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U.S. Forest Service

Celebrating Wildflowers News 2012

November 2012

Wildflowers, Part of the Pageantry of Fall Colors

Fall colors image.

Look up into the trees and you'll find beautiful vistas of leaves changing color in different regions of the United States this fall. Look down at the forest floor and you'll find an even greater array of colors. The U.S. Forest Service has many stories to share with you about our wildflowers.

Read more about wildflowers and fall colors…

"Celebrate Native Pollinators" Reaches Broad Audience - November 5, 2012

Dark green rocky mountain juniper with light gray cones mixing with yellow and gold green ash trees and choke cherry shrubs on a hillside.

The Forest Service’s Eastern Region partnered with Wildlife Forever to spread news about native pollinators to 4,636,000 readers of the National Home Gardening Club Magazine entitled Bringing Your Garden to Life - Gardening How-To.

Read more about Celebrate Native Wildflowers…

August 2012

Non-Native Invasive Species: Eastern Region Program Accomplishments 2011

Non-Native Invasive Species: Eastern Region Program Accomplishments 2011 cover page.

The Eastern Region of the Forest Service Non-native Invasive Species Program is guided by the Forest Service's Non-native Invasive Species Framework (PDF, 326 KB). The Eastern Region's accomplishments for 2011 are summarized in Non-Native Invasive Species: Eastern Region Program Accomplishments 2011 (PDF, 12.2 MB).

July 2012

Chippewa National Forest's Wildflower Viewing Areas

Showy Ladyslippers. Showy Ladyslippers.

Wildflower Viewing Areas are sites of high botanic interest selected by botanists for the native plants and flowers found within them. Two of these areas can be found on the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota. Consider visiting these sites during your next trip to the forest. Don't forget your camera!

Botanists Work to Protect Sensitive Plant Habitats - July 10, 2012

Two botanists walking through the forest. Botanists are working across the Black Hills National Forest everyday to protect sensitive plant habitats.

Botanists are working across the Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota, everyday to protect sensitive plant habitats. Recently botanists and timber managers teamed up to determine a boundary for a newly identified pocket of trees infested with mountain pine beetle inside a timber sale area. Before the trees can be removed, botanists and timber sale administration specialists needed to survey and walk through the area, looking at riparian buffers, sensitive plant habitat, timber harvest feasibility, transportation, and other resources.

Read more about botanists working to protect sensitive plant habitats…

USFS offers wildflower training to local guides - July 6, 2012

Guide writing wildflower names down on a piece of paper while another guide is identifying the wildflowers. Guides learn about wildflowers by writing their names down on a piece of paper while hiking on trails. Diane Jeantet/The Cordova Times.

By Diane Jeantet The Cordova Times

A handful of lucky Cordovans recently participated in a wildflower education workshop offered by the US Forest Service (USFS). The workshop was specially tailored for local outfitters and guides as a means of increasing guiding expertise; and also to help researchers raise awareness around the issue of non-native, invasive plants in Alaska.

Read more about the Forest Service offering training to local Cordova guides…

Stewart-Phelps Wins National Grasslands Award - July 2, 2012

Leslie Stewart-Phelps. Leslie Stewart-Phelps.

Leslie Stewart-Phelps, Rangeland Management Specialist and Botanist for the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands, was recently honored with the distinguished Grassland Conservation Award from the National Grasslands Council. The award recognizes her work administering grazing management on 94,000 acres of the Oglala National Grasslands, in addition to responsibilities as Nebraska Forests and Grasslands Botanist to assess project proposals for possible impacts to threatened, endangered or sensitive plant species.

Read more about Stewart-Phelps gettng this award…

June 2012

Wildflowers are blooming throughout National Forests, June 19, 2012

District Ranger Cavan Fitzsimmons. Cavan Fitzsimmons, Hebgen Lake District Ranger.

Hebgen Basin is home to a myriad of flora and fauna some of which is unique to our community's corner of public land and many of which stretch out across the Custer and Gallatin National Forests as well as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Nearly 1,150 species of flowering plants are represented across Hebgen Basin and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Surrounding the Hebgen Lake Ranger District and the Gallatin National Forest is a maze of public land management direction that aims to work together on larger landscape level projects, where possible. Coordination with adjacent public lands is critical to ensuring that management of resources is successful.

Read more about related wildflower viewing areas on the Gallatin National Forest:

March 2012

Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods of Pastoral Communities in Southern Ethiopia

A girl from Kare Gutu helped in collecting plants in the kallo. A girl from Kare Gutu helped in collecting plants in the kallo.

Karen Dillman, Ecologist, Tongass National Forest, spent six weeks in Ethiopia working on the Pastoralist Livelihoods Initiative (PLI) along with partner organization Save the Children-Ethiopia on a new phase of the project that focuses on biodiversity of the kallos. Southern Ethiopia is almost completely occupied by pastoral communities living within a communal resource system for livestock production. These communities also use traditional grazing enclosures as reserves (local name: kallo) for times of drought and other uncertainties. Other phases of the project include prescribed fire for enhancing grass production, GIS technology for mapping purposes, invasive species management and soil carbon and biomass estimation for future carbon credit markets.

Read more about Karen's work in Ethiopia…

Loda Lake Hike

Thumbnail image of YouTube video introduction.

Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc., a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc., partnering with the Manistee National Forest produced a DVD about Loda Lake for their distant garden club chapters to learn more about Loda Lake. A portion of this video is posted on YouTube.

See Loda Lake Hike on YouTube…

February 2012

Book Review: Field Manual of the Michigan Flora

Cover of Field Manual of the Michigan Flora.

“I have fond memories and owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the late Edward G. Voss (1929-2012), who passed away recently. I laboriously learned the Wisconsin sedges and grasses using his outstanding "Michigan Flora" keys, keying out specimens with a Sherlock Holmes-type magnifying glass in my basement during the winter of 1976 while I worked in the post office. I sometimes wonder whether I would have gotten into professional botany at all without the inspiration of Ed's "dry," "impersonal" keys and their challenging and inspiring attention to detail.”

Read the full book review by Emmet Judziewicz, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point (PDF, 52 KB)…

Conservation and Management of North American Bumble Bees

Bombus vagans. Bombus vagains. Photo by Sheila Colla.

This is a report of the USDA Forest Service and NatureServe with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This document provides a brief overview of the diversity, natural history, conservation status, and management of North American bumble bees, genus Bombus. The spring to late summer period of colony founding, build up, and production of reproductive individuals, followed by the overwintering of new queens provide the natural history basis for management considerations of the approximately 46 North American species. Most bumble bee species are currently not threatened or documented as declining except in areas of intensive agriculture. Eight species from three subgenera, however, have declined drastically during the last 15-20 years. These include three species that are obligate parasites on other declining species. The pathogen spillover hypothesis, which proposes that diseases from infected commercial colonies imported from Europe are infecting native populations of closely related species, may explain the sharp declines of most species. Other threats to bumble bees include climate change, loss of nesting and foraging habitats and pesticide use.

Schweitzer, D.F., N.A. Capuano, B.E. Young, and S.R. Colla. 2012. Conservation and management of North American bumble bees. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, and USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C.

Read the report (PDF, 2.8 MB)…

Researchers find an unusual hybrid origin in a rare plant

Castilleja christii.

A colorful wildflower called Christ's paintbrush is found only one place in the world, atop a southern Idaho mountain in an area only slightly larger than the Boise State University campus. The plant, whose scientific name is Castilleja christii, is not only rare, it also has a remarkable origin. Botanists first began noticing plants that did not seem to be typical Christ's paintbrush a number of years ago. Now, Boise State University graduate student Danielle Clay has found that the species developed from an unusual type of hybrid cross between two common species of paintbrush.

This is an article from the Idaho Native Plant Society's Sage Notes, December 2011, Volume 33(4).

Read the Sage Notes article about Castilleja christii (PDF, 694 KB)…

Read more about Celebrating Wildlower's Plant of the Week: Castilleja christii

Can a Prairie Teach Us About Agricultural Water Quality? - February 2012

Crop field being converted to prairie. ARS researchers are studying how nitrates and phosphorus affect water quality in a crop field that has been converted to native prairie vegetation at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City, Iowa. Photo by Jeff Cook.

One place to figure out how agricultural practices affect water quality is in a crop field that is being converted to native prairie vegetation. In Iowa, natural resource managers are conducting this type of landscape restoration at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City.

Read more about how a Prairie Teach Us About Agricultural Water Quality (PDF, 478 KB)…

Step-by-Step Strategies for Restoring Western Rangelands - February 2012

ARS plant/soil scientist Gary  Bañuelos and grower John Diener survey prickly pear cactus growing in poor-quality soil. A diverse, functioning rangeland ecosystem with desirable shrubs, perennial grasses, and forbs can help prevent invasive plants from becoming established and taking over. Photo by Tony Svejcar.

Invasive plants exploit every environmental angle in their favor. So restoring damaged rangelands in the western United States involves a lot more than just getting rid of bad plants and bringing in good plants.

Since 1990, Agricultural Research Service ecologist Roger Sheley has been refining a process for identifying factors that give the undesirable space invaders their territorial edge—and figuring out strategies for restoring a healthy mix of native vegetation for rangelands in need of remediation.

Read more about Step-by-Step Strategies for Restoring Western Rangelands (PDF, 645 KB)…

January 2012

Get Ready for Green! National Forest and Grassland Wildflower Viewing Areas

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) at the Androscoggin Ranger Station, White Mountain National Forest, in New Hampshire. Photo by Amanda Weise.

Longing for warm, fragrant breezes? Blooming trillium colonies, foraging bumble bees, and even unfrozen water puddles all signify the arrival of spring. While we can't make winter move along faster, we can help you plan a trip to see wildflowers when spring shows up.

There are about 316 Wildflower Viewing Areas we have identified on our national forests and grasslands in nine Forest Service Regions across the United States. They vary from native plant and pollinator gardens in urban settings to recreation areas and hiking trails, all showcasing the natural beauty of native wildflowers.

Every site is open to the public. Some locations offer interpretive signage and brochures.

Find Wildflower Viewing Areas by Forest Service Region…

Using Cactus as a Bioremediation Tool - January 2012

ARS plant/soil scientist Gary  Bañuelos and grower John Diener survey prickly pear cactus growing in poor-quality soil. ARS plant/soil scientist Gary Bañuelos (right) and grower John Diener survey prickly pear cactus growing in poor-quality soil.

The west side of the San Joaquin Valley in California presents several challenges to growers. The soils there include marine sediments, shale formations, and deposits of selenium and other minerals, results of ancient seas and runoff. Anything grown there needs to be irrigated, but the resulting runoff, when it contains high levels of selenium, can be toxic to fish, migratory birds, and other wildlife that drink from waterways and drainage ditches. Periodic droughts and population growth are also squeezing supplies of the fresh water available for irrigation.

Gary Bañuelos, an Agricultural Research Service plant/soil scientist with the Water Management Research Unit at the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center in Parlier, California, believes that he has found a promising alternative to address land productivity and environmental concerns stemming from soils with these mineral deposits, growing prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficusindica).

Read more about Using Cactus as a Bioremediation Tool (PDF, 523 KB)…

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

Hummingbird in flight.

Pollination: it's vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film "Wings of Life," inspired by the vanishing of one of nature's primary pollinators, the honeybee.

Read more about and see the talk and images from Louie Schwartzberg's "Wings of Life" on the TED website…