A view of the San Gorgonio Wilderness shows what the haziest days looked like in the first and second halves of the last decade. The right side of the image is about 14 percent clearer than the left. (U.S. Forest Service computer-generated graphic/Scott Copeland)
Visitors to wilderness areas treasure the stunning vistas and pristine scenery. Now there is good news for the millions of people who recreate in these special places: less haze exists in most wilderness areas allowing them to see farther and enjoy more color and texture in the scenery.
“We have even better news,” says Bret Anderson, the Forest Service’s regional haze coordinator. “Further reductions in air pollution are expected to bring even clearer air in coming years.”
All this good news is showcased in a recent series of USDA Forest Service reports showing visibility has improved at 60 of the 86 Class I wilderness areas, which are defined as those area of greater than 6,000 acres. The trends considered five-year averages of the haziest days for each year from 2000 through 2009. Read more »
Golconda Job Corps students at overlook on Indian Point Trail in Garden of the Gods Wilderness, Illinois. (U. S. Forest Service/Kelly Pearson)
Editor’s Note: Throughout the year, we will highlight Forest Service wilderness areas in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964.
It’s pretty amazing that you can be in the busy college town of Carbondale, Ill., one minute, then roughly an hour’s ride away be at the gateway to one of our wilderness areas.
This year is the golden anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed on Sept. 3, 1964, by President Lyndon Johnson. The act established the country’s National Wilderness Preservation System. So, on Sept. 3, 2014, lovers of wildlands will celebrate the landmark event that made history. Read more »
The bog turtle is one of America’s rarest, and NRCS and private landowners are working together to boost populations.
Private landowners have voluntarily restored more than 3.5 million acres of habitat to help seven at-risk species, such as the prairie chicken and bog turtle. And their stories will be highlighted this fall by “This American Land,” a public television series.
The new episode was released today (Oct. 28) and available on public TV stations across the United States.
The segment, called “Prairie Chickens and Bog Turtles,” will feature fifth-generation Kansas rancher Roy Beeley who has worked to help the lesser prairie chicken, an iconic bird of the southern Great Plains. Loss of habitat has caused the species to be proposed as a threatened species for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Read more »
Indiana bats, such as this one, are part of a monitoring program on the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. The bats are fitted with a radio transmitter and tracked to roosting locations throughout the life of the transmitter. (U.S. Forest Service)
Synonymous with a superhero signal in the sky and silhouettes hanging upside down in a darkened cave, bats inspire a long-standing fascination, and with good reason: Bats are vital to healthy ecosystems and human economies world-wide.
With Halloween upon us and many people believing bats are creepy, the U.S. Forest Service wants to raise awareness about these mysterious and often misunderstood animals. For example, bats consume up to their body weight in insects every night, including agricultural and forest pests, thus reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
Almost a third of the world’s 1,200 species of bats feed on the fruit or nectar of plants. In return for their meals, these bats are vital pollinators of countless plants and essential seed dispersers with a major role in regenerating rainforests. Read more »
Taylor Moore (left) and his father Murry Moore. Photo by Mark Dorsett.
Maybe it’s Murry Moore’s profession as a funeral director that inspires him to put tired land to rest, but his restoration efforts of nearly 700 acres on the banks of the Obion River in western Tennessee has ensured a peaceful home for wildlife.
In the early 1950s, Moore’s parents bought the tract, and for years afterward they cleared it for timber. Later, Murry and his brother Dean began row cropping. Year after year, the land was flooded by the Obion and eroded bit by bit, leaving a field of unproductive crops and frustrated farmers. Read more »
The I-29 median planting seed mix included nine native wildflowers and three native prairie grasses. Photos by Thomas Tran, NRCS.
Employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Dakota have a knack for seeing opportunities in the landscape. And recently, two of them initiated a highway beautification and pollinator habitat project.
In 2010, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations Curt Elke and District Conservationist Kent Duerre coordinated a wildflower planting project along a stretch of Interstate 29 near the border with North Dakota. They started out by requesting that the South Dakota Department of Transportation allow them to establish an area of Interstate 29 median with native wildflowers and grasses, and offered their expertise as a resource for ensuring the result mimicked the native prairie. Read more »