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Maintaining Healthy Timber Forests Takes Teamwork

Posted by Tracy Robillard, Oregon Public Affairs Officer on June 27, 2016 at 04:31 PM
Kevin Goodell (left), a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and tribal natural resources crew member, and Mike Kennedy, natural resources director for the Siletz Tribe.

Kevin Goodell (left), a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and tribal natural resources crew member, and Mike Kennedy, natural resources director for the Siletz Tribe.

“I love working in the forest. Feels good just to be out here,” says Kevin Goodell, a Siletz tribal member who serves on the tribe’s natural resources crew. “We log the trees, we go back in and plant them, we thin them. It’s a cycle that keeps the forest healthy and keeps it here for future generations―for my kids and grandkids.”

Healthy forests are an integral part of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians’ way of life—spiritually, culturally, and economically.

“Forest health is our shared focus,” says Kate Danks, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) district conservationist in Lincoln County. “Pre-commercial thinning is essential because it removes damaged and diseased trees, and it opens up the canopy, allowing more sunlight in. The open understory also provides better wildlife habitat.” Read more >>

Tags: Oregon, forests, Tribal

categories Communities, Environment, Farmer & Rancher Stories, Soil Health


Not All Monarchs Migrate! The Puerto Rican Subspecies Stays Put

Posted by Julie Wright, Caribbean Area Acting Public Affairs Specialist on June 23, 2016 at 01:08 PM
A Puerto Rican monarch butterfly in a garden at the University of Puerto Rico's Utuado butterfly house.

A Puerto Rican monarch butterfly in a garden at the University of Puerto Rico's Utuado butterfly house.

The monarch butterfly is the iconic butterfly native of the Americas. The black-and-orange butterfly can migrate thousands of miles each year from North America and South America to Mexico. But the subspecies in Puerto Rico, Danaus plexippus portorricensis, is considered non-migrant. It likes to stay put! 


The Puerto Rican monarch butterfly was identified in 1941 as a separate subspecies. It has also been found in the Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, St. Lucia and Jamaica.  


The adult Puerto Rican monarch grows up to 40 millimeters in size, and there are few differences to distinguish between the sexes. Like the monarch, the Puerto Rican monarch is particular about its host plants. Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed to lay their eggs, and the plant provides the only food source for monarch caterpillars.  Read more >>

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Tags: Caribbean Area, pollinators, monarch butterfly

categories Plants & Animals, Discover Conservation


Sunrise to Sundown, Beekeeping Forester Never Stops

Posted by Renee Bodine, Florida Public Affairs Specialist on June 22, 2016 at 10:20 AM
A workshop he took two years ago prompted Willie Earl Paramore to become a beekeeper.

A workshop he took two years ago prompted Willie Earl Paramore to become a beekeeper.

In September, Willie Earl Paramore will turn 90, but he isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet. He doesn’t stop moving, learning or doing. He manages a forest, hiking and four-wheeling though 540 acres, where he sets the prescribed burns himself. He also keeps bees, building his own bee boxes and moving them around to get the best nectar. And he is still on-call for the Paramore Drug Store that now belongs to his son. Willie Earl is frequently the featured speaker on bees and trees at the town civic group meetings and Rotary Club. 


“I retired 21 years ago and have been playing ever since,” he said. Everyone in town knows him and they will tell you right away that no one in town can keep up with Willie Earl, no matter what age. 

A third-generation farmer, Willie Earl became interested in forestry when he planted two acres of longleaf pine trees for his Future Farmers of America project in 1942. But then he was drafted. When he returned from the army he married his high school sweetheart, Corrie, settling in the small rural town of Marianna, Florida. They raised a family and he was the town pharmacist, but it wasn’t long before Willie Earl started acquiring land.  Read more >>

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Tags: Florida, pollinators, longleaf pines, multi-generational farmer

categories Farmer & Rancher Stories


From Aldo to Bennett, Roots of Wildlife Conservation Run Deep

Posted by Ritch Nelson, Nebraska State Wildlife Biologist on June 20, 2016 at 11:06 AM
Through landscape conservation, both agriculture and wildlife thrive.

Through landscape conservation, both agriculture and wildlife thrive.

Two-thirds of the land in the lower 48 states is privately owned, and these productive working farms, ranches and forests account for much of our nation’s open space and wildlife habitat. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to help agricultural producers integrate wildlife-friendly conservation practices on private lands.

We’ve seen lots of successes over the years, and I’ve written a poem that highlights these private lands successes as well as honors the roots of land ethic. Read more >>

Tags: Nebraska

categories Discover Conservation


This Farmer’s Convinced: “Ugly” Fields Have Higher Yields

Posted by Robert Hathorne, Oklahoma Public Affairs Specialist on June 17, 2016 at 10:17 AM
Scotty Herriman places a trusting hand on the no-till drill he viewed with such skepticism for decades. Today, he often leads the state in dryland no-till corn yields.

Scotty Herriman places a trusting hand on the no-till drill he viewed with such skepticism for decades. Today, he often leads the state in dryland no-till corn yields.

Back in 2009, you couldn’t pay Scotty Herriman to try no-till. “Our bottomland is tight, heavy clay,” he insisted. “It won’t work here.”

Scotty has been growing corn, soybeans, wheat and milo on 2,000 acres in Nowata County, Oklahoma for more than 50 years. So, it’s generally wise to take his word when it comes to farming. But Scotty is the first to acknowledge he misjudged no-till. Six years after switching to no-till, he says, “it will work here, and I’ve proved it.”

As is the unfortunate truth for many producers, it took a series of disasters to get Scotty to consider changing from the conventional farming practices he had used for decades. He had seen others try no-till as early as the 1970s, but even during the severe drought of 1980-1981, Scotty doubted the cost-effective and water-saving system. He was convinced a chisel was necessary to break up his soil, and the cost of a no-till drill was a gamble that outweighed the potential benefit. Read more >>

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Tags: Oklahoma, soil health

categories Soil Health, Discover Conservation, Farmer & Rancher Stories


Conservationists by Heart, Farmers by Trade

Posted by Amy Overstreet, Vermont Public Affairs Officer on June 14, 2016 at 02:46 PM
The Hulett family (left to right) Mandy, Richard, and their children.

The Hulett family (left to right) Mandy, Richard, and their children.

Vermont dairy farmers use bedded pack to help improve the herd, environment, and farm

For nearly 20 years, Richard Hulett and his father, Dick, have protected and improved the natural resources on Deer Flats Farm, their 1,000-acre cattle farm near Pawlet, Vermont. Winters in Pawlet can be long and snow, ice, mud, and manure can build up. That’s why the Huletts decided to put a bedded pack system to work on their operation.

Prior to the bedded pack, the cattle were on pasture. “It was a mess,” says Richard.   

“These barn systems are covered by a roof and filled with bedding material to provide manure storage and improve animal comfort and health,” says Sally Eugair, an NRCS soil conservation technician. Bedding costs are much higher for bedded pack than for any other housing, but can improve herd health by providing comfortable places for herds to spend the winter months.  Read more >>

Tags: Vermont

categories Farmer & Rancher Stories, Conservation Programs, Discover Conservation, Plants & Animals