The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Department and the Department of Health and Human Services are partnering to create addiction recovery transitional housing in rural communities.The grant is targeted to create homes for people struggling with opioid addictions. Nonprofit organizations will be able to purchase homes from the USDA and convert them to transitional housing for people recovering from opioid misuse.
Rural Alabama will soon have a new dedicated specialist to lead the charge on economic development. The Alabama Department of Commerce is gearing up to name a rural development manager in its Business Development Division to help rural communities and counties better prepare for projects.The division includes 10 other staff members, two of whom focus on attracting investments from Europe and Asia.
Vermont veterinarians are hoping to formalize an unofficial sales and use tax exemption that has been applied to some veterinary supplies for 50 years.Veterinarians and their patients support the exemptions, which have been in place since 1969 relating to some human medical supplies and to some animals used in agriculture. Over the years, the exemptions came to be applied to a wide range of veterinary supplies used on all animals, companion or otherwise.
More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from California.The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties in the San Joaquin Valley.Nutria are an agricultural pest, destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive burrowing.Nutria were imported in the early 1900s for the fur trade, but the market collapsed and the rodents escaped or were released. Small populations were eradicated in the 1970s, but nutria were again discovered in 2017.
With mismanagement and aging infrastructure, the Army Corps’ flood-control strategy on the Missouri amounts to yelling “look out below” to the folks downstream. For farmers in the path of the record-setting wall of water, the results are predictable – and catastrophic.But apparently, even with all the combined knowledge of the National Weather Service and Army Corps of Engineers, and with all the lakes and dams and levees built in the last 70 to 90 years, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t prevent floods from happening again. Which, of course, was the whole point of building that stuff in the first place.And it’s happening more and more so that now the whole thing boils down to an early warning system for “Floodageddon.”
Rural America has 4% fewer jobs today than it did before the 2007 recession. Meanwhile, the bigger the city, the higher the rate of employment growth. Rural America has yet to recover the jobs it lost in the recession that began in 2007, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.The nation’s cities, suburbs and exurbs all had more jobs in 2018 than they did in 2007, before the economic collapse that sent the world economy into depression. The nation’s rural counties, however, had 780,000 fewer jobs in 2018 than they did in 2007.
Communities worried about opioid and other substance abuse received two significant pieces of great news this month: one involves free money and the other involves free telehealth technology. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, initiated several years ago, is comprised of two funding steams – traditional DLT projects and opioid-specific projects.The traditional DLT fund helps rural communities use telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world. Projects may address opioid treatment but are not required to. Projects that do address opioid issues will receive 10 “special consideration points,” which can boost an applicant’s rankings in funding decisions. (Project that have science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] education as their primary purpose also qualify for consideration points.) Deadline for these proposals is May 15, 2019.Proposals competing in the opioid-specific telemedicine program are due one month earlier on April 15, 2019. In this funding category, projects that work in 220 “at-risk” counties will receive 30 special consideration points.
Two populations of mountain lions in Southern California face a significant threat of extinction if actions aren’t taken to protect their environment and safeguard animal transit routes through increasingly developed areas, a new study warns.While the species isn’t currently in danger of statewide extinction, the big cats in the Santa Ana and Santa Monica Mountains (a total of about 42 animals) have as much as a 21 percent chance of vanishing in the next 50 years.Earlier this month, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed a groundbreaking new law protecting “wildlife corridors” and other land use restrictions to safeguard movement of the animals through the region. The wildlife passages are now part of the zoning law in the area next to Los Angeles County.“We urgently need state-led action to build wildlife crossings and improve habitat connectivity,” J.P. Rose, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity
This year, in the dead of winter, America’s wild reindeer went extinct in the contiguous United States. After years of dwindling, the last remaining herd of caribou known to roam between Canada and the Pacific Northwest states of Idaho and Washington was down to just one known member. In January, wildlife managers in British Columbia captured the female and put her in a pen, where they hope she will have a better shot at survival than alone in the snowy wilderness.The herd was one of 15 isolated subpopulations of a broader group known as southern mountain caribou, which, as their name indicates, live in different landscape from the robust northern tundra herds. All 15 are shrinking, mostly because of human development that fatally altered their habitat.The forest has been fragmented over decades by logging, roads, power lines and, in Canada, oil exploration and mining. Smaller foliage that grew back in its place attracted moose, deer and elk, and they, in turn, drew predators. The predators make their living off the plentiful newcomers, DeGroot said, but the caribou became “bycatch.” Wolf culls in Canada did not help the Selkirk caribou.Canada plans to begin a caribou breeding program, DeGroot said. But any release of captive-bred animals is at least four years away, he said, and it’s not clear whether they would be used to restore the Selkirk herd or another precarious one.
Few if any U.S. states have been hit harder than Ohio by the crushing rise in drug use, abuse and overdose deaths. That state’s rate of overdose deaths was second in the nation in 2017: 46.5 per 100,000. Behind those numbers, too, are tragic stories that have personally touched many Ohio legislators — and helped lead their ongoing search for policy solutions.Ohio’s new law grants authority to pharmacists to dispense or administer a five-day emergency supply of naltrexone without a prescription, if they can verify the patient already has been on the drug.In 2017, Ohio expanded access to medication-assisted treatment programs (HB 49), including the creation of a specialized drug court program. According to the National Drug Court Resource Center, Ohio now has 72 drug-treatment court programs for adults, the most of any Midwestern state.An alternative sentencing option, drug courts target offenders with drug dependency problems. Treatment, monitoring, graduated sanctions and incentives are overseen by a multidisciplinary team. Drug courts have been shown to reduce recidivism and lower costs.