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Disaster Recovery Center Opens in Johns Island to Help South Carolina Flood Survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 13:58

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A disaster recovery center is open in Johns Island to help South Carolina flood survivors. This Charleston County center is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday until further notice.

The disaster recovery center is located at:
Berkeley Electric Cooperative
3351 Maybank Highway, Johns Island

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Categories: Federal News

Native Bees Foraging in Fields Are Exposed to Neonicotinoid Insecticides and other Pesticides

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 11:30
Summary: According to the first-ever study of pesticide residues on field-caught bees, native bees are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides

Contact Information:

Michelle  Hladik ( Phone: 916-278-3183 ); Mike Focazio ( Phone: 703-648-6808 ); Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 );



According to the first-ever study of pesticide residues on field-caught bees, native bees are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides. This report was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

This research focused on native bees, because there is limited information on their exposure to pesticides. In fact, little is known about how toxic these pesticides are to native bee species at the levels detected in the environment. This study did not look at pesticide exposure to honey bees. 

“We found that the presence and proximity of nearby agricultural fields was an important factor resulting in the exposure of native bees to pesticides,” said USGS scientist Michelle Hladik, the report’s lead author. “Pesticides were detected in the bees caught in grasslands with no known direct pesticide applications.”  

Although conservation efforts have been shown by other investigators to benefit pollinators, this study raises questions about the potential for unintended pesticide exposures where various land uses overlap or are in proximity to one another. 

The research consisted of collecting native bees from cultivated agricultural fields and grasslands in northeastern Colorado, then processing the composite bee samples to test for 122 different pesticides, as well as 14 chemicals formed by the breakdown of pesticides. Scientists tested for the presence of pesticides both in and on the bees. 

The most common pesticide detected was the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, which was found in 46 percent of the composite bee samples. Thiamethoxam is used as a seed coating on a variety of different crops. Pesticides were not found in all bee samples, with 15 of the 54 total samples testing negative for the 122 chemicals examined.  

Although this study did not investigate the effects of pesticide exposures to native bees, previous toxicological studies have shown that the chemicals do not have to kill the bees to have an adverse effect at the levels of exposure documented here. For example, neonicotinoids can cause a reduction in population densities and reproductive success, and impair the bees’ ability to forage.  Follow-up research is now being designed to further investigate adverse effects at these exposure levels. 

There are about 4,000 native species of bees in the United States. They pollinate native plants like cherries, blueberries and cranberries, and were here long before European honeybees were brought to the country by settlers.  In addition, many native bees are quite efficient crop pollinators, a role that may become more crucially important if honey bees continue to decline.  

This paper is a preliminary, field-based reconnaissance study that provides critical information necessary to design more focused research on exposure, uptake and accumulation of pesticides relative to land-use, agricultural practices and pollinator conservation efforts on the landscape. Another USGS study published in August discovered neonicotinoids in in a little more than half of both urban and agricultural streams sampled across the United States and Puerto Rico. 

“This foundational study is needed to prioritize and design new environmental exposure experiments on the potential for adverse impacts to terrestrial organisms,” said Mike Focazio, program coordinator for the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program. “This and other USGS research is helping support the overall goals of the White House Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators by helping us understand whether these pesticides, particularly at low levels, pose a risk for pollinators.”

More information can be found on this paper here. USGS research on the occurrence, transport and fate of pesticides can be found with the USGS Toxic Substance Hydrology Program webpage or the USGS Pesticide Fate Research project in California. Stay up to date with USGS Environmental Health science by signing up for our GeoHealth Newsletter.

Acid Rain Effects on Forest Soils begin to Reverse

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:00
Summary: Soil acidification from acid rain that is harmful to plant and aquatic life has now begun to reverse in forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, according to an American-Canadian collaboration of five institutions led by the U.S. Geological Survey

Contact Information:

Gregory Lawrence ( Phone: 518-421-4738 ); Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 );



Soil acidification from acid rain that is harmful to plant and aquatic life has now begun to reverse in forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, according to an American-Canadian collaboration of five institutions led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The new research shows that these changes are strongly linked to acid rain decreases, although some results differ from expected responses.  

"Reduced acid rain levels resulting from American and Canadian air-pollution control measures have begun to reverse soil acidification across this broad region," said Gregory Lawrence, a USGS soil and water chemist and lead author.  "Prior to this study, published research on soils indicated that soil acidification was worsening in most areas despite several decades of declining acid rain.  However, those studies relied on data that only extended up to 2004, whereas the data in this study extended up to 2014. "

As acid rain acidifies soils, it depletes soil calcium reserves, which are important in preventing the formation of aluminum that is toxic to plants and aquatic life.  Calcium is also a nutrient essential for healthy ecosystems.   Results of this study show that soils are no longer being depleted of calcium and that toxic aluminum levels have substantially decreased. 

The uppermost soil layers have shown a strong recovery response, but deeper layers are actually increasing in aluminum, which suggests further acidification.  However, this may be part of the recovery process as aluminum moves downward in the soil to be stored in a non-toxic form.

"The start of widespread soil recovery is a key step to remedy the long legacy of acid rain impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems," according to Lawrence.

The results were obtained by resampling soils that had been originally sampled eight to 24 years earlier.  The collaboration among the USGS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, University of Maine, Canadian Forest Service and the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, was developed through the Northeast Soil Monitoring Cooperative, a group of scientists focused on how soils are responding to our rapidly changing environment.  

The study is available online. Lawrence, G. B., P. W. Hazlett, I. J. Fernandez, R. Ouimet, S. W. Bailey, W. C. Shortle, K. T. Smith, and M. R. Antidormi. 2015. Declining Acidic Deposition Begins Reversal of Forest-Soil Acidification in the Northeastern U.S. and Eastern Canada. Environmental Science & Technology.

Disaster Recovery Center Opens in Newberry to Help South Carolina Flood Survivors

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/03/2015 - 18:59

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A disaster recovery center is open in Newberry to help South Carolina flood survivors. This Newberry County center is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

The disaster recovery center is located at the following address:
Newberry County Sheriff’s Emergency Services Building
540 Wilson Road, Newberry.

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Categories: Federal News

Rebuild with floods and fires in mind

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 11/03/2015 - 16:01

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Categories: Federal News

New Tool Rates Stream Vulnerability to Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 11/03/2015 - 13:00
Summary: On average, streams in the Niobrara-Mowry Play of eastern Wyoming, Fayetteville Play of Arkansas, and Barnett Play of Texas ranked most vulnerable to unconventional oil and gas development, but for different reasons, according to recent U.S. Geological Survey coauthored research Study Looks at Natural and Man-Made Factors

Contact Information:

Kelly Maloney ( Phone: 570-724-3322x239 ); Sally Entrekin ( Phone: 501-269-2108 ); Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 );



On average, streams in the Niobrara-Mowry Play of eastern Wyoming, Fayetteville Play of Arkansas, and Barnett Play of Texas ranked most vulnerable to unconventional oil and gas development, but for different reasons, according to recent U.S. Geological Survey coauthored research.

Streams in the Fayetteville and Barnett were vulnerable mostly from existing man-made stressors, whereas streams in the Niobara-Mowry were vulnerable largely due to a stream's natural sensitivity to alterations. However, the study also shows that streams in all regions have the potential to be impacted by such development.

A team of academic, USGS, and private-sector researchers computed potential stream vulnerability to unconventional oil and gas development in six shale plays, including the Bakken, Barnett, Fayetteville, Hilliard-Baxter-Mancos, Marcellus and Utica, and Niobrara-Mowry.  The newly developed vulnerability index shows that streams with the highest sensitivity and exposure to stressors may be most vulnerable to unconventional oil and gas development.

"Stream ecosystems show variation in potential vulnerability to unconventional oil and gas development across the contiguous United States," said Kelly Maloney, USGS research ecologist and coauthor of the study. "The index we developed incorporated a stream ecosystem's natural sensitivity to alterations and its exposure to man-made stressors, such as well pads, urbanization and agriculture."

What made areas potentially vulnerable varied across plays due to climatic, geologic and human caused differences. Low annual precipitation in the drier regions of the western US (Niobrara-Mowry, Hilliard-Baxter-Mancos, and Bakken) affected stream vulnerability to unconventional oil and gas development. In contrast, the steeper slopes in the watersheds of Appalachia made streams in the Marcellus-Utica play naturally sensitive.  The Barnett and Marcellus regions had areas with greater urbanization than other plays.

"The indices developed in this paper can be used to identify streams where aquatic life are particularly vulnerable, and then help prioritize stream protection and monitoring efforts," said Maloney.  "These findings can also be used to guide local development activities to help reduce potential environmental effects."

Research partners in this study included the University of Central Arkansas, Waterborne Environmental Inc., University of Arkansas and Wilkes University.

The paper "Stream vulnerability to widespread and emergent stressors: a focus on unconventional oil and gas" is available in PLOS ONE, which is an open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journal and can be downloaded free of charge online.

Pine Ridge Disaster Recovery Center to Close

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 11/02/2015 - 20:18

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – The last Pine Ridge Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), located at the SuAnne Big Crow Center, is closing permanently at 5 p.m., MST, on Friday, November 6, 2015.

Oglala Sioux Tribal and federal officials have been paying close attention to how many applicants have been visiting the center. Over the past weeks, the number of individuals seeking help at the Pine Ridge Disaster Recovery Center has dropped, indicating that the information needs of survivors in the area who suffered damages during the May 8-29th event have mostly been met. 

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Specialists Blanketed Fire Ravaged Areas of California with Help

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 11/02/2015 - 18:40

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The day after President Obama issued a major disaster declaration in Calaveras and Lake counties, Calif., FEMA teams were already on the ground and fanned out providing information and helping survivors register for assistance from the disastrous wildfires.

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Categories: Federal News

South Carolina Disaster Recovery Centers Open in Bamberg and Eutawville

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 11/02/2015 - 09:29

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two disaster recovery centers are open in Bamberg and Eutawville to help South Carolina flood survivors.

The centers will be open seven days a week, Monday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., until further notice.

Representatives from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration and other agencies will be at the centers to explain disaster assistance programs and help survivors apply for aid.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Alaska Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 10/30/2015 - 20:50

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 Alaska.

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

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Alaska

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 10/30/2015 - 20:46

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 Alaska to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe storm on August 27, 2015.

The President's action makes federal funding available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by a severe storm in the North Slope Borough.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Hiring Local Employees for South Carolina Disaster Recovery Offices

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 10/30/2015 - 16:38

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is hiring South Carolinians for full-time, temporary jobs at offices in Blythewood, Florence and North Charleston.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce and FEMA are working together to advertise job opportunities. To apply for open positions, create an account on the jobs.scworks.org website.

The following positions are needed:

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Categories: Federal News

Genetic Study Confirms Growth of Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Population

USGS Newsroom - Fri, 10/30/2015 - 13:00
Summary: Genetic data show the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has grown since the 1980s with no loss in genetic diversity, according to a report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team

Contact Information:

Suzanna Soileau ( Phone: 406-580-2017 ); Paul Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );



A female grizzly with a cub. Adult females are considered the most important segment of the Greater Yellowstone grizzly population and consequently are a major focus of USGS research and monitoring. (High resolution image) USGS biologists collecting biological information from a grizzly bear they have captured. Biologists collect hair samples for genetic analysis, weigh the bear, and gather numerous measurements of the body, such as the head, paws, claws, teeth, etc. Overall condition of the bear is assessed as well, including a body fat measurement. (High resolution image) Grizzly bear hair on barbed wire at a hair corral. Bears climb over or under the corral and the hair collected provides information for genetic analysis. (High resolution image)

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Genetic data show the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has grown since the 1980s with no loss in genetic diversity, according to a report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

Results indicate that the effective population size of Yellowstone grizzly bears, or the number of individuals that contribute offspring to the next generation, has increased 4-fold over a 25-year period. This provides evidence that Yellowstone grizzly bears are approaching the effective size necessary for long-term genetic viability.

"The increase in effective size of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population over the past several decades, with no significant change in genetic diversity, supports evidence of population growth based on traditional surveys," said Pauline Kamath, USGS ecologist and lead author of the study. "This is a key genetic indicator of a population’s ability to respond to future environmental change."

Researchers used several newly available techniques to assess trends in effective population size from a sample of 729 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a region slightly smaller than South Carolina. Based on one of several methods, they found estimates of effective population size increased from approximately 100 bears in the 1980s to 450 in the 2000s. These numbers are smaller than estimates of total population size because not all animals in the population breed. Although an isolated population, grizzly bear genetic diversity remained stable and inbreeding was relatively low, 0.2 percent, over the time period. 

The application of these new methods to monitor trends in effective population size of wildlife has been limited because it is difficult to measure and requires long-term data on individuals in the population.  The isolated and well-studied population of Yellowstone grizzly bears provided a rare opportunity to examine the usefulness of this technique for monitoring a threatened species because of the breadth of genetic and demographic, gender and age, data that have been collected over decades. Grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states were listed as threatened in 1975 under the Endangered Species Act.

"For long-lived species such as grizzly bears, a concerted effort is required to collect long-term genetic and associated demographic data. Four decades of intensive research on Yellowstone grizzly bears presented a unique opportunity to evaluate and compare genetic estimators for monitoring of wildlife populations." said Frank van Manen, USGS wildlife biologist and Team Leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

The study demonstrates how genetic monitoring can complement traditional demographic-based monitoring, providing valuable tools for wildlife managers for current and future studies. It also underscores the effectiveness of long-term studies that provide detailed data to support a variety of analyses, providing researchers and managers a better picture of the status of populations of interest.  

The article "Multiple estimates of effective population size for monitoring a long-lived vertebrate: an application to Yellowstone grizzly bears" is published in Molecular Ecology. 

The study is a collaborative effort between the USGS, Wildlife Genetics International, the University of Montana, and the federal, state and tribal partners of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. 

More information about Yellowstone grizzly bear studies can found on the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center website

Commonly Asked Questions on the Benefits of SBA Disaster Loans

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 10/30/2015 - 12:28

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters. Survivors of the California wildfires may have questions about the SBA.

Below are the most common along with the answers:

What is an SBA disaster loan?

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Assistance for California Wildfire Survivors Tops $20 Million

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 10/30/2015 - 11:04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Since wildfires swept Lake and Calaveras counties, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) mission has been to help individuals, families and businesses recover from the disaster.

As of today, FEMA and the SBA have approved more than $20 million in federal disaster assistance for California survivors.

Here is a snapshot of the disaster-recovery effort as of Oct. 29, 2015:

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Categories: Federal News

Three Counties Added to Washington Public Assistance Disaster Declaration for Windstorm

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 18:28

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended federal disaster aid under the Public Assistance program to three additional Washington counties affected by the Aug. 29, 2015, severe windstorm.  

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Categories: Federal News

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Federal News

Otero County, New Mexico Flood Maps Become Final

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

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

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Horry County

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

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

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

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Mitigation Advisers Offer Guidance to Flood Survivors in Charleston County

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

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

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

Language English
Categories: Federal News