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Federal News

Take a Trip to the Islands

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 09:00
Summary: Since August 2013, all 50 states have been available for editing with the USGS The National Map Corps (TNMCorps) volunteered geographic information project. Starting this month, TNMCorps is pleased to add the United States Virgin Islands to that list The U.S. Virgin Islands are now available for structure updates with The National Map Corps crowd-sourcing volunteers

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Erin Korris ( Phone: 303-202-4503 ); Elizabeth McCartney ( Phone: 573-308-3696 );



Since August 2013, all 50 states have been available for editing with the USGS The National Map Corps (TNMCorps) volunteered geographic information project. Starting this month, TNMCorps is pleased to add the United States Virgin Islands to that list.

Using crowd-sourcing techniques, TNMCorps encourages citizen volunteers to collect data about manmade structures in an effort to provide accurate and authoritative spatial map data for the USGS National Geospatial Program’s web-based The National Map

Through an online map editor, volunteers use aerial images and other resources to improve structures data by adding new features, removing obsolete points, and correcting existing data. Points available to edit include schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations and other important public buildings. Volunteers may find editing structures in the U.S. Virgin Islands quite challenging, as some source data points shown in the map editor may be out of date, and some structure types are missing entirely.

One of many younger volunteers has found that contributing to The National Map Corps has been a rewarding summer activity.  “I’ve only been working for a month and already I’ve discovered interesting facts, like where Sacagawea is buried, and all of the unique names for places around the country,” said user “crazeyme,” who is also one of the top producing participants. 

To recognize our volunteers, TNMCorps has instituted a recognition program that awards "virtual" badges" based on the number of points edited.  Badges consist of a series of antique surveying instruments ranging from the Surveyor's Chain (25 – 50 points) to the Theodolite Assemblage (2000+ points). Additionally, volunteers are publically recognized (with user permission) via Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.

Volunteers only need access to a computer and the Internet to participate.  The National Map Corps’ website explains how volunteers can edit any area, regardless of their familiarity with the selected structures. Registration is simple and requires only an email address and self-selected username. 

Participants make a significant addition to the USGS's ability to provide accurate information to the public. Data collected by volunteers become part of The National Map structures dataset which is available to users free of charge.

See for yourself how much fun participating can be. Go to The National Map Corps and give it a try.

Screen shot of The National Map Corps editor webpage showing the capitol city of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, St. Thomas. Within this image lies the governmental center, public schools, and more– which is why The National Map Corps needs your help! (high resolution image 3.3 MB) Badges awarded for submitting edits, shown in from first to last: Order of the Surveyor’s Chain (25-49), Society of the Steel Tape 50-99), Pedometer Posse (100-199), Surveyor’s Compass (200-499), Stadia Board Society (500-999), Alidade Alliance (1000-1999), and Theodolite Assemblage (2000+). New awards for volunteers exceeding 2,000 points are under review. (high resolution image 114.7KB)

More Bang for the Buck – Inexpensive Disaster Rebuilding Tips

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 17:37

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Repairing damage after a disaster can be expensive.  In cases of severe damage, the costs can be staggering.

However, many projects can be done for little or no money.  Most can make a big difference in helping minimize damage from the next disaster and provide the extra bonus of lowering utility and home-maintenance costs year-round.

Here are some ideas:

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of South Dakota Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 19:40

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of South Dakota.

Assistance for the State, Tribal and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for South Dakota

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 19:36

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of South Dakota to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding during the period of June 13-20, 2014.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Firefighter Grant Helps Recoup Atlantic City Equipment Lost During Sandy

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 14:58

New York, NY, July 28, 2014 -- In addition to its other widespread destruction, Hurricane Sandy also undermined the effectiveness of multiple sets of the Atlantic City Fire Department’s (ACFD) personal protective equipment via several feet of salt water, oil, gasoline, and sewage.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Nebraska Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 13:34

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Nebraska.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

Language English
Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Nebraska

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 13:30

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Nebraska to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding during the period of June 1-4, 2014.

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Categories: Federal News

Streamflow Increasing in Eastern Missouri River Basin, Decreasing Elsewhere

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 13:06
Summary: Streamflow in the eastern portions of the Missouri River watershed has increased over the past 52 years, whereas other parts have seen downward trends

Contact Information:

Parker Norton ( Phone: 605-394-3220 ); Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-202-4765 );



Reporters: Video footage of an interview with lead USGS scientist Parker Norton is available online.

Streamflow in the eastern portions of the Missouri River watershed has increased over the past 52 years, whereas other parts have seen downward trends. 

U.S. Geological Survey scientists recently studied data from 227 streamgages in the Missouri River watershed that had continuous records for 1960 through 2011. The scientists found that almost half of the streamgages showed either an upward or downward trend in mean annual flow since 1960, while the rest showed no trend.

The study is relevant on a large scale because the Missouri River is the longest river in the United States, with a watershed that includes mountainous to prairie topography in all or parts of 10 states and small parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. 

“The Missouri River and its tributaries are valuable for agriculture, energy, recreation and municipal water supplies,” said USGS hydrologist Parker Norton. “Understanding streamflow throughout the watershed can help guide management of these critical water resources.” 

According to the study, streamflow has increased in the eastern part of the watershed, including eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Annual flows have decreased in the western headwaters area of the Missouri River in Montana and Wyoming, and in the southern part of the basin associated with the Kansas River watershed.

Climate changes that affect how and where moisture is delivered to the continent may be causing some of these trends in the Missouri River Basin. Although the USGS scientists did not conduct a complete analysis of the causes, they noted that increased streamflow over broad regions occurred despite the increasing use of water. Decreased streamflow in some areas could also be related to climate change factors, or to groundwater pumping. 

The USGS report can be accessed online

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the United States. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk and for many recreational activities. 

Access current flood and high flow conditions across the country by visiting the USGS WaterWatch website. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert

Scientists Predict Massive Urban Growth, Creation of 'Megalopolis' in Southeast in Next 45 Years

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 10:10
Summary: Urban areas in the Southeastern United States will double in size by 2060 unless there are significant changes to land development, according to a new study by the Department of Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center and North Carolina State University

Contact Information:

Adam Terando ( Phone: 919-515-4448 ); Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-498-5019 );



RALEIGH, N.C.—Urban areas in the Southeastern United States will double in size by 2060 unless there are significant changes to land development, according to a new study by the Department of Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center and North Carolina State University.

The predicted growth would come at the expense of agricultural and forest lands, creating an urban “megalopolis” stretching from Raleigh to Atlanta, which also raises a number of ecological concerns.

“If we continue to develop urban areas in the Southeast the way we have for the past 60 years, we can expect natural areas will become increasingly fragmented,” said Adam Terando, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, adjunct assistant professor at NC State, and lead author of the study.  “We could be looking at a seamless corridor of urban development running from Raleigh to Atlanta, and possibly as far as Birmingham, within the next 50 years.”

To understand how urban and natural environments could change, the researchers used NC State’s High Performance Computing services to simulate urban development between now and 2060 across the Southeastern United States.  

Among the expected impacts of such expansive urban growth, the fragmentation of natural areas would significantly limit the mobility of wildlife, making it more difficult for them to find mates, raise young, find food and respond to environmental changes.

“This, in turn, increases the likelihood that we’ll see more conflicts between people and wildlife, such as the increasing interactions with bears we’re seeing in our suburban areas,” Terando said.

An increase in urbanization would also make urban heat islands—the warming of cities due to human activities and development—more common, favoring species that can take advantage of the hotter conditions in cities. For example, previous studies have found that insect pests – such as scale insects – thrive in urban environments.

“Unless we change course, over the next 50 years urbanization will have a more pronounced ecological impact in many non-coastal areas of the Southeast than climate change, said Jennifer Costanza, a research associate at NC State and a co-author of the study. “It’s impossible to predict precisely what the specific ecological outcomes would be, but so far, the projections are not good in terms of biodiversity and ecosystem health.”

This research emphasizes how decision makers involved in community planning will need a well-thought out strategy for future development, Costanza said. 

“Given that urbanization poses significant challenges to this region, decision makers will need to begin serious, long-term discussions about economic development, ecological impacts and the value of non-urban spaces,” she added.

The paper, “The southern megalopolis: using the past to predict the future of urban sprawl in the Southeast U.S.,” is published in PLOS ONE. The paper was co-authored by Adam Terando, Alexa McKerrow and Jaime A. Collazo of the USGS; and Jennifer Costanza, Curtis Belyea and Rob Dunn of NC State. The work was supported by the DOI Southeast Climate Science Center based at NC State. The center provides scientific information to help natural resource managers respond effectively to climate change.

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Nebraska Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 19:54

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Nebraska.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

Language English
Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Nebraska

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 19:50

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Nebraska to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding during the period of June 14-21, 2014.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Iowa Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 18:34

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Iowa.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

Language English
Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Iowa

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 18:28

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Iowa to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding during the period of June 14-23, 2014.

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Categories: Federal News

Climate Change Could Alter Range of Caribou and May Impact Hunters' Access

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 13:00
Summary: Due to climate change, some communities in rural Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada may face a future with fewer caribou according to new research published by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the recent issue of PLoS ONE

Contact Information:

Yvette Gillies ( Phone: 907-786-7039 ); Dave Gustine ( Phone: 907-786-7435 ); Todd Brinkman ( Phone: 907-474-7139 );



Caribou from the Central Arctic herd along the Sagavanirktok River in northern Alaska. (High resolution image)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Due to climate change, some communities in rural Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada may face a future with fewer caribou according to new research published by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the recent issue of PLoS ONE. Scientists examined the future effects of fires on winter habitats of caribou herds and determined that wildfires will reduce the amount of winter habitat for caribou, thus caribou may need to shift their wintering grounds

Warming temperatures will increase the flammability of lichen-producing boreal forests, which are important winter habitat for caribou herds. Caribou serve as nutritional as well as cultural sustenance for certain communities. Caribou avoid burned areas in winter and the changes in their distribution can persist across multiple generations of hunters. Those who rely on caribou in fire-prone areas may therefore have fewer available as climate change increases the number and sizes of fires in the boreal forests.

“We project that the Porcupine caribou herd will lose 21% of winter habitat to fire by the end of this century, with the majority of this loss driven by increased flammability in spruce forests in the Yukon," said Dr. Dave Gustine, a Research Wildlife Biologist with the USGS and lead author of the study.

The study examines how increasing temperatures will influence flammability of boreal forest areas used by the Central Arctic and Porcupine caribou herds during winter. Understanding possible changes to forest flammability allows forecasting of future winter distributions of caribou that will impact subsistence harvest and land, wildlife and fire management programs.

Climate change is global in scope and scale; however, its impacts are sometimes most visible in remote locations of the planet. Like climate change itself, migratory animals such as caribou do not recognize international geo-political borders and the research needed to study the relationship between climate change and animals crosses many countries.

The potential changes in caribou distribution will affect communities that have a cultural and nutritional reliance on caribou. Arctic Village, Alaska and Old Crow Yukon Territory, are within the traditional boreal forest winter range of the Porcupine herd, while hunters from the Alaskan villages of Fort Yukon, Venetie and Chalkyitsik, travel north each year to harvest animals from this herd.

“Fires were less numerous and smaller in tundra habitats compared to spruce habitats and given the more likely climate trajectory, we projected that the Porcupine caribou herd, which winters primarily in the boreal forest, could be expected to experience a greater reduction in lichen-producing winter habitats than the Central Arctic herd that wintered primarily in the arctic tundra,” said Dr. Todd Brinkman a co-author of the study and member of the Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Future work by the USGS and collaborators will examine how fire-driven changes to winter habitat and temperature-driven changes to spring and summer forages will influence the habitats of caribou across the Alaskan Arctic.

This work is part of the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative.

Simulation domain and winter ranges of the Central Arctic and Porcupine caribou herds, Alaska and Yukon. (High resolution image)

Insecticides Similar to Nicotine Widespread in Midwest

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:00
Summary: Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new USGS study

Contact Information:

Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 ); Kathy Kuivila ( Phone: 503-251-3257 );



Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new USGS study. This is the first broad-scale investigation of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Midwestern United States and one of the first conducted within the United States.

Effective in killing a broad range of insect pests, use of neonicotinoid insecticides has dramatically increased over the last decade across the United States, particularly in the Midwest.  The use of clothianidin, one of the chemicals studied, on corn in Iowa alone has almost doubled between 2011 and 2013.

 “Neonicotinoid insecticides are receiving increased attention by scientists as we explore the possible links between pesticides, nutrition, infectious disease, and other stress factors in the environment possibly associated with honeybee dieoffs.” said USGS scientist Kathryn Kuivila, the research team leader.

Neonicotinoid insecticides dissolve easily in water, but do not break down quickly in the environment. This means they are likely to be transported away in runoff from the fields where they were first applied to nearby surface water and groundwater bodies.

In all, nine rivers and streams, including the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, were included in the study. The rivers studied drain most of Iowa, and parts of Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. These states have the highest use of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Nation, and the chemicals were found in all nine rivers and streams.

Of the three most often found chemicals, clothianidin was the most commonly detected, showing up in 75 percent of the sites and at the highest concentration. Thiamethoxam was found at 47 percent of the sites, and imidacloprid was found at 23 percent. Two, acetamiprid and dinotefuran, were only found once, and the sixth, thiacloprid, was never detected.

Instead of being sprayed on growing or full-grown crops, neonicotinoids can be applied to the seed before planting. The use of treated seeds in the United States has increased to the point where most corn and soybeans planted in the United States have a seed treatment (i.e., coating), many of which include neonicotinoid insecticides.

“We noticed higher levels of these insecticides after rain storms during crop planting, which is similar to the spring flushing of herbicides that has been documented in Midwestern U.S. rivers and streams,” said USGS scientist Michelle Hladik, the report’s lead author. “In fact, the insecticides also were detected prior to their first use during the growing season, which indicates that they can persist from applications in prior years.”

One of the chemicals, imidacloprid, is known to be toxic to aquatic organisms at 10-100 nanograms per liter if the aquatic organisms are exposed to it for an extended period of time. Clothianidin and thiamethoxam behave similarly to imidacloprid, and are therefore anticipated to have similar effect levels. Maximum concentrations of clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid measured in this study were 257, 185, and 42.7 nanograms per liter, respectively.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified all detected neonicotinoids as not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

The paper, “Widespread occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in streams in a high corn and soybean producing region, USA” and has been published in Environmental Pollution. Learn more about the study and the long-term USGS effort to gather information on the environmental occurrence of new pesticides in different geographic, climatic, and use settings here. To learn more about USGS environmental health science, please visit the USGS Environmental Health website and sign up for our GeoHealth Newsletter.

Locations of sites in Iowa sampled for neonicotinoids in 2013. Watersheds for the Mississippi River and Missouri River sites are shown in the inset.

Disaster recovery going strong 10 months after flooding

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:04

 

Almost 10 months ago, heavy rains brought flooding, landslides and mudslides to several counties along Colorado’s Front Range. Since that time, nearly $449 million in grants, reimbursements, low-interest loans and insurance payments to individuals, businesses and communities has been approved by the State of Colorado, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

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Categories: Federal News

Rebuilding stronger and better

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00

 

DENVER — Rebuilding after a disaster can present opportunities as well as challenges.

The challenges include getting the job done quickly and efficiently. The opportunities involve rebuilding stronger and better.

When it comes to repairing and rebuilding infrastructure damaged in last September’s floods, FEMA’s Stafford Act Section 406 can provide mitigation funds for risk-reduction improvements to roads, waterways, bridges, dams, buildings and other public structures already eligible for Public Assistance reimbursement.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Washington Emergency Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:35

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's emergency disaster declaration issued for the State of Washington.

Assistance for the State, Tribal and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

Language English
Categories: Federal News

President Obama Signs Washington Emergency Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:27

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the State of Washington to supplement state and local response efforts in the area affected by wildfires beginning on July 9, 2014, and continuing.

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Categories: Federal News

Media Advisory: USGS to Host Congressional Briefing: Safer Communities, Stronger Economies - in 3D

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 13:00
Summary: Outdated and inconsistent elevation data cost lives and hinder prosperity across our Nation. Current and accurate 3D elevation data are essential to help communities cope with natural hazards, support infrastructure, ensure agricultural success, strengthen environmental decision making and bolster national security

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Kathleen  Gohn ( Phone: 703-648-4242 );



Outdated and inconsistent elevation data cost lives and hinder prosperity across our Nation. Current and accurate 3D elevation data are essential to help communities cope with natural hazards, support infrastructure, ensure agricultural success, strengthen environmental decision making and bolster national security. Flood and landslide maps are just a few of the hundreds of applications benefiting from enhanced lidar data.  A coordinated effort among Federal, State, local government and the private sector could meet our country’s needs for high-quality, 3D elevation data in just 8 years. Come learn how the USGS and its partners are working to assemble and apply better data to keep citizens safe and help America thrive.

Speakers:
  • Douglas Bausch – Region VIII Earthquake Program Manager and Senior Physical Scientist, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • John Dorman – Assistant State Emergency Management Director for Geospatial & Technology Management, North Carolina
  • Jonathan Godt- Landslide Hazards Program Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey

Emcee: Kevin Gallagher – Associate Director for Core Science Systems, USGS

Where: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2325, Washington, D.C.

When: Friday, July 25, 2014 - 11:00 a.m.

Host: Refreshments provided courtesy of Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS)

High-resolution lidar image of Mount St. Helens, Washington.