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Federal News

New Study Sheds Light on Mammal Declines in Everglades National Park

USGS Newsroom - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 16:10
Summary: Nearly 80 percent of radio-tracked marsh rabbits that died in Everglades National Park in a recent study were eaten by Burmese pythons, according to a new publication by University of Florida and U.S. Geological Survey researchers

Contact Information:

Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-352-3487 ); Robert McCleery ( Phone: 352-846-0566 );



GAINESVILLE, Fla. – – Nearly 80 percent of radio-tracked marsh rabbits that died in Everglades National Park in a recent study were eaten by Burmese pythons, according to a new publication by University of Florida and U.S. Geological Survey researchers.  

A year later, there was no sign of a rabbit population in the study area.  The study demonstrates that Burmese pythons are now the dominant predator of marsh rabbits, and likely other mid-sized animals in the park, potentially upsetting the balance of a valuable ecosystem.

The study provides the first empirical evidence that the Burmese python caused reductions in marsh rabbit populations in the park, supporting previous studies that suggested pythons were a significant factor in declines of many other mid-sized mammals since becoming established there a few decades ago.

The estimated tens of thousands of Burmese pythons now populating the greater Everglades present a low risk to people in the park, according to previous research by USGS and NPS.

Scientists know that invasive pythons prey on native Everglades mammals, but they didn’t have experimental evidence that pythons could cause population declines or local extinction of mammals, said Robert McCleery, a UF assistant professor in wildlife ecology and conservation who led the study.

While a 2012 study showed that as pythons were proliferating, mammals were declining, it did not directly link the two phenomena. “This study does just that,” said Bob Reed, a USGS research herpetologist and study co-author.

“Mammals play an important role in the Everglades ecosystem, and so recovery of mammal populations is closely tied with recovering the overall health and functionality of this ecosystem,” McCleery said.

In most Florida wetlands, it’s easy to detect marsh rabbit populations by searching for their scat, but the researchers could not find evidence of rabbits in the parts of Everglades National Park they studied during intensive surveys prior to conducting their experiment.

In 2012, a group of scientists that included researchers from Davidson College, USGS and UF compared data on mammal populations from the 1990s – before pythons became widespread in Everglades National Park ─ to results of population surveys conducted between 2003 and 2011. The 2012 study found that significant mammalian population declines coincided in space and time with the proliferation of invasive pythons in the Everglades.  

“Previous studies implicated pythons in mammal declines in the Everglades, but those studies were largely correlative,” said Reed. “This new study moves us from correlation to causation in terms of the impact of invasive pythons on native mammals.” 

To conduct the most recent study, researchers found areas outside of the park that supported large and healthy populations of marsh rabbits. They moved 31 marsh rabbits into select areas in the park in two experimental populations. They also put 15 rabbits in the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and captured, collared and released another 49 in Fakahatchee Strand State Park, where they knew there would be few, if any, pythons ─ and used those as control sites. All of the rabbits were equipped with radio-collars so that they could be regularly located.

The researchers radio-tracked the rabbits and found that 77 percent of those that died in the Everglades were eaten by Burmese pythons, and that there was no sign of a rabbit population in the areas where they released them in the park one year later. On the other hand, rabbits remained common at the control site after the experiment. Many animals eat marsh rabbits, but outside the park, they’re most often the victims of bobcats and coyotes.

Furthermore, the warmer and wetter the weather, the more rabbits were consumed by pythons in the park. The researchers suggested this may be because higher water levels allow the pythons to easily swim long distances while searching for food and because they feed more frequently when it’s hot.

Scientists chose to study the pythons’ impacts on marsh rabbit populations because the high reproductive rates of rabbits mean that their populations are typically resilient to predators, McCleery said. The conclusion that pythons are capable of eliminating marsh rabbit populations in Everglades National Park led the authors to suggest that the observed declines in other mid-sized mammal species in the park could also be due to predation by pythons.

The study was published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Academy B. McCleery’s co-authors include UF graduate student Adia Sovie, as well as Robert Reed, Kristen Hart and Margaret Hunter, all research wildlife biologists with the USGS. 

FEMA Awards $1,050,990 Grant to the Village of Glenwood

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 14:17

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released $1,050,990 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to the village of Glenwood, Ill., for the acquisition and demolition of nine residential structures in the Thorn Creek floodplain.  

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Categories: Federal News

Flood Map Meeting to Take Place in Pennsauken Township on March 25, 2015

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 11:35

EATONTOWN, NJ  –  Camden County residents and property owners will be able ask questions and obtain information on their property’s flood hazard risk at an Open House scheduled to take place in Pennsauken Township on Wednesday, March 25 at the Camden County Boathouse , 7050 North Park Drive from 4 to 8 p.m.

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Categories: Federal News

Texas Receives More Than $1.1 Million for Repairs Following the 2013 Halloween Flooding

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 11:07

DENTON, Texas – The state of Texas has received more than $1.1 million for repairs to roads and other facilities in the aftermath of the 2013 Halloween flooding.

Overflow from Onion Creek damaged Falwell Lane in Austin, washing away parts of the asphalt road, shoulders and slope embankments and other infrastructure at seven different locations.

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Categories: Federal News

Louisiana Receives More Than $5.5 Million for Repairs Following Hurricane Isaac & 2013 Floods

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 17:07

DENTON, Texas – The state of Louisiana recently received more than $5.5 million for repairs and reimbursements following Hurricane Isaac in 2012 and the flooding of 2013.

Hurricane Isaac caused widespread damage across South Louisiana. The funding made possible by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance program covers repairs to a number of facilities, as well as reimbursement for emergency operations in multiple parishes including:

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Awards $2,781,435 Grant to DuPage County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 09:05

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released $2,781,435 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to DuPage County, Ill., for the acquisition and demolition of 13 residential structures in the Winfield Creek, Salt Creek and East Branch DuPage River floodplains. 

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Colorado Housing Mission Comes to a Close

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 18:18

DENVER – The FEMA temporary housing mission serving Colorado came to a close March 14, 2015.  In the aftermath of the 2013 Colorado flooding, FEMA brought in more than 50 manufactured homes to areas where a severe housing shortage was identified. In the past month, the final few remaining households have been moving out of the FEMA units.

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Categories: Federal News

Dive In – Explore Thousands of Coastal and Seafloor Images

USGS Newsroom Technical - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 14:21
Summary: Thousands of photos and videos of the seafloor and coastline—most areas never seen before—are now available and easily accessible online. This is critical for coastal managers to make important decisions, ranging from protecting habitats to understanding hazards and managing land use

Contact Information:

Nadine Golden ( Phone: 831-460-7530 ); Seth Ackerman ( Phone: 508-457-2315 ); Jessica Robertson ( Phone: 703-648-6624 );



Thousands of photos and videos of the seafloor and coastline—most areas never seen before—are now available and easily accessible online. This is critical for coastal managers to make important decisions, ranging from protecting habitats to understanding hazards and managing land use.

Imagery is available through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Video and Photograph Portal.

This USGS portal is unique, due to the sheer quantity and quality of data presented. It is the largest database of its kind, providing detailed and fine-scale representations of the coast. The "geospatial context" is also unique, with maps displaying imagery in the exact location where it was recorded.

Prior to development of the data portal, retrieving this imagery required internal USGS access with specific hardware and software. It was difficult to manage and challenging to share such a large amount of information.

"The USGS has been dedicated to developing a system that allows for convenient communication internally as well as to outside collaborators and the public to access our abundance of coastal and seafloor imagery," said USGS geographer Nadine Golden, who is the Lead Principal Investigator for the USGS portal. "The portal makes it easy for users to discover, obtain and disseminate information."

This portal contains coverage of the seafloor off California and Massachusetts, and aerial imagery of the coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic coasts. Additional video and photographs will be added as they are collected, and archived imagery will also be incorporated soon. Areas of future focus include data sets for Washington State’s Puget Sound, Hawaii and the Arctic.

"As part of an ongoing seafloor mapping partnership, Massachusetts has worked with the USGS Woods Hole Science Center to map more than 850 square miles of marine waters and collect extensive video footage and photographs of the seafloor," said Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Director Bruce Carlisle. "The Coastal and Marine Geology Video and Photograph Portal is a great resource, providing direct and easy access to this imagery. It will support several key elements of the recently updated Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, including habitat characterization and the review of ocean development projects under the plan."

Information in this portal helps create coastal maps and representations of seafloor composition and habitats. It provides references for short- and long-term monitoring of changes to the coast, whether from anthropogenic modifications or natural occurrences. Hurricanes and extreme storms are of particular concern, and USGS imagery helps managers, emergency responders and researchers understand circumstances before, during and after such events. Other critical hazards include coastal flooding and sea-level rise, as well as assessments for earthquake and tsunami awareness.

Data also support coastal and marine spatial planning, including evaluation of sites for renewable ocean energy facilities as well as the development of communities and infrastructure. USGS science helps designate marine protected areas, define habitats, identify needs for ecosystem restoration, and inform regional sediment management decisions.

In total, approximately 100,000 photographs and have been collected as well as 1,000 hours of trackline video covering almost 2,000 miles of coastline. Imagery was taken by video and still cameras towed by boat or from aerial flights.

This effort supports the National Ocean Policy mandate to provide access to federal data resources.

How does it work? Start with the tutorial and then dive in!

In 2013, a successful video and photograph pilot interactive website was launched for the California Seafloor Mapping Program, and this helped build the newly released portal.

Also, check out a new crowdsourcing application called, "USGS iCoast – Did the Coast Change?" This application allows citizen scientists to identify changes to the coast by comparing aerial photographs taken before and after storms.

Learn more about USGS science by visiting the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program website.

Screenshot from the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Video and Photograph Portal. Zooming into an area of interest reveals lines where continuous video footage was acquired and dots where still photographs were taken. Clicking on a segment launches the video in a pop-up window. Photographs appear beside the video, changing as the video passes each point where a photograph was taken. (High resolution image)

Union County Facing Probation from National Flood Insurance Program

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 03/18/2015 - 12:47

DENVER – Union County, S.D., is scheduled to be placed on probationary status with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on May 18, 2015, unless the county is able to address program deficiencies prior to that date, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the program.

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Categories: Federal News

Revised Preliminary Flood Maps in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana Ready for Public View

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 17:05

DENTON, Texas – Homeowners, renters and business owners in Morehouse Parish are encouraged to look over newly-revised preliminary flood maps in order to determine their flood risks and make informed decisions.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA, State Broadcasters and Emergency Managers to Conduct a Test in Four States of the Emergency Alert System

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 15:00

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with state and tribal emergency managers and state broadcasting associations, will conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The test will begin at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and will last approximately one minute. 

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Categories: Federal News

Know Your Risk, Take Action & Be a Force of Nature during Flood Safety Awareness Week

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 17:10

DENTON, Texas – Severe weather season is just around the corner, which brings with it the possibility of tornadoes and flooding.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere at any time. That’s why National Flood Safety Awareness Week, which runs from March 15-21, is the perfect time to know your risk, take action and be a force of nature.

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Categories: Federal News

Know Your Risk, Take Action & Be a Force of Nature during Flood Safety Awareness Week

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 17:05

DENTON, Texas – Severe weather season is just around the corner, which brings with it the possibility of tornadoes and flooding in Louisiana.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere at any time. That’s why National Flood Safety Awareness Week, which runs from March 15-21, is the perfect time to know your risk, take action and be a force of nature.

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Categories: Federal News

Know Your Risk, Take Action & Be a Force of Nature during Flood Safety Awareness Week

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 17:03

DENTON, Texas – Severe weather season is just around the corner, which brings with it the possibility of tornadoes and flooding in New Mexico.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere at any time. That’s why National Flood Safety Awareness Week, which runs from March 15-21, is the perfect time to know your risk, take action and be a force of nature.

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Categories: Federal News

Frozen Heat Features USGS Science

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 10:00
Summary: The Gas Hydrates Project at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) contributed to a four-year international effort by multiple partners, including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), to formulate a just-released report entitled, “Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates.&rdquo New International Report on Gas Hydrates Draws Heavily from USGS Expertise

Contact Information:

William F.  Waite ( Phone: 508-457-2346 ); Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 );



The Gas Hydrates Project at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) contributed to a four-year international effort by multiple partners, including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), to formulate a just-released report entitled, “Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates.”

The two-volume report reviews the state-of-the-art in science and technology related to gas hydrates, providing information in a form accessible to policy makers and stakeholders. The USGS Gas Hydrates Project contributed scientific results, editing, and reviews to assist formulation of the report.    

Gas hydrate is a frozen form of gas and water that occurs naturally at moderate pressure and low temperature. These conditions are characteristic of continuous permafrost and marine sediments at water depths greater than ~350 meters (~1150 ft).  Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is the most common gas incorporated into global gas hydrate deposits. Gas hydrate sequesters about 1600 billion metric tons (~1800 billion US tons) of carbon or up to 25% of the global budget of carbon that can move around the earth-ocean-atmosphere system.

“The USGS plays an active leadership role in gas hydrate research nationally and internationally,” said USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Brenda Pierce. “Having USGS experts join with other scientists to present current scientific knowledge to a broad audience in this report serves an important part of our outreach mission.” 

The first volume of the report focuses on the history of gas hydrate research and describes how and where gas hydrates form. USGS research featured prominently in this volume, as USGS scientists have studied the formation and occurrence of gas hydrates all over the world, including Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and internationally in countries like Japan, Korea, and India.

Volume I of the report also considers how gas hydrates interact with the environment on a small scale (for example, the link between gas hydrates and deep marine biological communities), and globally (for example, the interplay between gas hydrates and climate).  

“We were pleased to work with U.S. and international partners to contribute scientific expertise to this effort,” said Carolyn Ruppel, Chief of the USGS Gas Hydrates Project. “The report dovetails with our Project’s emphasis on gas hydrates in the natural environment and on the climate and energy resource implications of methane hydrates.”   

Volume 2 discusses gas hydrates as a potential energy resource, including consideration of the technology needed to extract gas from methane hydrates.  USGS scientists have long been active in this research area and participated in tests of methane production from natural gas hydrates in permafrost areas, such as Alaska’s North Slope.

The USGS has a globally recognized research program  studying natural gas hydrates in deepwater and permafrost settings worldwide.  USGS researchers focus on the potential of gas hydrates as an energy resource, the impact of climate change on gas hydrates, and seafloor stability issues.

Former Jersey City Fire Chief Dr. Denis Onieal to be Honored at 27th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 11:55

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Former Jersey City Fire Chief and native son Dr. Denis Onieal, who is now Superintendent of the National Fire Academy, has been selected by the Congressional Fire Services Institute's Board of Directors as the recipient of the 2015 CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award. The presentation will take place at the 27th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner on April 16th at the Washington Hilton, in Washington, D.C.

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Categories: Federal News

2015 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award Application Period Now Open

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 17:21

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is pleased to announce that the application period for the 2015 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards is open.

The awards highlight innovative local practices and achievements by recognizing individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions toward making their communities safer, stronger, better prepared, and more resilient.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Maine Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 17:05

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 Maine.

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

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Maine

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 16:40

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 Maine to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm, snowstorm, and flooding during the period of January 26-28, 2015. 

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Awards $708,653 Grant to Plainfield Township

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 12:59

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released $708,653 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Plainfield Township, Mich., to acquire and demolish 15 residential structures in the Grand River floodplain.

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Categories: Federal News