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Posts tagged: Texas

Conserving Water, Soil and Habitat on Private Lands

Two men looking at plans on a truck in front of farmland

NRCS works with private landowners to develop conservation plans that benefit the environment and farm productivity.

For 80 years, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has worked with agricultural producers to make conservation improvements to their farms, ranches and forests. These improvements help clean and conserve water, boost soil quality and restore habitat, and also make their agricultural operations more resilient.

Born amid the Dust Bowl, when persistent drought and dust storms swept through the nation, NRCS worked with stewardship-minded producers to heal the land. That work continues today, as producers voluntarily step forward to conserve natural resources, having tremendous positive impacts across the country. Read more »

From Commerce to Conservation, Coastal Areas Reap Rewards

NRCS Assistant Chief, Kirk Hanlin, inspecting created marshes in the Houston Ship Channel

NRCS Assistant Chief, Kirk Hanlin, inspects created marshes in the Houston Ship Channel.

Looks can be deceiving. Take the Houston Ship Channel located just east of the city of Houston. To the casual observer with a windshield view, they might briefly note the shipping vessels, grain elevators and day-to-day commerce as they speed by.

However, it’s on the Houston Ship Channel’s waters where, for some, the real action is taking place. This is where commerce meets conservation.

According to the Port of Houston Authority, an estimated 200 million tons of commodities and products annually pass through the 52-mile ship channel aboard more than 8,000 shipping vessels. To keep the channel deep enough for these large ships to navigate through, the channel has to be dredged on a continuous cycle. Read more »

Apalachicola National Forest Restores National Historic Landmark

Youth workers constructing an Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility-compliant trail

Youth workers construct an Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility-compliant trail leading to the central kiosk and earthen fort. Local volunteers, HistoriCorps partners from Colorado and Texas Conservation Corps members participated in the two-week renovation on the Apalachicola National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Jesse English)

The drive to Fort Gadsden’s Historic Site on the Apalachicola National Forest is something reminiscent of a nature documentary. Towering pines line the highway while vibrant wildflowers bloom throughout the fields. Local volunteers and Apalachicola National Forest employees are busily working in the stifling heat on a restoration project at this National Historic Landmark, the only one located in the southeast on National Forest Service land. The volunteers include: a team of workers from Colorado called ‘HistoriCorps,’ and a cadre from the Texas Conservation Corps at American Youthworks.

“Without volunteers like us, a lot of these things just go to waste and rot away because nobody has the money, the time, or the work force to do it,” said Amanda Tulley, a HistoriCorps partner from Denver. Read more »

USDA Wants YOU to Serve on a Board, Committee or Council

Industry representative Katie Swinson enjoying her time in a peanut field in Duplin County, N.C.

Industry representative Katie Swinson enjoys her time in a peanut field in Duplin County, N.C., a major area for peanut production.

Why does someone choose to serve on a USDA board?  To find out, we asked several members of one important board that very question.

The Peanut Standards Board, which is overseen by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), was created by Congress to establish quality and handling standards for peanuts sold in the marketplace. Peanuts are an important agricultural commodity. According to the American Peanut Council, U.S. peanut farmers produce around 1.9 million tons of peanuts annually on approximately 1.44 million acres. In 2014 American peanut production generated an estimated $1.1 billion in revenue (NASS).   Peanut quality affects the entire industry and the Peanut Standards Board is comprised of a mix of producers and industry representatives covering the entire supply chain. This means peanut farmers, manufacturers, shellers, importers, and their representatives are all welcome to serve. Read more »

UTEP Researchers Take a Different Path to Tackle International Drought Issues

UTEP text and the state of Texas layered onto an image of a river

Scientists from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are helping policy makers and residents manage their ever-shrinking water resources using new and different approaches. (Image by Stephanie Engle)

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.

Scientists from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are working with stakeholders to determine the course their research will take.  The result, they say, is better science that is more useful to end users – and the scientists learn a lot, too.

Rather than have their own science-based questions direct their research, Dr. Josiah Heyman and his research partner Dr. William Hargrove will let stakeholders – the actual users of their science – point the way.  According to Heyman, this “participatory approach” is science for the public’s sake, not for the scientists’ sake.  The two lead a multi-institutional, multi-national project that is tackling drought-driven water supply issues in the Southwest. Read more »

1890 Land-Grant University Alumni Making a Difference at USDA

Michael Mathews (third from right) with the Rural Development team on a recent visit to Alaska.

Michael Mathews (third from right) with the Rural Development team on a recent visit to Alaska.

The Second Morrill Act of 1890 was enacted by Congress to support states in establishing the 1890 Land-Grant Universities (LGUs) –Historically Black Colleges and Universities which are committed to providing educational opportunity through scientific research and extension programs. 

There are currently nineteen 1890 LGUs across eighteen states, and each continues to cultivate leadership in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and agriculture to this day. Read more »