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Forestry

A Farewell Message from Secretary Tom Vilsack to Employees

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent the following message to all USDA employees:

I want to take this opportunity on my final day at USDA to express my profound gratitude to the people who work at USDA. Every day, nearly 90,000 people leave their families and the comfort of their home to do the people's work in the People's Department. What an amazing job you do each day for the country.

Selecting Trees to Grow in Cities: Database Captures Urban Tree Sizes, Growth Rates Across US

In the cramped environs of U.S. cities every inch counts, especially if attempting to make space for nature. But now city planners and urban foresters have a resource to more precisely select tree species whose growth will be a landscaping dream instead of a maintenance nightmare.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station recently published a technical manual and launched the most extensive database available cataloging urban trees with their projected growth tailored to specific geographic regions.

Interactive Online Resource to Learn about Climate Change Adaptation

The Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) has recently released a new education resource on climate change adaptation responses to help the USDA Forest Service, USDA Climate Hubs, other agencies, and the general public learn more about responding to a changing climate.  The CCRC is an online, nationally-relevant resource that connects land managers and decision-makers with credible, relevant, and useable science to address climate change in natural resource planning and application.

Natural resource managers are already observing changes in their forests and rangelands and experiencing challenges managing these lands in a changing climate.  In order to continue to maintain healthy forests and rangelands into the future, land managers need to understand how to address these challenges and respond to climate change effects.  This requires that managers assess the vulnerabilities and risks associated with climate change and choose the best course of action for the landscapes they manage.

The Brightest Gem in Washington isn't the Hope Diamond, it's the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

The American public doesn’t have to sneak a peek at the Christmas present the U.S. Forest Service has given them this year because it’s on full display just below the U.S. Capitol dome on the building’s West Lawn.

A gift from the Forest Service’s Payette National Forest, this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, aptly titled “An Idaho Mountain Gem”, was twinkling like a million facets of a bejeweled royal scepter after Isabella Gerard, a fifth grader from Boise, Idaho, who was chosen to do this honor by winning an poem contest, flipped the switch to illume the great tree.

A Dazzling Gem from Idaho Arrives on Capitol Hill

You know Christmas is right around the corner when images of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree being hoisted from a very long tractor trailer show up on your social media apps and on TV.

An ongoing American tradition since 1964, this year, the great tree called fondly by its fans “An Idaho Mountain Gem,” comes from the Payette National Forest near McCall, Idaho.

Southern Landowners Want to Help At-Risk Wildlife Species

Amid rising numbers of at-risk wildlife in the South, a new report from the American Forest Foundation (AFF) revealed private and family landowners in the South offer a solution to help at-risk wildlife species.

Southern forests rank at the top in terms of biodiversity when measured by the number of wildlife and plant species. But, due to a variety of reasons, a significant number of the South's wildlife species are at risk. The reasons include: forest conversion to non-forest uses such as strip malls and commercial expansion; fragmented waterways; natural fire suppression; and an influx of invasive species.

Shaping Forests from the Bottom Up: It's All About Root Disease

The old proverb: “You can’t see the forest for the trees” should have continued with a line saying that it’s even harder to see below the trees. Because seeing under trees, their root system to be exact, is how scientists understand and appreciate the things that will determine what we all see in our future forests. A new publication just released by the US Forest Service seeks to help forest managers recognize important root diseases and provide the best management strategies.

Ordinarily, we depend on decay organisms to break down wood to recycle enormous amounts of above ground materials such as leaves, limbs, and tree trunks. Without these subterranean decomposers, we would find ourselves buried in forest debris. But what makes beneficial decay organisms go bad and attack the root systems of living trees?  In a word, disease.

US Forest Service Every Kid in a Park Program Offers Field Trip Idea, Educational Resources - and a Free Holiday Tree Permit

For the second year, the U.S. Forest Service is part of the administration’s Every Kid in a Park program, an initiative to provide American fourth graders with a free pass to more than 2,000 federal land and water sites for them, their siblings and up to three adults.

The pass includes access to 153 national forests, 20 grasslands and one tall grass prairie managed for the public by the Forest Service and other lands and waters managed by six other federal agencies. Some state parks also honor the pass.

Looking to the Future and Learning from the Past in our National Forests

Forests are changing in ways they’ve never experienced before because today’s growing conditions are different from anything in the past. The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate, exotic diseases and pests are present, and landscapes are fragmented by human activity often occurring at the same time and place.

The current drought in California serves as a reminder and example that forests of the 21st century may not resemble those from the 20th century. When replanting a forest after disturbances, does it make sense to try to reestablish what was there before? Or, should we find re-plant material that might be more appropriate to current and future conditions of a changing environment?

Join the Bat Squad and Pull for Bats during Bat Week

Bats have quite the list of positive effects in our world, from the billions of dollars they save in pesticides to natural pollination and seed spreading. Bats eat about one-half of their body weight in insects each night.

We need bats.

In honor of our furry, flying mammal friends, consider pulling for bats during Bat Week from Oct. 24-31. You can make a difference, whether you get a group together to literally pull invasive plants to help improve habitat and food for bats or figuratively “pull” for bats by sharing why they are important to our ecosystem with your friends and family. And, the great news is that you don’t have to be an adult to help bats.