting results. If you have a sense of wonder and discovery, citizen science may be for you. Read more »
A contemporary photo of the M/V Chugach ranger boat. The M/V Chugach served as an important transportation and communication link among the communities of Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska and was involved in many dramatic search and rescue operations. Photo credit: Forest Service
This year America celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Alaska was still celebrating its first decade of statehood when the Preservation Act was passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. Since then, the act has empowered the U.S. Forest Service to identify and preserve the state’s rich cultural history, including heritage sites that date back to time immemorial.
In honor of the 50th Anniversary, the 49 Sites in the 49th State website was developed by the Alaska Region and partners such as the State of Alaska, Native corporations and tribes, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, and others to help state residents and out-of-state visitors explore. The site features many historical sites and treasures such as the Iditarod National Historic Trail, Lost Whaling Ships in the Bering Strait, and M/V Chugach ranger boat, the last of 10 Forest Service ranger boats that once plied the waters of the Tongass and Chugach national forests. Read more »
If You Fly, We Can't infographic. Design credit: Mary Horning, US Forest Service (Click to view a larger version)
Recreational drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems sometimes called UAS have become increasingly popular in the past few years. While this is an interesting hobby and can allow you to get beautiful aerial photography, some activities pose a significant hazard.
The use of these drones to capture video footage of wildfires is one of those hazardous activities. Read more »
Researchers prepare for the next phase in examining physical fire processes by adding the effect of a slope. Photo credit: Mark Finney
In recent months, we have all become familiar with images in the media of wildland firefighters digging lines, air tankers dropping retardant and fire engines dispersing water. You may wonder “how do these firefighters know what it takes to fight fire?”
The short answer is: research.
Before a wildland firefighter sees his or her first fire, they are given the tools and training on how to fight fire and its behavior. The information passed onto them is not learned overnight but rather through years of research. Read more »