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Proactive Fuel Breaks Protect Nearly $1 Billion in Homes, Infrastructure During Colorado Wildfire

When the Buffalo Fire sparked on the White River National Forest on June 12, the flames stopped short of nearly 1,400 residences near Silverthorne, Colorado. But, it wasn’t just the air support from firefighting helicopters and tankers and the more than 150 firefighters on scene that helped prevent a catastrophe in two small mountain subdivisions. Part of the success can also be attributed to proactive work over the last decade to build fuel breaks and reduce hazardous fuels where homes meet wild lands or what is called the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).

Millions of Americans with Dirty Hands Are Spreading Dangerous Bacteria

Have you ever seen someone handling food in a way that you would never do yourself? Maybe they were preparing raw poultry and then immediately handled lettuce without washing their hands. Or maybe they did wash their hands, but they dried them by wiping them on their pants. You would never do that, right? Then again, maybe there are things we all do that might increase our risk for foodborne illness.

The U.S. Seed Trade Industry Thanks USDA for Helping It Thrive

Seeds for planting represent tremendous value to the U.S. agricultural economy. In 2016, the United States exported $1.67 billion worth of these seeds and imported $997 million worth of them. This month, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) recognized USDA’s efforts to make the international movement of seeds safer and more efficient. The association presented its 2018 Distinguished Service Award to Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine program.

After at Least Five Decades of Growth, High-Income Countries are Now Investing Less in Public Agricultural R&D

Governments in high-income countries are spending less on agricultural research. A new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service reviews long-term trends in public agricultural research and development (R&D) investment by high-income countries and examines how these investments have contributed to economic growth.

Bear Proofing Your Home: Simple Fix Can Reduce Bear Conflicts

Like the famous cartoon character Yogi Bear, black bears are quick to take advantage of food left out by people. Black bears forage on garbage, bird seed, dog food, and other food items commonly found around homes and businesses. This has led to an increase in conflicts between bears and people in cities and towns across America. Unfortunately, these conflicts often end badly for the bears with many being killed or moved to prevent injuries to people and property damage.

Want to Help Bees? Take a Break from Lawn Mowing

Across the globe, native bee species are having trouble. Populations of bees have experienced severe declines that are largely attributed to the loss of habitat. If you have a lawn, you may be able to reverse this trend: All you have to do is be a little lazy and, depending on your neighborhood, immune to social pressure.

Grass-Cast: A New Grassland Productivity Forecast for the Northern Great Plains

Every spring, ranchers face the same difficult challenge—trying to guess how much grass will be available for livestock to graze during the upcoming summer. In May, a new Grassland Productivity Forecast or “Grass-Cast” has published its first forecast to help producers in the northern Great Plains reduce this economically important source of uncertainty.

Sniffing Out Disease: Dogs Trained for Wildlife Disease Surveillance

Odin is a Labrador retriever/border collie mix. By watching his wagging tail and alert expression, Colorado State University researcher Dr. Glen Golden can sense he is eager to begin his training.

Odin is one of five dogs recently adopted from shelters and animal rescue centers to become detector dogs for wildlife disease surveillance. The dogs are housed and trained at the USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. They are part of a collaborative 12-month program to evaluate the effectiveness of training and using dogs to detect and identify waterfowl feces or carcasses infected with avian influenza (AI). If successful, this collaboration may be extended an additional 12 months.

Tree Breeding: Creating Tomorrow’s Healthy Forests Today

Immobile and long-lived, trees endure extreme weather, fires, and pests for tens, hundreds, and even thousands of years. In Fishlake National Forest, Utah, there is a quaking aspen colony spanning 106 acres that is roughly 80,000 years old. To give you a sense of scale, if the average human lives 79 years, this aspen colony has already lived over a thousand times longer!