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HomeState & Private Forestry News
December 2017
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue's Strategic Goals
Hello, USDA Family,
It's time again for one of our weekly chats about the Strategic Goals we've set for improving USDA and our customer service efforts. We've made it our mission to make USDA the most efficient, most effective, and most customer-focused department in the federal government. Today we're on Strategic Goal #5: Strengthen the stewardship of private lands through technology and research.
I i nvite you to click on the image above for the video or click here to watch the video message for Strategic Goal #5.
To review the videos from previous weeks, click on these links:

Strategic Goal #1: Ensure USDA programs are delivered efficiently, effectively, and with integrity and a focus on customer service.
Strategic Goal #2: Maximize the ability of American agricultural producers to prosper by feeding and clothing the world.
Strategic Goal #3: Promote American agricultural products and exports.
Strategic Goal #4: Facilitate rural prosperity and economic development.

I always try to keep in mind, as I know you do, that millions of Americans depend on the work we do every day. As we all pursue these Strategic Goals together, we will continue to improve services to our customers - the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers of American agriculture.

This is all part of trying to live up to our new motto for USDA: "Do right and feed everyone."

Sonny Perdue
Mike Huneke Wins Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
Young woman standing next to a man wearing a medal.
Mike's oldest daughter, Carmen, attended the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award ceremony. (Courtesy photo from Mike Huneke)

BALTIMORE --- Michael J. Huneke, CF (Mike) has been awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award upon nomination by the Baltimore Area Council and the Boy Scouts of America. This award is granted to Eagle Scouts who, after 25 years, have distinguished themselves in their life work and who have shared their talents with their communities on a voluntary basis.

Mike has distinguished himself nationally in the field of Forestry and Conservation and through his continued service to God, his country, and other people by following the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. He has met community service needs through his voluntary actions.

As the Forest Stewardship Program Manager for the U.S. Forest Service's 20-state Northeastern Area, Mike manages the government programs that provide technical assistance to private forest landowners working on a regional level to ensure the sustainable flow of public benefits from private forest lands. A Certified Forester, he is a leader in his profession serving on the Governor-appointed Maryland State Board of Licensing for Foresters and in leadership positions in the Society of American Foresters.

With more than 25 years of experience, Mike is also a highly qualified wildland firefighter and a veteran of more than 40 wildland fire campaigns. As Division Supervisor, approximately 200 firefighters were under his command; Mike was in charge of a 1,000-acre wildfire and responsible for all personnel, helicopter, explosive, and dozer operations. When a natural disaster such as a hurricane occurs, the Forest Service is the lead agency working with FEMA to coordinate the Nation's structural and wildland firefighting response.

Recently, Mike deployed to the Washington DC FEMA National Response Coordination Center for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria where he served as the Fire Unit Leader to FEMA, coordinating the national response and deployment of more than 250 Forest Service and firefighting personnel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In his community, Mike is a life member, firefighter, and EMT in the Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company. Mike is a life-long Scouter and currently serves as the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 124 in Carney, Maryland.

Mike was presented with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award at the 10
th Annual Gathering of Eagles event on October 24 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
Spotted Lanternfly Confirmed in Delaware
Beetle-like nymph and adult fly.
The nymph and adult lanternfly have spots. (Courtesy photo by Delaware Department of Agriculture,
DOVER, Del. --- The spotted lanternfly - a destructive, invasive plant hopper - has been confirmed in New Castle County. Delaware is the second state to have found the insect which was first detected in the United States in 2014, in Berks County, PA. The spotted lanternfly has now spread to 13 Pennsylvania counties.
This insect is a potential threat to several important agricultural crops including grapes, apples, peaches, and lumber. State plant health and forestry officials are providing information, fact sheets, photographs, and links to other resources at Early detection is vital for the protection of Delaware businesses and agriculture.
Read the full spotted lanternfly article on the Delaware news Web site.
Watch a video of a lanternfly invasion on YouTube. 
Urban Waters Restoration Grants Available

WASHINGTON --- The request for proposals is now available for the 2018 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The U.S. Forest Service helps to support this program, alongside other Federal and private partners, as part of our interagency effort to restore urban waters and revitalize communities. Deadline for proposals is January 31, 2018.

View further details about this grant opportunity. Please share with your networks. Through this program, we've been able to support some great local urban forestry projects and forest restoration projects.

Community Mini-Grants Available!

ITHACA, N.Y. --- It is the end of the year and with it comes the opportunity to apply for the 2018   Celebrate Urban Birds Mini-Grants! We can't wait to see the incredible projects that will be proposed to connect communities with nature, birds, arts, and citizen science!

All mini-grant applicants are offered free Celebrate Urban Birds kits and training to support their events (even if their proposals are not funded). Organizations working with underserved communities are strongly encouraged to apply. No experience with birding is needed. Mini-grants range from $100 to $750.

Here are the requirements for your proposed program, festival, or event:
  • It must take place within 2018.
  • The funds can only go to organizations (not to individuals).
  • The Celebrate Urban Birds 10-minute citizen science activity must be included.
  • It must incorporate greening or habitat improvement activities.
  • The arts should be integrated in a meaningful and authentic manner.
We love out-of-the-box ideas! We encourage businesses, hospitals, healthcare organizations, senior centers, and community centers to apply. In the past, we've offered mini-grants to an ice cream shop that gave coupons to customers who collected data and planted bird-friendly flowers; an oncology center that encouraged patients to collect data while they waited for appointments; a courthouse that offered outdoor programming for children waiting for their parents; a theater troupe that connected inner-city youth with nature; a day habilitation program that combined community work, gardening, birdwatching, and the arts; and many youth-led community greening projects. We will share selected mini-grant projects broadly to inspire others to organize events in their communities.

Our  application is simple and straightforward. You don't need to know anything about writing grant proposals to apply. Simply answer our questions about what you plan to do, where, when, and with whom. We'd be happy to help! Send an email to or call 607-254-2455.

We will be accepting applications through December 31, 2017.
2017 Webinar: Wood Utilization Options for Urban Trees Infested by Invasive Species

When: Tuesday, December 19, 12 pm - 1 pm

This Webinar is hosted by the University of Minnesota. Register and learn about more details.   View past webinars in the 2017 series.
Urban Forest Strike Teams Support Storm Recovery
A man with a hard hat looks at trees damaged by a storm.
A member of the Urban Forest Strike Team surveys damage from Hurricane Harvey in Gulfport, Texas. The team was on the ground within a week of the storm making landfall. (Courtesy photo by the Southern Group of State Foresters)

WASHINGTON --- In response to the damages cause by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate, thousands of federal, state, and private agencies have been deployed to areas that were impacted by these storms. These first responders help people take the first crucial steps in putting their lives back together in the aftermath of these storms.

However, there is another group of responders that go into storm-ravaged towns to aid the trees: the Urban Forest Strike Teams. Read the full story on the U.S. Forest Service Web site.
American Bittersweet, Yes; Oriental Bittersweet, No
A rustic shop that has dried plants for sale for decoration.
Oriental bittersweet is sometimes sold to crafters. (Courtesy photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

ST. PAUL, Minn. --- Do you know the difference between these two vines that are often used to craft holiday decorations? One is native (orange fruit capsule) and the other a destructive invasive plant (yellow fruit capsule). Learn how to distinguish them from a University of Minnesota factsheet and video on YouTube.

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