A pioneering snorkeling program on the Cherokee National Forest entices students to suit up in wet suits and snorkels. As they immerse themselves in the clean, clear waters protected by the forest, the young visitors discover the amazing aquatic biodiversity that lies beneath including a male (the long fingernails are diagnostic) Hieroglyphic River Cooter turtle seen in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Dave Herasimtschuk © Freshwaters Illustrated)
Deep into the Cherokee National Forest on the headwaters of the Conasauga River, an innovative river conservation program brings thousands of citizen snorkelers to the vibrant waters of Southern Appalachia. Now armchair travelers can enjoy this experience via a six-minute online film.
“A Deeper Creek – The Watchable Waters of Southern Appalachia,” produced by Freshwaters Illustrated in partnership with the Forest Service, takes the viewer to a pool in the river’s headwaters in southern Tennessee and northwest Georgia. The flowing waters teem with 70 species of fish and a dozen species of freshwater mussels and enjoys a “virtual” snorkeling experience. Read more »
Aaron Urban, front, poses with his four siblings, his parents, Jeremy and Leisha, and Speaker of the House John Boehner before the ceremony to light the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Aaron, who is battling brain cancer, was given the honor after efforts by Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, who also is helping to fulfill his wish of spending the holidays in New York City. (Photo courtesy Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic)
A foggy mist did not deter a crowd of onlookers, politicians and U.S. Forest Service employees as a 10-year-old Maryland boy in a wheelchair enveloped by warm blankets flipped the switch to light the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Front lawn of the nation’s Capital.
C-SPAN recorded the event, including the moment when Speaker of the House John Boehner handed the controls to Aaron Urban, who flipped the switch on the 88-foot white spruce from Minnesota. The ceremony culminated more than a year of work to find, select, harvest and transport the tree found on the Chippewa National Forest. Children from that state made more than 10,000 ornaments – many of them dream catchers in the tradition of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa. Read more »
Workers use a crane to lift an 88-foot spruce tree harvested from the Chippewa National Forest to its final resting place on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The scaffolding surrounding the dome is part of a multi-year restoration project to repair deficiencies. (U.S. Forest Service/Mary LaPlant)
After a 2,700-mile, 30-stop journey from Minnesota, the 88-foot white spruce tree harvested from the Chippewa National Forest is delivered, set up in Washington, D.C., decorated by Architect of the Capitol employees and ready for the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2.
Speaker of the House John Boehner will light the tree on the Capitol’s West Front, where it will remain lit from dusk until 11 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. The tree is a gift from the American people, hence the moniker “The People’s Tree.” Hundreds of people attend the lighting ceremony. Read more »
The Rio Grande wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) calls the central plains states home. They live in brush areas near streams and rivers or mesquite, pine and scrub oak forests. (Courtesy National Wild Turkey Federation)
According to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the U.S. is the world’s largest turkey producer and largest exporter of turkey products. An estimated 46 million turkeys will show up on American tables this holiday, and most of those will come from turkey production facilities.
A much smaller percentage featured on the holiday table will be wild turkeys hunted on private and public lands. There are more than 7 million wild turkeys roaming the countryside, but their numbers were not always that robust. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, which partners with the U.S. Forest Service, the tasty game bird native to the U.S. faced extinction in the 1930s. Read more »
Smokey Bear helps to decorate the U.S. Forest Service’s tree in Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park during the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree trek to Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service)
Despite the rain and freezing temperatures, there was warmth and good cheer in the hearts of everyone who came out to catch a glimpse of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and help transform Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park into Community Spirit Park on Veteran’s Day.
The fanfare also helped to honor past and present members of the Armed Forces, some of who were on hand to see a holiday bedecked park with a 50-lighted tree, Milwaukee’s Color Guard waving American flags and a larger than life 90-foot tractor trailer parked nearby. Read more »
Volunteers armed with shovels and picks remove clusters of houndstongue from a high elevation meadow in the Raggeds Wilderness on the Gunnison and White River National Forests. (U.S. Forest Service/Dan Gray)
The Raggeds Wilderness, a nearly 65,000-acre area on the Gunnison and White River National Forests near Paonia, Colorado, is prime elk habitat with herd numbers in the hundreds.
Acres of undisturbed coniferous forests are interspersed with open slopes of wet meadows thick with grasses and sedges, a nutritious diet for elk needing to fatten up for the winter. But houndstongue, a purple-flowered invasive weed that takes root alongside nutritious plants, is toxic to elk. Read more »