The President has proposed a budget of $895 million for the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Fiscal Year 2001. The FY 2001 budget reflects an $82 million net increase over FY 2000 enacted funding.
"These increases will enable USGS to provide reliable scientific information and tools to help managers and policymakers accurately forecast tomorrow, for better decisions today," said Dr. Charles Groat, USGS Director. "When this budget is enacted, USGS will be able to respond to the critical needs expressed by communities, stakeholders, government agencies and other organizations in response to the ever-greater demands being put on our natural resources. Understanding the delicate balance between the earth’s natural resources and America’s need for continued growth will enable us to make better decisions for future generations’ enjoyment of this precious land."
The FY 2001 budget highlights the relevance of USGS science to improved understanding of the changing world. Specifically, USGS core programs will be expanded. Organized in four over-arching initiatives, they are described below:
"The costs of natural disasters -- in terms of lives lost, homes destroyed and economies disrupted -- have skyrocketed in the past few decades as our population has grown and moved into marginal areas that are vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes, and other geophysical hazards," Groat stated. "And these costs will continue to rise in the future, unless we change our approach."
With an increase of $7.1 million, USGS will update portions of the national earthquake monitoring network; expand real-time monitoring of volcanoes in Alaska; and upgrade the streamgaging network focusing on the Appalachian region, the Lower Mississippi Delta and the West Coast.
"In the past year alone, we have seen disastrous earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan, hurricanes and floods that devastated the east coast, and landslides that caused damage in the west," said Groat. "Providing real-time hazard information to help create stronger, safer communities across America is a high priority for USGS."
The increase includes $10 million to develop decision support systems to help America’s communities respond to issues posed by urban growth. Recognizing that all levels of government face serious challenges associated with the sustained growth and development of urban regions, USGS will develop predictive models based on historical trends for areas including Seattle, San Francisco, Tucson, Chicago and Miami. "Assessing the impacts of historical and expected change on regional natural resources will help USGS provide local planners with the tools they need for planning intelligent growth," Groat said.
USGS also requests $30 million to further its efforts with communities, local and tribal governments, state governments, the private sector, academia and others to advance the capacity of communities to create and use spatially referenced data. The proposal, which includes a $25 million community matching grant component, will also expand the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and the National Biological Information Infrastructure. In addition, USGS will seek a $5 million increase to assume program operations of Landsat 7.
Sustainable Resources for the Future
Understanding how the land responds to change is essential for Americans’ continued enjoyment of the natural landscape, Groat noted. With an increase of $15.3 million, USGS will develop tools for understanding how the land interacts with the oceans and the air as well as the many uses that are made of the land.
Studies will focus on the Columbia River, where significant research is needed on the complex issue of salmon health and management alternatives; restoring coastal habitats in the Great Lakes; expanding existing studies in Yellowstone and the Mojave desert; developing decision support systems to help resource managers in parks, wildlife refuges and regional planning organizations to better understand complex interactions in the natural world; and expanding current research on impacts of climate and land use in the Lower Mississippi. Along the Missouri River, the USGS will work to develop predictive models and data standards that make it easier to integrate a wide range of data used in local decision support systems.
America’s Natural Heritage
A vital part of the nation’s natural legacy is its parks, refuges and other public lands that are entrusted to the Department of the Interior. With an increase of $15 million, USGS will increase its science support for high-priority land and resource management needs of other bureaus within the Department of the Interior, including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management.
In addition, USGS will increase, by $1 million, studies of fish and wildlife disease, specifically the West Nile virus that was responsible for last summer’s outbreak of encephalitis in New York and other areas. Work will focus on tracking crows and other bird carriers of the disease to anticipate possible future areas of outbreaks of encephalitis in people. Another focus will be amphibian research and monitoring, which is slated for a $2 million increase to track the status of fragile amphibians and investigate potential causes for their decline.
The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.
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