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FEMA: Capstone 2014 National Exercise Begins

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 13:10

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and its partners begin the Capstone 2014 national exercise to test, assess and improve the nation’s preparedness and resilience from catastrophic disasters.

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Categories: Federal News

Scientists Study Effects of Water Released Across U.S.-Mexico Border

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 13:00
Summary: As a large pulse of water is being released into the former delta of the Colorado River along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are studying the effects on the environment as part of a historic, bi-national collaborative effort

Contact Information:

James Leenhouts ( Phone: 520-670-6671 X278 ); Jack Schmidt ( Phone: 928-556-7364 ); Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );



As a large pulse of water is being released into the former delta of the Colorado River along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are studying the effects on the environment as part of a historic, bi-national collaborative effort. The pulse flow and the need to study its effects were agreed to as part of the recently adopted Minute 319 (PDF) to the 1944 US-Mexico Water Treaty.

Results from this study will be used to assist and inform future bi-national cooperative efforts as both countries work together to protect resources on both sides of the border. The now-dry Colorado River delta was once a thriving wetland ecosystem where water and sediment delivered from the Colorado River watershed reached the Gulf of California. A century ago, the Colorado River delta was navigable by large boats. Today, upstream diversions and dams in both countries control the Colorado River’s flow, and little to no water is released into the channel downstream of Morelos Dam.

This engineered release of water is the culmination of years of negotiations led by the U.S. and Mexican Sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission in partnership with the Department of the Interior, in conjunction with the seven U.S. Colorado River Basin states, Mexican government agencies, and a wide array of municipal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and universities from both the U.S. and Mexico. The release of water began on March 23 and will continue for about eight weeks, with the rate of release peaking today, March 27. Over this period of time, 105,392 acre feet of water will be released, a volume that would fill about 52,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.   

"This engineered pulse of water represents a truly unique scientific opportunity and is a wonderful example of a balanced approach to both conserve water and enhance fragile ecosystems," said Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anne Castle, who oversees the work of the USGS. "Linking scientists from Mexico and the United States will advance our understanding of environmental restoration opportunities along the Colorado River border and Delta,” she said. “While none of our agencies could take on this challenge alone, by partnering with experts in both countries, we are able to share information that will serve as a foundation for future cooperative efforts between our two nations."

"The USGS is honored to participate in this bi-national collaborative effort to understand the ecosystem effects of the pulse flow," said Suzette Kimball, Acting USGS Director. "These results will not only help inform decisions about potential future flows, but will also advance cooperative management efforts to improve the health of the delta region in both the U.S. and Mexico."

Minute 319 to the 1944 US-Mexico Water Treaty calls for studying the hydrologic and biologic effects of the pulse flow. Scientists from the USGS, the University of Arizona, the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, and other institutions are working along a 24-mile long river segment of the Colorado River where one bank is in Arizona and the other is in Baja California, Mexico.

Research and monitoring will focus on understanding how the water moves through the Colorado River channel, how the pulse changes as it moves downstream and infiltrates through the streambed into the groundwater, evaluating sediment erosion and deposition, and patterns of new vegetation establishment. Studying these factors will help provide an understanding of why vegetation is able to thrive in some areas and not in others and information to inform decisions about future environmental flows. In addition, remote sensing technology will be used along the length of the Colorado River delta to complement on-the-ground observations.  

Recognizing the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin, including a 14-year period of historic drought, Minute 319 was executed on Nov. 20, 2012. It provides for measures to enhance sharing of water supplies, permit Mexico to defer delivery of  some of its allotted water in the United States, facilitate investment in Mexico’s water infrastructure, and measure the ecosystem effects of one experimental environmental pulse flow. The pulse flow is thus a critically important element of Minute 319—a component that both countries agreed to implement this spring.

Volunteers still needed for 23rd annual Christina River Cleanup on April 12

DNREC News - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 13:51
NEW CASTLE COUNTY (March 26, 2014) – DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara encourages volunteers to join the Christina River Watershed Cleanup along the river and several of its tributaries on Saturday, April 12 from 8 a.m. until noon at 12 sites throughout northern New Castle County. Due to other activities that day, the City of Newark will hold its cleanup from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

USGS Seeks Earthquake Hazards Research Proposals

USGS Newsroom Technical - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 09:44
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $5 million in grants for earthquake hazards research in 2015.  Applications due May 22, 2014

Contact Information:

Elizabeth Lemersal ( Phone: 703-648-6701 ); Jessica Robertson ( Phone: 703-648-6624 );



The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $5 million in grants for earthquake hazards research in 2015. 

“The grants offered through the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program are an established and long-standing effort that have proven to be a success every year, with talented, scientific applicants who significantly contribute to the advancement of earthquake research,” said Bill Leith, USGS Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards. “Every year we are rewarded by innovative proposals from across the country, so we encourage the continued submission of new ideas to help earthquake science evolve and, ultimately, reduce earthquake losses.” 

Interested researchers can apply online at GRANTS.GOV under funding opportunity number G14AS00036. Applications are due May 22, 2014. 

Each year the USGS awards earthquake hazards research grants to universities, state geological surveys, and private institutions. Past projects included investigating the Central Virginia Seismic Zone to develop a better understanding of this active seismic zone; examining the paleoseismic record in the Prince William Sound area of Alaska to characterize earthquakes prior to the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 to better understand future earthquakes in this hazard-prone area; and using GPS to measure ground deformation in the greater Las Vegas area and provide information on how faults will rupture in large, damaging earthquakes. 

complete list of funded projects and reports can be found on the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program external research support website.

FEMA Awards $238,112 Grant to Bayfield County: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds will be used to construct a tornado safe room

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 09:11

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released $238,112 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Bayfield County, Wis., for the construction of a safe room at the Bayfield County Fairgrounds in Iron River.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Disaster Aid for Colorado Flooding Tops $304 Million

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 18:07

DENVER – In the more than six months since heavy rains brought flooding in September 2013, Colorado survivors have received more than $304 million from FEMA disaster grants, flood insurance payments and SBA low-interest disaster loans.

To date:

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Disaster Aid for Colorado Flooding Tops $304 Million

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 18:07

DENVER – In the more than six months since heavy rains brought flooding in September 2013, Colorado survivors have received more than $304 million from FEMA disaster grants, flood insurance payments and SBA low-interest disaster loans.

To date:

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Awards $6,415,688 Grant to City of West Frankfort: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds will be used to make sewer treatment plant improvements

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 09:45

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released $6,415,688 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to the City of West Frankfort, Ill., for aproposed sewer treatment plant improvement project.

The project includes the relocation of all sewer treatment plant components from the south plant site to the north plant site, where it will be three feet above the base flood elevation.

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Categories: Federal News

New Utah Maps and Road Provider

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 09:00
Summary: Newly released US Topo maps  for Utah now feature a new commercial road data provider. The latest highway, road and street data from HERE has been added to the 1,476 revised US Topo quadrangles for the state. 

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Larry Moore ( Phone: 303-202-4019 ); Bob Davis ( Phone: 573-308-3554 );



Newly released US Topo maps  for Utah now feature a new commercial road data provider. The latest highway, road and street data from HERE has been added to the 1,476 revised US Topo quadrangles for the state. 

"HERE, a Nokia business, is proud to provide fresh, robust and comprehensive map content to the State of Utah and the US Topo Maps program," said Roy Kolstad, VP Sales Enterprise Americas, HERE. "We are excited for users to experience the benefits HERE brings with our more than 25 years of experience in cartography, drawing on more than 80,000 sources of data." 

The new maps also include Public Land Survey System (PLSS). These data are added to the growing list of states west of the Mississippi River. PLSS is a way of subdividing and describing land in the United States. All lands in the public domain are subject to subdivision by this rectangular system of surveys, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Other selected states will begin getting PLSS map data during the next respective revision cycle

The new design for US Topo maps improves readability of maps for online and printed use, while retaining the look and feel of the traditional USGS topographic map. Map symbols are easy to read when the digital aerial photograph layer imagery is turned on.  

Other re-design enhancements and new features:

  • New shaded relief layer for enhanced view of the terrain
  • Military installation boundaries, post offices and cemeteries
  • New road classification
  • A slight screening (transparency) has been applied to some features to enhance visibility of multiple competing layers
  • New PDF legend attachment
  • Metadata formatted to support multiple browsers 

US Topo maps are created from geographic datasets in The National Map, and deliver visible content such as high-resolution aerial photography, which was not available on older paper-based topographic maps. The new US Topo maps provide modern technical advantages that support wider and faster public distribution and on-screen geographic analysis tools for users.

The new digital topographic maps are PDF documents with geospatial extensions (GeoPDF®) image software format and may be viewed using Adobe Reader, available as a no-cost download. 

US Topo maps are updated every three years. The initial round of the 48 conterminous state coverage was completed in September of 2012.  Hawaii and Puerto Rico maps have recently been added. More than 400 new US Topo maps for Alaska have been added to the USGS Map Locator & Downloader, but will take several years to complete the vast state. 

To download US Topo maps: http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/

March 2014 US Topo map of the Moab, Utah area, 1:24,000 scale. Orthoimage layer is turned on, contour and woodland layers turned off. (Larger image) 1885 historical USGS map of the Moab, Utah area, 1:250,000 scale.. (Larger image)

DNREC Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Blotter March 11 to 17

DNREC News - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 07:43
DOVER (March 21, 2014) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Natural Resources Police, Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Agents between March 11-17 made 613 contacts with anglers, hunters, boaters and the general public, including 22 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Agents issued 17 citations.

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Washington Emergency Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 21:09

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 and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

President Obama Signs Washington Emergency Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 21:07

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 due to the emergency conditions resulting from flooding and mudslides beginning on March 22, 2014, and continuing.

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Categories: Federal News

Delaware Conservation Districts promote upcoming 2014 Soil and Water Stewardship Week

DNREC News - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 16:27
DOVER (March 24, 2014) – The Delaware Association of Conservation Districts joins the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) in celebrating the 59th year of National Soil and Water Stewardship Week April 27-May 4, with this year’s theme, “DIG DEEPER: Mysteries in the Soil.” Stewardship Week is one of the largest annual programs to promote conservation.

New “Venture Outdoors Fest” for young adults

DNREC News - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 15:30
WILMINGTON (March 24, 2014) – Get outside and choose an adventure at Delaware State Parks’ “Venture Outdoors Fest,” a new event that will be held on May 3 and 4 at Brandywine Creek State Park.

Delaware Forest Service offers Trees for the Bay in partnership with DNREC 2014 rain barrel program

DNREC News - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 11:23
DOVER (March 24, 2014) – In partnership with DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship’s rain barrels program, the Delaware Forest Service is inviting residents of Delaware communities within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to “buy a rain barrel … get a free tree” through the Forest Service’s “Trees for the Bay” program.

Post-Fire Stabilization Seedings Have Not Developed Into Sage-grouse Habitat

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 09:34
Summary: The practice of emergency post-fire seeding in sagebrush landscapes of the Great Basin, which was meant to stabilize soils, has not resulted in restored habitats that would be used by greater sage-grouse according to U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service researchers who published their results today in the journal Ecosphere

Contact Information:

Susan Kemp ( Phone: 541-750-1047 ); David Pilliod ( Phone: 208-426-5202 );



BOISE — The practice of emergency post-fire seeding in sagebrush landscapes of the Great Basin, which was meant to stabilize soils, has not resulted in restored habitats that would be used by greater sage-grouse according to U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service researchers who published their results today in the journal Ecosphere.

The new study examined the habitat that was present 8-20 years after the seeding projects occurred. These aerial or rangeland drill seeding projects did not always include sagebrush seeds and were not intended to restore wildlife habitat, but instead were designed to mitigate the effects of fire on soil and vegetation. Yet they provide an opportunity to reverse habitat degradation for sage-grouse, a species being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Scientists first characterized which habitats and landscapes sage-grouse use throughout the Great Basin. Then they examined areas that had burned and were subsequently seeded with rangeland plant species between 1990 and 2003. To link the two phases of the study, the authors assessed whether vegetation conditions in rehabilitated areas were similar to the habitats used by sage-grouse.

The authors found that sage-grouse tend to use areas with a mixture of dwarf sagebrush and Wyoming big sagebrush, native grasses, minimal human development, and minimal non-native plants. This information will help land managers prioritize areas for protection from disturbance or areas for future sage-grouse specific restoration efforts.

"When we compared these vegetation and landscape conditions to those of post-wildfire rehabilitation sites, we found that the probability of sage-grouse using treated areas was low and not very different from burned areas that had not been treated," said USGS ecologist Robert Arkle, the lead author of the publication.

This is sagebrush burning at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in association with a management project located 65 miles northeast of Lakeview, OR.

Burned areas, whether treated or not, generally lacked shrubs even after 20 years, and in low elevation areas especially, non-native plants like cheatgrass were often too prevalent for burned sites to be used as sage-grouse habitat. This is important because it means that for at least 20 years following wildfire, burned areas of the Great Basin are not likely to be used by sage-grouse, regardless of emergency stabilization treatment. With this kind of time lag, a substantial amount of sage-grouse habitat is lost each year to wildfire, while gaining relatively little through natural plant succession or emergency stabilization treatments.

Published guidelines about what constitutes sage-grouse habitat also provided criteria for comparison to what the scientists observed in the seeded sites. Seeded areas met habitat guideline criteria for native grasses about half of the time, but the majority of seeding projects did not meet sagebrush or forb guideline criteria.

Some individual seeding projects did result in higher quality habitat and the authors evaluated the environmental conditions shared by these sites to determine where post-fire rehabilitation is more likely to benefit sage-grouse. Seeding projects that were most effective tended to occur in cool, moderately moist climates and also depended on post-treatment precipitation and surrounding landscape conditions.   

"This is part of a growing body of science demonstrating how difficult it is to rehabilitate sagebrush landscapes once native vegetation is lost through wildfire," said USGS ecologist David Pilliod, who co-authored the publication. "Restoration in the Great Basin is a huge challenge for land managers not only because of difficulties associated with reducing non-native plants and establishing natives, but also because of the rate at which landscapes with sagebrush and other native vegetation are lost. These habitat losses can have negative consequences for sage-grouse and other wildlife that depend on sagebrush."

The study found that even relatively small amounts of non-native plants and human development were both forms of habitat loss that affected whether sage-grouse would use particular locations.

Although these projects did not specifically target sage-grouse, they are important sage-grouse conservation opportunities, according to Arkle. This is because wildfires burn about one million acres each year in the Great Basin and 97 percent of the acres treated by these projects are in historic sage-grouse habitat.

This research was conducted in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management and the Joint Fire Science Project. Funding was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service. The study, Quantifying restoration effectiveness using multi-scale habitat models- implications for sage-grouse in the Great Basin, published in Ecosphere is an offshoot of a larger effort to assess ecological outcomes of emergency stabilization and rehabilitation projects conducted by federal land managers in the Great Basin.

FEMA Awards $2,698,523 Grant to Des Plaines: Hazard Mitigation funds will be used to acquire and demolish 21 flood prone structures

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 09:00

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved $2,698,523 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to the City of Des Plaines, Ill., for the acquisition and demolition of 21 residential structures in the Big Bend subdivision located in the Des Plaines River floodplain. Following demolition, these properties will be maintained as permanent open space in the community.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Awards $811,276 Grant to Hancock County: Hazard mitigation funds will be used to acquire and demolish eight flood prone structures and one vacant lot in floodplain

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 08:58

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released $811,276 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Hancock County, Ohio, for the acquisition and demolition of eightresidential structures and the acquisition of one vacant parcel located in the floodplain of the Blanchard River in the city of Findlay. Following demolition, these properties will be maintained as permanent open space in the community.

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Categories: Federal News

DNREC-DelDOT-sponsored rain barrel art contest winners named; entries displayed at Delaware Ag Museum in April

DNREC News - Fri, 03/21/2014 - 12:28
DOVER (March 21, 2014) – The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Department of Transportation have selected finalists in a rain barrel painting contest sponsored by the two agencies as a fun way to educate communities on the benefits of using rain barrels to reduce rainwater runoff and improve water quality.

Division of Fish and Wildlife to close Nanticoke Wildlife Area road to vehicular traffic due to ongoing problems with dumping and vandalism

DNREC News - Fri, 03/21/2014 - 11:35
LAUREL (March 21, 2014) – Beginning Friday, March 28, the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife will be installing gates and closing an unpaved cross road connecting Phillips Landing Road with Sharptown Road through the Robert L. Graham Nanticoke Wildlife Area near Laurel. The area continues to attract illegal activity including trash dumping and vandalism despite increased signage and public notification and increased law enforcement presence.