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Posts tagged: Pacific Southwest Research Station

Trees Give Roads a Breath of Fresh Air

Roadside vegetation, such as that on Interstate 40 near Mebane, N.C., has shown to improve air quality in surrounding communities. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Roadside vegetation, such as that on Interstate 40 near Mebane, N.C., has shown to improve air quality in surrounding communities. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

It’s Clean Air Month, and roadside trees are cleaning the air and helping us feel better.

If you live in an area where there’s a lot of people and traffic, air quality may have crossed your mind at one point or another—and rightly so. In recent years, the health of people living, working or going to school near roads with high traffic volume has been a quickly rising national concern. All over the world, studies are finding air pollution levels especially elevated in these areas.

A multidisciplinary group of researchers, planners and policymakers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service and other organizations found that strategically planting trees near busy roadways may significantly enhance air quality. Their findings were published last year in the Transportation Research Board magazine. Read more »

Woodland Salamanders Prove to be the New Canary in the Forest

The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

With the Year of the Salamander now in full swing, there’s no wonder why everyone seems to be talking about these little creatures… they are the new canary in the coal mine when it comes to understanding forest health.

Woodland salamanders, small, ground-dwelling or subterranean, and primarily nocturnal creatures, are a common species in North American forests; and researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station say they are reliable indicators of recovery in damaged forest ecosystems. Read more »

Where the Moon Trees Grow

Official NASA portrait of Stuart Roosa (Courtesy NASA)

Official NASA portrait of Stuart Roosa (Courtesy NASA)

Many space enthusiasts know that one of the U.S. Forest Service’s most famous former employees was astronaut Stuart Roosa. The smokejumper circled the moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 14 mission more than 40 years ago.

However, what most folks don’t know is that Roosa brought a group of tiny travelers along for the ride. After all these years, they’re still among us today, living quietly across the United States. Their names – Douglas fir, sequoia and loblolly pine – are familiar to most everyone because they were seeds from these and other well-known tree species. Read more »

When a Tree is More than Just Pretty

In addition to improving the look and feel of a neighborhood, trees help lower energy costs, conserve landscape water use, reduce storm-water runoff and store carbon. (Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station photo).

In addition to improving the look and feel of a neighborhood, trees help lower energy costs, conserve landscape water use, reduce storm-water runoff and store carbon. (Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station photo).

Many people like to add trees to their landscaping to enhance the design of a well-planned yard.

But, it can mean so much more.

Planting trees on your property can lower energy costs and increase carbon storage, reducing your carbon footprint while making your home the show-stopper of the neighborhood. Read more »

Fishers Face a New Threat: Poisons Used by Marijuana Growers

Rat poison used on illegal marijuana farms pose a threat to fishers (pictured) and other forest animals.

Rat poison used on illegal marijuana farms pose a threat to fishers (pictured) and other forest animals.

Illegal marijuana farms in our nation’s forests are not only threatening the safety of humans in these recreational areas, but are also causing ecological damage to the land. And now, there’s proof that the animals that make the forests their homes are also being harmed. Read more »

Prescribed Burning and Mechanical Thinning Pose Little Risk to Forest Ecology

Prescribed burn at the Tahoe National Forest. (Photo: Steve McKelvey, U.S. Forest Service

There’s hot debate over whether or not to conduct prescribed burning and mechanical thinning (the manual removal of trees) in our nation’s forests. Supporters of these fuels reduction methods, which remove highly flammable undergrowth, argue that they help lower the severity of wildfires. Meanwhile, opponents say that the treatments can hurt the environment.  Read more »