Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden tours rice fields in the Sacramento Valley at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area on Jun. 24, 2014. Rice grower Mike DeWit has a cooperative arrangement to provide habitat for wildlife while growing rice. Photo courtesy California Rice Commission.
This summer, USDA is highlighting partnerships to invest in the future of rural America. Our partners work with us year after year to leverage resources and grow economic opportunities. They are the key to ensuring our rural communities thrive. Follow more of our stories at #RuralPartners.
My passion and commitment for conservation started on the farm learning from our first and finest conservationists: American farmers. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers care deeply about the land, which is why they are incredible environmental stewards. Earlier this month, I visited the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, a popular wildlife refuge just minutes from downtown Sacramento. Here, farmers like the DeWit family are growing rice and providing some of the best wildlife habitat in North America.
Mike DeWit and his father, Jack, brought me right into the middle of the Sacramento Valley rice fields, where more than a half million acres are used as a source of America’s sushi rice. Equally valuable is the role these rice fields play as a habitat for nearly 230 wildlife species, including providing nearly sixty percent of the winter diet for millions of migrating ducks and geese. It was a thrill to walk on the levee of a shallow-flooded, brilliantly green field and observe several pairs of nesting American Avocets all around. When I noticed a nest with four small eggs, I knew that it represented a part of the future generation of wildlife. Read more »
(L-R) Flint Hughes, research ecologist at the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, and Rebecca Most from The Nature Conservancy transport debris across the anchialine pool to a staging area where it will be chipped into mulch. (U.S. Forest Service)
It’s National Preservation Month, and people all over the country are participating in events to enrich and preserve the treasures within their communities that make them special.
Staff from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station recently helped to restore an ancient Hawaiian fishpond in Kīholo, Hawaii, that has a rich history and tradition of providing a sustainable food source for the surrounding communities on the Big Island. Working in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and Hui Aloha Kīholo, Station staff from the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry cleared and hauled debris from the fishpond perimeter in order to reduce the accumulation of sediments caused by overhanging non-native plants, which improved foraging habitat for native fish and turtles. The group also replanted culturally and ecologically appropriate native species, restored habitat for rare invertebrate species, removed invasive weeds, and participated in native plant care within an area surrounding a nearby anchialine pool, which will be used as a nursery for future restoration activities. Read more »
Each year, volunteers gather at Glacial Ridge to look for unique wetland birds for the Shorebird Blitz. Photo by Jessica Dowler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There is just something special about the marbled godwit. Maybe it’s the shorebird’s super long bill, tall legs or funny name, but I’ve called this bird my favorite for years.
I first spotted one in 1998, while taking a look at some private lands enrolled in a conservation easement program. This strange bird flew right over me, landed ahead a bit and scooted across the gravel with great speed. I didn’t know what it was at first. After I identified the creature, I had a good chuckle at the name.
I didn’t see a marbled godwit, known for their elusive nature, until several years later. Over time, I learned the best place to find them. Read more »
The western prairie fringed orchid is one of Minnesota’s 43 wild orchids. Photo by Ben Sullivan. Used with permission.
My family and I enjoy natural scavenger hunts. When we explore the landscape surrounding our Norman County farm, we teach each other about the birds, animals and plants we see. It’s fun to search for native wildflowers. It’s even more fun to spot something rare.
Recently, through a school project for my son, we learned about Minnesota’s many wild orchids. Our state is home to 43 different orchids. Who knew?
We learned Minnesota is the only state with an orchid as its state flower. We also learned we live in close proximity to suitable habitat for a very special wildflower – the western prairie fringed orchid. We’re planning to search for this unique flower this summer. Read more »
A Missouri Coteau wetland near Bismarck, N.D., in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. Credit: Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited, used with permission.
The Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana provides sanctuary to millions of nesting waterfowl each summer. With an innovative partnership led by Ducks Unlimited (DU), USDA is helping to provide new opportunities for agricultural producers in the region to sequester carbon while cultivating new revenue streams.
With the help of a grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, these partners have created a carbon credit system for private landowners in North Dakota who agree to avoid tillage of grasslands. Grasslands store carbon dioxide, one of the leading greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.
The North Dakota Prairie Pothole project, funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) of $161,000, provides potential new revenue streams for landowners while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. Read more »
An invasive ALB perched on a branch. August is "Tree Check Month" when adult ALB like this one can be easily spotted on or around hardwood trees. Photo by R. Anson Eaglin.
From the moment an Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infests a tree, there is no cure. No amount of treatments will drive this deadly pest from the comfort of America’s heartwood, leaving thousands of trees dead and dying in the northeastern U.S. However, as bleak as this may sound, there is a way to stop this beetle, but we need your help. The American public could be one of the ALB’s greatest opponents, and in stopping the beetle you can help save trees.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the U.S. Forest Service, the Nature Conservancy, and American Forests held a joint news conference at the National Press Club on July 29, 2013 to urge the public to report signs of the invasive pest that threatens recreational areas, forests, and suburban and urban shade trees. These agencies have named August “Tree Check Month” in order to encourage the public to examine their trees for signs of ALB. Read more »