A member of the Geronimo Interagency Hotshot Crew, Department of the Interior (DOI) Indian Affairs (IA) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) San Carlos Agency in Arizona; on assignment. The combined effects of droughts and insects may lead to a pulse of tree mortality that increases the potential for intense fires. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
The climate statistics for the first month of 2014 have been impressive. Extreme weather has lashed the United States from Alaska to Florida with record warmth, cold, dry and wet conditions all at the same time. The National Climatic Data Center reports that January of 2014 was the driest January on record for New Mexico, 2nd driest for Arizona and 3rd driest for California. January 2014 was also in the top ten of coldest Januaries on record for much of the upper Midwest.
Extreme drought conditions in the western U.S. are dramatically impacting water supplies critical to agriculture and elevating fire risk across our National Forests. Across the continent frequent cold waves have repeatedly threatened winter crops across the Southeast while frost depths reaching several feet will impact springtime planting across the Midwest. This kind of winter gets everyone talking about the weather. It brings to mind the quote “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” often attributed to Mark Twain (but apparently said by a friend). Read more »
Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh (left) and California RD State Director Glenda Humiston join children and families to plant a community vegetable garden at Mountain View Estates.
Earth Day is an every-day celebration! It’s also about the future — creating a safe and healthy environment for our children and grandchildren. That’s just what I celebrated with the families at Mountain View Estates in Oasis, California, alongside Congressman Raul Ruiz and California State Director Glenda Humiston. Thanks to a terrific partnership between Rural Development and the local community, as well as with public and private support, these families now have homes hooked up to a new water system that provides them clean drinking water and wastewater disposal.
I am very proud of Rural Development’s work in the Mountain View Estates mobile home park. Upon learning that 181 families were being displaced from their dilapidated trailer park because of hazardous conditions, mainly sewage backups and water contamination, Rural Development looked for opportunities to help re-build that community. Today at Mountain View Estates, every family has access to basic amenities like clean drinking water, and reliable waste removal. Even electricity is no longer is a luxury. This project not only improved the environment, it has also improved the overall quality of life for these families. Read more »
The future of rural communities depends on safe, clean water supplies and healthy watersheds. That future is being challenged like never before and USDA RD is helping them meet the challenge.
With Earth Day on the horizon for tomorrow, we at USDA Rural Development are looking forward to sharing some very big news about efforts kicking off across the nation to ensure clean drinking water and healthy watersheds in small, rural communities that face increasing challenges with aging infrastructure, drought and climate change.
As you probably know, Rural Development works hard to help rural communities plan and build the critical infrastructure they need to grow and prosper sustainably. Read more »
Streamflow in the West consists largely of accumulated mountain snow that melts and flows into streams as temperatures warm. (NRCS photo)
March storms increased snowpack in the northern half of the West but didn’t provide much relief for the dry southern half, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Water and Climate Center (NWCC) in its April 2014 water supply forecast.
According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), most of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and northern parts of Colorado and Utah are expected to have near normal or above normal water supplies, according to the forecast. Far below normal streamflow is expected for southern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and western Nevada. Read more »
With landmarks missing it was difficult for even Gifford residents to locate once familiar locations.
Four months after a tornado ripped through the town of Gifford, Illinois, destroying its water tower, 70 homes, and damaging 40 others, visible and emotional aftereffects remain.
On November 17, the day the tornado touched down, I called my colleague and Gifford resident Molly Hammond, who wistfully noted during our conversation, that “Everyone is all right. But not everything is all right!”
No doubt her sentiments reflected those of Gifford’s other 1,000 residents. Read more »
Under Secretary Ed Avalos (left) listens to Carlos and Greg Chavez explain the ongoing effects of drought on farms in Texas. Greg, a next generation farmer, has worked to increase the sustainability and success of his family farm by implementing new technology and irrigation methods that decrease water consumption.
Not everyone goes to work every day knowing that they will be inspired by the people they meet—I’m very fortunate in that way. From the federal agencies that I oversee to the farmers and ranchers I visit with, I am truly inspired by their dedication to serving the American people and their commitment to the success of rural America. And many of the issues that they work on or face in their daily lives are the same issues that we are all concerned with—sustainability and conservation, short-term and long-term stability, and making sure our children and the next generation have paths to success.
During a recent visit to the Texas Panhandle, I stopped to have breakfast and visit with the father and son team who run the Chavez family farm. Carlos and Greg Chavez farm 3,600 acres of corn, wheat and cotton, and run 1,200 head of cattle on winter wheat. Greg, the son, has focused his attention on implementing new crop watering techniques, leveraging technology and conservation practices to combat the inherent dryness brought on by the strong Panhandle winds. Read more »