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Posts tagged: Wyoming

Recent Forecast Shows Limited Water Supply in Westernmost States

Hydrologists prepare to measure snowpack. (NRCS photo)

Hydrologists prepare to measure snowpack. (NRCS photo)

Limited water supplies are predicted in many areas west of the Continental Divide, according to this year’s second forecast by the National Water and Climate Center of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Right now, snow measuring stations in California, Nevada and Oregon that currently don’t have any snow, and a full recovery isn’t likely, the center’s staff said.

USDA is partnering with states, including those in the West, to help mitigate the severe effects of drought on agriculture. Read more »

Northern Plains Climate Hub Aims to Help Producers “No Matter What the Weather May Bring”

Flooding  and water damage in the Park and Tongue River Watersheds located in Cavalier, Pembina and Cavalaier Counties in North Dakota on Thursday, May 23, 2013. USDA photo by Keith Weston.

Flooding and water damage in the Park and Tongue River Watersheds located in Cavalier, Pembina and Cavalaier Counties in North Dakota on Thursday, May 23, 2013. USDA photo by Keith Weston.

Weather dominates the conversation at local coffee shops and community gathering locations across the Northern Plains.  Depending on the time of the year, I’ve heard things like this:

“We sure could use rain – really dry out there. Cattle are going to have to come off the pastures soon.”

Or…

“Hoping the rain will break here for a few days so I can get the hay cut without it getting rained on this time.” Read more »

The Shape of Things That Have Been: the Power of Sacred Sites

Tim Mentz Sr., Standing Rock Sioux cultural resource expert, explains the historical significance of the area that is now the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. (U.S. Forest Service/Fred Clark)

Tim Mentz Sr., Standing Rock Sioux cultural resource expert, explains the historical significance of the area that is now the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. (U.S. Forest Service/Fred Clark)

Our curiosity was palpable in our expressions, we visitors to this South Dakota field, as we pondered the patterns produced by the tops of rocks pressed into grass and soil, patterns tantalizingly organized and purposeful: shapes of things that have been. What stories were held in this small corner of the Black Hills National Forest?

As members of the Forest Service’s sacred sites executive and core teams, our task is to develop ways to fulfill the recommendations from the Report to the Secretary of Agriculture: USDA Policy and Procedures Review and Recommendations: Indian Sacred Sites.

Visiting this sacred place was the starting point of our learning and working together as a team. We needed to experience firsthand the feeling and meaning of this place to help us incorporate an appropriate attitude as we started three days of meetings on how to best implement the recommendations, to better protect and provide access to Indian sacred sites. Read more »

Volunteers Have Fossil Field Find on Forests and Grasslands

Tom Ludwig sits smiling about his discovery among other U.S. Forest Service Passport in Time volunteers while unearthing the 31 inch Triceratops horn core  continues. (U.S. Forest Service)

Tom Ludwig sits smiling about his discovery among other U.S. Forest Service Passport in Time volunteers while unearthing the 31 inch Triceratops horn core continues. (U.S. Forest Service)

Paleontologist Barbara Beasley’s voice filled with excitement as she described a recent dinosaur find on the Thunder Basin National Grassland in northeastern Wyoming.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our Passport in Time volunteers,” she said. “Mother Nature preserved and stored this treasure for more than 65 million years.”

Beasley led a group of 22 volunteers on a fossil excavation project at the Alkali Divide Paleontological Special Interest Area where volunteer Tom Ludwig found the nearly three-foot Triceratops horn. Read more »

Wyoming Ranchers Make Space for Pollinators

Blanket flowers are one of flowers seeded on the Drake ranch.

Blanket flowers are one of flowers seeded on the Drake ranch.

Lester and Bonnie Drake wanted to increase the plant diversity on their Campbell County, Wyo. ranch, and they were able to help pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, in the process.

With more types of grasses, more food is available for cattle at different times. And for the pollinators, more grasses lead to more blooms.

The Drakes were the first to establish pollinator habitat in their county with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. They’re enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program, the agency’s Farm Bill program geared to conservationists who want to take their conservation investment to the next level. The program provides technical and financial assistance for landowners wanting to implement conservation. Read more »

Jointly Developed Watershed Assessment Model Being Used in Yosemite National Park

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California (USDA-NRCS photo by Ron Nichols).

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California (USDA-NRCS photo by Ron Nichols).

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.

An award-winning watershed assessment tool, the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA), was deployed to assess potential Rim Fire threats in Yosemite National Park in California.  The park experienced a devastating fire that began on August 17, 2013, and took several months to contain. The fire burned more than 400 square miles in and around the park, cost $125.8 million to date, and is considered one of the largest wildfires in California’s history.

BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) is a multi-agency group that includes USDA’s Forest Service and others, and is responsible for identifying potential threats such as downstream flooding and developing plans to rehabilitate and restore burned areas. BAER teams use AGWA to target immediate efforts to prevent threats to people, wildlife and the land.  Using AGWA combined with the burn severity map produced by BAER teams, experts can rapidly pull together information on pre- and post-fire conditions. For example, knowing where to apply mulch after a fire can reduce runoff and erosion and can help minimize downstream risks from fire induced land cover and soil changes. Read more »