USDA airport biologist Bobby Hromack holds his first captured short-eared owl. Although it weighs no more than 16.8 ounces, the species can pose an aviation safety hazard due to its 33-43 inch wingspan and low, rolling flight style.
Seeing a short-eared owl in November on the Pittsburgh International Airport, where I work as an airport wildlife biologist, was a unique occasion. However, as the number of owls grew to eight, I recognized the challenge ahead: Like all birds of prey, short-eared owls are a recognized potential aviation hazard. Their low rolling flight and difficult-to-disperse reputation means they pose an aviation safety threat. From 1990-2012, short-eared owl strikes with aircraft in the United States caused over $1 million in damage, and often are fatal to the birds. Convincing them to leave would be difficult but important.
The task would be harder because short-eared owls are listed by the State as an endangered species. Common in many areas globally, Pennsylvania is the southernmost edge of their breeding range. These owls likely migrated from Canadian breeding grounds to winter in Pennsylvania. Read more »
Attendees at the 2014 NFU Women’s Conference pose for a group photo on the beach in Clearwater, Fl. Credit: Maria Miller, NFU Director of Education.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting with a dedicated group of women farmers and ranchers who are actively taking on leadership roles in farm organizations, cooperatives, and in their communities. They had gathered in the sunshine state for the National Farmers Union Women’s Conference to discuss opportunities and challenges on their own operations, what they believe the future holds for agriculture, and the role of women in that future.
Women face a unique set of challenges. They must find ways to balance the demands of family, community and the responsibilities to their businesses – all while being strong leaders within and for their communities. Read more »
Staff members from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Maryland Forest Service advise a forest landowner on options for how to participate in a water quality trading system.
Government agencies and organizations in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia have been building water quality trading systems during the past few years to lower the cost of regulatory compliance with water quality laws.
These trading systems enable farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in these Chesapeake Bay-area states to generate income by selling water quality credits to regulated entities like waste water treatment facilities and developers. As this market matures, people will be able to incorporate clean water into their overall management objectives more seamlessly.
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, with funding from a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant, is developing tools to make it easier for people who own or manage forests to offer up their forested land for possible water quality and other ecosystem service credits. The alliance is working to streamline the credit development process for water quality trading on forested land in the region. Read more »
Recycled trees placed in a fish crib. (U.S. Forest Service)
For many, purchasing or cutting a Christmas tree is a favorite seasonal tradition. But what do you do with your trees after the festivities end?
Tree recycling after the holidays has become part of community traditions on several Eastern Region national forests. Recycled trees can be used to establish fish habitats, create mulch for future plantings and build soil erosion barriers. Using the trees for these purposes also keeps them from filling up local landfills.
Land managers of several national forests in the area have found that the old Christmas trees can be used to make a cozy home for schools of fish. Fish habitats create ideal spawning grounds to ensure successful reproduction, a place of refuge and shade for the young, and shelter from predators. Also, fish habitats provide a food source – a breeding ground for algae and plankton to attract bait fish and lure larger fish to favorite fishing spots. Read more »
Misty Allen (right), her daughter Deanna and puppy Odysseus are ready for family and friends to share the holidays in their new home. (USDA photo)
A year ago this week, Misty Allen and her daughter Deanna came home to the American Dream they thought would forever be out of reach.
“It was magical!” said Allen. “This house is more than I could ever have asked for. I never imagined I could have a three-bedroom house for less than I was paying in rent.”
Flooded out of their most recent apartment and facing a significant rent increase to offset repairs, Allen learned about Rural Development’s 502 Direct Home Loan Program through her local Realtor. Just before Christmas, she and Deanna settled into their picturesque Athens, Pa., neighborhood, their new puppy Odysseus joining Loki, the mischievous German Shepherd, in the mix. Read more »
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.
It is astounding to reflect at the end of the year and realize once again how many pieces came together each day, each week, and each month to make sure the United States has the best official agricultural statistics. It is something of a well-oiled machine made up of America’s farmers, statisticians, modern technology, deep agricultural knowledge, and the most basic elements of human interaction – trust and hard work – that brings forth these useful and objective data on time year after year since 1840.
It takes hundreds of thousands of producers responding to a multitude of surveys each year, in addition to the every-five-year Census of Agriculture which USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted this year, to provide the source information about U.S. farm production. For this, we thank each individual producer who takes the time to complete the surveys. Get a first look at the 2012 Census of Agriculture data on February 20, 2014 at the Ag Outlook Forum. Read more »