U.S. Geological Survey
Note: The reader is reminded that the following are synopses of what the USGS heard from its customers during the listening sessions, based on transcribed notes or submitted statements, and reflect the views and opinions of the customers.
Air Line Pilots Association, International
...success of color-coded alert system led to adoption as an international standard...expertise in interpretation of satellite imagery and remote sensing must be brought to its full potential .
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) cited the success of the color-coded system, developed by the USGS as a partner in the Alaska Volcano Observatory, to alert the aviation industry and the community at large to volcanic ash hazards -- success that led the International Civil Aviation Organization to adopt a similar code for international use. The expertise that USGS brings to bear in the interpretation of satellite information and remotely sensed imagery at volcano observatories must be brought to its full potential. There are unique aspects to volcano monitoring and scientific response that require dedicated and well-trained staff to be able to monitor pre- and post-eruption activity, to have expertise that spans disciplines of volcanology and seismology, to respond anywhere in the world at a moment's notice, and to provide rational interpretations and effective communication through appropriate emergency managers and to the public. Worldwide, there are significant gaps in technology in being able to read the data and communicate in a timely manner to the airline industry and affected communities. The aircraft industry in the United States gives close attention to the information from the USGS and its volcano observatories to the point of canceling and diverting flights rather than risk flying into volcanic clouds. ALPA encourages the USGS to increase its efforts to secure adequate funding and staffing to mitigate the volcanic ash hazards to aviation operations worldwide.
American Bird Conservancy
USGS monitoring and research on the effects of contaminants...have continuously produced scientifically sound data -- and neutral data -- that is important as we bring all of these people to the table..."
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) addressed pesticides and toxics issues and synergies between heavy metals and between persistent organic pollutants -- new classes of chemicals are being introduced for which there is no field-testing and there are no available biomarkers. USGS expertise is integral to conservation science and regulatory efforts -- increased resources are needed for monitoring and contaminants research for living resources, especially migratory birds for which DOI holds explicit stewardship responsibilities. [In discussion, ABC said that water assessment and monitoring should be brought more into the broader risk assessment process and that knowledge from the NAWQA program on pesticides, the mix of contaminants, metabolites, etc., would be helpful, as well as a renewed relationship with the environmental contaminants program at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.] USGS provides vital support for investigating wildlife mortalities, understanding viral and bacterial diseases, and the effects of pesticides and other contaminants. More resources need to be committed to the systematic and consistent review of wildlife mortality incidents -- to better understand the incidents themselves, locate patterns and trends, anticipate future problems, and seek scientifically informed mitigation and regulation. USGS can play an invaluable role in building new tools for ecological risk assessment. There is a need for Federal cooperation.
American Fisheries Society
...opportunity for USGS and professional societies to work together in advancing the profession as well as the science... information should be distributed to a broader audience[than we are accustomed]."
The American Fisheries Society (AFS) sees more advances coming in biology in the 21st century than were seen in the previous century, due in large measure to the demands that are being placed on biology, whether it is the environment, human health, or the health of the whole earth system. There is fruitful opportunity for USGS and professional societies to work together in advancing the profession as well as the science, which is becoming increasingly important to natural resources [management]. The approach to fisheries management is changing from a focus on the species to a watershed approach that incorporates water quality, a key driver to sustainable fisheries, and river habitat. Economic drivers include devastation on both coasts to commercial fisheries. Changes in approach will require changes in budgeting and in setting priorities. In a similar customer session held by NOAA several months ago, AFS noted that whatever the approach, it needs to be a multi-species and systematic approach to the issues. Ground water and surface water must be looked at as a system, rather than as separate resources. AFS is planning to introduce legislation called the Fishable Water Act as an amendment to the Clean Water Act, which emphasizes watersheds, watershed councils, and local participation. On the issue of restoration, information transfer and language are key factors -- restored to what? Enhancement might be a better word to use in communication. The sciences need to be careful about the language they use, it must be understood by the communities involved -- and information should be distributed to a broader audience than we are accustomed. Technology and its tools should not be ends in themselves -- just putting it on the web is not enough -- the web is passive and scientists are not doing a good job of transferring information to the public or among themselves. AFS is increasing its international role, including a focus on sustainable fisheries, especially in developing countries that rely on fish in the diet and health of many people. Climate is an emerging area; emphasis should be placed on the effects of climate change on biological resources. The chapter structure of AFS affords opportunities for scientific agendas and positions to be pursued on a local scale.
American Geological Institute
...important role played by the USGS as an impartial source of information on many issues... Congress see[s] great value in the core expertise and the core areas of USGS."
The American Geological Institute (AGI) supports the efforts of USGS on Capitol Hill. AGI efforts include submitting supportive testimony and participation in events on Capitol Hill. Congress has made it clear that they see great value in the core expertise and core areas of USGS. AGI is involved in the new Natural Hazards Caucus on Capitol Hill -- landslides and coastal hazards are critical topics of widespread interest. An important data set underlying USGS efforts in hazards areas -- floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes -- and the environment is geologic mapping. The recently released USGS world energy assessment is an excellent reminder of the important role played by the USGS as an impartial source of information on many issues. In looking at science support for DOI agencies, AGI would encourage the USGS not to ignore the role of other data (beyond biology) in public lands management. USGS should help land managers to understand the broad role of geoscience information in public land and natural resource management and help them to make strong ties between what they need and what USGS can provide.
American Geophysical Union
USGS and its products and its people are extremely valuable resources ...to get your message heard on the Hill...you have to be able to explain it [geophysical research] in three minutes or less ..."
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) said public support for geophysical research continuously increases because of efforts in advocating its relevance to society, informing and educating the public, and influencing the public policy process. The challenges in that advocacy role are great -- the enthusiasm that the scientists have for their science does not easily translate to the public or to policymakers on Capitol Hill. This is the same challenge that the USGS faces -- how to make science relevant to the Nation. The information, products, and scientists of USGS are extremely valuable resources -- once the folks on the Hill know about USGS. USGS needs to make the link between what USGS does and what matters to people and policymakers. Natural hazards present a good opportunity to make the link between the science and society -- Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus is an example of capitalizing on this -- natural hazards have an advantage in that there is some kind of hazard in every State. Plan ahead -- have material ready, prepare one-pagers in advance, plan hearings, take advantage of the next hazard in telling critical audiences what they need to know about USGS and its science.
American Water Resources Association
...elected leaders need to have the best technical information...presented to them in ways that are understandable...need to go a step further and present results to all potential users..."
The American Water Resources Association (AWRA) expressed its support for the outstanding job of national water resources data gathering done by the USGS and supports continued efforts in these areas. AWRA is concerned that budget constraints might further erode the USGS streamgaging network and the ground-water monitoring network, which are of vital importance to the well-being of the entire country. No more stations should be lost, and stations that have been lost should be put back in [service]. These USGS networks, along with the Federal-State Cooperative Program, are fundamental and should be protected and enhanced, even at the expense of other activities. In the next decade, AWRA feels there should be emphasis on protecting and enhancing habitat for endangered species, with the caveat that this must not damage the economies of the areas where species are found. USGS should enhance coastal zone research, including cost-efficient technology to convert coastal zone water to useable, potable water resources. In the area of contaminants and trace elements -- look at combinations of constituents and endocrine disruption. The availability of water resources, particularly in the western United States, and the need to develop sustainable water supplies in light of continued population growth is an enormous issue, which includes the encroachment of suburban areas on agricultural lands, stresses to water supplies, methods development, technology, and the health implications of water banking, recharge, and reuse. An individual opinion of an AWRA member strongly encouraged USGS to establish truly collaborative relationships with universities and stated that funding of such collaboration would enrich the educational experience of students, faculty, and USGS staff. In a polling of the AWRA board of directors and staff on the one issue of greatest personal importance to each of them in the 21st century, a laundry list of topics was presented: training for future professionals, water availability, MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether), TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Load), water recycling, water conservation, BMPs, small water systems, education, instream flows, long-term water availability, ground-water contamination, cost/benefits, public awareness of water and conservation issues, managed water rights, communication, quality assurance and quality control in water management, and coalition building of partnerships. AWRA stressed that while the identified issues are technical in nature, they go beyond just the technical -- the results of water-resources research need to be communicated in an understandable fashion, not only to Congress but also to laypersons and watershed organizations.
USGS provides virtually all the streamflow data published anywhere in the US ...they are working on providing real-time streamflow data for every state...when this is complete it will be a thing of beauty." (From American Whitewater web site.)
American Whitewater asserted that USGS had a noticeable gap in its knowledge of who its constituents were and who was using their information and that the gap was the whitewater recreation community, which, along with the recreational fishing community, had been using USGS streamflow information for years to provide for a more enjoyable -- and safer -- river experience. American Whitewater has for many years had links on its web pages to USGS streamgaging data and is refining its web site to collect information from members and plans to share that customer information with USGS and the National Weather Service. American Whitewater is seeking input from its users, too, as to which gages are most useful to them, and which additional ones might be equipped with satellite telemetry for enhanced information access, as well as gages that have been discontinued that should be reinstated, or where there are no gages and a gage would be helpful. In the conservation arena, American Whitewater is interested in historical flow information with regard to restoring natural flow and in looking at issues around hydropower dams and modeling of releases. [In discussion, data needs were raised as an issue -- there is a need for high-quality digital elevation data in the strip along the river and combining that with hydrologic modeling information. This would be a partnership between USGS mapping and water interests, NWS forecasting, and FEMA. USGS and the other partners need to organize discussions and figure out how to get these data and make them available.]
Applied Technology Council
...the earthquake program and natural hazards mapping is excellent...has significantly advanced the technology that the design communities have..."
The Applied Technology Council (ATC) cited involvement by USGS scientists in hazards-related workshops, seminars, and in the development of engineering standards development, which has also been critical. ATC supports aggressive USGS efforts in the development of the Advanced National Seismic System, which would provide ground-shaking data that are critically needed for improved estimation of seismic shaking hazards. The design community needs Internet access to data, such as suites of earthquake time histories for structural analysis. An improved understanding of soils, including how ground motion works from bedrock up through the various soils, the resulting acceleration impacts on structures, and attenuation relationships as you move away from the fault are all needed. Quantifying the duration of strong ground shaking, especially in areas that have the potential for very large earthquakes, is another area of opportunity. ATC sees a need for a more cohesive and concerted effort in characterizing and mapping wind hazards. In coastal engineering, ATC identified: Conducting rapid assessments of storm damage; developing statistics on short-term and long-term fluctuations of shoreline change; and conducting analyses of relative sea-level rise on shoreline response.
Association for Biodiversity Information
The Nature Conservancy
...uniquely positioned to be the portal for environmental information in the Federal government...[NBII is the]...hub around which biological and ecological information can be centered and flow..."
Representatives from the Nature Conservancy (TNC) spoke primarily to issues related to its collaborative partner, the Association for Biodiversity Information (ABI), and urged the USGS to think about information and its provision as the unifying theme for the organization. USGS needs to ensure that the data coming out of its many and varied research programs is converted into information that people can actually use. As the role of information in society at large increases, the problem will be in distilling useful information out of the mass of information available. The USGS is uniquely suited to be the entity that helps determine quality, what can be trusted, what should be avoided, and what information best suits expressed needs. They see tremendous potential in NBII, which needs to be "ramped up" to realize potential and they support development of the next-generation NBII. They urge USGS to push forward with links to water, geology, and mapping. Mapping, in particular, offers a real cross-cutting approach. Making information available and in a spatial format, which people can then combine with their own datasets for their uses, is the future of information technology -- standards, filters for data, modeling, etc. The fast and pervasive changes in the Nation's land cover offer opportunity for continued USGS initiatives. TNC has collaborated with USGS in several land-cover efforts, including the Gap Analysis Program (GAP), which has been key to coherent thinking about not just where rare and endangered species are but also where remaining, intact, functional landscapes exist. If the Nation is ever to get ahead in the rare and endangered species game, it is going to be by focusing on those places that can still be protected now, not when they have reached the critical-care phase. Continuing issues related to GAP are issues with the resolution of data and comparability among States. The customers cited the successful cooperative efforts on standards for vegetation mapping, which have been adopted as a federal interagency standard by the Federal Geographic Data Committee. As emerging issues, they included the processes and functions of ecosystems and identifying these as functional landscapes -- how functionality is maintained and what the role is of natural processes, such as fire and flooding. The existing partnership with USGS in developing an aquatic classification framework is providing a crucial data set. The USGS needs greater agility in its mode of operation to respond to emerging issues [cited Hurricane Mitch effort with kudos]. USGS should pay additional attention to opportunities and modes of external collaboration, not just with the Federal government but also with universities and the non-profit sector. USGS should not forget its core monitoring efforts and datasets for which USGS is the primary collector and repository -- water gages and detailed monitoring of species distributions are ones for which USGS has a unique responsibility and upon which many of those in the conservation and natural resources community rely. Over time, the value of these datasets is realized and care must be taken to ensure funding, so that in 10 or 15 years, the Nation has not lost this tremendous resource.
Association for Women Geoscientists
...[USGS] library and its resources are unparalleled...science directions are important for immediate future...concern that education is a secondary issue..."
The Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) sees the future science directions identified by the USGS as important directions for the present and immediate future. AWG sees questions about the future health of the land, water and air resources, effects of climate change on society and economics, availability of energy resources, and animal conservation. While these are difficult questions to answer, they are the questions taxpayers are asking; unfortunately, scientists often shy away from them because data are not available to approach the answers in a statistical manner. AWG appreciates the fact that USGS acknowledges diversity issues and the development of diverse voices. AWG perceives that USGS made a decision to leave education as a secondary issue but urges USGS to be part of ensuring that all children are getting quality science education, to remain involved in geoscience standards of learning, and to be committed to communicating USGS information to ordinary people -- people who are afraid of hazards like erupting volcanoes, earthquakes, and floods and who need to be taught where it is safe to live. Shifting to the topic of watersheds, AWG cited a successful effort in Australia called Water Watch that began as a federal government effort and has added citizen support and involvement in voluntary efforts toward safe water. In the area of remediation, particularly in the coal-producing States in the Appalachian region, there is an unexploited niche for USGS to make important national contributions -- approaches that could be developed in one area and applied to other places in the country.
Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators
Interstate Council on Water Policy
Western States Water Council
...Data is USGS cornerstone...quality science is your benchmark...costs and especially overhead charges are too high... balance in quality of water issues against quantity and supply issues...more ground-water information is needed...develop plans with the States...look at fundamental processes...keep a focus on research and development...work to inform legislation..."
Common threads in the conversation were that USGS data could be trusted; that it was the cornerstone for many customers of their work; and that when there are contentious issues to be settled, USGS data are one thing that opposing factions agree on. Customers are concerned about the costs of operating streamgaging stations on rivers and streams, particularly the indirect costs that cooperators have to pay. A plan to Federally fund gaging stations met with high approval, but there was also agreement that these organizations -- in their individual State capacities -- should have a role in choosing the location of stations and in developing the national plan for a core network of stations --and a national network should not translate into a decrease in the Fed-State Coop program. There is need for better communication -- States want to know what is going on and want to be more involved in decisions and priority setting. Customers want to see water quantity and supply issues balanced against USGS efforts toward water quality. No one else has the kind and breadth of ground-water data that USGS does. Customers appreciate the diversity of USGS data -- mapping, water, geology, and biology - that are available, but want to see good integration between USGS water offices and biology centers. USGS should be more involved in regional and inter-State water issues and in inter-basin compacts and commissions. Understanding the need for the USGS to provide science support to other DOI bureaus, they want to be sure this work supports State interests as well. The various parties involved should work to eliminate any sense of competition, particularly in the West, between USGS and other DOI bureaus doing the same work, which raises issues of costs, funding, and appropriateness of who does the work. States prefer to have the neutral, data-centered USGS do the science and monitoring, rather than the DOI bureau that is the manager of the land on which the science is conducted. USGS should champion water issues with Congress and ensure that legislation is informed by sound science. Creating caucuses and task forces on Capitol Hill focused on water issues should be investigated cooperatively.
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts
...thank the USGS for its service to the country...the concept of an infrastructure is absolutely imperative...critical to identify priorities and to have a vision...take it one step at a time...[like] trying to boil the ocean, but if you stage it correctly, it can be done."
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA) supports the National Biological Infrastructure (NBII). The amount and variety of USGS scientific information make an infrastructure imperative -- abstracts, publications, data, satellite imagery, spatial data, visualizations, even the verbalization of certain data. The academic community, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector can all assist -- and serve as nodes -- in structuring information, determining metadata, and developing standards using the same techniques and organizational procedures that they have in parallel efforts. In looking at public sector and private sector issues with regard to information access -- are people paying twice, first in taxes to acquire the data and then in access to the data -- the issues need to be seen in a context where the private sector role adds value in developing software or manipulating data and, in a sense, is a "deficit reducer." How USGS communicates about NBII is important -- there are many different marketing strategies that need to be looked at in how the costs [and profits] associated with data access and delivery of government-created information are dealt with. People need to be sensitized to the issue of biocomplexity -- it's not just simply the environment. CSA will voice its support for NBII efforts to elected representatives where it is located across the country.
Coastal States Organization
What we need to do is take the information that is out there and bring it together...we need to take a comprehensive overview of the shore and look at in the context of a dynamic shoreline...We need a national shoreline policy...that is an inter-agency effort...
The Coastal States Organization (CSO) is aggressively pursuing and promoting a national shoreline policy, which views the shoreline as a dynamic system. Coastal issues and hazards are a top priority from the coastal States perspective. As Federal responsibility for shoreline protection has shifted to the States, coastal States are concerned that they do not have the information they need to understand investments in beach renourishment, for example, and effects of human intervention on coastal processes. Good cooperation at the project level needs to be brought up to a higher level. Compounding that is an array of Federal policies that are not entirely consistent and, in some instances, even contradictory. The Corps of Engineers has funded a study, but clarification is needed on how the funding and work would be handled. Federal policy needs to move away from the debate about the retreat and renourishment of beaches and look at the bigger picture. Advances in information management and data integration have allowed us to cross technological thresholds that will allow us to do things we have not been able to do before. What is needed is to take the information that is out there and to bring it together. A national shoreline study would be a great opportunity to pull this information together and to integrate it into a more comprehensive picture of what is going on and what needs to be done. CSO has not pushed for a particular approach to the integration of information or a uniform GIS approach, recognizing that there is no "be all/end all" approach to this, but this should be seen as an opportunity to bring the tools of information together.
[NBII]...build it, they will come...marketing the intangibles [of science] is something that your association friends can help USGS with...
Comso, Inc., stressed the need to invest in information infrastructure and to reach out to the trade associations and professional societies for support and to look for ways to leverage that support -- NASA and NOAA, as examples, have outsourced a great deal. Bring these partners to the table often and let them know what is going on and how they can help USGS. Investigate links to the value-added data industry -- those who can take and use USGS biological [and other scientific] information and capitalize on it. The USGS should look at derivative markets for its information; for example, it would not have been obvious that hazards and weather disasters would have an impact on the banking industry, i.e. need more cash in ATM machines to be ready to deal with recovery issues. USGS should bring the scientists and engineers from allied efforts together and look for commonalities. USGS is missing the boat in high-performance computing -- the meso-scale monitoring needed for biological research is not being addressed. Integrating biological data with chemical, atmospheric, and air-ocean interaction data will make all the difference in its applications in the future. Without available and integrated data, models are sometimes "dumbed down," to the detriment of the science. USGS needs to have a strategic plan for communicating its needs -- ad hoc efforts lead to inconsistent message delivery.
Defenders of Wildlife
...many issues are already covered with the great programs USGS is engaged in...Better integrate efforts within USGS to deliver science information to land-management agencies...
Defenders of Wildlife have set a priority on science-based land management, especially of Federal Lands, and better integration of these efforts within USGS to help deliver this information to Federal agencies. They are big advocates of a strong Endangered Species Act and the protection of endangered species. Defenders emphasized: State-based conservation planning programs -- support for the GAP program and efforts to complete GAP in all fifty States; delivering more of this information to the State level through decision-support systems; cooperation with Federal agencies -- especially with science-based land management; developing protocols, prototypes, and technical assistance for monitoring and research on Federal lands, as well as more coordination of research and monitoring for specific taxa, such as the impressive research and monitoring program for amphibians. Develop high-level partnership and national cooperation with the Association for Biodiversity Information, in its role as the national organization for Natural Heritage Programs.
...outstanding contributions to earthquake engineering...seismic maps are a crowning achievement...
Degenkolb Engineers (DE) benefits and depends daily on the earthquake-related products supplied by the USGS. DE knows the activities of thousands of engineers nationwide have been greatly enhanced by the availability of the credible, scientifically defendable, seismic-hazard maps produced by USGS in the development of guidelines, codes, and standards. DE has worked with USGS and the Applied Technology Council [ATC] in providing advice on how to better meet the needs of the design professional communities. USGS contributions to earthquake engineering have resulted in a massive improvement in the understanding of seismic hazards nationwide. The new seismic maps produced by the USGS National Earthquake Information Center are a crowning achievement and have been incorporated into most of the significant guidelines, codes, and standards currently available to design professionals nationwide. Those maps have improved understanding of where the hazard is greater than previously thought and, more importantly, where it is significantly lower. DE encourages a renewed focus on strong motion instrumentation, especially as it relates to urban monitoring. The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan remind society that the largest component of seismic risk the Nation faces is from existing buildings and that the cost of adding seismic resistance is very high. It makes good economic sense to continue to refine the understanding and characterization of seismic hazards and to use it before, during, and after earthquakes. Areas to be emphasized: Full support of the USGS role in NEHRP; support of applied research needed guidelines, codes, and standards; and development of a nationwide, strong motion network, which ANSS (Advanced National Seismic System), is accomplishing. The potential losses from the built environment due to seismic activities is staggering -- thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake. USGS holds the key to refining the hazard characterization and bringing the potential loss to an acceptable level.
...bottom line is that science-based research creates good public policy...getting the best science...makes all of us do a better job for the environment...
Ducks Unlimited (DU) is interested in research that would help create better public policy. DU expressed 100 percent support for the North American Bird Conservation Initiative and sees this direction as the future of bird conservation on this continent and one in which USGS will play a significant role. DU is working with appropriators on Capitol Hill and is seeing favorable response. DU commended the ongoing joint ventures of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which bring together all of the regional habitat needs and act as a sort of "lightning rod" for showing what is needed on the ground at the local level. Look for commonalities of habitat interests [among the four bird plans] to gain economies of scale and interest. There is room to expand these joint ventures into other bird initiatives. Hypoxia is a major issue for birds and for fisheries -- how are chemicals getting into the water and the role that wetlands, riparian areas, and grasslands play in filtering out toxins. Carbon sequestration is another big issue that will grow in importance into the next century and is an area where DU could put a lot of resources because it has impacts for waterfowl and migratory birds and would be supported by members. Issues of ocean dynamics and how these affect sea ducks is another issue because it is not certain what is happening to cause serious population declines.
...acknowledge the high-quality work carried out by USGS...insurance rates must be established based on state-of-the-art science...
EQECAT, Inc. acknowledges the high-quality work carried out by the USGS in the Earthquake Hazards Program, and that such work needs to be continued and even expanded. EQECAT utilizes USGS earthquake studies in the construction of earthquake risk models that are licensed to property insurance companies and companies providing reinsurance. Insurers are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential severity and frequency of major earthquakes, since these events can have a major financial impact on their operations. Enacting legislation of the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), for example requires that insurance rates must be established based on state-of-the-art science, much of which comes from USGS. The traditional beneficiaries of USGS hazards studies have been expanded beyond life safety issues of disaster planning and building code development to those of the pocketbooks of millions of property owners in California and other seismically active areas in the United States. Uncertainty in estimating earthquake damage and loss is considerable, but improved knowledge about the location, frequency, local soils conditions, and ground motion severity will reduce this uncertainty and perhaps lower the costs that property owners pay for such insurance. EQECAT encourages improved estimates of recurrence rates (and uncertainty in those rates) for faults in urban areas in California, other Western States including the Pacific Northwest, Utah, Alaska, and the New Madrid seismic zone. EQECAT would appreciate obtaining access to the hazard information that is the basis for the USGS seismic-hazard maps in order to improve how uncertainty is dealt with in risk analyses. Access to strong-motion recordings nationwide would help in developing more effective attenuation relations. Finally, EQECAT commends the USGS technical staff -- their openness and willingness to share insights beyond the published literature -- which permits a better understanding of the science and helps everyone do a better job.
Geological Society of America
...a unique entity scientifically...carries a large leadership responsibility...profoundly affect the intellectual direction of the profession...changing landscape of professional opportunities...
The Geological Society of America (GSA) reflected on the science leadership role of the USGS, not only in the intellectual direction of the science but also in setting the pace of scientific advances. In taking on a role in human health and geology, the USGS is serving as a role model and will fuel what GSA sees as a growing interest on the part of geoscience professionals to pursue questions about geology and human health and to see the interface between disciplines that are not familiar with one another -- microbiology, endocrinology, and geology are not disciplines that would normally see themselves working together. Little has been done in characterizing ground water as a habitat for organisms and their effects on human health. GSA is partnering with the National Ground Water Association in looking at animal waste issues and emerging contaminants, and leadership from the USGS in this area will accelerate the movement in this direction. There is a legitimizing component to the USGS that has direct and indirect impacts on grants, symposia, workshops, and publications, and the professional advancement of young scientists who want to be on the leading edge of science. There is a dynamically changing landscape of professional opportunities in the geosciences, and GSA welcomes opportunities to work with the USGS. There is also an opportunity to incorporate biology more into the geoscience community, to work toward a common language in understanding the terminology that each uses and in communicating effectively as a bridge across the disciplines, and to foster linkages between geology and health. Universities are in a unique position to help foster that common language and communication and to ensure that young people are being trained to communicate in this new scientific language. There needs to be a new literacy across the sciences. GSA members are dependent on the products of the USGS because they represent a substantial body of the historic science of geology and related disciplines. The sheer volume of scientific information now available requires a responsible stewardship for centralized information management and dissemination. On coastal issues, GSA sees a need for a lay-reader document, designed for Capitol Hill, which would speak in a clear and understandable voice for a national approach that gets from ad hoc shoreline management -- not just "moving sand around" -- and, instead, understands the dynamics of the shoreline system.
The Groundwater Foundation (GF), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the nature and value of groundwater, is pleased to offer a brief perspective on the need for USGS data and other scientific resources. USGS scientists and resource personnel, on both the State and Federal levels, have been tremendously important partners in various GF outreach and education programs. One of the important principles of our work is the need for making a connection between the science of ground water and the people who depend on it. USGS maps, studies, and reports have formed the information base of many GF publications, including our journal the AQUIFER, and other booklets and brochures on such topics as groundwater quality, source water protection, and the benefits of public involvement. In addition, USGS support and regular communication with USGS scientists have enabled the GF to produce annual symposia on topics of importance and interest, initiate a wide array of youth programs that have become international models, and develop a community-based groundwater protection program, Groundwater Guardian, that connects local USGS personnel with community-based teams. Given the importance of this partnership to GF programs and our wide-ranging responsibilities towards thousands of diverse constituents and program participants, GF hopes that USGS will continue to make resources available for engaging the public in events and programs of this kind. The public's knowledge about groundwater, as a hidden but vital resource, is the basis of support for its protection and the continued advance of scientific knowledge about its use and long-term sustainability. It is important for Congress and other Federal and State entities to understand that support for USGS information and outreach services means support for the work of many other organizations as well.
Houston Advanced Research Center
Example of LIDAR technology: image 1 || image 2"USGS can take the lead in these urban problems...use science for liveable cities and sustainable resources."
The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) advocated the application of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology for a wide range of uses, from earthquakes to salmon. Thousands of square miles can be flown faster, cheaper, and quicker and at a greater degree of accuracy than other methods. LIDAR is not a replacement for surveying or photogrammetry, but it has fabulous application niches, including subsidence from ground-water withdrawal, flood insurance mapping (FEMA's Project Impact), post-flood ecological work, hurricane wind damage, beach profiling for hurricane tracking, impacts of fire on animal populations, ozone pollution in urban areas, deforestation, coastal characterization for fisheries industry, vegetation in the Florida everglades -- where are the cattails and sawgrasses -- in settling legal disputes. There are applications in urban environments as well with forestry, greenness, and thermal data. New technology applications in merging spectral data with LIDAR data for ecological and habitat characterization, incorporating hydrologic models, and creating visualization tools should be explored. A biological overlay is needed to understand land-use and land-cover changes in terms of habitat and how resource use is impacting the land. Look at an NBII node in Texas -- data are there, but the user community cannot get to it -- there is a need to learn how to share and integrate data, develop standards, and merge data sets (GIS with NBII) . There is a need for higher resolution digital elevation models, digital terrain models, and other data sets. Good training in GIS is needed, including teachers starting at the high-school level.
Information International Associates, Inc.
...applaud the work that is currently being done...[the next generation NBII] will be our national resource for biodiversity and ecosystems information...
The Information International Associations, Inc. (IIa) supports the NBII and its full evolution into the next generation as envisioned in the report, Teaming with Life. NBII will bring critical masses of information together, allow people to identify and retrieve what is needed, and then provide tools for processing and repurposing the data for customized needs -- scientific, policy, natural resource management, or education. Many museum collections need to be digitized and the content of many collections need to be brought together and enabled for use. Efforts by the Nature Conservancy's Association for Biodiversity Information and Conservation International were cited as components of NBII, which serves as the framework to bring this information together. Bring biological informatics and remote sensing technology together and expand applications. Also, bring biological information and computer science specialists together. Coalition building would lead to regional nodes for development and applications work and NSF-sponsored research opportunities. Predicated on funding for Community-Federal Information Partnerships, IIa sees the beginnings of support for regional node development. Using efforts in East Tennessee as example, IIa pointed to efforts to build a coalition to address biodiversity and ecosystems activities through a node centered there, one focus of which would be invasive species.
The Leonard Resource Group, Inc.
The kind of data that the NBII could collect and provide access to is desperately needed...need a more systematic approach...search information in a way that generates answers...save lives...
The Leonard Resource Group (LRG) affirmed that the kind of data that the NBII could collect and provide access to is desperately needed in order to promote public health and to find cures for diseases. Two examples were cited: Hantavirus -- El Niņo conditions raised the water table, which led to an increase in production of pine cones on Piņon pines, and the deer mice population, which carried the hantavirus, exploded because of the availability of food, and the larger population of mice were in closer proximity to humans and enabled an increased pathway to transmit the disease to humans. In this case, with NBII-type information, public health officials could track changes in species and would be able to be two or three steps ahead of public health threats. Ovarian cancer -- The discovery development of the drug taxol, from yew trees, was a fortuitous happenstance of the random collection and testing of bark, leaves, and grasses in an ecosystem. A more systematic approach to cataloging species that may have substances that are needed to save lives or to understand chemical processes and biological functions that are applicable to disease are needed. The health community is interested in a system of information that is organized in a way that allows them to ask questions and search the information to generate answers. In turn, the health community can offer a highly organized, political, and effective group that can support such efforts and can explain the impact and significance of the availability of biological information in terms that cross political parties, geographic regions, all backgrounds, and appeal at a gut level. [A followup discussion of the West Nile virus pointed to the reality of more viruses and diseases that can be spread by wildlife and the need for information.]
Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors
...problem solving requires base cartographic information at the foundation...there is an extraordinary demand out there that is not being met...
The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) congratulated USGS on transforming itself from being a source of competition with the private sector to being a source of business. MAPPS feels that government should be the demand for geographic information, not the supply. The appropriate partnership has been developed with USGS and the private sector, where there is reliance on the private sector for the creation and generation of geographic information, and the USGS plays its inherently governmental role in helping users apply that information. There is an extraordinary demand out there -- for mapping and related data -- that is not being met and MAPPS wants to ensure that funds -- and priorities -- stay where they belong. Much of the problem solving for different issues, different phenomena, different applications, requires base cartographic information at the foundation. MAPPS has remaining concerns about USGS civil applications work that is inappropriate for the Federal Government and should be done by the private sector. Members have also voiced complaint with regard to competition in the biological arena on different types of remote sensing and spatial data collection. Areas that need more attention include map revision, which is an opportunity for partnership; issues about licensing of data versus release in the public domain; and the need to upgrade and update the USGS camera calibration and optical services laboratory to meet the needs of the new spectrum of digital instruments.
National Council for Science and the Environment
...[customers] need very fundamental information that only a science agency can develop... answers to environmental questions...opportunity to educate future scientists, engineers, and managers in a new kind of science.
The National Council for Science in the Environment (NCSE) stressed the need for integration: integration of the science itself -- scientists trained, for example, to sample for biotic and abiotic elements; integration of activities -- more of the science agenda being driven by assessment of the status of the resource and the needs for science to understand that resource; integration of research and information -- not just gathering the data, but getting the information out; and integration of communities -- like this conversation and partnerships and working together within the Federal family, within Interior. USGS has a unique role in developing scientific answers to environmental and societal questions. Whether customers are managing a particular habitat or working to influence social policy, they want to know what the science says and they need very fundamental information that only a science agency with a combination of Federal scientists and outside cooperators can develop. Many of those answers are not in the area of hypothesis-driven research but rather in the understanding of how the environment works together, how people work together, and how management affects that relationship. Surveys, inventory, and monitoring may not be "sexy" science, but they are needed to help managers, many of whom do not have the necessary scientific training in applying adaptive management. NCSE encourages that more be done on a place-based scale. The USGS should take advantage of how its workforce is spread across the landscape -- not only the physical landscape of the country, but also the scientific discipline landscape and foster inter-disciplinary team-based science. The USGS should supplement existing scientific personnel resources with some combination of new hires, partnerships, or grants to develop teams that have the appropriate skills mix to answer society's questions. NCSE would be pleased to work with USGS to identify potential partners and to help set up events. And USGS should integrate education, especially where USGS is based on campuses and in summer programs for students. USGS has an opportunity to educate future scientists, engineers, and managers in a new kind of science.
National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services
Standards and interoperability are important to NBII's future... vision of a seamless integrated information environment...
The National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services (NFAIS) is in the growing movement to reinvent indexing under the term metadata. NFAIS has worked with USGS to look specifically at how the concept of metadata was being applied to the challenge of biodiversity information management. Taxonomy is regarded as a major key for unlocking that information resource. Data sets are growing and becoming more complex, including genetic data and imaging data. Standards and interoperability are important to NBII's future. There is a vision of a seamless integrated information environment, where scientists sit at workstations, ask questions, network across systems and data, and derive answers rather than a literature reference or a referral to a database. Users want technology to be able to capture metadata in the process of collecting the data. The users need to be consulted -- what their needs are, which ones have been met, what is still needed. The private sector also needs to be involved because much information work goes on in that arena and may be copyright protected. Data are stored away in the archives of museums and not easily found. Data and information that are in the content of books, articles, and journals needs to be indexed in a way that the data can become part of the information infrastructure.
National Ground Water Association
...outstanding scientific investigations...USGS reports may not be as readily available as they could be... encourages more cooperative work of USGS, particularly with EPA... artificial recharge...would not oppose the USGS being a player.
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) commented on science issues related to investigative tools for geologic mapping of ground water, geophysics, USGS benchmark network, and permeability pathways. Future uses of ground water was another science issue, including ground-water recharge, ground-water use and reuse, reclaimed water use, salt accretion, subsidence, surface-water/ground-water interaction, and wastewater facilities. Non-scientific issues were access to USGS work, funding, interagency cooperation, partnering, and a commitment to the future excellence of USGS (expressed as a concern for the aging workforce). NGWA comments tracked closely with the future science directions set by USGS. While the relationship between surface water and ground water is understood, the implications of that relationship are not. NGWA would like to look at ways to work together in areas such as funding for the geologic mapping project in the Great Lakes Basin. More work needs to be done in permeability pathways in karst terrains and fractured bedrock zones. Increased investigation in this area would be useful not only for migration of contaminants but also being able to forecast water yields. On the future uses of ground water, the whole idea of recharge and how it is impacted by climate change and urbanization is an area where the USGS could play an important role. As a Nation, we need to look at the reuse of wastewater and the reuse of ground water and what the implications are -- and the incumbent need for public education in this area. The persistent nature of pharmaceuticals in water is another critical area in treated wastewater. There is also the issue of animal feeding operations, on which NGWA held a conference, and in which USGS is involved as well. As a trade association of well drillers, NGWA likes the business that drought produces, but sees it as a serious issue regarding future water supplies and of ground water and surface water interaction. On the non-scientific side, NGWA would like to reinforce the comments by the DOE Yucca Mountain Project regarding access to USGS data and information. The USGS does outstanding scientific investigations and while a lot of USGS reports are available, they may not be as readily available as they could be. Also, respecting that travel budgets for all of us are tight, the participation of USGS scientists at conferences held by organizations such as NGWA and others is a way that those investigations and data are brought to the light of day. NGWA encourages more cooperative work of USGS, particularly strengthened interagency cooperation with EPA. The private sector has expressed concern about the USGS being involved in artificial recharge, which they see as primarily an engineering activity, but NGWA feels there is not enough being done by anyone in this area and would not oppose the USGS being a player.
National Institute of Building Sciences
...dual benefit...NIBS uses USGS products...USGS benefits because people see USGS products...
The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) is expanding HAZUS (a PC-based, GIS software for natural hazard loss estimation) beyond earthquakes to include a system for wind and for flood. NIBS uses USGS products in HAZUS. NIBS focuses on the needs of HAZUS customers and keeps connected with them and giving them what they need, which gives them more power in the program. NIBS uses seismic data in HAZUS and for the wind methodology that is being developed, they are looking at using the latest land-use/land-cover data from USGS. USGS is well represented on many NIBS committees. NIBS views its partnership with USGS as that of using USGS products, but also making those products available to the public and making them understandable to the user public, essentially a dual benefit. NIBS made two requests to improve HAZUS: soil data in a national data base and a national topographic base for the flood model. Until that topographic base for the flood model is in place, users cannot easily and quickly define the study region and "with a couple of clicks" get to that loss estimate, nor can they take that loss estimate and go to their Chamber of Commerce or State legislator and say, "if we don't do anything about this flood, this is what could happen."
National Mining Association
...foremost experts on mineral commodities, both in the United States and internationally...Without this expertise, the Nation would not have the information necessary to make informed policy decisions...USGS is on the right track.
The National Mining Association (NMA) appreciates the products that USGS provides, which represent the core science capabilities of the USGS, and which are extremely valuable to NMA and the Nation. NMA identified three categories of need: coal resource information, mineral commodity information, and geologic mapping information. NMA appreciates the 100+ years of USGS coal resource assessment work and the more recent information on the environmental, technological, economic, and societal restrictions placed on mining. The availability of this information has enabled NMA to respond to many industry requests. NMA looks forward to the regional assessments and the national assessment reports that are due out this year. NMA uses mineral commodity information from the Mineral Information Team (MIT), formerly of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, more than any other source for their mineral publications, to answer statistical questions, and in their interactions on Capital Hill. NMA produces three mining publications and a mining statistical web site based on the information that MIT provides. MIT people are probably some of the foremost experts on mineral commodities, both in the United States and internationally. Without this expertise, the Nation would not have the information necessary to make informed policy decisions. NMA is concerned, however, about the late publication of monthly reports on key commodities and the annual mineral commodities summary. NMA is concerned about the decreasing workforce dedicated to these efforts of collecting and reporting this information and hopes that the personnel needed to continue this effort are restored and that information will be provided on a more timely basis. NMA and its member companies are thrilled with the web-based National Geologic Map Database and its widespread availability. NMA encourages USGS to get as many of their maps as possible into the map data base system and then expand to include international maps. Looking to future science, NMA members have a growing interest in carbon sequestration and mineral exploration, where information on mineral deposits, mineral exploration expenditures, and technologies being used, not only in the United States, but internationally, is desired. [In response to USGS-originated question on issues related to restoration of mined lands and what value that has to the mining industry, NMA will talk to members and get feedback.]
Native American Remote Sensing, Inc.
...seeking 'upscale status' for Native Americans...afford them access to all satellite imagery available through USGS.
Native American Remote Sensing, Inc. (NARSINC) is involved in an outreach pilot with the Leach Lake Tribal Government and College, NASA Glen Research Center, and the USGS EROS Data Center, under the auspices of the OhioView Consortium. NARSINC's effort is centered on economic issues and creating jobs through the availability of remote sensing technology and training in its use, for which they are seeking "upscale" status for Native American Tribal governments and Native American educational research institutions, which would afford them access to all satellite imagery available through USGS.
North American Bird Conservation Initiative
...a golden opportunity for the USGS to demonstrate its leadership... this kind of comprehensive monitoring that currently does not exist and is desperately needed.
The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) sees a golden opportunity in the migratory bird initiative for the USGS to demonstrate its leadership and to bring to fulfillment the reason the Biological Resources Division was created -- to have an organized and cohesive research program. Although designed for birds, it extends well beyond those populations and across the scientific disciplines as an integrating aspect. Birds use an entire landscape in migration and in breeding, which means you are also looking at issues of water quality in a certain watershed that affect amphibians, that affect all life in that watershed. NABCI encourages USGS to elevate this initiative as a DOI science priority, because much more than birds can be brought into the effort. Monitoring is meant to refer not only to conducting counts but also to looking at issues such as water quality and being able to determine chronic exposures to heavy metals or organic pollutants. A second priority would be to look at habitat requirements as part of the monitoring effort -- using birds to monitor habitat quality and using habitat quality to monitor abundance and distribution of all species, not just birds. Standardized, nationwide monitoring would also bring attention to the current lack of resource allocation. What is lacking is the availability and transfer of that information to land managers so that they can design a cohesive program of management and conservation for non-game species. The NABCI non-governmental subcommittee supports this proposal and will continue that support through the budget and appropriations process.
USGS Landsat 7 data are a scientific bonanza for education and research...the public benefits from a better environment, reduced taxes, and increased productivity...
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The OhioView Consortium appreciates the support of USGS in its efforts to expand public access to USGS geospatial information, including Landsat 7, and other satellite data through the Gateway to the Future: OhioView Pilot. The Consortium asks that USGS continue its current policy of acquiring and distributing affordable data and to begin planning for the "Landsat 8" era. The Consortium would like to see the pilot program expanded across the United States. OhioView has focused on getting data to State and local governments and are using the academic community in helping to determine the needs of local and State governments for the data, as well as fostering a surge in undergraduate and graduate education in remote sensing and its broad-reaching applications.
The Ornithological Council
The beauty of such an approach [place-based] is that you are bringing all of the disciplines to bear -- biology, hydrology, mapping, and geology -- in identifying research needs.
The Ornithological Council (OC) feels the list of USGS future science directions is comprehensive, but with such a full plate, it may require better organization and coordination. Living resources should be seen not as a discrete component but rather as part of every ecosystem, environmental, and human health-related project, because all of those projects involve monitoring of the natural world and its inhabitants. OC encourages USGS to ensure that every project encompasses all components of the ecosystem -- in looking at water issues, look at the birds who use the resource; in studying minerals under the ground, look at the animals on the land that could be affected by drilling. USGS should reestablish connections lost when resources were taken to establish the Biological Resources Division. These connections could be accomplished based on geographical proximity or based on research needs, along the lines of place-based science, where there are teams of USGS people from all of the divisions at science centers and, more particularly, assigned to different public land units. OC encourages USGS to employ a more integrated infrastructure and to look at whether more people may be needed to enable USGS to meet the needs of the resource and land management agencies. OC identified two reasons why USGS science, as good as it is, does not seem to be matching the research needs of land managers: there need to be more people on the ground to help identify and accurately characterize research needs, and, once completed, there is no process in place to help managers translate that research into land management and conservation programs. USGS needs to continue to build NBII and to build into NBII the ability to help users access and then interpret the information. The sophistication of NBII, its breadth of data, and the spatially referenced nature of much of it, will make it difficult for many customers in States and other communities to use the information to its best advantage.
Wildlife Management Institute
...act as a national clearinghouse for all of the monitoring data...USGS needs to be out in front on this...this will sell...
The Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), as a member of the NABCI/NGO subcommittee, stated that while much good has been accomplished by the many separate and uncoordinated efforts [related to bird conservation], there is frustration over the fact that Federal budget requests do not show very strong continuity from one year to the next. While it is understood that this is a reflection of trying to hit the "right target" in budget requests from year to year, there is not a well-conceived strategy, which is particularly problematic in a research agency, where the results from research take many years to achieve objectives that Congress and OMB will see as meaningful and worthy investments. The NABCI/NGO subcommittee recommends that they and the NABCI/Federal subcommittee coordinate their priorities and that these are readily identifiable, common programs that also meet the needs of State agencies and land managers at every level. The potential of bird conservation efforts will only be realized if it is done in a collaborative way. The USGS could act as a national clearinghouse for all of the monitoring data, so that everything is standardized. The migratory bird initiative is a concept that NABCI can sell to OMB and to congressional appropriators. USGS will have the broad support, not only of the NGO community, but also of other Interior agencies for which USGS provides research needs, as well as State agencies. Beyond biology, the other USGS disciplines have important roles to play -- water is an obvious one, with issues of wetlands for habitat and surface-water/ground-water interaction, but also mapping of vegetation and soils. In addition, USGS should move beyond site-by-site approaches to look at the larger regional landscape, as well how to best measure and monitor things on the landscape, especially as much of it is fragmented.
...tremendous respect for the USGS Survey and the science that is being done...USGS needs to strengthen their partnerships to maintain that support.
[Note: The views of this statement are those of Gregory van der Vink and do not necessarily represent the views of any institution with which he is associated.] The hazards community looks to the USGS for scientific leadership. The USGS cannot work alone, however, and needs to maintain strong partnerships, which are vital to maintaining a strong constituency of supporters. Three areas were cited where the USGS needs to strengthen its role as a partner: Global Seismographic Network (GSN) -- in which USGS and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) were to share as partners in long-term operation and maintenance of the network, and for which USGS says funds are inadequate to maintain GSN facilities, and yet National Science Foundation (NSF) funds are being used to maintain USGS equipment and to underwrite other tasks; Earthquake outreach -- where NSF and the USGS have been working together to develop museum displays that make USGS data from the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) accessible to the general public, and for which USGS provides no additional funding. In addition, NEIC is being eclipsed in its role as a global seismic information provider. There is an urgent need to improve the NEIC and make it the source of the best global catalog. EarthScope -- ANSS (Advanced National Seismic System) and EarthScope need to work together and there is frustration that USGS did not get funding to support it -- constituents would like to launch a similar campaign of support for ANSS as they did for EarthScope, but need USGS support and encouragement.
Bureau of Land Management
...doing great work and look forward to more in the future...[land managers] increasingly require assistance from the research community to assist with information exchange...
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) depends on the USGS for its science and research needs and has established a national science coordination committee to work on these issues, to which USGS has named a representative. BLM sees a growing trend in its need for the biological and physical sciences, as well as social science, economics, and human dimension issues that surround natural resource programs. BLM advocates integrative research, increased collaboration with multiple partners, and applying technology, such as advances in GIS, as tools to help them. Integrating disciplines adds complexity to these issues and will increasingly require assistance from the research community to assist with information exchange -- applying science results for the manager and practitioner on the ground. BLM's strategic science plan, in which the USGS is involved, has three framework modules -- the role of science in natural resource decisionmaking, the process for identifying science and research priorities, and marketing those results in applying them to work on the ground. BLM has identified 12 primary areas of need, including rangeland health and restoration for which issues include invasive weeds and species, off-road vehicle use, and over-grazing. Invasive species is the number one need and is identified in 8 of the 12 priorities -- detrimental effects to wildlife and grazing animal forage, diminished visual quality, reduced land value -- for scientific information on the dynamics of these plant populations, treatment options, site restoration, and management implications are all needed. Prescribed fire is another area, and whether it is a tool in dealing with invasive weeds while not eliminating native species, and whether to immediately re-seed with desirable species. There is much uncertainty in this area, and more information is needed about soil and climate. Managing the wild horse herds under BLM's control is another area where additional scientific and genetic information is needed. Abandoned mine lands are another focus, in dealing with polluted waters and clean-up efforts. Research is needed on the protection and restoration of aquatic habitat, ranging from site-specific to watershed to river-basin scale. Increasingly there are issues of air quality concerning effects of atmospheric contaminants. Other issues of concern include declining species, species at risk, and habitat issues related to population declines and to rehabilitating habitat are all research issues. The effects of oil and gas development on a variety of species is on the list as is the subject of coal-bed methane and impacts to water quality, whether creating temporary wetland environments is of benefit, and the quality of residual coal. BLM continues to need mineral assessment information from USGS. BLM also needs in hydrological and water quality support from USGS. BLM urges USGS to work with partner agencies to incorporate management implications into its research results and reports.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
...management decisions must be based on good science provided by USGS...
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) encouraged USGS to engage in the Lower Mississippi Valley area as much as possible, as this is a priority for them and one that is capturing attention throughout the Department, EPA, the Army, and the White House. Hypoxia and related changes in the Gulf of Mexico are growing by orders of magnitude in their need for scientific information. FWS expressed concern that there is no emphasis on the effects of contaminants on aquatic populations or ecosystems. Many contaminants are broadly toxic and there is little or no probability that physiological and/or ecological systems will evolve rapidly enough to survive in the face of such toxic contamination. In other comments regarding science support to FWS, concern was raised that they were not being viewed as a primary partner in being provided with the science support that had originally been envisioned in the creation of the National Biological Service before its transfer to USGS. Integration is a valuable goal, but the real value exists from maintaining the expertise and the focus of the parts that then constitute the whole -- need to strengthen program capabilities, which are the delivery mechanism for the integrated approach. USGS should provide management direction and support to the biological labs, particularly those that were FWS labs, so that they serve the need of the FWS on a priority basis. Concern was also expressed on the USGS Great Lakes strategic plan and the fact that FWS interests -- and the need to maintain core biological capabilities that the region depends on -- were not seen as those of a primary customer in the region, including activities to protect, restore, and enhance coastal wetlands in support of all biological resources.
Minerals Management Service
...USGS can be of especial value because beach restoration issues cut across all the divisions.
MMS stressed the need for long-term planning rather than the present ad hoc approach to beach erosion and restoration on a case-by-case basis, which is also local community to local community. Coastal habitat restoration encompasses many issues with regard to the availability and suitability of sand resources. The continuing severe coastal storms we have had in recent years, concerns about global warming and sea-level rise, as well as the population influx to coastal areas, all argue for the need to have a plan to restore coastal areas. USGS has the expertise to map needed sand resources for beach restoration and to develop GIS systems that take into account the biological as well as the environmental concerns in dredging and moving sand. MMS identified high-priority areas: the East Coast from Florida to New Jersey; Cape Cod National Seashore; Louisiana's barrier islands; and the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. The East Coast is the highest priority.
National Park Service
...represents objective science without an axe to grind... USGS opens their doors and really welcomes their partners... need timely, tactical support from the USGS...it often comes with a high price tag...
(The following represents a compilation of National Park Service input) The National Park Service (NPS) supports the USGS goal of a seamless organization -- continued and enhanced collaboration between the USGS divisions makes the organization more responsive to the needs of other Federal agencies. NPS also hopes that research money that came to the USGS is increased and is willing to support the USGS DOI Science Support Initiative. NPS does not want to lose sight of the BIN process in which they bring issues to the table for funding. The successful USGS-NPS partnership for the Clean Water Action Plan needs to be expanded, because many priority projects are going unfunded. Invasive species is a priority, not only to treat known exotics, but also to do assessment work using an exotic species ranking strategy to maximize dollars spent on invasives. NPS hopes that products of the USGS urban mapping initiative will be centered on National Parks where parks and cities come together. The fragmented landscape of parkland is another issue, and NPS is encouraging park superintendents to view their holdings, whatever the size, as a functioning piece of the ecosystem, and to look at whether or not all components of the ecosystem are present. NPS is also looking at the human dimension on natural resources -- the impact of more people using trails and parks, including exhaust emissions of recreational vehicles, such as boat motors and the impacts of hydrocarbons on water. An urban park is one of NPS' five pilots for this year -- as a laboratory for accelerated change by people. NPS needs a baseline of natural resources monitoring data and to have USGS scientists help design these monitoring programs and to avoid duplication of effort. NPS sees value in having USGS in on planning efforts and to reward research scientists who participate in planning -- to define research needs, frame the correct questions, and design research methodologies. NPS and other Federal land managers need USGS information that meets the timeframes that drive management decisionmaking. NPS has tremendous water resources issues, and while they have good relationships with many of the USGS State offices in getting work done, it is expensive. A top priority for NPS is USGS technical support to the NPS water-rights program. NPS and USGS shared a successful water quality program through the National Water Quality Assessment Program that was well-targeted towards park needs and is a good model to build on. The need for better coordination was cited in the example of having to review several disparate Great Lakes plans -- each of which called for collaboration. The public should be involved at the planning level to understand their expectations [for public lands] and provide them a perspective on long-term benefits of new park areas and wildlife conservation. USGS geological work in mapping projects in the parks has been a very successful effort. NPS also benefits from the research science and communications from other USGS geology programs: coastal and marine, volcano hazards, and surface processes. NPS has put out a call for joint proposals from parks and from USGS -- noted that it is better to send up a single budget proposal, rather than to have both agencies seeking funding for the work. NPS is working with USGS to look at the impacts of human activities on geologic processes in the parks and in areas beyond the parks, such as along coastlines in protecting certain structures from loss to erosion. NPS is looking for USGS participation in the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, which will be a center for the study of various cave and karst issues ranging from biology, hydrology, geology, even into economics and other social sciences, and will be an effective partnership with Federal and and university partners. Microbial studies will be a major part of the effort. NPS is finding fascinating organisms that have learned to exploit
Natural Resources Conservation Service
...watershed is a practical and scientifically appropriate approach to organizing information -- it is the future...turn to the USGS and State water-quality agencies to do the monitoring...
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) thanked the USGS for its support of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council, which they feel is right on track. Appreciation was also expressed for the USGS river streamgaging program, which actively supports the water forecasting efforts of the NRCS snow survey program. NRCS expressed support in partnering to make it [streamgaging] a better program. NRCS is involved in land-surface change programs in working with ranchers and farmers in the non-point source arena, for example, and invites USGS to participate. NRCS has developed several institutes, focused on specific technical expertise and geographic locations, which the USGS may want to investigate. This focus area approach has worked well and is linked through the web. NRCS is producing farm-field level digital maps and photography. USGS has been helpful in delineating watersheds to the 14-digit hydrologic unit code, which a practical and scientifically appropriate approach to organizing information -- it is the future; people want to know what is going on in their watershed. NRCS sees three major issues: hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico -- not just nitrogen loading, but phosphorus as well; animal waste -- developing and implementing regional animal waste management plans in agricultural and forestry areas; and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) -- need science-based information to provide to the States to make the right decision at the right time. Within USDA, there is a Working Group on Water Quality that directs the multi-agency USDA Water Quality Initiative, which is the Department's voice on water quality and water quantity issues, and which would be a good vehicle for the USGS to use in penetrating USDA. Because NRCS is neither a research nor a monitoring agency, it turns to USGS and State water-quality agencies to do the monitoring. There is little information on the impacts [on water quality] of what is done on the land surface.
U.S. Forest Service
...the loss of many key USGS gages has hurt...USGS should be commended for its excellent publication on ground water/surface water as a single resource...it has set a new standard.
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the USGS have had a good cooperative relationship that goes back almost a hundred years and includes geomorphology studies and USGS expert witnesses in water-rights adjudication; estimating water use in the western states for the Western Water Policy Review Commission; effects of forest and rangeland management practices and urbanization of rural areas on drinking-water quality and human health; fractured bedrock studies; and mineral assessments. USFS and BLM match needs in future science directions. Interagency assessments of watershed conditions are needed to make decisions about watershed health and the state of aquatic resources, including TMDL calculations and modeling. Cooperative work on delineation of hydrologic unit codes to the finer scales is critical to having a common set of watersheds to track what is happening on the landscape. USFS supports a stable network of streamgaging stations to quantify water yield from the national forests and grasslands, including annual fluctuations, and the loss of many key USGS gages has hurt their ability to do that. The USGS ground-water resources inventory needs to be greatly improved and simplified. USFS has a national initiative on hydropower, which is trying to increase capability to do the relicensing job properly. The USFS has been devoting effort to socioeconomic research on the value of water with the USDA Economic Research Service, and it might be time to look at a partnership with USGS. Fire effects on watersheds and watershed stabilization measures are needed [Note: As followup, the USGS multidisciplinary fire group will be made known to USFS.] Exchange of training opportunities -- at USGS training center and at USFS expert witness training, identifying core competencies, and dealing with impending retirement of many hydrologists are mutual topics. USFS, BLM and NASA contracted with OPM for a core competency review [expressed disappointment at lack of USGS participation--effort not known to USGS]. Investigate joint "State of the Knowledge" reviews to get scientific knowledge into the hands of land managers and ordinary citizens for problem solving. USFS would like to see USGS include management implications in major scientific water-supply papers. USFS uses customer evaluations to judge scientific productivity, which counts for about a third of the research grade evaluation score and is used as input to research grade evaluation panel and provides direct feedback to project scientist on what users think of their research [Note: USGS requested contacts on research grade evaluation and the customer/user component.] A complaint was raised about the high costs of getting flow-frequency data and analysis from USGS water offices; data that had been available free as a professional courtesy to a cooperating agency is now excessively costly.
National Marine Fisheries Service
USGS is a vital partner in helping NOAA...We have really enjoyed the responsiveness and the enthusiasm that the USGS has shown in working with us...joint initiative on seafloor habitats and fishery resources is timely and important.
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have enjoyed a productive relationship with USGS, primarily in the geologic and biologic programs. NOAA has relatively new coastal requirements regarding fish habitat in which they see joint work with USGS on effects of fishing activities on benthic habitat that focuses on two themes: determine the effects of fishing gear on seabed habitats and identify and map benthic habitat characteristics and the extent of fishing impacts. NOAA identified four areas -- seafloor characterization, effects of fishing activities, natural and non-fishing related change and the stability of the seabed, and data uses. There needs to be good mapping of fish habitat to understand change. Understanding habitat provides a baseline for a lot of what needs to be done at the coastal/estuarine interface and upstream. Information is also needed about quantity and quality of freshwater flow and saltwater intrusion. Issues include whether freshwater flow to estuaries has decreased over time and if that decrease is localized; how interbasin transfers affect fish habitat in principal anadromous fishery streams; and how changes in the quality of the habitat are affecting fish stocks -- may know if numbers are up or down, but why? NOAA is hearing from its constituents that habitat plans developed thus far are extremely broad and need to be refined with additional information. In looking at these and other issues, it would be a significant leap forward if we [NOAA and USGS] could promote our joint interest within OMB and to approach coordination and cooperation for projects from a strategic initiative standpoint. The following statement of support was included in the NMFS handout: The proposed NOAA/USGS Joint Initiative on seafloor habitats and fishery resources is timely and important. The joint initiative will leverage the strengths of NOAA and USGS and ultimately product a better understanding of the relationships between benthic habitats and fisheries. The resulting information will be directly applicable to management of fisheries in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.
National Marine Sanctuary Program
... probably missing out on what a lot of USGS capabilities are inside our whole program...and we would be anxious to talk with other parts of USGS to show those gaps.
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The National Marine Sanctuaries Program (NMSP) of the National Ocean Service said that the science information needs with regard to marine sanctuaries are much the same as those expressed by other customers of coastal environment issues, especially concerning habitat for both commercial and protected species. There is potential for much more interaction and to fill information gaps. The NMSP has developed a research prospectus that sets out their science plan and seeks to explore research links with other organizations. Overall goals of the science plan are focused on infrastructure, resource assessment, and resource monitoring and research.
National Ocean Service
...need to come together on budget initiatives that are common to both and to think more about some of the big issues...
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The National Ocean Service (NOS) spoke about four of NOAA's strategic goals in which there is strong connection with the USGS: Build Sustainable Fisheries, Advanced Short-Term Warning and Forecast Services, Sustain Healthy Coasts, and Promote Safe Navigation. Within these, NOS sees improved tsunami warnings and continued work on seismic monitoring associated with those improved warnings as strong candidates for interaction in coastal environments. NOS supports USGS efforts on the Advanced National Seismic Network in increasing instrumentation and information, as well as increases in the national streamgaging network. NOS has expressed a need for more precise resolution of sea-bottom movement for input into their wave-generation models. The USGS is also working with NOAA on coral reef issues. Improved flood forecasting is part of NOAA's FY 2002 initiative, and the National Weather Service (see entry below) relies heavily on USGS streamflow-gaging information. There is also a need for near-shore wave forecasts for navigation and for impacts on coastal communities, but there is poor near-shore bathymetry available to put into models for those forecasts. NOAA has a coastal initiative for FY 2002 focused on three geographic areas (northeast Florida and the St. Johns River; Southern California; and the Pacific Northwest) but looking at different issues in each. The initiative involves several NOAA offices and has ongoing opportunities for partnerships with USGS in several areas including accurate navigation charts, such as the joint topographic/bathymetric shoreline mapping effort in Tampa Bay, Fla., and coastal erosion issues with the geologic and coastal marine programs. NOS is working with USGS to establish a joint office to better coordinate coastal efforts.
National Weather Service
...this partnership is crucial not just to our individual agencies, but to the people of this Nation... thank the USGS for advancing the use of the Internet, which has made the data more accessible, more quickly...
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The National Weather Service has shared a very productive relationship with the USGS for more than 30 years. The NWS is a small agency and it relies heavily on the data that is collected by the USGS. NWS, as a service agency, requires and depends on the research of other agencies and the universities, which NWS then turns into operations. There is a need to infuse new science into the NWS hydrologic services program and its operations, a need recognized by the NOAA Science Advisory Board. Looking at floods and river predictions, the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services (AHPS) is a new program, which is tied to NOAA's key strategic element on advanced forecasting and warnings. Snow information is also important to NWS, particularly in the West, where 80 percent of the water supply comes from snow, and they will be collecting more data in the late spring as part of AHPS. NWS provides real-time forecasts at more than 4,000 locations across the country, which are critical for many uses, from immediate for recreation or disasters, to preparedness for disaster mitigation. While presently the NWS provides forecasts three days out, AHPS would enable NWS to forecast out two weeks and longer. NWS demonstrated this new capability with USGS in 1997 with the USGS in the Iowa District to extremely positive reaction -- with longer-term forecasts, the USGS can conserve staff resources by scheduling and planning in advance when to send field technicians out to gage the streams. NWS wants to provide more complete information graphically, using USGS topographic data, and to provide joint links on web pages. The USGS has responsibility for maintaining rating curves for streams -- NWS forecasts rely heavily on those data because NWS needs to know not just the stage, but how much water is associated with that stage, and how much water is flowing past that point. The NWS would like to encourage the USGS to continue to move forward with the following budgetary efforts: reactivate closed gaging stations in flood-prone locations; expand telemetry capability; harden gages against severe flooding; build new gages in flood-prone areas; extend rating curves above historic flows; provide updated ratings in real time. NWS would also like to explore a new partnership in flood-forecast inundation mapping, where forecasts would provide enhanced topographic detail to make smarter decisions based on these predictions. NWS encourages continued partnership with USGS on where to reestablish gages and keep good interaction not only at headquarters, but also with USGS district offices and NWS river forecast centers.
Yucca Mountain Project
The USGS is respected for its high-quality, technically sound work...publish more in peer-reviewed literature...
The Department of Energy enjoys a good partnership with USGS on Yucca Mountain. The USGS review of the Viability Assessment was a masterpiece in terms of timing and in getting the information out before things got contentious and showed where some of the weak points were scientifically. DOE echoes USGS comments regarding getting the body of scientific knowledge about Yucca Mountain into the peer-reviewed literature, which had not been viewed positively at DOE, and it is good to see this change. More information that makes the "safety case" should get into peer-reviewed journals, as well as showcasing pioneering USGS work on age dating. The timing would be good now to develop funding mechanisms for documentation and publication, as funds for the assessment work decreases. Getting ahead of the curve in preparing expert witnesses and in training scientists who are involved to portray science accurately and precisely, but also clearly, to lay audiences is needed. In 2001, the Secretary of Energy will make the decision whether to recommend Yucca Mountain to the President as the repository site for highly radioactive materials. In standing behind its scientific work, DOE would anticipate that USGS scientists who were principal investigators will be called as expert witnesses during the licensing process.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Environmental Information
... very interested in the information and knowledge that USGS can help provide... information about environmental conditions is key to understanding the outcomes of programs.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added its endorsement to the importance of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) and in calling this century the "century of biology." At EPA, biology is extremely important in understanding the environment. While EPA pays much of its attention to human health concerns and rightly so, it also uses other organisms as surrogates to help understand potential threats to human health. Ecosystems are key to the functioning of the environment and human health ultimately relies on there being healthy ecosystems. EPA has learned a lot about the integrated nature of geology, hydrology, and biology. The USGS is in a unique position to articulate what is being learned about the interactions between the hydrologic systems, geology, and biology, and to focus on building the knowledge base of information that can be used by many customers. Human health problems should not be the way to learn that programs are not meeting objectives. Early warnings from biological systems and more sensitive organisms will enable EPA to respond, which will be far better for human health. A particularly critical area for NBII is in taxonomy. Those who put databases together struggle with the lack of a catalog of the names of known organisms. Under NBII, the USGS is a key player in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), which would catalog standardized names. EPA would like to apply remote sensing data operationally on a routine basis to aid in environmental programs. USGS could be helpful to EPA helping to assess the new generation of remote sensing capabilities and identifying how such information can be used to help understand the environment. EPA is committed to the citizens' right to know, and would like to work with USGS and other Federal, State, and local agencies to aid in community understanding of environmental conditions -- and biological information clearly is an important part of what interests people. Through Project EMPACT, EPA is working with USGS to bring to the real-time environmental information to the public. EPA has a long and effective history of working together with USGS on water issues, particularly with the National Water Quality Assessment Program [which was not addressed by the presenter].
Federal Emergency Management Agency
...[building code] a huge victory for us and for the USGS...would not have been possible without the commitment of the USGS to keeping that mapping information current...
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses much of the data from USGS seismic monitoring systems, which is fed automatically into FEMA's disaster response system, HAZUS, which is able to automatically take USGS data as they are collected through the monitoring system and tell immediately, in areas where data have been established, what the potential risk is from that earthquake, and to effectively deploy resources into those communities. Seismic coverage is spotty in some areas, and for that reason, FEMA has gone on record in supporting the Advanced National Seismic System, in order to have data to better identify the earthquake hazards throughout the United States HAZUS is not only a quick-response program after a disaster, but it is also a pre-disaster program that allows FEMA to better assess the risk in different areas and pass along that risk assessment to the State and local officials in an attempt to "sell" the idea of mitigation -- to get them to address their risk prior to a disaster. FEMA also uses the hazard identification data to allocate resources at State and local levels. USGS seismic hazard maps are important products for mitigation and are the basis for FEMA publications on new building construction and design, as well as retrofitting of existing buildings. Those products also serve as the basis for the building codes, or the seismic portions of the building codes, throughout the United States. Building codes are evolving -- a single building code, the International Building Code, was recently produced for the entire country, and is based on USGS hazards maps. The USGS CD-ROM of data are copied and distributed with the Code. USGS ground-shaking maps were commended for having application to the building design community. FEMA, as the lead agency for the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, works closely with USGS in reporting to Congress on how funding is used and will continue that communication. [In a discussion of FAA facilities and hazards risk, two executive orders were cited, one that ensures that any new facility that involves Federal funding needs to be built to FEMA seismic standards, which incorporate USGS maps, and one that deals with existing facilities and as a first phase provides an inventory of Federal facilities and what the risks are and then identifies most-critical facilities for retrofitting -- and air-traffic control facilities are on the top of the list.]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Goddard Space Flight Center
...need for a coordinated biological information infrastructure... is increasing quickly as we move forward into what many are calling the age of biology...
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) spoke in strong support of the NBII. The essential linkage between the U.S. economy and the environment are being recognized -- the Nation's land and waters and its native plant and animal communities are the natural capital on which the economy is founded and biodiversity and ecosystem services literally contribute trillions of dollars to the national and global economies. To protect this natural capital and to use it wisely and to make wise decisions about it, there must be an extensive and frequently updated environmental knowledge base that has a coherent infrastructure. In the U.S., NBII is becoming the primary mechanism whereby biodiversity and ecosystem information is made available to all sectors of society, and it is building a network of partners who are sharing information in useful ways. NBII is promoting the development of standards for information delivery and contributing to the development of new tools for analyzing and understanding biological information. The next-generation capabilities for the NBII are urgently needed -- NASA is bringing online an entirely new generation of satellite technology that is going to provide rich data about the functioning of global climates and ecosystems. NBII will be working to link United States activities to worldwide programs, such as GBITH, the global biodiversity information facility that is coming online. Continued and increased support for NBII is critical to those working in the biodiversity enterprise and a successful NBII program is absolutely essential to helping protect and manage the Nation's natural capital.
National Science Foundation
...if you're trying to spread what is going on in USGS, it really pays to see how this [DLESE] is being organized...preparing from 'womb to tomb' education in the geosciences...
The National Science Foundation (NSF) spoke to geoscience education and the opportunity available through the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), which is an online, interdisciplinary education resource that allows users to rapidly discover instructional resources and connects teachers and students to real-time or archived Earth data bases. NSF questioned whether or not geoscientists, as a community, had taken full advantage of the establishment of K-12 geoscience standards as part of the National Research Council's National Science Education Standards. These standards are finding their way into post-secondary education as well. NSF struck a "blow for technology" in encouraging exploration of the potential of the DLESE. The idea of DLESE is to ensure that a teacher, starting at the kindergarten level, can go to the web and be assured that this will be maintained and sustained, peer-reviewed-quality material, whether it is modules to help that teacher, or a researcher in education looking at data bases that deal, not just with the geosciences, but with biology as well, and how they integrate.
California Division of Mines and Geology
the opportunity to collaborate has brought both of us closer to accomplishing our mission...demonstrate the value of a mutually beneficial relationship...there are other areas where we can collaborate.
The California Division of Mines and Geology (CDMG) presented positive outcomes from its collaboration with USGS: Public information -- providing information on USGS activities and products to the public through CMDG State offices in major California cities, mineral resources activities -- collaborating in the collection of mineral production information that follows on from former arrangements with the U.S. Bureau of Mines and a digital geologic map of western mineral resources. Geologic hazards -- jointly preparing the ground-motion hazard map for California. CDMG has integrated real-time and near-real-time monitoring of strong ground motion from its Strong Motion Instrumentation Program with the Southern California Seismic Network that is operated jointly by CalTech and the USGS, a partnership known as TriNet. The partners have created ShakeMap, a worldwide, web-based map display of ground shaking in southern California, which will disseminate information a few minutes after important earthquakes. CDMG is also exploring working in a similar fashion with the USGS and UC-Berkeley in northern California to create a northern version of ShakeMap; CDMG looks forward to participating in the ANSS and the National Landslide Initiative -- CDMG has had the opportunity to have input into both of these programs as they are being planned. CDMG is entering into an MOU with the USGS to work together to provide background information on the 1:24,000 landslide maps that have been produced over the last 35 years in the San Francisco Bay region, which are being digitized to provide greater availability to emergency response users, land use regulators, decisionmakers, and to residents in general. Geologic mapping -- CDMG collaborates with USGS in State Map and Ed Map activities and is working with other State geological surveys in establishing national standards for geologic mapping, including the creation of standards for digital products.
Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz
...USGS is on the right track... critical earth sciences and related biological sciences issues have been included...
[Note: This is a summary of a written statement, attached.] The Institute of Marine Sciences recommends that the USGS expand meaningful partnerships with university scientists and co-locate USGS integrated science centers in areas that benefit public/private partnerships. Specifically, the Institute would like to see USGS increase the presence and integration of USGS people and programs in emerging scientific centers such as theirs, representing the Monterey Bay research community, as a Pacific Science Center in Santa Cruz. The institute sees a focus on coastal environments as an appropriate one for the USGS in the 21st century. The land-sea interface represents a dynamic and important natural system where a new research approach is needed that looks at how the processes at that interface are resolved, modeled, and understood in terms of how and why they occur, and, ultimately, how they impact society. In order to be healthy and productive over the long term, coastal oceans and the industries that depend on them need to be healthy and sustainable.
Missouri Department of Conservation
Missouri River Basin Association
Missouri River Natural Resources Committee
Science and resources are critically needed to address and resolve these conflicts... significant gaps in our knowledge remain.
[Note: The statements submitted by these three customers paralleled one another in their issues regarding the Missouri River and are summarized as a group.] The Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri River Basin Association, and Missouri River Natural Resources Committee provided input on how USGS can assist State natural resource agencies in their efforts to restore the biological health of the Missouri River. If Lewis and Clark were to make their voyage today, they would see a much altered river, one altered to serve a number of needs including flood control, commercial navigation, power generation, water supply, and irrigation; meeting these needs has caused significant loss of terrestrial and aquatic habitats and a subsequent decline in fish and wildlife species dependent upon these habitats. A number of programs and management initiatives are underway to address these problems such as altering upper basin reservoir operations and restoring flood plain and in-channel habitats. These efforts will fall short of their objectives unless sound scientific data for evaluation and decision-making are undertaken. The basin faces conflicts between environmental concerns and traditional economic activities and uses of the river such as navigation, recreation, bank stabilization, agriculture, and municipal and industry water supply, for which science and resources are critically needed to address and resolve these conflicts. Existing USGS scientific work on the Missouri River should be expanded and accelerated to provide cost-effective restoration solutions that have minimal conflicts with other river uses. Specific areas for increased USGS involvement include biological, hydrological, and water quality research emphasis on the Missouri River. Management of the Missouri River to accommodate and sustain multiple uses requires improvements in the scientific understanding of how water, sediment, plants, and animals are linked in the river corridor. In particular, there is a critical need to develop a scientific basis for increasing the river corridor's capability to sustain natural ecosystems while maintaining traditional economic values. As the Nation's science agency for natural resources and the environment, USGS is positioned to provide the scientific basis for balanced, multiple use management of the Missouri River and its flood plain. The Corps of Engineers is considering changes to its management of the Missouri River through its review of the Master Water Control Manual of the Missouri River Main Stem Dams, and this is the ideal time for USGS to significantly increase its funding for the Missouri River basin.
National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
...retain the conduct of science as a core value... science conducted at USGS is indispensable to the Nation...partnership will be the key to keep its science at the highest level...
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) is concerned that the energy and mineral programs of USGS are now primarily focused on assessment, and USGS should develop plans to implement basic research in these programs. A major obstacle in addressing coastal watershed problems lies in the absence of a common medium for information -- USGS could develop pilot projects as partnerships with universities to demonstrate that an integrated systems approach can be adapted for coastal watersheds that will address scientific research, resource management and public concerns. NASULGC cited the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Units as a model for strengthened relationships with universities and to work through NASULGC, which can be supportive in many ways, such as the science advisory board they helped NOAA to create. Future science directions identified by NASULGC: coastal watersheds, including the multidisciplinary nature of hurricanes, floods, pollution, biocomplexity and reducing vulnerability to coastal storms; GIS/remote-sensing decision-support tools -- not just in mapmaking, but in the natural resources/environmental management arena; animal feeding operations, including downstream pollution and a whole host of secondary problems; and integrated science -- are USGS and university interests aligned? [NASULGC is encouraging its universities to provide incentives and awards for faculty and administrators.
National Association of University Fisheries and Wildlife Programs
...USGS can really offer a tremendous contribution to the public and the resources of this country...all USGS divisions are constrained financially...there is no question about it in the minds of the university system...avian initiative...a unique opportunity...don't blow it...
The National Association of University Fisheries and Wildlife Programs (NAUFWP) addressed these points: Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units -- as a model that should be strengthened and improved; education -- many disciplines are undergoing reevaluations of how to educate people who are going to be out at the grassroots level; government agency coordination -- the university community was shocked that USGS was left out of the National Science Foundation (NSF) biocomplexity initiative, which should be revisited, and there should be strengthened working relationships between the Department of the Interior, USGS, and NSF; inadequate budget -- USGS cannot respond effectively to ecological, biological, hydrologic, economic, and social issues needing scientific attention, and the avian initiative is a unique opportunity that the USGS should capitalize on and on which support can be built on the Hill; science and data management -- more than a thousand watersheds in the United States need plans to restore and sustain their health, and USGS could contribute immensely; partnerships -- USGS should explore contracts with universities to enlist the services of well-qualified individuals to meet staffing shortfalls; living resources and ecosystems -- a new ecological approach is needed that emphasizes the prevention of impacts on the resource base from human activity; coastal resources --strengthen USGS coastal and marine geology programs; North American Bird Conservation Initiative -- a unique opportunity that the USGS cannot miss; water and human population growth -- surface-water/ground-water interactions and the critical relationships of water, wetlands, rivers, estuaries, watersheds, whatever unit is used to frame the landscape.
National Institute for Water Resources
...excellent job in data acquisition and quality...People trust the data -- we know it is reliable...
[Note: See accompanying statement in Attachments.] The National Institute for Water Resources (NIWR) sees systems and partnerships as a major theme for how USGS and its partners can work together to benefit society. USGS does an excellent job in data acquisition and the quality of its data -- there is continuity and the data span long periods of record. Early work by USGS on nitrates, both in ground water and surface water, was a wake-up call to the agricultural community that we needed to be more aware of nitrate utilization and what was happening. Pesticides and their breakdown products was another early USGS study that was extremely valuable and helped set the stage for the research agendas of other partners. USGS reports and peer-reviewed literature are important, and it is helpful that more and more are available on the Internet. Partners can help in making data and information beneficial to society in ensuring that data are converted into information and that the information is used in policy and by decisionmakers. The USGS daily streamflow map from last summer's drought is an excellent product and an excellent example for partnering. Questions that need to be answered are: whether there is there enough information captured that a local watershed planner, a municipality, or an agricultural provider could use this information? Could this be a tool for a municipality to switch from surface water to ground water during a drought? How to deal with riparian issues, where anyone from agriculture can throw a line in that stream and pull water out? Can this information not only show when an area is getting into drought conditions but also be used in a predictive mode, which could allow better policies to be put in place and enable the agriculture community to have some pre-notice of pending economic losses? And how can we use information about low flows predictively to deal with environmental impacts that could help preclude restoration later on to the natural ecosystem? Looking at land use and GIS applications, NIWR has a vision to develop a method in cooperation with USGS to allow users the ability to dynamically overlay digital orthoquad imagery on GIS data layers through their browsers. NIWR wants to ensure that GIS layers, such as roads, water, land cover, land use, and geology, along with economic, social, and ecological layers, can be integrated for local information delivery. Data must be at the level of detail needed, such as the 14-digit hydrologic unit codes for watershed management, which is the level at which most communities want to look at their watersheds. For local communities, which are developing wellhead protection programs, information is needed about recharge areas. Proactive, cooperative approaches can be taken in partnering on data gathering and utilization -- ensuring that the right kinds of data at the right level of detail are available. Water-use data are a critical need -- not just for the data, but also in partnering in the multiple sets of data needed. The Michigan Water Resources Institute has pioneered a virtual course in watershed management, which emphasizes partnerships with stakeholders affected by resource management decisions, a geographic focus for management activities, and management techniques based on strong science and data. Course material is linked to EPA and USGS web sites. Priorities of the NIWR institutes are set cooperatively with State advisory boards, made of up State and local organizations across many disciplines, Federal input, and the USGS, through the external grants program, which represents a good cross-section of university, community, and USGS needs.