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Give a Dam

This year marks the 133rd anniversary of the dam breach that took the lives of more than 2,200 people and galvanized the nation to ensure such a tragic event could not happen again. On May 31, 1889, torrential rain and subsequent flooding caused the South Fork Dam to fail near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Changes in ownership, lack of oversight, and unsound improvements increased the probability of a dam failure rather than prevent one. When the dam gave way, over 20 million tons of water caused a catastrophic torrent downstream. A 40-foot wave traveling 40 miles per hour crashed into Johnstown demolishing the town.

New Snowpack and Precipitation Normals Now Available

Recently, the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting (SSWSF) Program published new 30-year hydroclimatic normal values or “normals” for snowpack and precipitation at western U.S. monitoring stations. This information serves as a benchmark for assessing water supply conditions and is used by producers, natural resource managers and the research community.

Virginia Schools Pilot Offers Food Waste Education

Through a unique collaboration with USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, food leftovers from six district schools in Prince William County, Virginia, are now being sorted, bagged, and collected before being mixed with organic yard waste and processed into compost at the county’s recycling center. In the first six weeks of the program, almost eight tons of food scraps have been recycled rather than buried in the county landfill.

Can Family-Owned Forests Help the U.S. Achieve a Low-Carbon Future?

A USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) project is trying to reimagine how carbon markets can work with and for small landholders. The Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP), led by the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy, bases carbon payments on specific forest management practices that have been scientifically shown to increase the amount of carbon that gets removed from the atmosphere and stored in the trees and soil. The project’s goal is to facilitate the participation of nearly 300 million acres of family-owned American forests in carbon markets