Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer delivers the keynote address at the 2014 Environmental Justice Conference in Washington, DC. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols
Late last month, I was privileged to deliver the keynote address at the 2014 National Environmental Justice Conference here in Washington.
Environmental justice is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
USDA was one of the first federal agencies identified in the 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice (EJ) from former President Bill Clinton due to the broad sweep of the department’s agencies with respect to the environment. The department developed an EJ Strategic Plan and promulgated a Departmental EJ Regulation in 1997. Read more »
An AmeriCorps crew performs bank stabilization work at the site of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo. Projects like this will be enhanced with the 5-year partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Springs Utilities, which will contribute $6 million over the next five to 10 years. (US Forest Service photo/Mike Stearly)
The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Springs (Colo.) Utilities recently announced a new 5-year partnership to help restore the areas burned by the devastating Waldo Canyon Fire that tore through part of the west side of the city in 2012.
Through the partnership, Colorado Springs Utilities will invest approximately $6 million in support of the watershed health goals and activities over the next five to 10 years. The Forest Service will complete on-the-ground project planning and treatment in areas that complement Colorado Springs Utilities investments. Read more »
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. (Robert Westover/U.S. Forest Service Photo)
Try going one full day without using a product derived from a tree.
You won’t be able to use a pencil or paper or sit on your couch or at a desk. You won’t be able to check the mail or drink coffee while reading the newspaper. Read more »
Baltimore’s Oliver Neighborhood is a mix of occupied and abandoned rowhouses. The U.S. Forest Service is working with partners to host the Carbon Challenge green building design contest, promoting sustainable and livable neighborhoods in Baltimore and Providence, R.I. (L.F. Chambers, U.S. Forest Service photo)
Depending on who you talk to, there are between 16,000 and 20,000 vacant homes in Baltimore. Once a mid-20th century boomtown where residents built the liberty ships and liberator bombers that helped win World War II, the middle-class dreams of this city have been in a decades-long decline. Entire blocks stand empty, lifeless veneers of boarded windows and burnt-out roofs.
But the U.S. Forest Service is working to help change that, promoting livable and workable buildings for 21st-Century occupants, while retaining the vibrant culture and community that once characterized these streets. Read more »
USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman (front left) meets with FPL researcher John Hunt (front right) as representatives from FPL partner Noble Environmental Technologies look on (in background, Jim Jensen and Caleb Walker).
A recent visit to the US Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory by USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman was an eventful one. Sherman took the opportunity to visit with industry leaders who have collaborated with federal scientists to bring innovative new products to the market. Sherman was at the laboratory on July 25 for a grand opening of the new Nanocellulose Pilot Plant along with scores of industry leaders, scientists and academic researchers. Read more »
The U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory recently opened a $1.7 million production facility for renewable, forest-based nanomaterials. This facility is the first of its kind in the United States and one that positions the laboratory as the country’s leading producer of these materials, also called nanocellulose.
Nanocellulose is simply wood fiber broken down to the nanoscale. For perspective, a nanometer is roughly one-millionth the thickness of an American dime. Materials at this minute scale have unique properties; nanocellulose-based materials can be stronger than Kevlar fiber and provide high strength properties with low weight. These attributes have attracted the interest of the Department of Defense for use in lightweight armor and ballistic glass. Companies in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, and medical device industries also see massive potential for these innovative materials. Read more »