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SCEMD and FEMA Encourage South Carolina Flood Survivors to Keep Information Updated

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 17:16

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Survivors of South Carolina’s recent floods who registered for disaster assistance are urged to keep their personal information updated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency throughout the recovery process.

Applicants should share any change of address, telephone and bank account numbers and insurance information with FEMA to avoid disaster assistance processing delays.

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Otero County, New Mexico Flood Maps Become Final

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 16:58

DENTON, Texas ––New flood maps for Otero County and the Village of Tularosa will become effective and will be used for rating flood insurance policies on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Flooding is the most frequent natural disaster in the U.S. and only flood insurance covers these unexpected, damaging and sometimes fatal events. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a voluntary protection program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Horry County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 15:36

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Horry County to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Charleston County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 15:29

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Charleston County to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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Categories: Federal News

Invasive Northern Snakehead Carries Bacteria as Bad as its Bite

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 13:11
Summary: The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists

Contact Information:

Christine Densmore ( Phone: 304-724-4437 ); Hannah Hamilton ( Phone: 703-648-4356 );



The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

The team found that a group of adult northern snakehead collected from Virginia waters of the Potomac River south of Washington D.C. were infected with a species of Mycobacterium, a type of bacteria known to cause chronic disease among a wide range of animals.

"Mycobacterial infections are not unusual among fish, but they are nonetheless noteworthy because they can have an impact at the population level and potentially even affect other fish and wildlife," said lead author Christine Densmore, a veterinarian with the USGS.

There are many known species of Mycobacteria that have been identified in fish, including fish from the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay area.  Several years ago, mycobacterial infections were associated with severe disease typified by ulcerative skin lesions and wasting among wild striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  Some species of Mycobacterium are also known to cause diseases among other animals, including mammals. For instance, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the cause of human tuberculosis and Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, causes Johne’s disease of cattle. 

The effect of this particular species of Mycobacterium on humans is not known.

Mycobacterial disease in fish is often called piscine mycobacteriosis, and it is associated with many different species of mycobacteria. In this instance, no external signs of disease were noted on the infected snakehead fish, and the disease was discovered microscopically as lesions associated with the bacteria that were visible within internal organs.

"Another interesting feature of this particular mycobacterial organism is that we have not been able to identify it in the available gene sequence data base, so this may be a unique, undescribed species of Mycobacterium. However, more research is needed to further characterize the bacteria and its potential effects on the northern snakehead population and other native species," said Densmore.

The researchers plan to continue to work closely with other federal and state agencies to investigate the pathogens and diseases carried by the northern snakehead fish in mid-Atlantic waters such as the Potomac River.  This study of Mycobacterial infection in Northern snakehead from the Potomac River catchment, conducted in collaboration with fisheries biologists from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is available online through the Journal of Fish Diseases.

FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Lexington, Richland, Sumter Counties

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 11:31

COLUMBIA, S.C. – As South Carolinians rebuild and repair after the recent historic floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local home improvement stores have teamed up to provide free information, tips and literature on making homes stronger and safer.

FEMA mitigation specialists will be on hand in Lexington, Richland and Sumter counties to answer questions and offer home improvement tips to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Most of the information is geared towards do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

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Three Years after Sandy: Recovery by the numbers

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 10:51

Total Federal Assistance

  • Federal agencies have provided $6.8 billion in total funding to applicants in New Jersey

FEMA Individual Assistance

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Texas Panhandle Partnership Implements Regional Alert System

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 10/28/2015 - 11:26

FEMA and the state of Texas are highlighting Texas communities that have taken steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property.

POTTER COUNTY, Texas – A multi-county initiative that began five years ago in the Texas panhandle provides residents an effective emergency alert system that helped save lives and property during the historic May 2015 floods.

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U.S. Rivers Show Few Signs of Improvement from Historic Nitrate Increases

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 10/28/2015 - 11:21
Summary: During 1945 to 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold in intensively managed agricultural areas of the Midwest, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study

Contact Information:

Edward  Stets ( Phone: 303-541-3048 ); Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );



The Maumee River flows through northwest Ohio into Lake Erie. Nitrate concentrations in the Maumee River increased rapidly between 1945 and 1980 as nitrogen inputs from fertilizer and livestock increased. Since 1980, changes in nitrate levels have been much smaller as nitrogen inputs leveled off.(High resolution image)

During 1945 to 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold in intensively managed agricultural areas of the Midwest, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. In recent decades, nitrate changes have been smaller and levels have remained high in most of the rivers studied. 

The greatest increases in river nitrate levels coincided with increased nitrogen inputs from livestock and agricultural fertilizer, which grew rapidly from 1945 to 1980.  In some urbanized areas along the East and West coasts during the same period, river nitrate levels doubled. Since 1980, nitrate changes have been smaller as the increase in fertilizer use has slowed in the Midwest and large amounts of farmland have been converted to forest or urban land along the East coast. 

"Long-term monitoring of 22 large U.S. rivers provides a rare glimpse into how water quality conditions have changed over the last 65 years," said Edward Stets, lead author of the study. "Although the greatest increases in nitrate concentrations occurred prior to 1980, levels have since remained high in most rivers. Unfortunately, there is no widespread evidence of improving conditions." 

High nitrate levels can lead to the formation of zones of low oxygen in coastal waters, which harms fisheries, recreational use, and ecological habitat, causing major economic impacts. High nitrate levels also pose a threat to drinking-water supplies, sometimes resulting in high water treatment costs, and can harm aquatic life. 

The USGS study, reported in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, includes rivers flowing into the Great Lakes and coastal waters such as Long Island Sound, Delaware River estuary, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Long-term monitoring of water quality is essential to track how changes in land use, climate, and water-quality management actions are impacting both local streams and rivers and valuable commercial and recreational fisheries in estuaries across the Nation. The USGS National Water-Quality Program is working on more detailed analysis of water quality trends within the past 10 to 50 years in small and large rivers across the Nation. 

Information on USGS long-term water-quality monitoring can be accessed online.

Everglades' Alligator Numbers Drop after Dry Years

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 10/28/2015 - 08:04
Summary: Alligators and the Everglades go hand-in-hand, and as water conditions change in the greater Everglades ecosystem, gators are one of the key species that could be affected

Contact Information:

Hardin Waddle ( Phone: 337-266-8671 ); Gabrielle Bodin ( Phone: 337-266-8655 );



Alligators and the Everglades go hand-in-hand, and as water conditions change in the greater Everglades ecosystem, gators are one of the key species that could be affected.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Florida found the number of American alligators observed in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge dropped following dry years, and then appeared to recover in later non-dry years. The decrease in alligators appeared proportional to the intensity of the dry event. The refuge is located west of Boynton Beach, within the greater Everglades ecosystem.

"Alligator behavior and habitat use is linked to hydrology, and when that hydrology changes, alligator behavior and habitat can change," said USGS research ecologist Hardin Waddle, lead author of the study. "They don’t need it wet all the time, but if dry events increase in frequency and intensity, this could be problematic for alligator numbers in the greater Everglades ecosystem."

Ten years of spotlight night counts in marsh and canals were analyzed to better understand the effect of annual minimum water depth on annual population growth rate. Years were considered dry if they experienced a drop in water level to 6 inches above the marsh surface. At this water level, alligators have difficulty moving around.

Dry conditions can cause male alligators to use up more energy to locate mates, disrupt the ability of females to nest and could result in death due to over-competition for resources and even cannibalism in crowded areas, explained Waddle.

The Everglades is currently one of the world’s largest wetland restoration efforts. The ecosystem, encompassing nearly 4 million acres from near Orlando to the Florida Bay, is threatened by a number of disturbances including changes in hydrology and land use. Much of the remaining areas, including Water Conservation Areas, are now influenced by water management for water supply and flood control. Restoring the natural hydrology to improve ecosystem function is one focus of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

Due to their sensitivity to hydrology, the CERP is using alligator populations to help determine ecosystem response and success of the restoration project. The study results have important implications for helping managers with restoration and water management planning.

"Long-term data sets like the one used in this study offer invaluable insight into what is happening in an ecosystem and provide us the knowledge to build flexibility into Everglades restoration and management," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional scientist and study co-author Laura Brandt. "Understanding both annual patterns and long-term trends helps us with water management decisions within the refuge and other natural areas throughout South Florida."

The study can be found online.

South Carolina Flood Survivors Have Many Ways to Get Help

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 10/27/2015 - 15:46

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s historic floods affected people’s jobs, mental state or left them needing legal assistance. But help is still available. There are several programs to assist survivors with these issues as they work to recover from the floods:

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

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Getting Recognized for Volunteer Mapping Efforts

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 10/27/2015 - 09:30
Summary: Volunteers are being recognized and earning custom badges for making significant contributions to the U.S. Geological Survey's ability to provide accurate and timely information to the public. The National Map Corps Updates Recognition Badges!

Contact Information:

Elizabeith McCartney ( Phone: 573-308-3696 ); Mark Newell ( Phone: 573-308-3850 );



Badges awarded for submitting edits, stating at the top of the circle and proceeding clockwise, with the points needed for each level: Order of the Surveyor’s Chain (25-49), Society of the Steel Tape (50-99), Pedometer Posse (100-199), Circle of the Surveyor’s Compass (200-499), Stadia Board Society (500-999), Alidade Alliance (1000-1999), Theodolite Assemblage (2000 - 2999), Family of Floating Photogrammetrists (3000-3999) . Flock of Winged Witnesses (4000-4999), Ring of Reconnaissance Rocketeers (5000 – 5999) and Squadron of Biplane Spectators (6000+) Credit: TNMCorps. (High resolution image)

Volunteers are being recognized and earning custom badges for making significant contributions to the U.S. Geological Survey's ability to provide accurate and timely information to the public.  Using crowdsourcing techniques, the USGS project known as The National Map Corps (TNMCorps) encourages volunteer “citizen scientists” to collect manmade structure data such as police stations, schools, hospitals and cemeteries, in an effort to provide more precise and authoritative spatial data for the USGS web-based mapping portal known as The National Map and updated US Topo map products.

"Each badge displays classic surveying tools that played a vital role in gathering geographic information in the history of the USGS," said Ricardo Oliveira, TNMCorps student contractor. "After all, our volunteers are modern surveyors working towards a better understanding of the nation’s geographic assets."

Volunteer map editors are a fundamental component of TNMCorps and are critical to the success of the project. The project started in 2012, and since that time, the increasing number of volunteers have verified, edited, deleted, and created more than 160,000 structures points.  In appreciation for the efforts of these "free" mappers, those who reach certain milestones are celebrated in the form of virtual badges.

The newly designed badges showcase the same classic surveying tools and aerial data collection methods, but have been colorfully updated and highlight a variety of amazing landscapes across the United States. These badges are sure to be proudly displayed by any TNMCorps volunteer.

A second set of badges based on aerial data collection was introduced about a year ago as some extra-energetic volunteers quickly surpassed the first set of badge levels. Currently, there are 11 possible badges that can be earned beginning with the Order of the Surveyor’s Chain (25 points) and ending with the Squadron of Biplane Spectators (6000 + points). As volunteer map editors attain each level, a congratulatory email is sent to the awardee with a description of the badge and encouragement to achieve the next level. With permission, volunteer accomplishments are highlighted on TNMCorps Recognition page, and The National Map Twitter (#TNMCorps).

It is easy to become a USGS TNMCorps volunteer map editor. All you need is access to the internet and a willingness to learn. Visit The National Map Corps for more information.

Three Years after Sandy: FEMA Funding for Recovery in New Jersey Exceeds $6.8 Billion

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 10/27/2015 - 08:35

EATONTOWN, NJ. -- In the three years since Hurricane Sandy scored a direct hit on New Jersey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been actively engaged in the recovery effort, providing $6.8 billion to date to help the state recover and rebuild.

This money has helped to restore critical facilities, clear debris, replace boardwalks along the Jersey Shore, rebuild public infrastructure, and reimburse municipalities throughout the state for the enormous costs of clearing debris and restoring public safety in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

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Disaster Recovery Centers Open in Berkeley County to Help South Carolina Flood Survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 17:22

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two disaster recovery centers are open in Berkeley County to help South Carolina flood survivors. The centers, one in Goose Creek and the other in Huger, are open

8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

The new centers are located at 303 N. Goose Creek Blvd. in Goose Creek and at the Berkeley County Emergency Medical Services No. 7 at 1501 Recreation Road in Huger.

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Ancient Permafrost Quickly Transforms to Carbon Dioxide upon Thaw

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 15:00
Summary: Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and key academic partners have quantified how rapidly ancient permafrost decomposes upon thawing and how much carbon dioxide is produced in the process.&nbsp

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 ); Kim Wickland ( Phone: 303-541-3072 );



General view of a 35-meter-high riverbank exposure of the ice-rich syngenetic permafrost (yedoma) containing large ice wedges along the Itkillik River in northern Alaska. Copyright-free photo courtesy Mikhail Kanevskiy; University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Northern Engineering; 8/13/2011. (High resolution image)

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and key academic partners have quantified how rapidly ancient permafrost decomposes upon thawing and how much carbon dioxide is produced in the process. 

Huge stores of organic carbon in permafrost soils ­­— frozen for hundreds to tens of thousands of years across high northern latitudes worldwide — are currently isolated from the modern day carbon cycle. However, if thawed by changing climate conditions, wildfire, or other disturbances, this massive carbon reservoir could decompose and be emitted as the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, or be carried as dissolved organic carbon to streams and rivers. 

"Many scientists worldwide are now investigating the complicated potential end results of thawing permafrost," said Rob Striegl, USGS scientist and study co-author. "There are critical questions to consider, such as: How much of the stored permafrost carbon might thaw in a future climate? Where will it go? And, what are the consequences for our climate and our aquatic ecosystems?"

At a newly excavated tunnel operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers near Fairbanks, Alaska, a research team from USGS, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Florida State University set out to determine how rapidly the dissolved organic carbon from ancient (about 35,000 years old) “yedoma” soils decomposes upon soil thaw and how much carbon dioxide is produced. 

Yedoma is a distinct type of permafrost soil found across Alaska and Siberia that accounts for a significant portion of the permafrost soil carbon pool. These soils were deposited as wind-blown silts in the late Pleistocene age and froze soon after they were formed. 

"It had previously been assumed that permafrost soil carbon this old was already degraded and not susceptible to rapid decomposition upon thaw," said Kim Wickland, the USGS scientist who led the team. 

The researchers found that more than half of the dissolved organic carbon in yedoma permafrost was decomposed within one week after thawing. About 50% of that carbon was converted to carbon dioxide, while the rest likely became microbial biomass. 

Map of the northern circumpolar permafrost zone, highlighting the extent of the yedoma permafrost region (indicated in yellow and red). Map image and copyright permission courtesy of Macmillan Publishers Ltd, from NATURE, Schuur et al., 2015, Climate change and the permafrost carbon feedback, doi:10.1038/nature14338, copyright 2015. (High resolution image)

"What this study adds is that we show what makes permafrost so biodegradable," said Travis Drake, the lead author of the research. "Immediately upon thaw, microbes start using the carbon and then it is sent back into the atmosphere." Drake was both a USGS employee and a master’s degree student at the University of Colorado during the investigation. 

The researchers attribute this rapid decomposition to high concentrations of low molecular weight organic acids in the dissolved organic carbon, which are known to be easily degradable and are not usually present at high concentrations in other soils. 

These rates are among the fastest permafrost decomposition rates that have been documented. It is the first study to link rapid microbial consumption of ancient permafrost soil-derived dissolved organic carbon to the production of carbon dioxide.

An important implication of the study for aquatic ecosystems is that dissolved organic carbon released by thawing yedoma permafrost will be quickly converted to carbon dioxide and emitted to the atmosphere from soils or small streams before it can be transported to major rivers or coastal regions. 

This research was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs provided essential support for the investigation. 

Uncovering the Mighty Mississippi's Natural Potential for Nitrogen Removal

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 14:52
Summary: Working throughout the Mississippi River basin, USGS scientists and collaborators from the University of Texas at Austin have established the river’s own potential to decrease its load of nitrate and identified how certain basic river management practices could increase that potential. 

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 ); Jud Harvey ( Phone: 571-420-7616 );



Working throughout the Mississippi River basin, USGS scientists and collaborators from the University of Texas at Austin have established the river’s own potential to decrease its load of nitrate and identified how certain basic river management practices could increase that potential. 

"Increasing nitrogen concentrations, mostly due to the runoff of agricultural fertilizers, in the world's major rivers have led to over-fertilization of waters downstream, diminishing their commercial and recreational values,” said William Werkheiser, USGS associate director for water. “Understanding the natural potential of rivers themselves to remove nitrogen from the water, and boosting that potential, is a promising avenue to help mitigate the problem." 

Beneath all streams and rivers is a shallow layer of sediment that is permeated by water exchange across the sediment surface. This thin region in the sediment beneath and to the side of the stream is referred to by scientists as the "hyporheic" zone, from Greek words meaning "under the flow." 

"We’ve found in previous studies,” said Jesus Gomez-Velez, lead author of the study, “that the flow of stream water through this thin zone of sediment enhances chemical reactions by microbes that perform denitrification, a reaction that removes nitrogen from the aquatic system by converting it to nitrogen gas.” A USGS post-doctoral scientist at the time of the study, Gomez-Velez is now an assistant professor at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. 

The research team determined that, throughout the Mississippi River network, vertical hyporheic exchange (with sediments directly beneath streams and rivers) has denitrification potential that far exceeds lateral hyporheic exchange with bank sediments.

"Rivers with more vertical exchange are more efficient at denitrification, as long as the contact time with sediment is matched with a reaction time of several hours," observed co-author Jud Harvey, the USGS team leader for the study.  

The study findings suggest that managing rivers to help avoid the sealing of streambeds with fine sediments, which decreases hyporheic flow, would help exploit the valuable natural capability of rivers to improve their own water quality.  Other river management and restoration practices that protect permeable river bedforms could also boost efficiency, such as reducing fine sediment runoff to rivers. 

However, typical river channel restoration strategies that realign channels to increase meandering would not be as effective, because a comparatively small amount of water and river nitrate are processed through river banks compared with river beds.  Although not yet tested in the model, allowing natural flooding over river banks onto floodplains may also be an effective means of processing large amounts of river water to remove nitrogen before it reaches sensitive coastal waters. 

Conducted by USGS and partners from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and the University of Texas at Austin, the research investigation was recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience

The river corridor includes surface and subsurface sediments beneath and outside the wetted channel. Greater interaction between river water and sediment enhances important chemical reactions, such as denitrification, that improve downstream water quality. (high resolution image) Stream and river water make many excursions through hyporheic flow paths. The metrics in the diagram key denote the number of excursions that water makes through hyporheic flow paths per kilometer of river distance. Vertical exchange though streambed hyporheic flow paths is much more efficient compared with exchange through lateral (stream bank) hyporheic flow paths. Also, hyporheic exchange is less efficient in the Upper Mississippi River sub-basin compared with the Missouri or Ohio sub-basins. The primary reasons for different hyporheic flow efficiencies are differences in river basin slope and sediment textures that permit greater hyporheic flow in some areas compared to others. (high resolution image)

Bridging a Link to History at Liberty State Park

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 12:30

Eatontown, N.J. -- When it comes to destruction, disasters like Superstorm Sandy don’t discriminate:  historic structures and environmentally sensitive areas that lie in the path of a storm are in just as much peril as less significant sites.

But when a historic structure or ecologically fragile area is damaged in a disaster, particular care must be taken to ensure that any repair or remediation that must take place is done in accordance with historic and environmental regulations.

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Restoration Handbook for Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystems, Part 1 - Understanding and Applying Restoration

USGS Newsroom Technical - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 12:30
Summary: Heightened interest in advancing sage-grouse conservation has increased the importance of sagebrush-steppe restoration to recover or create wildlife habitat conditions that meet the species’ needs.

Contact Information:

Susan Kemp ( Phone: 541-750-1047 ); Paul Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );



Mountain big sagebrush - or Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana - is a sub-species of big sagebrush that is found in primarily at higher elevation and colder, drier sites between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. (High resolution image)

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Heightened interest in advancing sage-grouse conservation has increased the importance of sagebrush-steppe restoration to recover or create wildlife habitat conditions that meet the species’ needs.  Today, the U.S. Geological Survey published part one of a three-part handbook addressing restoration of sagebrush ecosystems from the landscape to the site level.                                                                                         

"Land managers face many challenges in restoring sagebrush-steppe landscapes to meet multiple management objectives," said David Pyke, USGS ecologist and lead author of the new USGS Circular. "Many wildlife species require multiple types of habitat spread over many scales – landscape to local site level. Managers are challenged to know where, when and how to implement restoration projects so they are effective across all these scales."

The new handbook describes a sagebrush-steppe habitat restoration framework that incorporates landscape ecology principles and information on resistance of sagebrush-steppe to invasive plants and resilience to disturbance. This section of the handbook introduces habitat managers and restoration practitioners to basic concepts about sagebrush ecosystems, landscape ecology and restoration ecology, with emphasis on greater sage-grouse habitats.

Six specific concepts covered are:

  • similarities and differences among sagebrush plant communities,
  • plant community resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive plants based on soil temperature and moisture regimes,
  • soils and the ecology critical for plant species used for restoration,
  • changes that can be made to current management practices or re-vegetation efforts in support of general restoration actions,
  • landscape restoration with an emphasis on restoration to benefit sage-grouse and
  • monitoring effectiveness of restoration actions in support of adaptive management.

"Restoration of an ecosystem is a daunting task that appears insurmountable at first," said Pyke. "But as with any large undertaking, the key is breaking down the process into the essential components to successfully meet objectives. Within the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, restoration is likely to be most successful with a better understanding of how to prioritize landscapes for effective restoration and to apply principles of ecosystem resilience and resistance in restoration decisions."

Pyke noted that the blending of ecosystem realities – such as soil, temperature and moisture – with species-specific needs provides an ecologically based framework for strategically focusing restoration measures to support species of conservation concern over the short and long term.

Part one of the handbook sets the stage for two decision support tools. Part two of the handbook will provide restoration guidance at a landscape level, and part three, restoration guidance at the site level.

The handbook was funded by the U.S. Joint Fire Science Program and National Interagency Fire Center, Bureau of Land Management, Great Northern Landscape Conservation, USGS, and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with authors from the USGS, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Brigham Young University.

Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces in western North America.  Implementation of effective management actions for the benefit of sage-grouse continues to be a focus of Department of the Interior agencies following the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the species is not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Disaster Recovery Centers Open in Georgetown County to Help South Carolina Flood Survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 08:17

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two disaster recovery centers are open in Georgetown County to help South Carolina flood survivors. The centers - one in Andrews and the other in Georgetown - are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

The new centers are located at Potato Bed Ferry Community Center, 531 Big Dam Swamp Drive in Andrews and Beck Recreation Center at 2030 West Church St. in Georgetown.

They replace the center that closed on Friday at the Walmart parking lot at 1295 Frazier St. in Georgetown.

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South Carolina Disaster Recovery Center Changes Sunday Hours in Gadsden

FEMA Press Releases - Sat, 10/24/2015 - 13:20

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The disaster recovery center in Gadsden has new hours on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The center’s Monday-to-Saturday hours remain 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.

Representatives from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other public and private agencies are at the center to explain disaster assistance programs and help survivors with applications for aid.

The disaster recovery center is located at the following address:

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