Southern Virginia's economy has been devastated by the loss of the tobacco and textile industries that sustained it through much of its history. Now with the help of a corporate giant, local innovators are trying to remake part of Southside in the image of the digital age.Microsoft first came to Southside Virginia when it picked a location in Mecklenberg County for a new data center in 2010. As that center has grown so has the company's interest in supporting digital infrastructure growth and education in Mecklenberg and surrounding counties. That's why the company made this one six regions nationwide to take part in TechSpark.“It's a civic program aimed at creating job growth and economic opportunity in rural localities,” says Jeremy Satterfield, TechSpark's Virginia Manager. The primary focus right now is technology training and addressing the region's critical lack of broadband access. “We have a TEALS program. It's housed at Bluestone High School. They will be beginning their second year this year in the TEALS program,” Satterfield added.
During a special meeting, the Wyoming Business Council approved the Wyoming Broadband Advisory Council’s plan to enhance internet access in the state.The broadband council was established during the state’s most recent legislative session through Senate File 100, allocating $10 million for broadband improvement projects and outlining strategies to help maximize funding distribution.
A bill to protect thousands of acres and miles of river in Oregon has passed out of a key U.S. Senate committee. The Oregon Wildlands Act, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both D-Ore., would designate more than 200,000 acres as wilderness and national recreation areas and add more than 250 miles of wild-and-scenic river protections to the state. Much of it is centered around the Rogue River, one of the original eight to gain wild-and-scenic protections 50 years ago, but Robyn Janssen, director of Rogue Riverkeeper, said those protections only extend a quarter-mile up the waterway's canyons, leaving much of the area vulnerable to development."The forest and wild lands way up on the ridge tops above the river aren't protected," she said, "and those really important tributary streams that feed lots of cold, clear water into the Rogue and support our amazing salmon fishery, those tributaries aren't totally supported and protected."The bill would add acreage to the Wild Rogue and Devil's Staircase Wilderness areas and wild-and-scenic river protections to western Oregon rivers. It also would give recreation-area protections to the Molalla and Rogue rivers.The bill, Senate Bill 1548, represents more than 20 years of negotiations, and backers have said it would conserve lands integral to Oregon's recreation economy, which generates $16.4 billion annually in consumer spending and supports more than 170,000 jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
A new study says wildlife-related activities on Bureau of Land Management land brings in millions of dollars to western states. The study found things like hunting, fishing and wildlife watching on BLM land brings in more than $3 billion in total economic output to 12 western states including Idaho.the 246 million acres of land supports 26,500 jobs and generates $1 billion in salaries and wages. The land also brought in $421 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.For Idaho, that translated into $85 million in salaries and wages in 2016. Another $295 million came in from sales from BLM lands in the Gem State.The study was commissioned by several wildlife groups, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, Trout Unlimited and the Wildlife Management Institute.The study covered twelve western states including Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana.
For the past few years, a lot of people have been wondering how any wildlife could possibly jump 50 feet into the air onto those enormous tunnel structures being built on Interstate 90 between Easton and Hyak. After a little patience, the public is finally starting to see the end product take shape, and the wildlife isn’t wasting anytime using the new highway. Central Washington University biology professor Kristina Ernest, along with several other CWU employees, has been working closely with the Washington State Department of Transportation, to not only build the most obvious wildlife overcrossing, but dozens between the Lake Easton exit and Hyak.WSDOT approached CWU during the beginning stages of the project to see if there was any interest in wildlife monitoring, and in 2008 the campus really got involved, monitoring not only the larger species like deer and elk, but smaller “low mobility” species like rodents, fish and amphibians.
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland has upheld North Dakota’s Corporate Farming Law. The order comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in August of 2016 by the North Dakota Farm Bureau and several farmers who claimed that the Corporate Farming Law was unconstitutional.The Corporate Farming Law prohibits most corporations from farming or owning farmland in North Dakota. However, small family farms are excluded from this prohibition. The family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law allows both in-state and out-of-state small family farmers to take advantage of forming corporations for agricultural purposes. The Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Secretary of State have consistently permitted both North Dakota and out-of-state corporations to be eligible for the family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law.In a Sept. 21 court order, Judge Hovland interpreted the family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law. Because this exception referred to “domestic corporations,” he ruled that the exception only allowed North Dakota corporations to take advantage of it but that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires that all corporations within the United States be permitted to take advantage of the family farm exception. This ruling is consistent with the way the Office of Attorney General and the Office of the Secretary of State have historically interpreted and implemented the Corporate Farming Law. “In accordance with the court order, my office and the Office of the Secretary of State will continue to permit qualifying family corporations to take advantage of the family farm exception,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.Additionally, Judge Hovland concurred with the State’s longstanding position that there is no requirement under the family farm exception that a farmer maintain a physical presence on the farm. He agreed with how the State has, since 1982, implemented and enforced operational requirements of the family farm exception. Accordingly, Judge Hovland concluded that these operational requirements in the exception are constitutional.
Ninety percent of the long-term care our elders receive comes from volunteers – family or loved ones who provide the care for free. For caregivers who also work a separate paying job, some workplace benefits might help make things easier. Rural workers are less likely to receive those types of benefits, a new study finds.Approximately 44 million Americans are providing unpaid care for elderly loved ones or family members. These volunteers provide up to 90% of all the long-term care elders receive in the U.S.Rural caregivers face special hurdles. Rural populations tend to be older. With less population density, there may be fewer volunteers at the ready. Transportation can be an issue.
A new study from American Farmland Trust shows development around small towns across the Midwest has contributed nearly as much to the loss of agricultural land since 1992 as urban sprawl. American Farm Trust is a nonprofit advocacy group with a mission of protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. According to its latest report, “Farms Under Threat,” nearly 31 million acres of farmland were lost to development between 1992 and 2012.That’s more than double the acres registered in the group’s previous report, last published more than a decade ago. American Farmland Trust said the two factors contributing the additional 15 million acres are “low-density residential development” and woodlands adjacent to farmland, neither of which were previously considered.
A deer in Quebec has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the closest that the equivalent of “mad cow disease” for deer and moose has been found to New Hampshire and Vermont, increasing concern from wildlife officials about keeping the fatal ailment out of the state. According to New Hampshire Fish and Game, a red deer from a captive facility in the Laurentides region of Quebec, north of Montreal, recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the province’s first confirmed case. This finding represents the closest confirmed case of CWD to date, which “poses a much greater threat to the state’s deer and moose populations than past cases of the disease elsewhere in North America,” according to a statement from Fish and Game.Chronic wasting disease is an ailment of the brain and spinal column roughly similar to “mad cow disease.”Quebec now is legally classified as a CWD-positive jurisdiction, meaning that hunters cannot bring whole carcasses of cervids (members of the deer family including moose, deer, elk and caribou, as well as any species of captive deer) killed in Quebec back to the states.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Census announced that urban and suburban Idaho are enjoying substantial growth. Urban counties account for 75 percent of the state’s recent growth and 65 percent of its overall population, with Boise drawing national attention as the country’s fastest-growing major city. This is on the heels of recent news that as a state, more and more people in Idaho are moving out of rural communities to set down roots in the urban core.As more individuals and families are drawn to urban and suburban locales, our rural communities begin to shrink. With fewer residents, we see less investment in core services and less support for communities. Many rural communities are seeing a demographic shift in which fewer young people are setting down roots, thus shifting the average age of rural populations upward and eventually increasing demand for health care and elder care resources as resident baby boomers move further into retirement.While it makes sense to invest in the spaces that house the most individuals, we cannot neglect investing in rural Idaho or rural America. These communities remain home to tens of thousands of individuals here in Idaho and tens of millions across the country. Often, these communities are home to some of our greatest natural recreation areas and spaces of significant cultural, agricultural and economic importance.