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america's great outdoors

Honoring my Teachers, Sharing Traditions on the San Carlos Apache Reservation

With more than 40 years of professional experience working in the field of natural resources, I am sometimes asked to share the personal outdoor experiences I had as a tribal member growing up on my reservation. When the request involves children, and those children are Native American, I am especially honored because in my culture the elders share traditional teachings of how we are connected to nature, both through stories and traditional songs.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2016, I am reminded of a recent invitation from the U.S. Forest Service Tonto National Forest and Smokey Bear to speak at a career day on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. I had an audience of 180 tribal fourth graders from Rice Elementary School to share my experiences growing up on a reservation and the lessons I learned about the outdoors.

US Forest Service Waives Fees in Support of the Largest, Single-Day Volunteer Effort on Public Lands

As the waning, sweltering summer days transition to the cooler weather of autumn many people take the opportunity to give back by participating in the annual National Public Lands Day.

The Sept. 27 event, in its 21st year, is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands. Last year, more than 175,000 volunteers at 2,237 sites worked hard, collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants, planted about 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plans and removed an estimated 500 tons of trash.

Engaging the Next Generation with the Help of our Partners in Conservation

When President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative in 2010, one of the top priorities included connecting our youth and veterans to our nation’s cultural and natural resources. President Obama wanted to foster a new generation of stewards to carry on our nation’s proud conservation legacy.

In that spirit, a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) was announced as a collaborative effort to put America’s youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s great outdoors. Through the 21CSC, young people and veterans will accomplish meaningful work, and gain important personal and professional skills while building a lifelong connection to the outdoors.

Today, we are announcing another step forward in our work to turn that vision into a reality.

Forest Service Waives Fees in Celebration of Veterans Day Weekend

The U.S. Forest Service will offer a fee-free weekend for all visitors Nov. 9-11 in celebration of Veterans Day, the fourth time this year the agency has participated in the fee-free program.

The Forest Service, which does not charge users to enter national forests or grasslands, offers the incentive in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

Day-use fees will be waived at all standard amenity fee sites operated by the Forest Service. Concessionaire operated day-use sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.

USDA, Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Invite You to Get Involved in Conservation Efforts

America’s farmers, ranchers and forest owners have a great tradition of stewardship of our natural resources and environment. The U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other USDA agencies work in partnership with farmers, ranchers, forest owners, conservation groups, sportsmen, local communities, businesses and many others to encourage the conservation of both our public and private lands. This month – National Conservation Month – the Forest Service and NRCS are making several announcements that highlight the commitment of USDA and its partners to natural resource stewardship on public and private lands.

Later today, Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the latest round of recipients for the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants program (CIG). These grants stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches that improve the productivity of farms, ranches and forests while enhancing the environment. For example, last year the University of Delaware used a CIG grant from NRCS to assist poultry producers in improving their operations and their environmental performance, and helping them comply with federal and state environmental quality requirements.

National Forest in New Mexico Hosts Tough Quadrathlon

The  annual winter quadrathlon, staged on the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands, is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s so challenging that race organizers post a training program that starts more than three months prior to the event.

Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon athletes must:
·      finish a 13-mile bike ride,
·      complete a 5-mile run on a gravel road that climbs 1,250-feet in elevation,
·      go two miles on cross-country skis for another 1,250-foot climb, and
·      go one mile on snowshoes to gain another 600 feet to reach the 11,301-foot summit of Mt. Taylor.

Love Your Forests All Year Long

Forests are an intricate part of our life, from the air they clean to the water they provide. So, we invite you to love your national forests.

Jobs for Young Adults in the US Forest Service are Waiting

The Obama Administration has announced the formation of a national council to guide full implementation of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps – a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors.

Thousands of temporary seasonal jobs with the Forest Service and its partners are available this summer and officials say now is the time to begin the application process.

Annually, the Forest Service and its conservation partners hire over 3,000 people for summer positions that involve work such as reducing the impacts of climate change on the nation’s natural resources, empowering Native American communities, building trails, enhancing wildlife habitat, and improving and restoring cultural and historic landmarks.

Secretary's Column: Strengthening America’s National Forests

As harvest season continues, so does the historic drought that has impacted so many producers and communities. Today, USDA and other Federal agencies continue doing all we can to help farmers and ranchers. Unfortunately, due to inaction by Congress, many programs authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill expired on October 1, and other aspects of the law will continue to expire in the coming months.

While we continue to urge Congress to take up a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible, USDA continues our work to further economic opportunity in rural America.

This includes our efforts to protect, restore and properly manage America’s National Forests.

Slice of Albuquerque Will be Turned into the Children's Bosque: More Kids in the Woods Projects and Children's Forests Nationwide Receive $1 Million Funding

Urban children in Albuquerque, N.M., will soon be able to descend on 20 acres of forestland along the Rio Grande River, where they will have the freedom to climb onto an elevated fort, hike on a trail through the cottonwood forest to learn about the different plants and animals and do what all children are supposed to do: play outside.

Children’s Bosque – Spanish for forest – is one of eight Children’s Forests and 23 More Kids in the Woods projects in 18 states awarded a total of $1 million in cost-share grants from the U.S. Forest Service. Each of the winning projects has the backing of partners and local communities, and winning proposals either expand current projects or create new ones.