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 »
USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien (left) and Rural Development State Director Thomas Williams (right) review the Great Allegheny Passage trail map with David Kahley (center) of The Progress Fund. USDA photo by Dawn Bonsell
USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien recently spent a few days in Pennsylvania talking with flourishing businesses in charming trail towns along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), a rail trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. Many businesses along the trail have received funding through The Progress Fund, a non-profit community development lender. The Progress Fund is the recipient of several Rural Development Business Program loans and grants which were passed on to the trail town businesses to help spur economic development in distressed rural areas. Read more »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak during a round table and public event at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday, September 16, 2011. (Photo by Christopher Rolinson/StartPoint Media, Inc.)
Last week, I visited the city of Pittsburgh to highlight the American Jobs Act and what it means for Pennsylvanians. This was a special trip for me because Pittsburgh is my hometown and I still have deep family ties there.
In Pittsburgh, I led a White House Business Council roundtable hosted by Point Park University. It was one of a series of meetings being held across the country to give senior Obama Administration officials an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders about their ideas on how to grow the economy. The roundtable also provided me an opportunity to discuss USDA programs and other federal resources that help businesses, residents and communities. Read more »
Left to Right, David Fenoglietto, CEO Lutheran SeniorLife; Susan DiGiralomo, Lutheran SeniorLife; and Lambert Rosenbaum, USDA Rural Development.
USDA and Lutheran SeniorLife recently celebrated the dedication and open house of RoseCrest Assisted Living Facility. USDA Rural Development provided a $3 Million Community Facilities loan for the construction of the new state-of-the-art facility designed specifically for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia requiring memory support. Read more »
Friday, a beautiful spring day in Pennsylvania, it was my pleasure to welcome Secretary Vilsack and his wife Christy to Pennsylvania for a tour and rural discussion. We started the day at Middletown Biofuels for a facility tour along with Congressman Tim Holden and other local and state officials. Middletown Biofuels recently received over $17,000 from USDA for producing biodiesel fuel from soybean oil. The facility is located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry, providing ready access to soybean and other vegetable oil feedstocks. We then traveled to the state capitol in Harrisburg where the Secretary announced that in Pennsylvania, the Recovery Act has guaranteed $35.6 million in business loans that are expected to save or create more than 450 jobs. In total, USDA has provided loan guarantees to 350 U.S. businesses in the last seven months that will create or save nearly 23,500 jobs. Read more »