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natural resources conservation service

Estimating Ecosystem Benefits from Rangeland Conservation Practices

Nature provides numerous benefits that people value. In the conservation world, we call these benefits ecosystem services. On rangelands, some ecosystem services can be bought and sold in traditional market systems – like forages, meat, and other animal products from livestock. Other ecosystem services are not typically bought or sold, but nevertheless have value – like cleaner water, better air quality, and reduced risk from drought or flood. Conservation practices can increase the value of both types of ecosystem services. But, how do we put a dollar value on non-marketable services on rangeland? And how do we tie those dollar values to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practices?

Conservation Program Benefits an Iconic Bird of the Southern Great Plains

The lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat are making a comeback thanks to a USDA conservation program. The ground-dwelling bird was once abundant in the southern Great Plains, living in parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. But over the past 150 years due to human migration and settlement, the lesser prairie-chicken population has declined by more than 90 percent, and its range has shrunk by over 80 percent.

Bee Better Certification Program is Buzzing on U.S. Farms, Local Grocers

Bees are a lifeline for farms producing the world’s fruits, vegetables, nuts and other nutrient-rich foods. Bees pollinate billions of dollars’ worth of crops and play an essential role in our food supply. Pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat and contribute more than $15 billion to our nation's crop values each year.

NRCS Shares Soil Science through International Engagement

As the world leader in soil classification and soil survey, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was invited to give a keynote presentation at the XXVII Congress of Soil Science of Argentina held virtually the week of October 12, 2020. Soil Survey Regional Director Luis Hernandez with the NRCS Soil and Plant Science Division represented USDA-NRCS and provided a comprehensive overview of the USA National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program.

The Fox Canyon Water Market: A Market-Based Tool for Groundwater Conservation Goes Live

Ventura County, California, is an agricultural powerhouse. In 2017, its revenues from agriculture were an estimated $2.1 billion. It also faces extraordinary population pressure, with nearly 450 people per square mile – about five times the average population density of the United States. Both agriculture and infrastructure are dependent on, and impacted by, the availability of water – which has itself been impacted by California’s rapidly-diminishing groundwater reserves.

Conservation Tools Help Producers Make Positive Impacts on Changing Climate

America’s farmers and ranchers are helping put the nation on track to a healthier and more resilient environment in the face of a changing climate. While agriculture only contributes 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, it offers a variety of opportunities to reduce emissions and cut carbon from the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is committed to help producers become even better conservation stewards by providing the tools they need to do the job.

USDA Observes the 10 Year Anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Today marks 10 years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. USDA, through its Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and U.S. Forest Service, worked alongside other federal agencies to respond to this disaster and supported the Gulf of Mexico region in its prevention, preparedness and restoration efforts.