Eastern Region News and Notes 082018-083118

August 20-31, 2018

On August 29, 2018, Area Director and Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson, along with Visitor Information Assistant Frederick Wilkins, released a tagged, newborn monarch at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie’s Welcome Center. The monarch’s new home is a mix of royal catchfly, coneflowers, milkweed and other prairie plants that are growing thick and tall. This was the fourth monarch to be tagged and released from the Welcome Center’s monarch caterpillar display, which provides visitors with an up close look at monarch caterpillars and the chrysalis from which they emerge. At Midewin, volunteers, partners and staff are re-introducing over 275 species of native Illinois prairie plants, including butterfly milkweed. USDA Forest Service photo.



Caption: Area Director and Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson, along with Midewin Visitor Information Assistant Frederick Wilkins, released a tagged, newborn monarch at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie’s Welcome Center. The tagged monarch enjoys wildflowers in its new home.

Forest Service employees win Team Spirit Award at annual Run/Walk in Milwaukee

August 11, 27 Forest Service employees and family members, aka the USDA Forest Service “Bored Feet” team, participated in the Hank Aaron Run/Walk in support of the Hank Aaron State Trail.  This is the 11th year that a Regional office team, organized by the Office of General Counsel, has participated in the event which was attended by over 1400 participants.  Event partners, including the Regional Office, set up booths sharing recreation and conservation information.   The event fees help sustain the State Trail, native plantings, family events and the Bike Adventure Camp for 125 Milwaukee youth.   Visits from Smokey Bear were a highlight as always, and the “Bored Feet” team was surprised this year by winning the Team Spirit Award! 

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Caption: Staffing the Forest Service booth at the Hank Aaron Run/Walk – from left – Tony Erba, Shawn Olson, Jean Claassen and Francisco Hernandez-Flores.


Resource Assistants connect people to the outdoors

This summer, five Resource Assistants are bringing the USDA Forest Service mission to diverse and underserved communities in metropolitan cities thanks to the Eastern Region’s Urban Connections program. The Resource Assistants Program is a rigorous, immersive and paid internship for individuals interested in Forest Service careers.

Mary Lovelace, a recent graduate from Mount Holyoke College, joined the Urban Connections team in Minneapolis/St. Paul this summer. Mary has been working with Forest Service partner Wilderness Inquiry, a non-profit that aims to make outdoor adventures accessible to all, regardless of ability or financial status. Through this partnership, she has provided canoe, water quality and history programming in the Twin Cities.

Imena Ezell and Jamila Rice, both recent graduates from Tuskegee University, have been working with Urban Connections in Boston for about a month. Although they are still settling into their new roles, both are excited about connecting Boston residents to nature. Imena has worked with the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation who provides jobs restoring urban green spaces throughout the city to teenagers. The goal is to increase awareness of the importance of having nature in the community. 

Francisco Hernandez-Flores is working with Urban Connections in Milwaukee to bring Forest Service messaging to the large Latino community in the city. He is working primarily with the United Community Center (UCC), an organization that serves a predominantly Latino audience. In conjunction with UCC and other environmentally focused non-profits like the Urban Ecology Center, Francisco has planned and led a variety of outdoor recreation programs such as interpretive hikes, canoeing, rock-climbing, and biking, including a historical bike tour to celebrate Latino Conservation Week. 

Jaqcara Jackson is working with Urban Connections in Detroit helping with community outreach and environmental education programming. In just three short months, she has been able to share Forest Service messages with thousands of young people at large events such as Metro Detroit Youth Day and Open Street Detroit. 

Urban Connections and the Resource Assistants are bringing the mission of the Forest Service closer to the urban population of the Eastern United States.  And, will hopefully inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. 


Caption: All of the Urban Connections Resource Assistants were able to network in person at the Resource Assistants Conference in Washington, D.C. From left to right: Mary Lovelace (Minneapolis), Imena Ezell (Boston), Jamila Rice (Boston), Jacqara Jackson (Detroit), Francisco Hernandez (Milwaukee); USDA Forest Service photo.


USDA Forest Service Interim Chief Visits White Mountain National Forest to Celebrate Shared Stewardship

Campton, NH - August 23, 2018, The White Mountain National Forest was honored to have Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen visit to attend a roundtable discussion about outdoor recreation economy in the region. Hosted by the Appalachian Mountain Club, as part of the White Mountain National Forest centennial, the roundtable highlighted the desire of public and private entities to forge relationships and work together to advance rural economic development through outdoor recreation. The event also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Act.

Attendees varied from small business owners to state and federal employees including Dan Smith, Deputy Director of the National Park Service. Local and regional non-profits, representatives from the tourism industry and local community leaders concerned with economic development and conservation were at the table. Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02) gave remarks afterward along with representatives from Senator Shaheen’s and Senator Hassan’s offices. 

Through discussions facilitated by Plymouth State University’s Center for the Environment, participants were asked to reflect on successes of the growing outdoor recreation economy and business trends throughout the White Mountain region. New Hampshire’s rural communities thrive on business opportunities largely generated from recreational tourism to the area. The White Mountain National Forest is located within a day’s drive of more than 70 million people, significantly contributing to New Hampshire’s tourism economy, the second largest industry in the state.   

Attendees were then asked to think about what will be needed in the future to continue to build a successful model. There were conversations about overcrowding and potential overuse. Excitement bubbled around how rural communities can continue to attract young families and engage entrepreneurs that want to live, work and play in the White Mountain region. Affordability of recreation activities was also discussed. In the end, everyone agreed there needs to be a balance between economic growth and the protection of natural resources across jurisdictions for future generations.

The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation industry generates $8.7 billion in consumer spending annually, $2.6 billion in wages and salaries, and $528 million in state and local tax revenue. Nearly 80,000 jobs are directly attributed to outdoor recreation in the state. Sixty-nine percent of the state’s residents over the age of six participate in outdoor recreation each year, significantly above the national average of 49 percent.

A new Forest Service (USFS) strategy entitled, Toward Shared Stewardship across Landscapes: An Outcome-based investment Strategy, aims to work in direct coordination with states using the most advanced science tools to identify landscape-scale priorities. Both federal, state, and private managers of forest land face a range of urgent challenges, among them invasive species, storm impacts, insects and disease, and recreation demands. “The challenges before us require a new approach,” said Interim USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen. “We will partner with state leaders shoulder-to-shoulder to co-manage risks, identify land management priorities. We will use all the tools available, and the future is up to us.”

Strategic Goal: Deliver benefits to the public.

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Caption: Roundtable participants, including Interim Chief Christianson at Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center Lodge in Crawford Notch NH; USDA Forest Service photo.


Huron-Manistee National Forests hosts Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon to commemorate 50th Anniversary of Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and Shared Stewardship

Cadillac, MI - August 13-14, 2018, The Huron-Manistee National Forests hosted Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief of National Forest System Land, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Joining Weldon was Area Director and Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson, Director of Wild and Scenic Rivers Sue Spear and Scenic Rivers and Wild and Scenic Rivers Program Manager Steve Chesterton.

The two day guided tour of the Forests included a float down the Manistee River, one of five Wild and Scenic Rivers on the Forests. The float ended at Rainbow Bend, near the Little River Band of Ottawa Indian’s sturgeon rearing facility. Their Chief greeted the Forest Service group and provided access to their mobile sturgeon rearing operation.

All of the Forests’ Wild and Scenic Rivers are very popular with local residents and recreationists across the country. Recreation program managers provided extensive information on the economic impact the forests have on the community and state, fostering an active outfitter and guide program with reported revenue of over $5 million in 2017 from fishing guides and concessionaires. This includes groups such as children's camps and most recently events for corporate groups on the Manistee River Trail which connects to the North Country National Scenic Trail.

In addition, the forest has been hard at work monitoring and protecting aquatic resources that support 1,800 miles of streams perfect for trout, salmon and steelhead, and 17,000 acres of lakes with bass, pike and pan fish.

The visit also highlighted a number of projects and programs on the Forests that embrace shared stewardship. On the Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District, wildlife biologists highlighted successes with federally endangered species such as the Karner Blue Butterfly (KBB) and Kirtland’s warbler (KW). Most of the KBB work is being accomplished through a combination of Stewardship and partnerships with organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation. The KW work has been occurring for the past 50 years, leading to the upcoming de-listing of the species. One of the most successful recovery stories in the Nation.

They also toured a Good Neighbor Authority sale site, checked out habitat improvements through prescribed fire and met with state partners who discussed the successful collaborative partnership they have developed with the Forest Service to complete shared stewardship projects across the forests.

During the visit Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan.

Strategic Goal: Sustain our Nation’s Forests & Grasslands and Deliver Benefits to the Public


Caption: Wildlife Biologist Heather Keough talks about work that has taken place to create habitat for endangered Karner Blue Butterfly on the Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District on Tuesday, Aug. 13. (Forest Service photo by Susan Blake)


Caption: USDA Forest Service Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon, paddles the Manistee River, during her tour of the Huron-Manistee National Forests. The Manistee River is one of five National Wild and Scenic Rivers on the forest. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. (Forest Service photo by Bello Dondja) #huronmanisteenfs



Caption: From left to right Natural Resource Specialist Jon Thompson, Director of Wild and Scenic Rivers Sue Spear, Baldwin/White Cloud Assistant Ranger Diane Walker, Baldwin/White Cloud District Ranger Jake Lubera, Wild and Scenic Rivers Program Manager Steve Chesterton, Recreation Program Manager Kristen Thrall, Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson, Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon and Tribal Relations - Assistant to the Regional Forester Jennifer Youngblood. (Forest Service photo by Bello Dondja)


White Mountain National Forest Celebrates Centennial!

August 14, 2018, New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest turned 100!

100 years ago the White Mountains were largely a denuded cutover landscape marked by eroding hillsides. Streams were blackened by silt and ash from widespread fires sparked in expansive logging slash. The passage of the Weeks Act in 1911 called for the protection of headwater streams. On May 16, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson signed Executive Order 1449 creating the White Mountain National Forest in Maine and New Hampshire.

Today the Forest is nearly 800,000 acres and attracts several million visitors who hike, camp, climb and ski on their public land each year. The Forest has become a major part of the economic engine of New Hampshire contributing to the nearly 9 billion dollar statewide outdoor recreation industry that supports almost 80,000 jobs.

“The centennial year has reminded us to look back on where we’ve come while we prepare for the next 100 years with our partners and volunteers,” said Forest Supervisor Clare Mendelsohn. Throughout the year we have asked the public to help reflect on the past, build a vision for the next century, and engage through partnering or volunteering. We still have work to do to ensure this land is protected for future generations, and we look forward to continuing to work with partners and the public to manage over 800,000 acres in New Hampshire and Maine.”

Whether you are a regular visitor, local community member, volunteer or partner, the White Mountain National Forest hopes the centennial will encourage you to reflect on that importance of your connection with the land known as “the people’s forest,” or as the “Crown Jewel of New England.”

Strategic goal: Sustain our Nation’s forests and grasslands

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Caption: Before – slash remaining from cut-over land on mountainside of White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire circa 1910s. Photo courtesy of Forest History Society.


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After: same area of land on the White Mountain National Forest reforested circa 2004; USDA Forest Service photo.