Ranching & Agriculture
Commentary by former USDA undersecretary Robert Bonnie: Conservation policy needs more carrots and fewer sticks if we are going to create a long-lasting and effective model of protecting the natural environment. Launched in 2010, the Department of Agriculture’s Sage Grouse Initiative is an example of a collaborative approach, with agencies, universities, nonprofits, businesses and more than 1,500 ranchers partnering to protect an area twice the size of Yellowstone through conservation easements.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now offering Virginia farmers and forestry producers more options for taking their land management to the next level with the revised Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Submit your application by May 10, 2019 to be considered for FY19 CSP funding.
A new online map identifies 6.3 million acres in Virginia — nearly a fourth of the state’s land and water — as high-priority conservation areas, and 5 million of those are forested or agriculture lands.
has multiple functions and is designed to be used by government officials, land trusts and residents.
A Kewaunee Co. family incorporates new ideas following devastating fire. Partnering with NRCS, they planted conservation cover and critical area plantings, installed vegetated treatment areas and pumping plants, restored grassed waterways, completed mulching, waste transfer, heavy use area protection, and tried cover crops for the first time to name a few.
The bipartisan Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, S. 170 and H.R. 1992, which would eliminate the ability to profit from the donation of a conservation easement on land held for a short period of time.
Research is now expanding to determine how manure can be used on soils that have been degraded to bring their soil health back in balance. Soil is considered to be degraded when it has lost its ability to support the living organisms that would naturally be found in it.
Having succeeded in protecting funding for the Conservation Title in the 2018 Farm Bill, more than 140 leading farm, conservation and wildlife groups are once again joining together to protect those hard-fought conservation funds and programs in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations process.
The Soil Health Demonstration Trial (SHDT) coming out of the 2018 Farm Bill is nurturing the groundswell around soil health and associated building of soil organic carbon (SOC). USDA will pay farmers incentives to adopt and experiment with crop and soil management practices that build up SOC while also establishing participants’ soil carbon baseline and record their success in raising those levels.
Research proves organic farming profitable. Organics and sustainable agricultural practices have proven to grow higher yields with lower costs in chemical inputs so farmers are making more profit with the same land use.
“Everything we think about when it comes to our arid lands turns on the reality of a scarcity of water. But if we repurpose the industrial by-product water, we can introduce hundreds of millions of gallons a year onto the land.” The 'Just Add Water' Initiative launches.
In 2018, the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) of NY launched its Forest Conservation Easement Program. The NYC Watershed is 78 percent forested and 75 percent privately owned, and provides over 1.2 billion gallons of drinking water to over 9.5 million people daily. The program preserves large tracts of private forestland for both water quality protection and the benefit of local industries e.g. forestry and mining.
The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservation District is working with agricultural producers to lessen nonpoint pollutants, such as fertilizer, in water returned to the river. All of the programs tie into Colorado’s Water Plan, and benefit the ecosystem.“They [tourists] come here to see our ecosystem. It has value.”
Wildlife, Recreation & Education
Lake County grasslands around Chicago treated to 'periodic fire' that looks alarming but benefits native plant systems.
Wyoming partners adopt a statewide Prescribed Fire Council. The council has identified a number of ways they can support the use of prescribed fire.
Thanks to conservation partnerships, an Arkansas snail and two Southeastern fish no longer warrant Endangered Species Act protection.
$100,000 awarded for deer habitat improvements by dozens of groups for projects in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Thanks to three decades of dedicated work by a range of partners, 290 California condors now fly free in the wild, and the 10-foot-wingspan birds will be reintroduced in the Pacific Northwest for first time in over 100 years.
The spring issue of The Longleaf Leader features Burner Bob on the cover!
The newly introduced Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act would help cleanup public lands and waters impacted by trespass marijuana growers by creating a local, state, federal and tribal partnership to coordinate activities and provide resources and expertise.
Cal Fire awards over $63 million in grants to projects aimed at promoting healthy forests.
MDC and rural fire departments are partners in fighting wildfires. Today, Smokey Bear has a new slogan: “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.” That’s because conservationists and farm managers now use prescribed burns to encourage wildlife habitat or to improve cattle forage.
A grand duel is taking place out West between the sagebrush, native to the landscape for more 12,000 years, and a newer, highly invasive and flammable species called cheatgrass. Science shows cheatgrass doubles the risk of wildfire, and in the past 20 years, wildfires in shrublands and grasslands, which make up one-third of the U.S., have burned more acres than forested lands.