Eastern Region News Roundup Apr. 15 - May 12, 2018



Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Friends of Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon Helped Spread Fire Safety Message at Midewin NTP [photo]

On Saturday, May 5 over 1,000 people visited the USDA Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Visitors got a close-up look at the celebrated 97-foot-tall Friends of Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon, which came from Albuquerque, NM. New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Judy Nakamura was the balloon pilot. There was also a 27-foot-tall Smokey Bear balloon and a 7-foot-tall Smokey Bear balloon in the Midewin Welcome Center for photo opportunities. The balloons helped spread important fire safety and prevention messages. Each visitor received a free collectible Smokey Bear Balloon button. Visitors hiked to look for the bison, including the several newborn bison. Volunteers guided visitors on hikes through the native spring prairie blooms popping up now, and the remains of historic farmsteads. A Natural Resources Expo featured over 10 natural resources organizations. The event was part of the community’s 12th annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival, which celebrates the 90 miles of old historic Route 66 from Chicago to Towanda, Illinois.

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Shawnee National Forest

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Hoosier National Forest

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Hiawatha National Forest

EKiP Field Trip at Seney

May kicks off the busiest month of the school year for the Every Kid in a Park initiative at Hiawatha National Forest.  Thanks to field trip grant funds from the National Park Foundation and USFS’s Youth Engagement program, over 1,000 fourth students from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan will actively engage in their federal lands and water.   This program is an interagency partnership with the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan State University – Extension and Clear Lake Education Center.  On May 1, fourth-graders from Washington Elementary in Sault Ste. Marie traveled to Seney National Wildlife Refuge for a hands-on field trip.  Students viewed (and heard) spring wildlife, went on a guided hike, learned about beavers and practiced Leave No Trace to become stewards of their national treasures.  By the end of the school year, over 1,000 students will have taken an Every Kid in a Park Field trip through this interagency program.

Career Pathways Class for 6th Grade at Gwinn Middle School [photo]

On April 30, 75 students from Kristy Humphrey’s 6th-grade classes at Gwinn Middle School were introduced to career pathways in the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies.  During the course of the program, they learned about the similarities and differences between federal land management agencies, worked in small groups discussing job cards, placed federal land units on a large floor map and were informed of student opportunities in high school and college.

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Huron-Manistee National Forests

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Ottawa National Forest

268 4th Graders Visited the Ottawa National Forest in April [photo]

USDA Forest Service Youth Initiative grant funding, allowed 7 elementary schools to visit the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center and J.W. Toumey Nursery this spring.  Students participated in a program called the “Cutover,” and then toured the J.W. Toumey Nursery.  The “Cutover” is a first-person interpretive play that uses short, theatrical presentations and historical photographs to look back into local area history, telling the story about how the forests were destroyed and then restored.  Students got a firsthand look at what the area looked like in the late 1800’s through the 1930’s via a re-enactment and photos of the logging history, early farming attempts and subsequent establishment of the Ottawa National Forest in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Following the “Cutover,” students visited the J.W. Toumey Nursery. At the nursery, they toured large agricultural fields and a variety of greenhouses where trees are grown and supplied to Great Lakes National Forests.  Overall, 11 Ottawa staff, 1 Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest staff, and 3 volunteers put together 9 performances and tours for 215 4th grade students.  Each student also received their Annual 4th Grade Pass and the school took home a potted pine tree to plant on their school grounds.  In addition, (53) 4th graders from Northland Pines Elementary in Eagle River, Wisconsin, visited the Ottawa Visitor Center to participate in programs and learn about the Every Kid in a Park Program.  Students explored the outdoors on an alphabet hike to increase their awareness and power of observation of the natural world around them using their language skills.  Students also investigated field characteristics of common Northwoods animals through the use of bird and frog calls, a no-peek grab bag to feel animal parts, and matching skulls and pelts to specific animals.  Each student also received their Annual 4th Grade Pass.

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Chippewa National Forest

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Mark Twain National Forest

Inter-regional TEUI Training and Technology Exchange [photo]

The Eastern Regional Office and Mark Twain National Forest co-hosted a second Terrestrial Ecological Unit Inventory (TEUI) Technology Exchange Training between the Eastern and Southwestern Regions. The event, held at Echo Bluff State Park in Missouri, was highly successful in bringing together ecologists, soil scientists, botanists, and spatial analysts from these two Regions plus the Southern Region, USFS Headquarters (Washington D.C.), USFS-Geospatial Technology and Applications Center, USFS-Northern Research Station, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, DOI-National Park Service, and the University of Missouri to exchange ideas and techniques foundational to this effort.

Also known as eco-mapping, TEUI is an integrated process that delineates ecological boundaries and provides interpretations of the factors that contribute to ecosystem dynamics and land productivity. The primary factors mapped and interpreted include vegetation, climate, landform, hydrology, disturbance dynamics, and soils. TEUI mapping products help streamline planning and analysis efforts at both the landscape- and project-scale, creating efficiencies and increasing capacity to complete priority work.

A previous meeting held on the Tonto National Forest (Phoenix, AZ) in February allowed the Southwestern Region to share their centralized “strike team” approach to eco-mapping and lessons learned with Eastern Region participants.  Combined, these two workshops were timely, as the Eastern Region is working with the Washington Office to ramp up TEUI efforts ahead of upcoming Forest/Prairie Plan Revisions. 

The knowledge shared in these meetings displayed how strongly we need to work together, not just across Regions, but across resource areas and through partnerships to ensure a comprehensive approach to developing TEUI mapping products.  As the Eastern Region moves forward in developing a process outline, its Forests and Prairie will benefit from the collaborative model—developing better products with less strain.

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Wayne National Forest

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Allegheny National Forest

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Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests

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West Virginia

Monongahela National Forest

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Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

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Urban Connections - Milwaukee

Milwaukee Earth Day Celebrations [photo 1, photo 2]

In celebration of Earth Day, Milwaukee Regional office staff recently participated in events at the US Bank building and at the Discovery World Museum.  The US Bank Earth Day Expo featured 16 Milwaukee environmental organizations sharing information about their conservation work and tips on how residents can become environmental stewards.  The Discovery World Earth Day event offered free admission for all Milwaukee citizens and was attended by over 5500 people.   The event featured interactive exhibits, nature-themed projects, fishing and diving demonstrations, and hikes along Lakeshore State Park.  The Forest Service booth featured information about animals, pollinators, trees, and a nature prize wheel with facts about forests, conservation and water. The Forest Service aquatic invasive species exhibit, developed in partnership with Discovery World, helped educate visitors about the Clean, Drain, Dry boat campaign.  Woodsy Owl entertained young visitors throughout the day and shared his message of “Lend a Hand, Care for the Land.”

Milwaukee Arbor Day Celebration [photo]

:   Milwaukee Urban Connections and Regional Office Staff recently participated in the City of Milwaukee Forestry Centennial Arbor Day Event in Kadish Park on Milwaukee’s east side.  Acting Deputy Regional Forester Mark Buccowich joined Mayor Tom Barrett and City of Milwaukee Forestry and Wisconsin DNR representatives for the Arbor Day ceremony.  The event also included song and poetry presentations by students from Tamarack Waldorf School, a ceremonial tree planting, urban forestry demonstrations and student tree plantings.  Each 4th grader received their Every Kid in a Park pass to encourage them to explore their federal lands, and Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl were on hand to entertain the youth and share their messages of fire prevention and conservation.