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Federal News

Update - USGS Lidar Base Specification Version 1.2

USGS Newsroom Technical - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 10:00
Summary: The US Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is pleased to announce a new version of the USGS Lidar Base Specification that defines deliverables for nationally consistent lidar data acquisitions

Contact Information:

Allyson Jason ( Phone: 703-648-4572 ); Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 );



Reference: Heidemann, Hans Karl, 2014, Lidar Base Specification (ver. 1.2, November 2014): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 11, chap. B4, 67 p. with appendixes.

The US Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is pleased to announce a new version of the USGS Lidar Base Specification that defines deliverables for nationally consistent lidar data acquisitions. The USGS Lidar Base Specification provides a common base specification for all lidar data acquired for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) component of The National Map. The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect nationwide 3D elevation data in an 8-year period.

“Because we are acquiring data nationally for 3DEP with many partners, we need to have a way to ensure all of our requirements are being met, while minimizing the potential for problems with interoperability between various disparate data collections,” said Jason Stoker, Elevation Product and Services Lead for the USGS National Geospatial Program. “The USGS Lidar Base Specification helps everyone understand exactly what data we need and exactly how we need it, so we can be as efficient as possible.  This new version incorporates many of the lessons we have learned since putting together version 1.0, and sets the stage for future quality 3DEP data collections.”

Originally released as a draft in 2010 and formally published in 2012, the USGS–NGP Lidar Base Specification Version 1.0 was quickly embraced as the foundation for numerous state, county, and foreign country lidar specifications. Lidar is a fast-evolving technology, and much has changed in the industry since the final draft of the Lidar Base Specification Version 1.0 was written.

Lidar data have improved in accuracy and spatial resolution, geospatial accuracy standards have been revised by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), industry standard file formats have been expanded, additional applications for lidar have become accepted, and the need for interoperable data across collections has been realized. This revision to the Lidar Base Specification, known as Version 1.2, addresses those changes and provides continued guidance towards a nationally consistent lidar dataset. 

Update - USGS Lidar Base Specification Version 1.2

USGS Newsroom Technical - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 10:00
Summary: The US Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is pleased to announce a new version of the USGS Lidar Base Specification that defines deliverables for nationally consistent lidar data acquisitions

Contact Information:

Allyson Jason ( Phone: 703-648-4572 ); Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 );



Reference: Heidemann, Hans Karl, 2014, Lidar Base Specification (ver. 1.2, November 2014): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 11, chap. B4, 67 p. with appendixes.

The US Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is pleased to announce a new version of the USGS Lidar Base Specification that defines deliverables for nationally consistent lidar data acquisitions. The USGS Lidar Base Specification provides a common base specification for all lidar data acquired for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) component of The National Map. The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect nationwide 3D elevation data in an 8-year period.

“Because we are acquiring data nationally for 3DEP with many partners, we need to have a way to ensure all of our requirements are being met, while minimizing the potential for problems with interoperability between various disparate data collections,” said Jason Stoker, Elevation Product and Services Lead for the USGS National Geospatial Program. “The USGS Lidar Base Specification helps everyone understand exactly what data we need and exactly how we need it, so we can be as efficient as possible.  This new version incorporates many of the lessons we have learned since putting together version 1.0, and sets the stage for future quality 3DEP data collections.”

Originally released as a draft in 2010 and formally published in 2012, the USGS–NGP Lidar Base Specification Version 1.0 was quickly embraced as the foundation for numerous state, county, and foreign country lidar specifications. Lidar is a fast-evolving technology, and much has changed in the industry since the final draft of the Lidar Base Specification Version 1.0 was written.

Lidar data have improved in accuracy and spatial resolution, geospatial accuracy standards have been revised by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), industry standard file formats have been expanded, additional applications for lidar have become accepted, and the need for interoperable data across collections has been realized. This revision to the Lidar Base Specification, known as Version 1.2, addresses those changes and provides continued guidance towards a nationally consistent lidar dataset. 

FEMA publishes Environmental Impact Statement for proposed $5.67 million federal wildfire risk reduction projects in East Bay Hills

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 12/01/2014 - 12:48

Final EIS revises fire reduction methodologies; provides for gradual invasive species reduction, encourages reestablishment of native vegetation

Language English
Categories: Federal News

Michigan’s Disaster Assistance Tops $215 Million; Registration Deadline Nears

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 12/01/2014 - 09:22

WARREN, MICH. – The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report more than 122,000 southeast Michigan residents affected by the August floods have registered for assistance and nearly $216 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved. Survivors are strongly encouraged to register for FEMA assistance by the Dec. 14 deadline.           

Language English
Categories: Federal News

Give the Gift of Preparedness this Holiday Season

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:17

CHICAGO – With the holidays fast approaching, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V office encourages everyone to consider giving gifts that will help protect their family members and friends during a future emergency.

“A gift to help prepare for emergencies could be life-saving for friends and family,” said FEMA Region V acting regional administrator, Janet Odeshoo. “These gift ideas provide a great starting point for being prepared for an emergency or disaster.”

Language English
Categories: Federal News

FEMA: December 4th Deadline for the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Nation to Request Federal Public Assistance

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 19:29

Major disaster declaration opens grant eligibility for hazard mitigation funding statewide

Release date: November 25, 2014
Release Number: DR-4202-1
Media Contacts:  FEMA Newsdesk: (510) 627-7006 or (510) 627- 7785; Nevada (775) 687-0325; Moapa River Indian Reservation (702) 865-2787   

Language English
Categories: Federal News

Agencies Impacted by Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Lava Flow Reminded to Apply for Assistance No Later Than Dec. 3

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 18:20

Agencies Impacted by Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Lava Flow Reminded to Apply for Assistance No Later Than Dec. 3

HONOLULU – The deadline for state, county, and certain private, non-profit organizations with eligible costs for the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō lava flow to submit applications for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program is Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014.

Language English
Categories: Federal News

FEMA’s Wayne County Recovery Center Becomes SBA Loan Center

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 09:52

Warren, Mich. – The State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center located at the Wayne County Community College District will transition to a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) on Monday, Dec. 1.

A DLOC focuses on funds needed for long-term rebuilding and recovery. Homeowners, renters and businesses will be able to talk individually with SBA representatives. Specialists from FEMA will also be available.

At this center:

Language English
Categories: Federal News

Vallejo Disaster Recovery Center to Close Nov. 25, But Help is Still Available

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 19:40

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – After serving more than 283 homeowners, renters and business owners who had damages from the South Napa Earthquake, the Disaster Recovery Center at 1155 Capitol St. in Vallejo will end operations at 6 p.m. on Tue., Nov. 25. But help is still available in person, online and over the phone.

Language English
Categories: Federal News

New Volume Documents the Science at the Legendary Snowmastodon Fossil Site in Colorado

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:15
Summary: Four years ago, a bulldozer operator turned over some bones during construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado. Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science were called to the scene and confirmed the bones were those of a juvenile Columbian mammoth, setting off a frenzy of excavation, scientific analysis, and international media attention

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Maura O’Neal ( Phone: 303.370.6407 ); Randall Kremer ( Phone: 202-633-2950 );



DENVER — Four years ago, a bulldozer operator turned over some bones during construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado. Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science were called to the scene and confirmed the bones were those of a juvenile Columbian mammoth, setting off a frenzy of excavation, scientific analysis, and international media attention. This dramatic and unexpected discovery culminates this month with the publication of the Snowmastodon Project Science Volume in the international journal Quaternary Research.  

Fourteen papers by 47 authors from the United States and abroad collectively represent “a new benchmark for understanding climate change in the American West,” said paleontologist Dr. Ian Miller, Snowmastodon Project co-leader and chair of the Museum’s Earth Sciences Department.

Project co-leader and former DMNS chief curator, Dr. Kirk Johnson, and several scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and academic institutions around the world contributed articles to the journal.  

“Nothing beats pulling fossils out of the ground,” said project scientist Dr. Jeff Pigati of the U.S. Geological Survey, “but the site also lets us see what the Colorado Rockies were like during a period of time that we simply couldn’t reach before the discovery.”  

The Snowmastodon site was an ancient lake that filled with sediment between 140,000 and 55,000 years ago preserving a series of Ice Age fossil ecosystems. Particularly fortuitous is the high-elevation locale, providing first-time documentation of alpine ecosystems during the last interglacial period between about 130,000 and 110,000 years ago. Because scientists were able to collect and study such a wide range of fauna and flora—from tiny specks of pollen to the bones of giant mastodons—the site emerged as a trove of information that Miller said will inspire future research for years to come.  

"This project was unprecedented in its size, speed, and depth of collaboration. The science volume now moves beyond the pure excitement of the discovery to the presentation of its hard science and its implications for understanding the biological and climate history of the Rocky Mountain region," said Johnson, now the Sant Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.  

Papers in the special edition focus on impacts of climate change, then and now. The site’s ecosystems—plants, insects, and animals combined—varied dramatically in response to climate change.

“In other words, turn the climate dial a little and the ecosystems change considerably. We were also surprised to find that certain periods in the record that seem to be cool elsewhere in North America were quite warm in the central Rockies,” said Miller. ”The implication is that alpine ecosystems respond differently to climate change than other, lower elevation ecosystems. These new results have huge implications for predicting present-day climate change in Colorado and beyond.”

Usually fossil sites preserve only snapshots in time, which are then pieced together to understand past time periods. By contrast, the Snowmastodon site captures a nearly continuous 85,000-year time span. As a result, the site provides the best-known record of life and climate at high elevation anywhere in North America.  

During a total of 69 days in 2010 and 2011, the Museum mobilized one of the largest fossil excavation efforts ever, recovering more than 5,000 large bones and 22,000 small bones representing roughly 50 different species. The site is most notable for containing the remains of at least 35 American mastodons, representing both genders as well as a variety of ages, from calves to full-grown adults.  

“We had no idea that the high Rockies were filled with American mastodons during the last interglacial period,” Miller noted.  

While the spectacular array of Ice Age animals initially drew scientists to the site, the opportunity to understand the world that they inhabited proved to be a powerful draw as well. “Scientists from around the world donated countless hours and resources toward the project,” said Pigati. “For so many of them to come together and reconstruct a world that no longer exists in such incredible detail, well that’s just a dream come true.”  

About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

 The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region’s leading resource for informal science education. Our mission is to be a catalyst and ignite the community’s passion for nature and science. The Museum envisions an empowered community that loves, understands, and protects our natural world. As such, a variety of engaging exhibits, discussions, and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the wonders of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205. To learn more about the Museum, visit dmns.org or call 303-370-6000. Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. Connect with the Museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Additional Information

New Volume Documents the Science at the Legendary Snowmastodon Fossil Site in Colorado

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:15
Summary: Four years ago, a bulldozer operator turned over some bones during construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado. Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science were called to the scene and confirmed the bones were those of a juvenile Columbian mammoth, setting off a frenzy of excavation, scientific analysis, and international media attention

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Maura O’Neal ( Phone: 303.370.6407 ); Randall Kremer ( Phone: 202-633-2950 );



DENVER — Four years ago, a bulldozer operator turned over some bones during construction at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado. Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science were called to the scene and confirmed the bones were those of a juvenile Columbian mammoth, setting off a frenzy of excavation, scientific analysis, and international media attention. This dramatic and unexpected discovery culminates this month with the publication of the Snowmastodon Project Science Volume in the international journal Quaternary Research.  

Fourteen papers by 47 authors from the United States and abroad collectively represent “a new benchmark for understanding climate change in the American West,” said paleontologist Dr. Ian Miller, Snowmastodon Project co-leader and chair of the Museum’s Earth Sciences Department.

Project co-leader and former DMNS chief curator, Dr. Kirk Johnson, and several scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and academic institutions around the world contributed articles to the journal.  

“Nothing beats pulling fossils out of the ground,” said project scientist Dr. Jeff Pigati of the U.S. Geological Survey, “but the site also lets us see what the Colorado Rockies were like during a period of time that we simply couldn’t reach before the discovery.”  

The Snowmastodon site was an ancient lake that filled with sediment between 140,000 and 55,000 years ago preserving a series of Ice Age fossil ecosystems. Particularly fortuitous is the high-elevation locale, providing first-time documentation of alpine ecosystems during the last interglacial period between about 130,000 and 110,000 years ago. Because scientists were able to collect and study such a wide range of fauna and flora—from tiny specks of pollen to the bones of giant mastodons—the site emerged as a trove of information that Miller said will inspire future research for years to come.  

"This project was unprecedented in its size, speed, and depth of collaboration. The science volume now moves beyond the pure excitement of the discovery to the presentation of its hard science and its implications for understanding the biological and climate history of the Rocky Mountain region," said Johnson, now the Sant Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.  

Papers in the special edition focus on impacts of climate change, then and now. The site’s ecosystems—plants, insects, and animals combined—varied dramatically in response to climate change.

“In other words, turn the climate dial a little and the ecosystems change considerably. We were also surprised to find that certain periods in the record that seem to be cool elsewhere in North America were quite warm in the central Rockies,” said Miller. ”The implication is that alpine ecosystems respond differently to climate change than other, lower elevation ecosystems. These new results have huge implications for predicting present-day climate change in Colorado and beyond.”

Usually fossil sites preserve only snapshots in time, which are then pieced together to understand past time periods. By contrast, the Snowmastodon site captures a nearly continuous 85,000-year time span. As a result, the site provides the best-known record of life and climate at high elevation anywhere in North America.  

During a total of 69 days in 2010 and 2011, the Museum mobilized one of the largest fossil excavation efforts ever, recovering more than 5,000 large bones and 22,000 small bones representing roughly 50 different species. The site is most notable for containing the remains of at least 35 American mastodons, representing both genders as well as a variety of ages, from calves to full-grown adults.  

“We had no idea that the high Rockies were filled with American mastodons during the last interglacial period,” Miller noted.  

While the spectacular array of Ice Age animals initially drew scientists to the site, the opportunity to understand the world that they inhabited proved to be a powerful draw as well. “Scientists from around the world donated countless hours and resources toward the project,” said Pigati. “For so many of them to come together and reconstruct a world that no longer exists in such incredible detail, well that’s just a dream come true.”  

About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

 The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region’s leading resource for informal science education. Our mission is to be a catalyst and ignite the community’s passion for nature and science. The Museum envisions an empowered community that loves, understands, and protects our natural world. As such, a variety of engaging exhibits, discussions, and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the wonders of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205. To learn more about the Museum, visit dmns.org or call 303-370-6000. Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. Connect with the Museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Additional Information

FEMA Announces Second Meeting of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 13:03

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced the second public meeting of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC), scheduled for December 4 - 5, 2014, in Arlington, Virginia. The public meeting will be held at the FEMA South Arlington Office on December 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and December 5 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (EST) located at 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington, Virginia 20598.

Language English
Categories: Federal News

Review of Minimum and Maximum Conservation Buffer Distance Estimates for Greater Sage-Grouse and Land-Use Activities

USGS Newsroom Technical - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 10:00
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey released a report today that compiles and summarizes published scientific studies that evaluate effective conservation buffer distances from human activities and infrastructure that influence greater sage-grouse populations

Contact Information:

A.B.  Wade ( Phone: 703-648-4483 ); Carol Schuler ( Phone: 541-750-1031 );



The full report is available online.

The U.S. Geological Survey released a report today that compiles and summarizes published scientific studies that evaluate effective conservation buffer distances from human activities and infrastructure that influence greater sage-grouse populations.

Greater sage-grouse conservation buffers are specified protective distances around greater sage-grouse communal breeding locations, known as leks.

The report, prepared at the request of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, can help decision makers establish buffer distances for use in conservation measures for greater sage-grouse habitat.  BLM requested the report because across the 11-state range of the greater sage-grouse a wide variety of buffer distances and supporting scientific literature have been posed as appropriate for providing protections for the species.

“This report should help DOI and others as they make or refine decisions and implement conservation actions for this species,” said Carol Schuler, USGS senior science advisor for ecosystems.

USGS scientists reviewed, compiled and summarized the findings of numerous previously published USGS and non-USGS scientific studies that evaluated the influence of human activities and infrastructure on greater sage-grouse populations. The report is organized into six sections representing these different land uses or human activities typically found in land-use plans:

  • cumulative surface disturbances;
  • linear features such as active roads and highways and pipelines;
  • oil, gas, wind and solar energy development;
  • tall structures such as electrical, communication and meteorological towers;
  • low structures such as fences and buildings; and
  • activities that don’t involve habitat loss, such as noise and related disruptions. 

The buffer distances in the report reflect a radius around lek locations. Although lek sites are breeding habitats, the report’s authors emphasized that designating protective buffers around these area offer “a consistent and practical solution for identifying and conserving seasonal habitat requirements by greater sage-grouse throughout their life cycle.”

The authors noted that because of variation in populations, habitats, development patterns, social context, and other factors that for a particular disturbance type there is no single number that is an appropriate buffer distance for all populations and habitats across the greater sage-grouse range.

The buffer distance estimates in this report can be useful in developing conservation measures,” said Schuler, “but should be used in conjunction with conservation planning that considers other factors such as local and regional conditions, habitat quality, and the cumulative impact of a suite of conservation and management actions.”

The report shows lek buffer minimum and maximum distance estimates suggested in the scientific literature as well as possible minimum and maximum conservation buffer distances developed by the team of expert scientists who reviewed and synthesized the literature.

The scientific literature indicates that, in some populations, 90-95 percent of sage-grouse movements are within 5 miles (8 km) of lek sites, and that most females nest within about 3.1 miles (5 km) of the lek, suggesting considerable protection of sage-grouse could be achieved using protective measures within these generalized conservation buffer distances.  Consequently, the ranges USGS experts assessed for lower and upper buffer distance limits fall within the 3.1-5 mile radius of leks for surface disturbance, linear features, and energy development categories. The buffer distances suggested for the other 3 categories are smaller.

Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces in western North America.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is formally reviewing the status of greater sage-grouse to determine if the species is warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Review of Minimum and Maximum Conservation Buffer Distance Estimates for Greater Sage-Grouse and Land-Use Activities

USGS Newsroom Technical - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 10:00
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey released a report today that compiles and summarizes published scientific studies that evaluate effective conservation buffer distances from human activities and infrastructure that influence greater sage-grouse populations

Contact Information:

A.B.  Wade ( Phone: 703-648-4483 ); Carol Schuler ( Phone: 541-750-1031 );



The full report is available online.

The U.S. Geological Survey released a report today that compiles and summarizes published scientific studies that evaluate effective conservation buffer distances from human activities and infrastructure that influence greater sage-grouse populations.

Greater sage-grouse conservation buffers are specified protective distances around greater sage-grouse communal breeding locations, known as leks.

The report, prepared at the request of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, can help decision makers establish buffer distances for use in conservation measures for greater sage-grouse habitat.  BLM requested the report because across the 11-state range of the greater sage-grouse a wide variety of buffer distances and supporting scientific literature have been posed as appropriate for providing protections for the species.

“This report should help DOI and others as they make or refine decisions and implement conservation actions for this species,” said Carol Schuler, USGS senior science advisor for ecosystems.

USGS scientists reviewed, compiled and summarized the findings of numerous previously published USGS and non-USGS scientific studies that evaluated the influence of human activities and infrastructure on greater sage-grouse populations. The report is organized into six sections representing these different land uses or human activities typically found in land-use plans:

  • cumulative surface disturbances;
  • linear features such as active roads and highways and pipelines;
  • oil, gas, wind and solar energy development;
  • tall structures such as electrical, communication and meteorological towers;
  • low structures such as fences and buildings; and
  • activities that don’t involve habitat loss, such as noise and related disruptions. 

The buffer distances in the report reflect a radius around lek locations. Although lek sites are breeding habitats, the report’s authors emphasized that designating protective buffers around these area offer “a consistent and practical solution for identifying and conserving seasonal habitat requirements by greater sage-grouse throughout their life cycle.”

The authors noted that because of variation in populations, habitats, development patterns, social context, and other factors that for a particular disturbance type there is no single number that is an appropriate buffer distance for all populations and habitats across the greater sage-grouse range.

The buffer distance estimates in this report can be useful in developing conservation measures,” said Schuler, “but should be used in conjunction with conservation planning that considers other factors such as local and regional conditions, habitat quality, and the cumulative impact of a suite of conservation and management actions.”

The report shows lek buffer minimum and maximum distance estimates suggested in the scientific literature as well as possible minimum and maximum conservation buffer distances developed by the team of expert scientists who reviewed and synthesized the literature.

The scientific literature indicates that, in some populations, 90-95 percent of sage-grouse movements are within 5 miles (8 km) of lek sites, and that most females nest within about 3.1 miles (5 km) of the lek, suggesting considerable protection of sage-grouse could be achieved using protective measures within these generalized conservation buffer distances.  Consequently, the ranges USGS experts assessed for lower and upper buffer distance limits fall within the 3.1-5 mile radius of leks for surface disturbance, linear features, and energy development categories. The buffer distances suggested for the other 3 categories are smaller.

Greater sage-grouse occur in parts of 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces in western North America.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is formally reviewing the status of greater sage-grouse to determine if the species is warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Loon Migration Underway, Prompted by Frigid Temperatures

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:00
Summary: As freezing air swept into the Upper Midwest this past week, juvenile common loons took a cue from the weather and began their migrations to the warm Gulf of Mexico Follow the Birds Online

Contact Information:

Kevin Kenow ( Phone: 608-781-6278 ); Randy Hines ( Phone: 608-781-6398 ); Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-202-4765 );



As freezing air swept into the Upper Midwest this past week, juvenile common loons took a cue from the weather and began their migrations to the warm Gulf of Mexico. 

By this past Monday, eight young loons, recently tagged by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners, had reached the Gulf of Mexico from the midwestern United States, and eight were en route to southern wintering areas. The scientists captured and radiomarked the juvenile common loons on lakes scattered across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the last two weeks of August 2014 to study the challenges facing these birds during their first two years, when they are most vulnerable.

“Midwest loons are susceptible to avian botulism in the Great Lakes and pollution found in U.S. waters during migration and overwintering,” said Kevin Kenow, USGS lead scientist for the study. “Resource managers need information on the iconic birds’ first critical years to develop effective conservation strategies.” 

Common loons are large, black-and-white, fish-eating waterbirds with haunting calls and are bioindicators, or living gages of ecosystem health, in the Great Lakes states. The survival rate of loons during their first few years of life – about 50 percent over three years – is much lower than that of adults, which have a rate of about 93 percent annually.

“Satellite transmitter and geolocator tag technologies help us learn more about the movements, habitat use and causes of mortality of young common loons, and ultimately about the health of the overall food web,” Kenow said. 

The tracking devices record daily location, temperature, light levels and pressure data used to log the foraging depths of these diving birds.

Previous band recovery data suggested that while some common loons may remain on wintering grounds year-round their first two years, there is the potential for a northward movement up the Atlantic Coast during summers. Watch where the new loons travel this year via the USGS common loon migration website.

For more information on USGS loon studies, please visit the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center website.

VideoUnraveling Mysteries of the Common Loon

Loon Migration Underway, Prompted by Frigid Temperatures

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:00
Summary: As freezing air swept into the Upper Midwest this past week, juvenile common loons took a cue from the weather and began their migrations to the warm Gulf of Mexico Follow the Birds Online

Contact Information:

Kevin Kenow ( Phone: 608-781-6278 ); Randy Hines ( Phone: 608-781-6398 ); Marisa Lubeck ( Phone: 303-202-4765 );



As freezing air swept into the Upper Midwest this past week, juvenile common loons took a cue from the weather and began their migrations to the warm Gulf of Mexico. 

By this past Monday, eight young loons, recently tagged by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners, had reached the Gulf of Mexico from the midwestern United States, and eight were en route to southern wintering areas. The scientists captured and radiomarked the juvenile common loons on lakes scattered across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the last two weeks of August 2014 to study the challenges facing these birds during their first two years, when they are most vulnerable.

“Midwest loons are susceptible to avian botulism in the Great Lakes and pollution found in U.S. waters during migration and overwintering,” said Kevin Kenow, USGS lead scientist for the study. “Resource managers need information on the iconic birds’ first critical years to develop effective conservation strategies.” 

Common loons are large, black-and-white, fish-eating waterbirds with haunting calls and are bioindicators, or living gages of ecosystem health, in the Great Lakes states. The survival rate of loons during their first few years of life – about 50 percent over three years – is much lower than that of adults, which have a rate of about 93 percent annually.

“Satellite transmitter and geolocator tag technologies help us learn more about the movements, habitat use and causes of mortality of young common loons, and ultimately about the health of the overall food web,” Kenow said. 

The tracking devices record daily location, temperature, light levels and pressure data used to log the foraging depths of these diving birds.

Previous band recovery data suggested that while some common loons may remain on wintering grounds year-round their first two years, there is the potential for a northward movement up the Atlantic Coast during summers. Watch where the new loons travel this year via the USGS common loon migration website.

For more information on USGS loon studies, please visit the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center website.

VideoUnraveling Mysteries of the Common Loon