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Two Mississippi Counties Added to Federal Disaster Declaration for March Severe Storms and Floods

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 04/05/2016 - 17:21

PEARL, Miss. – At the request of Governor Phil Bryant, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has amended a recent disaster declaration for severe storms and flooding that began March 9, 2016. Survivors in George and Pearl River counties can now register with FEMA for disaster assistance through the Individual Assistance program.

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Categories: Federal News

Volunteers Needed in Louisiana for Disaster Recovery

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 04/05/2016 - 17:02

BATON ROUGE, La. – In the wake of a disaster, the people of Louisiana have always come together with compassion and courage to ask how they can help survivors.

Soon after a disaster people come forward to assist those in need. However, people often don’t realize there is still a great need a few weeks after the disaster. Currently, there is a shortage of volunteers, particularly in northern Louisiana.

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More Louisiana Residents May Be Eligible for Federal Disaster Assistance, Urged to Register

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 04/05/2016 - 16:49

Baton Rouge, La. – Louisiana disaster survivors in Catahoula, East Carroll, Franklin, Lincoln and St. Helena parishes may now be eligible for federal disaster assistance.
        
Their first step is to register with FEMA.

Individuals in the designated parishes who had storm damage may apply for federal disaster assistance three ways:

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Louisiana Survivors: Share Disaster Recovery Information with Friends and Neighbors

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 04/05/2016 - 12:36

Baton Rouge, La. – Word of mouth is a powerful way to spread news. Amazing as it may seem, some people are so busy with their recovery from the March severe storms and floods, they may not have heard about federal help. Spread the word that the first step toward getting recovery assistance is to register with FEMA.

You could be the one to bring this important message to someone you know, perhaps a friend, neighbor, coworker, family member or acquaintance. Affected individuals, households and communities in Louisiana will be able to recover faster and stronger.

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Alaska Still a Likely Portal for Avian Influenza

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 04/05/2016 - 12:00
Summary: ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. Geological Survey released additional evidence that western Alaska remains a hot spot for avian influenza to enter North America. The new report announces that while no highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been found in Alaska, the state remains an important area to monitor due to migratory bird flyways from North America and Eurasia that overlap the region.

Contact Information:

Andrew Ramey ( Phone: 907-786-7174 ); Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );



ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. Geological Survey released additional evidence that western Alaska remains a hot spot for avian influenza to enter North America. The new report announces that while no highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been found in Alaska, the state remains an important area to monitor due to migratory bird flyways from North America and Eurasia that overlap the region.

“Our past research in western Alaska has shown that while we have not detected the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, up to 70 percent of the other avian influenza viruses isolated in this area were found to contain genetic material from Eurasia, providing evidence for high levels of intercontinental viral exchange,” said Andy Ramey, a scientist with the USGS and lead author of the recent report. “This is because Asian and North American migratory flyways overlap in western Alaska.”

The designation of low or highly pathogenic avian influenza refers to the potential for these viruses to cause disease or kill chickens. The designation of “low pathogenic" or “highly pathogenic" does not refer to how infectious the viruses may be to humans, other mammals or other species of birds. Most strains of avian influenza are not highly pathogenic and cause few signs of disease in infected wild birds. However, in poultry, some low-pathogenic strains can mutate into highly pathogenic avian influenza strains that cause contagious and severe illness or death among poultry, and sometimes among wild birds as well.

Past research by the USGS, found low pathogenic H9N2 viruses in an Emperor Goose and a Northern Pintail. Both viruses were nearly identical genetically to viruses found in wild bird samples from Lake Dongting, China and Cheon-su Bay, South Korea. 

“These H9N2 viruses are low pathogenic and not known to infect humans, but similar viruses have been implicated in disease outbreaks in domestic poultry in Asia,” said Ramey. 

In the new report, the USGS collaborated with the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel, Alaska, and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia to obtain and test bird samples from Alaska Native subsistence hunters during spring of 2015. Hunters provided researchers with over 1,000 swabs from harvested water birds, the primary hosts of avian influenza viruses. 

Last year, the USGS published an article describing the introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza into North America at the end of 2014, likely via migratory birds that migrated through Alaska. However, highly pathogenic avian influenza was never documented in Alaska. The highly pathogenic viruses spread throughout parts of the western and Midwestern U.S., impacting approximately 50 million poultry. However, those highly pathogenic viruses have now not been detected in North America since July 2015. 

This fall, the USGS will sample wild birds at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Most of those samples will come from sport hunters. 

The new report is entitled, “Surveillance for Eurasian-origin and intercontinental reassortant highly pathogenic influenza A viruses in Alaska, spring and summer 2015” and is published in Virology Journal.

Additional information about avian influenza can be found at the following websites: 

USGS Alaska Science Center

USGS National Wildlife Health Center USGS National Wildlife Health Center

Ecosystem Restoration Projects Generate Jobs and Business Activity in Local, Regional, and National Economies

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 04/05/2016 - 10:00
Summary: Riparian planting in the Powell River watershed in Lee County, Virginia. Part of the Lone Mountain NRDAR restoration. Photo credit: Upper Tennessee River Roundtable. Clearing of juniper in the Burley Landscape in Idaho. Photo credit: BLM. FORT COLLINS, Colo. – From restoring the sagebrush sea to rejuvenating watersheds and landscapes after fires, ecosystem restoration can bear substantial economic fruit for local, state and national economies, according to a USGS study published today.

Contact Information:

Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 );



Riparian planting in the Powell River watershed in Lee County, Virginia. Part of the Lone Mountain NRDAR restoration. Photo credit: Upper Tennessee River Roundtable. Clearing of juniper in the Burley Landscape in Idaho. Photo credit: BLM.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – From restoring the sagebrush sea to rejuvenating watersheds and landscapes after fires, ecosystem restoration can bear substantial economic fruit for local, state and national economies, according to a USGS study published today.

USGS economists evaluated 21 Department of the Interior restoration projects and found that for each dollar invested in ecosystem restoration, there was a two- to three-fold return in economic activity that rippled through local, regional and national economies. Case study projects include restoration activities associated with Natural Resource Damage Assessment sites and Bureau of Land Management sagebrush and sage-grouse habitat restoration, fuels reduction and post-fire restoration projects. 

“Based on case study results, we found that for every $1 million invested in ecosystem restoration, between $2.2 and $3.4 million flow through to the U.S. economy, demonstrating how such investments support jobs and livelihoods, small businesses and rural economies,” said USGS economist and lead author Catherine Cullinane Thomas. 

The report quantified methods to provide economic impact analyses focused on the jobs and business activity generated through money spent on ecosystem restoration activities.  The research was a joint project among the USGS, the DOI Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program, the DOI Office of Policy Analysis, and the BLM Socioeconomics Program.

"This report highlights the importance of restoration activities not only for the benefit of natural resources impacted by oil spills or hazardous chemicals, but also for the economic well-being of human communities," said Steve Glomb, director of the DOI Office of Restoration and Damage Assessment.

"The study shows that these collaborative projects sustain our local economies in addition to restoring our nation's public lands and resources," said Josh Sidon, a BLM economist and study co-author.

All 21 case studies can be found at https://www.fort.usgs.gov/economic-impacts-restoration.

Economic impacts are reported as job-years, a measure of the total number of annualized full and part-time jobs accumulated over the duration of the restoration project.  Labor income is a measure of the wages and salaries earned through the jobs supported by project expenditures. Value added is a measure of the contribution to Gross Domestic Product. Economic output is a measure of the total value of the production of goods and services supported by project expenditures.

 

Highlighted Case Studies:

Sagebrush Steppe Restoration in South Beaver Area, Utah -

Through Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative, the BLM and other federal, state and local agencies and organizations teamed up to help restore and manage high-priority ecosystems in Utah, including portions of Colorado Plateau and Great Basin. WRI partners are providing better wildlife habitat, restoring critical watersheds and reducing the risk of wildfire to urban communities. To date, WRI partners have restored more than 1.1 million acres in Utah. Sagebrush restoration in the South Beaver area is one of many WRI projects. This area is crucial mule deer winter habitat, contains important elk habitat and historic sage-grouse habitat. Restoration in this area is ongoing and encompasses 145,000 acres.

 

Total cost of restoration:  $3.5 million, an estimated 72 percent spent locally in Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington counties in Utah.

Local economic impacts:

Labor income: $1.9 million

Local economic output: $4.2 million

Contribution to GDP:  $2.5 million

Job-years: 37

Regional economic impacts:

Labor income: $3.5 million

Regional economic output: $8 million

Regional contribution to GDP: $4.6 million

Job-years: 59

Burley Landscape Sage-Grouse Habitat Restoration

The area surrounding the BLM’s Burley Field Office in Idaho is home to a variety of species, such as the greater sage-grouse, mule deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and pygmy rabbit. In the late 1800’s, with the settlement of the west, this landscape began to shift from a sagebrush steppe ecosystem to woodlands dominated by Utah juniper and conifers, decreasing available habitat for sagebrush-dependent species such as the sage-grouse and mule deer.

Total cost of restoration: $1.4 million

 

Local economic impacts:

Labor income: $300,000

Local economic output: $450,000

Contribution to GDP: more than $310,000

Job-years: 8

Regional economic impacts:

Labor income: $1.6 million

Regional economic output: $3.1 million

Contribution to GDP: $1.9 million

Job-years: 42

 Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge (Crab Orchard NWR): Wastewater Treatment Plant Remediation and Restoration -

The Crab Orchard National Wildlife