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Forest Service to Lead New USDA Regional Climate Hub in the Northeast

Durham, NH, February 6, 2014 - For woodland owners and agricultural producers, the creation of the Northeast Regional Hub for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change in Durham, N.H., will bring climate change science tools closer to home.

Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of the first ever Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change at seven locations around the country. "Climate Hubs" will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama pledged that his Administration will continue to do everything in its power to act on climate change. Today's announcement is part of the President's Climate Action Plan to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put America on track to a cleaner environment.

"For generations, America's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners have innovated and adapted to challenges. Today, they face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which impacts both our nation's forests and our farmers' bottom lines," said Vilsack. "USDA's Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate."

The Northeast Climate Hub will stretch from Maine to West Virginia and be led by the U.S. Forest Service and located in Durham. Hubs will also be located in the Southeast, Midwest, Southern Plains, Northern Plains, Southwest and Pacific Northwest. 

 “Millions of acres of woodland and farmland are managed by private landowners in the Northeast, and their decisions are critical to the sustainability of forestry, agriculture, and local communities,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Lab. “By providing climate science and land management tools, the Northeast Regional Climate Hub will contribute to making Northeastern farmland and forests healthier and more resilient.”

In the Northeast, extreme rainfall events have increased dramatically over the last 30 years and are likely to increase further. Northeastern producers have already noticed an increase in average temperatures, and changes to growth cycles for many crops, with earlier leaf out and flowering, and longer growing seasons resulting in possible increases in production. Extended growing seasons may allow for the growing of longer-season varieties of field corn or other heat tolerant crops which have higher yields, but crops more suitable for cooler conditions, such as potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage, will have a shorter growing season. Insects that overwinter in the Northeast, such as corn earworm, flea beetle, and the spotted-wing Drosophila, are already present at higher levels earlier in the season than in the past and this trend is expected to continue as temperatures warm.  Rising winter temperatures may also allow tree pests such as the hemlock woolly adelgid to spread further north.   

“If you manage land, you will confront some aspect of the effects of climate change,” said Dave Hollinger, a plant physiologist with the Northern Research Station and the lead for the Northeast Climate Hub.

Across the nation, Climate Hubs will draw on the expertise of the USDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Interior (DOI). In the Northeast, key partners will include USDA Agricultural Research Service offices in Ithaca N.Y. and State College, P.A., the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), East National Technology Support Center in Greensboro, NC, NOAA’s Northeast Regional Climate Center, the DOI’s Northeast Climate Science Center, and Land Grant Universities in the Northeast, including Cornell, the University of New Hampshire, and Penn State.

The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS), a collaboration among the Forest Service, universities, industry and land managers based in Houghton, Mich., NRCS, and the State Cooperative Extension programs will be the key partners in delivering climate adaptation strategies in the Northeast and the Midwest.

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The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of our nation’s forests, amounting to 850 million acres including 100 million acres of urban forests gracing the nation’s cities, where 80 percent of Americans live. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.

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Last modified: February 6, 2014