Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California (USDA-NRCS photo by Ron Nichols).
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
An award-winning watershed assessment tool, the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA), was deployed to assess potential Rim Fire threats in Yosemite National Park in California. The park experienced a devastating fire that began on August 17, 2013, and took several months to contain. The fire burned more than 400 square miles in and around the park, cost $125.8 million to date, and is considered one of the largest wildfires in California’s history.
BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) is a multi-agency group that includes USDA’s Forest Service and others, and is responsible for identifying potential threats such as downstream flooding and developing plans to rehabilitate and restore burned areas. BAER teams use AGWA to target immediate efforts to prevent threats to people, wildlife and the land. Using AGWA combined with the burn severity map produced by BAER teams, experts can rapidly pull together information on pre- and post-fire conditions. For example, knowing where to apply mulch after a fire can reduce runoff and erosion and can help minimize downstream risks from fire induced land cover and soil changes. Read more »
The 88-foot Engelmann spruce selected as the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is hoisted onto a flatbed truck, where it will be secured for the 5,000-mile journey across the country. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
More than 300 people gathered on in 25-degree weather to witness the harvesting of the 88-foot 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree from the Colville National Forest, the first step in its 5,000 mile journey from Washington State to the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
More than a dozen spotters and equipment operators manipulated the tree into position as the Mack Truck pushed the trailer underneath. The enormity of the Engelmann spruce became apparent as the tree floated above the trailer while a few extra feet from the trunk had to be removed.
Every December, the Speaker of the House hosts a lighting ceremony on the U.S. Capitol grounds. With a simple flip of a switch roughly 10,000 lights bring the tree to life. But first it has to make the journey. Read more »
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bioenergy Memorandum of Understanding is signed by wood energy partners (left - right) Biomass Thermal Energy Council, Executive Director Joseph Seymour; Alliance for Green Heat, President John Ackerly; USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden; Pellet Fuels Institute Executive, Director Jennifer Hedrick; Biomass Power Association, President and CEO Bob Cleaves, at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2013. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Earlier this week, USDA, U.S. Forest Service and partners took a major step to improve forest management, create rural jobs, prevent wildfires, and expand promising renewable energy opportunities.
Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden joined leaders from the Alliance for Green Heat, the Biomass Power Association, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, and the Pellet Fuels Institute here in Washington for the announcement of a new partnership agreement. Acting as master of ceremonies for the signing event was Acting USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien. Through the Rural Energy for America program and other programs, Rural Development has been a leader in promoting deployment of wood-to-energy projects. Read more »
Shane Kerner used an FSA Rural Youth Loan to purchase cattle, including her ‘best show’ heifer shown here. From that point, she built a thriving commercial herd.
Shane Kerner applied for her first USDA Farm Service Agency Rural Youth Loan at age 14. Now, at age 20, she not only reached adulthood, but financial independence to grow what was once a 4-H project into a thriving cattle operation.
“I never thought I would get as far as I am today with my cattle,” said Shane. “It is truly a privilege to have the opportunity to start at a young age and see the growth of your animals from seed stock to a small commercial herd, right outside your door.”
Shane refers to her operation as a passion for finding the highest genetics for breeding Angus cattle. With the proceeds from the sale of seven grass-fed calves she purchased with the youth loan, she bought more cattle, including her best show heifer. This started the foundation for growing a registered Angus herd. Read more »
A smokejumper exits a plane. (US Forest Service photo)
This blog is part of a series from the U.S. Forest Service on its wildland firefighting program to increase awareness about when and how the agency suppresses fires, to provide insights into the lives of those fighting fires, and to explain some of the cutting-edge research underway on fire behavior. Check back to the USDA Blog during the 2013 wildfire season for new information. Additional resources are available at www.fs.fed.us/wildlandfire/.
Imagine jumping from a plane into a fire, with enough provisions to last for several days. That’s what highly trained Forest Service smokejumpers do to provide quick initial attack on wildland fires.
The attack is a well-choreographed scenario. Aircraft can hold anywhere from eight to 16 jumpers, a ‘spotter’ who stays with the plane, the pilot and provisions to make the jumpers self-sufficient for 72 hours. The spotter is responsible for the safe release of the jumpers. Once the jumpers have landed, the aircraft will circle around and drop their cargo by parachute from just above treetop height. The spotter also is responsible for communicating essential information about the wind, fire activity and the terrain to the jumpers, the pilot and to dispatch centers. Read more »
Thomas Barnett, a March 2013 graduate of the Centennial Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, works on building slash piles to help thin unwanted forest fuels on the Boise National Forest in 2012. Recently hired by the forest, Barnett will start work as part of fire crew in May and put his newly minted wildland firefighting skills to work as he pursues a career in firefighting. (U.S. Forest Service photo/ Michael Delaney)
Until recently, Thomas Barnett, formerly of Washington state, did not have a career goal in mind.
However, this spring, the 24-year-old graduated from the Centennial Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Nampa, Idaho, and will begin his career as a seasonal firefighter on a fire crew with the Idaho City Ranger District on the Boise National Forest. He said he’ll pursue a career in firefighting because it’s exciting and he enjoys helping people and communities threatened by wildfire. Read more »