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Rural News

Drug-Addiction Epidemic Creates Crisis in Foster Care

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on November 8, 2016

The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children.  Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the emerging crisis.  Other states, such as Alaska, Kansas and Ohio, have issued emergency pleas for more people to become foster parents and take neglected children, many of them infants, into their homes.

Vermont:Farmers, environmentalists spar over agriculture regulations

Daily Progress | Posted on November 8, 2016

Some farmers are pressing for changes to proposed agricultural rules aimed at protecting Lake Champlain, but environmental advocates told lawmakers that the rules don't go far enough.  The required agriculture practices, which have been the subject of multiple meetings and public hearings, include rules for small farm certification, storing and managing manure, soil health and vegetated buffer zones on fields near water and ditches.  The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules is reviewing the rules to make sure they are not beyond the authority of the agency and not contrary to legislative intent, among other criteria. The committee on Thursday put off a vote until Nov. 17. The state agriculture agency says livestock farms and farms growing annual crops in flood plain areas will be most affected by the requirements. The requirements include increasing vegetated buffer widths on streams from 10 feet to 25 feet for small farms and creating 10-foot-wide vegetated buffers on field ditches for all farms. The required agricultural practices are part of Vermont's commitment to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain, and agriculture is the state's biggest contributor at more than 40 percent, state officials said.

Oregon ramps up research of bighorn sheep

Bend Bulletin | Posted on November 7, 2016

This is usually around the time when Oregon wildlife officials start planning to move some bighorn sheep around Eastern Oregon in an effort to bolster genetic diversity.  Not this year.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has instead focused its efforts on researching a bacteria that can lead to pneumonia in the animals, a problem that has killed large numbers of bighorn sheep throughout the West over the past several years. Bighorn sheep get the respiratory pathogen from domestic sheep and goats, which it doesn’t affect.  “When wild sheep get it, it’s pretty devastating,” said Autumn Larkins, assistant district wildlife biologist and sheep capture boss for ODFW. “We’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”  Early this year, Nevada wildlife officials killed a herd of about two dozen of the animals located in the northern part of that state as a way to keep the disease from spreading — including to bighorn sheep in Southern Oregon. Similar kills took place in Washington, Utah and Canada in previous years to block pneumonia from

Thinking Outside the Box for start up funding

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 2, 2016

For a long while, banks have led us to believe there’s only one responsible way to get money to invest in a small, start-up business. You go into the bank, sit in green leatherette chairs for an hour, then go back and explain your business plan to a loan officer. Then they decide your fate. But what happens when the banker doesn’t believe in your vision, or thinks the audience isn’t large enough to make a go of it, or any number of reasons to not stamp your loan application?  There are better ways to do this. At least 27 better ways, in fact. Maury Forman, Senior Manager for Rural Strategies and Entrepreneurship for the Washington State Department of Commerce, along with Washington State University Economic Development Specialist Jordan Tampien, decided to compile these ways and publish them in an e-book, and then give it away. So he did. Startup Wisdom: 27 Strategies for Raising Business Capital is a treasure for anyone looking for help with the start-up costs associated with a new small business. Whether you’re trying to sell your cupcakes in the local grocery store or developing a cupcake-locating app, there’s at least one funding model in the book to fit the bill.

Pennsylvania Landowners Helping Indiana Bat through ‘Spooky’ Declines

USDA | Posted on November 2, 2016

When most people think of bats, images of dark caves, vampires and Halloween come to mind. But actually, bats get a bad rap, and we often don’t know how important they are for controlling insects, pollinating plants, dispersing seeds and improving biodiversity. Many of our nation’s bats are facing population declines to near-extinction levels, primarily because of disease and loss of habitat. One of those species is the Indiana bat, an endangered species that has experienced rapid declines since the 1960s. The Indiana bat, which has mouse-like ears, is found over the eastern half of the country. Unfortunately, this species is facing a new foe. White-nose syndrome, a fungal infection, is taking a toll on the Indiana bat and other bat species across the country, but there is hope. With the help of biologists, private landowners, USDA is working to reduce the spread of this disease, as well as promote protection of high-quality habitat. For example, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assists Thomas and Wendy Belinda of Blair County, Pennsylvania, to improve the management of forests on their land.  The Belindas are working to ensure diverse, open forests for the bats’ survival, as the bats prefer roosting in the cavities of large trees or under loose tree bark in open forests where the sun’s penetrating rays provide warmth.

Vermont approves all-payer model

Burlington Free Press | Posted on November 2, 2016

The Green Mountain Care Board voted Wednesday morning to approve the all-payer waiver, giving the go-ahead for the state to implement a model the governor says will curb rising health care costs.  Gov. Peter Shumlin has been travelling the state in recent weeks to promote the initiative. Under an all-payer model, providers are paid set amounts for care, rather than being paid per test, service or procedure. Al Gobeille, the chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, said the new way of paying health care providers will save Vermont $10 billion over the next 10 years.

PA:Opioid awareness education plan passes Senate

New Castle News | Posted on November 2, 2016

Legislation to create a new opioid awareness program for students in middle and high school was approved unanimously by the state Senate and is now headed to the House of Representatives for consideration. Sponsored by state Senator John N. Wozniak (D-Cambria/Bedford/Clearfield), the proposal — Senate Bill 1212 —  would require the Department of Education in consultation with the state departments of health and drug and alcohol programs to craft an opioid awareness curriculum for public and private schools. The program is targeted to students in grades six through 12.

Zika virus 'not controllable': CDC director's grim warning

USA Today | Posted on November 2, 2016

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delivered a grim assessment Tuesday of the government's ability to contain Zika, saying it's too late to stop the dangerous virus from spreading throughout the United States.  "Zika and other diseases spread by (the Aedes aegypti mosquito) are really not controllable with current technologies," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said. "We will see this become endemic in the hemisphere."

Barn Raisers doc explores history of classic American buildings

Curbed | Posted on November 2, 2016

New film looks at rural American landmarks, and why they’re disappearing. According to filmmaker Kelly Rundle, few things symbolize the country’s nostalgia for its rural roots more than historic barns. That’s why the new documentary he’s making with his wife, Tammy, Barn Raisers, explores the importance of these humble structures, and raises concern about their rapid disappearance from the landscape.

Scientists just completed a census of the creepy crawlies that live in our homes

The Washington Post | Posted on November 2, 2016

Do you know the bugs that share your home?  No? Well, pull up a chair and get acquainted. Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado Boulder just completed a census of creepy crawlies from hundreds of households across the country and found that creatures from more than 600 genera of arthropods live alongside us in our homes.