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Conservation Efforts for Sage Grouse Have Underground Roots

Posted by Jason Weller, Chief on April 22, 2016 at 01:20 PM
Healthy working rangelands are home to many species, including mountain big sagebrush, Idaho fescue and Indian paintbrush. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Roberts.

Healthy working rangelands are home to many species, including mountain big sagebrush, Idaho fescue and Indian paintbrush. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Roberts.

We woke up at 3 a.m. this morning and made our way to a blind in the middle of the vast sagebrush sea of central Montana. Hidden near a lek site, we waited for sunrise to get a glimpse of greater sage-grouse during their springtime courtship.

We were excited to see these rare but rebounding birds and the healthy sagebrush landscape around them. Here we saw firsthand how agriculture and wildlife can co-exist and thrive. Western ranchers have played a pivotal role in restoring and protecting these working rangelands, and they’ve voluntarily conserved 5 million acres of sage grouse habitat since 2010. Read more >>

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Tags: Sage-Grouse Initiative

categories Landscape Initiatives, Environment, Farmer & Rancher Stories


Maryland Dairy Farmers Work to Improve the Health of Estuaries

Posted by Genevieve Lister on April 22, 2016 at 09:00 AM
NRCS worked with the Hoff family to build a manure storage structure, which they use to contain manure that can be used as fertilizer when the time is best. Photo credit: Genevieve Lister.

NRCS worked with the Hoff family to build a manure storage structure, which they use to contain manure that can be used as fertilizer when the time is best. Photo credit: Genevieve Lister.

Producing high quality, nutritious milk may be a top priority for Coldsprings Farm, but it is not the farm’s only accomplishment. Nestled between the rolling acres and lush green meadows of New Windsor, Maryland, lies a showcase of a dairy farm where owners Matt and Debbie Hoff are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to reduce runoff of nutrients and sediment, leading to cleaner water downstream.

This is especially important, as Coldsprings Farm sits amid the Monocacy watershed, which eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

At 64,000-square-miles and holding more than 150 rivers and streams, the Chesapeake Bay watershed is North America’s largest estuary. This week, NRCS marks National Estuaries Week by highlighting the stewardship of farmers like the Hoff’s, who voluntarily use conservation practices to improve water quality in estuaries downstream from their operation. Read more >>

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Tags: Chesapeake Bay, dairy farm

categories Landscape Initiatives, Environment, Farmer & Rancher Stories


Ready to Quit, Farmer Thrives on Soil Health

Posted by Ron Nichols on April 21, 2016 at 06:46 PM
Jonathan Cobb says that with a new focus on soil health, we got rid of all of the tillage equipment, and just dove in.

Jonathan Cobb says that with a new focus on soil health, we got rid of all of the tillage equipment, and just dove in.

Jonathan Cobb had made up his mind. He was leaving the farm.

“I was disillusioned with farming in general because we were just pushing long days and chasing acres and it didn’t seem like there was very much reward,” Cobb said. “That quality of life was not very good. My wife was having to work a lot of hours full time and really support the family. Twenty-five hundred acres really didn’t support two families, and we weren’t living extravagant lifestyles by any means.”

Then came the drought of 2011.

“I thought, maybe this is a sign from God – maybe we shouldn’t be farming. Maybe we should move on to something else,’” Cobb said. “I was looking into moving down to Austin, Texas and being involved in some urban farming setups.”

In time, he and his wife Kaylyn put their house on the market and prepared to move, abandoning a century-old tradition of Cobb family farming. Read more >>

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Tags: soil health, no till, cover crops, soils, farmers

categories Soil Health, Discover Conservation, Farmer & Rancher Stories


NRCS Blogs Comment Policy

Posted by NRCS Public Affairs Division on April 28, 2013 at 12:21 PM

The NRCS blog site shares NRCS information and customer stories regarding the activities, policies and programs of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. We encourage discussion and comments on posts. Your insights are important to ensure Americans nationwide are informed and can be a part of our work. Read more >>

Tags: comments

categories Communities