Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, a popular line from a holiday song, are a tradition that at one time seemed imperiled by the decreasing population of chestnut trees. (USDA photo)
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” is a line from a song that conjures up fond holiday memories for some Americans. For others, the joy of roasting chestnuts has yet to be experienced. But the lack of American chestnuts could change in the coming years, thanks to some very dedicated people.
The U.S. Forest Service and its partners may be one step closer to restoring the American chestnut tree to parts of the mountains and forests of the southern United States. Since 2009, they planted close to 1,000 potentially-blight resistant American chestnut trees on national forests in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Read more »
A Red-cockaded woodpecker flies from its natural nest cavity on the Francis Marion National Forest in September, 2009. (Photo credit: Martjan Lammertink)
Many stories emerging from the Francis Marion National Forest share a common genesis in Hurricane Hugo, the massive storm estimated to have knocked down nearly a billion board feet of timber on the coastal South Carolina forest in 1989.
But in a comeback success story, there was no knock-out for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Before Hugo, the Francis Marion had the densest, second-largest, and only known, naturally increasing population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the country. Prior to 1989, an estimated 475 breeding pairs lived on the forest. Read more »
Almost three years ago, two biology professors at Delta State University in Mississippi brainstormed how to give science undergraduates research experience in microbiology and entomology.
They hit upon the idea of searching for “science gold” in the bellies of bugs.
Professors Tanya McKinney and Ellen Green received $40,000 through a grant for under-represented colleges from the U.S. Forest Service to help with the project. As part of their research experience, students in the program search the guts of beetle larvae to discover new cellulases, enzymes that break down cellulose, an organic compound that helps make plant cell walls rigid.
Read more »
During April and May ramps are often served in restaurants in the eastern U.S.
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.
To many of locals in western North Carolina, they’re called wild leeks. Some call them ransoms and still others call them wood garlic because of their pungent smell. Nevertheless, ecologists simply call them ramps. This native plant has been useful to humans since inhabiting the eastern regions of the U.S. and Canada. Still today, locals harvest ramps for food, medicinal preparations, and to sell at markets and spring festivals. Read more »
The Forest Service has added an iPhone/iPad application called Invasive Plants in Southern Forests: Identification and Management to its strategy of reducing nonnative invasive plants in the South.
The free app will allow more people to get involved in eradicating foreign plants, which, along with nonnative animals and pathogens, harm water supplies. They also harm native plants, wildlife, livestock and property in both rural and urban areas at a cost of about $138 billion annually. Read more »
How do you turn biting, stinging, pantry raiding, picnic ruining pests into pollinating, irrigating, aerating, fertilizing, ecosystem balancing helpers? … By educating as many people as possible about the role of bugs in the environment.
One of the responsibilities of the U.S. Forest Service is to inform the public about the value of insects in helping to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands.
With many people either afraid of or grossed out by bugs, changing their negative image is a challenge. However, a partnership between the Forest Service Southern Research Station and Kent House, in Alexandria, La., is demonstrating a growing public interest in insects. Read more »