Home Archived April 13, 2016

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Conversation with Customers

The following statements supplement comments made by customers at the listening sessions, and are presented in alphabetical order:

Air Line Pilots Association, International

The Air Line Pilots Association representing 55,000 pilots flying for 56 airlines in the US and Canada, has had a productive twenty year association with USGS. This Association began its involvement with the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

The Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) readily included the Air Traffic Control Center in their call down list, after the Mt. St. Helens eruption. When volcanic activity moved to Alaska with the eruption of Mt. Redoubt, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) continued USGS cooperation with the aviation community. AVO developed the color code that gave aviation and the community at large the present status of active volcanoes. The success of the Alaska code led to the International Civilian Aviation Organization (ICAO) adoption of a similar code for international use.

The AVO and CVO have, through the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) teams, met the needs of foreign countries and US airlines. Again ALPA along with ICAO has been able to assist teams in the education of foreign volcanologists to the needs of aviation -- no small task.

Satellites have been a great help in both remote and not so remote areas. The expertise that USGS brings to bear in the interpretation of satellite information and imagery by volcano observatories must be brought to full potential. Case in point -- a Russian volcano showed a thermal anomaly. Based on the history of the volcano, Kamchatka Volcanic Event Reporting Team (KVERT) was alerted by AVO and the subsequent eruption was reported.

Research Partners and hazards communications contacts for the USGS Volcano Hazards Program is a national issue, especially for the nation's complexly integrated air traffic operations. Important partners (e.g., DOD, NASA, FAA, NOAA, air carrier industry interests), including funding sources, are located in the Reston-Washington DC area.

Each of the USGS volcano observatories (Alaska, Cascades, Hawaii, and Long Valley) and the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, has unique issues for monitoring volcanic activity and addressing potential hazards in the geographic areas of those observatories, and for the sake of efficiency in funding and personnel. The Volcano Hazards Team is intentionally designed to exchange personnel and disciplines (physical volcanology, seismology, satellite remote sensing, gas geochemistry, geodesy) as needed throughout the team so that when a volcanic unrest is detected at any volcano, team members at all localities can be called upon to participate in response activities as needed. These scientists must have skills for rapid assimilation of a variety of real-time information, rational interpretation, and rapid communication to appropriate emergency managers and the public. Unlike response to earthquakes which are unpredictable, volcanic eruptions can take months to years of 24-hr duty to monitor pre-eruption buildup and post-eruption activity, thus the importance of having uniquely trained staff that can be rotated and refreshed.

Ash clouds from explosive volcanic eruptions can transit the entire US because ash gets into the atmosphere and the prevailing winds and jet streams move west to east. Examples include Augustine (AK) 1976, Mt. St. Helens 1980, Redoubt (AK) 1989-90, and Spurr 1992. Ash from the Spurr eruption in 1992 was the only one of these ash clouds that did not cause jet aircraft damage over the conterminous US because research on past eruptions and communications efforts by USGS volcanologists and their partners followed the path of the Spurr ash clouds and gave timely warnings. The air carrier industry in the US gives close attention to information from the volcano observatories to the point of canceling and diverting flights rather than risk flying into a volcanic cloud.

ALPA encourages USGS to increase its efforts to acquire adequate funds and staffing that will mitigate the volcanic ash hazards to aviation operations worldwide. The last twenty years have shown the strengths and weaknesses of the USGS volcanic ash mitigation efforts. The future will sorely test the present system as air traffic and volcanic activity increases.

American Bird Conservancy

The biology/ecology role of USGS -- research in the laboratory and field -- is more important than ever today given the number of stressors in the environment and their complex interactions. USGS-BRD research expertise is integral to conservation, scientific, and regulatory efforts to gather information to make sound management decisions.

I want in particular to focus on the need for increased resources for BRD contaminant research and monitoring for living resources, especially migratory birds, for which DOI holds explicit stewardship responsibilities.

USGS-BRD provides vital support for investigating wildlife mortalities. This includes both field investigations and laboratory diagnostic work to identify causes and strategies for minimizing or mitigating impacts. Information from this work (especially when informed by and coordinated with work of USFWS DEC and USEPA) is critical to understanding not only (1) viral and bacterial diseases and (2) the effects of pesticides and other contaminants, but instances where these two areas of concern interact. One example: exposure to contaminants may contribute to Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy the disease that has caused the deaths of over 60 Bald Eagles and many more waterfowl in recent years.

USGS-BRD laboratory resources are sorely in need as many birds who are victims of contaminants poisoning go undiagnosed because of limited capacity for necropsy and chemical testing. Laboratory research not only provides answers for individual incidents, but provides an understanding of the mechanics behind toxic effects that allows extrapolation of such effects to populations and communities.

USGS BRD monitoring and research on the effects of contaminants (including pesticides) on fish and wildlife have continuously produced scientifically sound data, but this tradition seems imperiled by decreasing funding, personnel shifts away from laboratory and field work, and lack of coordination with also diminishing USFWS EC resources.

More resources need to be committed to the systematic and consistent review of wildlife mortality incidents not only to better understand the incidents themselves but also to locate patterns and trends, anticipate further problems and seek scientifically informed mitigation and regulation. These are all areas where USGS-BRD scientists can make significant contributions.

Right now we are working with a generation of pesticides rapidly becoming obsolete. As we speak, new classes of chemicals are being introduced. Pesticides with no field testing, unusual modes of action and many with no available biomarkers. We need a firmer grasp of what current ecological effects are; and we need to organize our scientific resources on the ground to understand and respond to future issues effectively.

American Bird Conservancy is working with NGO, government and industry partners to gather comprehensive scientific information on the ecological impacts of currently used pesticides on birds better to inform advocacy, mitigation efforts and legislation, and to define the scientific network that can effectively document and verify the effects of changing pesticide use.

USEPA, urged by its independent SAP mandated by FIFRA to consult on toxics issues, has begun to call for an intensification of information gathering on the basic ecology of birds and the mechanisms and variance of toxic effects based on variables in the field.

USGS-BRD expertise is needed and can play an invaluable role in these efforts to make scientifically sound regulatory and management decisions.

National Ground Water Association

Scientific Issues--Investigative Tools

Geologic Mapping of Ground Water Resources
At the present time, aquifers are not mapped well throughout the Nation, particularly in the Great Lakes Basin. The states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan have joined with the United States Geological Survey USGS) in an effort to map these four glaciated states to bedrock at a scale of 1:24,000. Availability of ground water must be known for potential future resource development, as well as for on-going assessment of current uses. Unfortunately, aquifers in the area are not mapped well because the glacial cove limits the number of good outcrops and makes such mapping very expensive. While the USGS has been enthusiastically involved, funding remains inadequate.

The USGS could benefit the Nation by conducting more research and evaluation of the application of both surface and borehole geophysics to shallow ground water problems, both water supply and water quality, including development of better methods to detect and map the presence of dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) in the shallow subsurface. Additional work in the application of geophysics to contaminant hydrogeology, particularly non-intrusive site assessment and monitoring is needed.

Ground Water and Well Benchmark Network
While the USGS currently utilizes a national network of ground water observation wells, it would be useful to either expand this network and/or to make this water level and water quality data available in both tabular and graphical form on a near-real-time basis through the Internet. The current network could be expanded through a state cooperative program. One idea would be to include weighted reported based on data QA/QC.

Permeability Pathways
Better methods are needed to predict or measure permeability pathways in highly heterogeneous environments, such as karst terrains or fractured rock aquifers. This is critical both for predicting and understanding well yields and also predicting and understanding contaminant migration in these common, but complex hydrogeological settings. This would be an excellent opportunity for further collaborative research with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding what treatment technologies are effective in these settings.

Science Issues--Future Uses of Ground Water

Ground Water Recharge
The USGS could do more to measure ground water recharge and predict how recharge will change in the future tin response to climatic change, urbanization, or other non-hydrologic stresses.

Ground Water Reuse
An investigation into the use of reusing ground water as a supplement to natural or untreated waters would be of benefit to the Nation. Further research, followed by public educations, should be conducted to establish if the use of reused ground water is an acceptable alternative for replenishing ground water supplies. (See Reclaimed Wastewater Reuse below.)

Ground Water Usage
As perhaps could be anticipated from several issues raised above, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) believes there is value to the Nation for the USGS to conduct in-depth studies, technical analyses and forecasts of water quality and water quantity in order to meet existing and future water supply requirements.

Reclaimed Water Use
An investigation into the use of reclaimed wastewater as a supplement to natural or untreated waters would be of benefit to the Nation. Further research, followed by public education, should be conducted to establish if the use of reclaimed water is an acceptable alternative for replenishing ground water supplies.

Salt Accretion in Ground Water
While this is a long-studied problem, the problem appears to becoming more serious in geographic areas which are struggling to transfer water, extract from different aquifers, and blend surface and ground waters in order to maintain existing land uses. At the same time, it appears that ground water quality commonly worsens in these settings because the total water budget is not being evaluated.

Again, a long-term area of scientific investigation, but further research and monitoring are justified for geographic areas that are looking to implement or expand water transfers so as to prevent loss or reduction in ground water storage.

Surface Water/Ground Water Interaction
While this subject has been explored to establish the relationship, it now calls for greater understanding of the implications of the interaction for use in water management of basins.

Wastewater Facilities
There is a need for the USGS, perhaps in cooperation with he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the private sector, to investigate the magnitude of impact from evaporation/percolation facilities and the infiltration of wastewater to ground water.

Non-Scientific Issues

Access to the Work of the U.S. Geological Survey
Although significant strides have been made in making USGS water-resources data, reports and software available through the Internet, more effort is needed to do this more extensively, more consistently, and more timely. Perhaps it will be worthwhile for the USGS to examine how it shares its works in progress or completed works with other employees of the USGS, as well as with non-Survey sources, such as other Federal agencies, state and local governments, colleges and universities, and relevant professional societies/associations.

Commitment to the USGS's Future Excellence
Like with other Federal agencies, the scientific staff of the USGS appears to be aging. The USGS may benefit from conducting an assessment of its human resources and examine its need to recruit talented and visionary young scientists and engineers to its workforce now so as to benefit from mentoring with the current workforce.

Many important research projects are either unfunded or are inadequately funded. Funding for the Water Resources Division and for ground water research could be increased to levels more commensurate with the magnitude of the Nation's dependence upon the resource, and the costs associated with maintaining a safe ground water source. While current congressional practices may limit this, it may be worthwhile for the USGS to advocate for indexing long-term funding of projects to the cost-of-living in order5o sustain the viability of projects over the long-term.

Interagency Cooperation
The National Ground Water Association would like to see a strengthening of interagency cooperation, particularly between the USS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for example the Toxic Substances Research Program that works to increase the understanding of fate and transport of contaminants in the subsurface.

USGS should look to partnering more frequently with state governments, non-governmental organizations, such as the National Ground Water Association, and private consulting firms to maximize the utilization of professionals and to minimize the costs for intrastate and interstate projects. For example, the National Ground Water Association is cooperating with USGS to host a congressional staff briefing on southwestern U.S. ground water issues later this year.

OhioView Consortium

Gateway to the Future: OhioView Pilot
Blueprint for a National Satellite and Geographic Information System
Summary: Plan for the National Expansion of Gateway to the Future--Ohio View Pilot
Satellite and related geographic information are crucial for many aspects of education, research, government and industry. Accordingly we ask the USGS to help us expand the pilot program across the United States. From our experience with Gateway to the Future: OhioView Pilot, we have identified the following key elements for the success of the National Gateway to the Future satellite and geospatial data access and applications program.

  1. Continued reasonable data prices for non-commercial users.
  2. Continued balanced satellite data policy, which allows data and cost sharing by non-commercial users.
  3. Stable, long-term supply of consistent moderate resolution, Landsat specification satellite data.
  4. Continued support for a satellite data archive and distribution system at the USGS EROS Data Center.
  5. Continued USGS/NASA cooperation via EROS and local NASA Research Centers with the establishment of the first of several joint USGS/NASA applications research offices at the NASA Glenn Research Center. Other likely sites include NASA Stennis, NASA Ames, NASA Goddard and/or NASA Langley.
  6. Continued consultation, involvement, support and expansion of potential and current users through establishment of a superconsortium of non-commercial users based at the University of Cincinnati given that we have done most of the development work and succeeded in establishing a very successful, very low-cost pilot with approximately 7% of the total project funding.
  7. We do need a modest level of stable multi-year funding from USGS headquarters to manage and develop the Gateway to the Future pilot project into a national program and to facilitate educational, research, state and local government applications.
  8. We request that the national expansion of the OhioView pilot be managed under the direction of Barbara Wainman as she has been instrumental in its development since its earliest phases and knows the program well. We would appreciate designation of a member of her staff as the USGS headquarters point of contact for the Gateway to the Future Consortium.

Progress Report on the OhioView Pilot
Despite their value, satellite data have been underutilized largely because of policy barriers, the cost of computer hardware, the cost of satellite data, the cost of remote sensing software, and logistical barriers to timely data access. The last issue is important to resolve because satellite and other geospatial data are most valuable at the moment they are acquired as many applications such as agriculture, disaster management and defense are time sensitive.

Congress removed the barrier to Landsat data access in 1992 with Public Law 102-555. Recent explosive growth in computer technology has removed the price barrier to computer hardware. OhioView was started in 1996 to remove the last three barriers to the widespread application of satellite data to everyday life, namely, high data cost, expensive software and slow data access.

OhioView is a grass-roots effort by Ohio universities, state and local government to make USGS Landsat-7 and NASA MODIS and ASTER data available to the general public, education and research as well as local, state and federal government users in near-real time, primarily for non-commercial purposes. The system was designed so that taxpayers will receive maximum benefit at minimum cost through a partnership of the USGS, NASA, state and local government industry and academia. For less than $5 million per year, the public is finally receiving a significant return on its multi-billion dollar investment in USGS and NASA remote sensing research, development and satellites. The low cost of the system was made possible by cooperation between the USGS, NASA, Ohio governments and academia. Of necessity, any and all existing resources were leveraged. Infrastructure investments were focused on the USGS EROS Data Center in order to take full advantage of network economies of scale. Approximately 7% of total funding during the first three years was used at the state and local level for applications research and implementation.

Academic, local, state and federal agency cooperation coupled with focused investments in USGS and NASA infrastructure represents a lean and efficient model for the national expansion of the Gateway to the Future satellite and geospatial information access network. The State of Ohio purchases routine Landsat-7 coverage on a subscription basis. This data purchase is possible because non-commercial users are allowed to share data and the cost of the data.

Ironically, the success of the OhioView model for Landsat-7 data and cost sharing between consortia of non-commercial users has lead one progressive high-resolution commercial satellite data supplier to offer similar terms for its commercial data. The result is a new and viable market for high-resolution commercial satellite data. In this model publicly funded (but commercially operated) facilities such as the USGS EROS Data Center act as intermediaries and the long-term deep archive for public purchases of commercial as well as government satellite data. NASA Research Centers provide much needed technical and logistical support for "bleeding edge" ultrahigh bandwidth information technologies while the USGS supplies scientific expertise for applications research.

Routine Landsat-7 data are then transmitted within hours of acquisition from the USGS EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio via high-speed terrestrial and communications satellite links. Landsat-7 satellite data are then transmitted to 85 Ohio colleges, universities via the Ohio academic network. State and local governments users may access Landsat-7 data via servers located in Columbus and Akron or via the state academic library system. A sample of the OhioView pilot's accomplishments to data follows.

OhioView Pilot Data Specifications
A complete set of Ohio View Pilot data specifications have been developed and forwarded to the USGS EROS Data Center.

OhioView Pilot Legal Agreements
A memorandum of agreement was drafted and signed by the OhioView charter members and later amended to allow for expansion of the consortium. The agreement includes USGAU restrictions that limit the use of Landsat-5 data to non-commercial purposes. We seek USGAU status for Native American governmental and educational institutions to help us collaborate with them in our distance education and cooperative research efforts with regard to land use change on tribal lands.

OhioView Pilot Operations Concept Documentation
The USGS EROS Data Center, NASA Glenn Research Center, the NASA Ames Research Center and the OhioView consortium contributed to a detailed operations concept document, which serves as a technical blueprint for the pilot project and its national expansion.

OhioView Pilot Plan for State and Local Government Use of Satellite and Geospatial Data
An extensive and detailed plan for access to and application of satellite and related geospatial data to state and local government issues has been developed by the Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program (OGRIP), the Ohio GIS Support Center and the OhioView universities.

OhioView Public Access to Remote Sensing Data Pilots
Proof-of-concept satellite data servers at NASA Glenn and OhioLINK are now operational and provide internet access to pre-processed natural color and vegetative health images of sample Landsat data sets. These servers will be upgraded during FY2000 to display near-real-time Landsat-7 imagery as part of an agricultural early warning and land use information system for the state of Ohio.

OhioView K-12 Multidisciplinary Education Pilot
The OhioView pilot has developed a fully operational program of K-12 workshops and a complete set of multimedia teaching materials created by elementary, junior high school and high school teachers and made available to all via the internet. These on-line materials cover subjects as diverse as physics, math, business, geography, earth science and music.

OhioView Undergraduate Remote Sensing Education Pilot
More than two thousand Ohio undergraduate students in geography and geology course benefit from teaching materials derived from Landsat data each year. We expect student awareness of the value of satellite remote sensing to increase rapidly as the number of faculty using and teaching remote sensing increases in Ohio. The number of faculty actively teaching remote sensing in Ohio has risen from approximately 8 to more than 25 since OhioView data cost sharing began in 1997. Four Ohio university faculty members have been hired with the educational and research opportunities afforded by the OhioView pilot project in mind.

More than two hundred undergraduate students at eight Ohio universities receive instruction in introductory remote sensing each year. Although the consortium was organized primarily to share the cost of satellite data, the consortium is currently in the process of selecting a vendor for a $100,000 state-wide site license for remote sensing software to expand our undergraduate remote sensing education program. The state-wide remote sensing software license will compliment our state-wide GIS software license. OhioView is already producing new opportunities for students and new profits for the remote sensing software industry. The market for remote sensing software and commercial satellite data will continue to grow as our students graduate with an awareness of the utility of satellite imagery.

The Ohioview pilot has also developed the first draft of an on-line set of instructional materials for undergraduate remote sensing education. These materials will be upgraded and place on-line during the summer of FY2000.

OhioView Graduate Remote Sensing Education Pilot
The number of Ohio graduate students active in remote sensing research has increased by a factor of approximately five since 1997. This is a direct response to the ability to share the cost of satellite data among members of the consortium. We expect this number to increase now that we are receiving near-real-time Landsat-7 data on a regular basis and are able to address time-sensitive research issues. Naturally, as soon as our graduate students receive Landsat-7 data, they ask us to provide high-resolution commercial satellite data as well. These undergraduate and graduate students represent the future customers and work force of the commercial remote sensing industry.

OhioView Native American Outreach Pilot
OhioView has partnered with the Leech Lake Tribal Government, the NASA Glenn Research Center and the USGS EROS Data Center to develop a hands-on teaching laboratory for remote sensing education on the Leech Lake Reservation. Technical support including a high-bandwidth internet-via-satellite link is provided by NASA Glenn to carry distance education course, teaching materials and research data between Minnesota and Ohio.

OhioView Farmland Loss Land Cover Change Pilot
Eight OhioView universities are collaborating with the Governor's Task Force on Farmland Loss to provide a quantitative analysis of the farmland loss. The logistics with regard to the data required for the analysis are almost complete. During the remainder of FY2000, we will provide quantitative input for "what if" policy models to evaluate alternatives in collaboration with the task force. Detailed descriptions of these pilot project elements have been provided to Congress, USGS EDC and NASA Glenn.

Ohioview Pilot Benefits to Industry
For example, students trained in remote sensing and GIS expand the market for high-resolution satellite data, software and hardware. Similarly, affordable moderate resolution USGS data products expand the market for high-resolution commercial data and value added services by making students, researchers, small businesses, federal, state and local government aware of the utility of geospatial information.

Far-sighted corporations such as Apple Computer, Microsoft, ESRI and others have understood the synergy between education, research and increased market share for many years and continue to reap the long-term benefits of cooperation through market growth created by college graduates. As the pilot project for Gateway to the Future, OhioView seeks USGS assistance with regard to forming a similar partnership between education, research, government and industry for the application of geospatial information in general and satellite data and information technology in particular to local and national opportunities and challenges.

Need for the USGS as the Federal Agency Responsible for Geospatial Data Coordination and Distribution
USGS-contracted air photographs, topographic maps, digital orthophotoquadrangles, digital elevation models and satellite imagery are the foundation of geographic information systems in the United States. USGS oversight assures that these contracted data sets conform to consistent national accuracy standards and are available in consistent geographic parameters and scales. These accuracy standards and consistent formats facilitate the seamless use of geographic information and imagery by the educational, research, governmental and industrial communities across the nation.

Industry benefits from USGS geospatial information through contracting, value-added and retail opportunities, increased public awareness (leading to market expansion) and from the information itself through informed management that increases profits and decreases cost and risk. The K-12, undergraduate and graduate educational communities benefit from affordable, high-quality teaching materials for geography, geology, physics, mathematics and the humanities. Researchers benefit from affordable, accurate and consistent geographically referenced information and imagery.

These same quality USGS data sets enable federal, state and local government to increase the efficiency of government (reducing taxes), protect our environment, manage natural hazards, improve agriculture, monitor land use, plan for development and prepare for climate change. The public benefits from a better environment, reduced taxes, and increased productivity.

Future USGS Satellite Data Policy -- The Need for a Balance of Public and Private Interests
We ask that the USGS continue its current policy of acquiring and distributing affordable moderate resolution geospatial information with minor modifications. Most USGS geospatial data work is currently contracted out to the private sector for the sake of efficiency. High-resolution geospatial data products at scales larger (finer) than 1:24,000 are usually left completely to the private sector.

Landsat-7 Era
Moderate spatial and temporal resolution USGS Landsat-7 data are a scientific bonanza for education and research and provide a stepping stone for state and local government into the world of high-resolution satellite imagery. We request that the USGS continue to operate Landsat-7, to keep its data in the public domain and to distribute it in accordance with its COFUR policy via the EROS Data Center. We ask that the USGS modify its current data policy to allow the acquisition and distribution of amount of commercial high-resolution (sub-15-meter) data for educational and research use via the USGS EROS Data Center.

Landsat-8 Era
We ask that the USG begin planning for the "Landsat-8" era by either contracting for a successor Landsat-8 satellite or by preparing a long-term contract to purchase routine national moderate resolution commercial satellite data with Landsat specifications. Regardless of their source, Landsat-8 era satellite data must be spatially and radiometrically consistent with previous Landsat-7 and earlier Thematic Mapper data for internal consistency as this data set is one of the key elements for the monitoring and management of climate change. We ask that Landsat-8 era data, regardless of source, be archived at and distributed from the USGS EROS Data Center for use by educational, research and federal, state, local and tribal governmental institutions including Native American tribal governments, schools and colleges because we are building high-bandwidth educational and research networks focused on EDC.

If commercial data are purchased with public funds in lieu of Landsat-8, we ask that the non-commercial communities listed above be allowed to purchase the data from the USGS EROS Data Center in accordance with USGS COFUR policy and to share the data and the cost of the data for non-commercial purposes including but not limited to distance education and collaborative research, and federal, state and local government research and land management issues.

In preparation for the post-Lansat-7 era, we would like to work with the USGS EROS Data Center, NASA and the private sector to provide continued routine national satellite data sets and annual global snap shots with Landsat-specification data. To do this we plan to form a superconsortium of educational, research and other non-commercial users in support of the Gateway to the Future Program.

U.S. Forest Service

The USDA Forest Service administers 8 percent of the land area of this country, in 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands located in 33 states covering almost 192 million acres. Over 60 million people living in 3,400 communities get their drinking water from these lands. The Forest Service is essential the largest and most important provider in the Nation. To carry out this role, the Forest Service is the second largest employer of hydrologists in the Nation -- only the U.S. Geological Survey employs more water scientists.

To understand how we carry out our mission of "Caring for the Land and Serving People," we are organized into three major branches -- National Forest System; Research and Development; and State and Private Forestry -- each of which operates various water-related programs.

National Forest System
We are a decentralized, line-staff organization that attempts to leave decision-making at the lowest possible level. There are 4 levels: 600 Ranger Districts, 155 National Forests, 9 Regional Offices, and D.C. headquarters. The Ranger Districts cover from about 100,000 acres to over 1 million acres each and is where most of the work is done, such as measurigng precipitation and streamflows, taking water-quality samples, meeting with forest users and permittees. About one-quarter are staffed with hydrologists. About two-thirds of the 155 national forest supervisor offices are staffed with journey-level hydrologists that also perform field sampling and data analysis, participate in technical advisory committees with other Federal, State, tribal, and non-profit organizations. All 9 regional offices are staffed with teams of hydrologists that provide technical, tactical guidance to the forests.

Needs and Issues

  1. Stable network of streamgaging stations. We often need to quantify water yield from the national forests and grasslands, including annual fluctuations. Loss of many key USGS gages has hurt our ability to do this.
  2. The USGS ground-water resources inventory needs to be greatly improved and simplified if possible. The RASA reports were a good start, but the need for more detailed data and time trends in water table depths in mountainous areas is growing fast.
  3. Quantification of water quality constituents for TMDC calculations and modeling is an important need virtually everywhere as long as the courts require TMDL assessments.
  4. Interagency assessments of watershed conditions, such that judgments about "watershed health" and the state of aquatic resources are rapidly growing in importance to all segments of society. Implementation of the Montreal protocols for soils, water and air quality is starting and there are many unresolved questions about how to do it effectively.
  5. Economic research on the value of water for various uses.

Research and Development
Our 70 research hydrologists carry out intensive data collection activities in support of small watershed studies over long time periods. Cooperation with USGS scientists is ongoing at our 32 research study sites, and a national MOU between the two agencies provides for transfer of funds. While this has been productive, more can be done.

Needs and Issues

  1. Research on the effects of outdoor recreation and wildlife pathogens upon drinking water quality and human health needs to be greatly increased.
  2. How to accurately predict the toxicity risk of blue-green algae blooms in lakes and reservoirs.
  3. Development of cost-effective procedures for mitigating acid mine drainage in remote locations.
  4. How to measure cumulative effects of past and current management practices upon water quantity and water quality at different spatial and temporal scales.
  5. Effects of nitrogen deposition upon forest soils and waterbodies. The existing NADP network needs to be funded by all partners.
  6. Cooperative instream flow studies, including both flow frequency analysis and bedload transport measurements, need to continue in support of Federal water right claims in ongoing litigation.
  7. Research on predictive models for landslides, floods, droughts and other natural disasters should continue in an interagency, interdisciplinary manner.

State and Private Forestry
This is primarily technical assistance, with some financial assistance, to States, tribes, cities, and private forest landowners on ways to improve management of non-Federal forest lands in more sustainable ways. It includes cooperative fire assistance, forest stewardship, urban and community forestry, insect, disease and invasive weeds programs, and $9 million for economic action program grants.

Needs and Issues

  1. Public outreach and conservation education of target groups through various media needs to become a more important focus by many government agencies, including USGS.

National Marine Fisheries Service

Joint Ongoing Activities

NOAA Committing Dollars

Figure 1. Fishery Management Plans (included map, only text shown here; *designates joint plans)

Magnuson-Stevens Act Sec. 303

NOAA/USGS Joint Initiative
Effects of Fishing Activities on Benthic Habitat
Two Themes
A. Determine the Effects of Fishing Gear on Seabed Habitats
B. Identify and Map Benthic Habitat Characteristics and Extent of Fishing Impacts



Regional Workshops
[prioritize, select area(s), scope details]

SEFSC Workshop

SW/NWFSC Workshop

AKFSC Workshop


Seafloor Characterization
USGS collect, analyze, and georeference digital backscatter and bathymetry data for:

  1. Priority areas within each NOAA/NMFS Region (TBD via joint workshops)
  2. Entire Continental Shelf and Slop
  3. Entire U.S. EEZ
  4. Estuarine areas

Desired products (suitable for GIS ArcView or ArcInfo)

  1. Digital mosaic backscatter imagery
  2. Full-bottom bathymetry

Effects of Fishing Activities

  1. Determine spatial extent of fishing induced disturbances on the seabed
  2. Collect and analyze high resolution (small areal coverage) data to determine effects of fishing on specific habitat types.
  3. Develop methods to extrapolate data from site specific study to shelf-wide application (area of Fisher Management Plan).

Natural and Non-Fishing Related Change and Stability of Seabed

  1. Determine natural and non-fishing (e.g., cable laying, mining) induced rates of change on the seabed by repeatedly collecting and analyzing data over time for both representative areas and areas of particular interest.
  2. Interpret these data for particular areas, depths, and habitats.

Data Uses


National Marine Sanctuaries

Discover the National Marine Sanctuaries
A Research Prospectus -- February 2000
Science Plan for the National Marine Sanctuary System [Note: Abbreviated version; a detailed listing of research efforts and needs in each of the National Marine Sanctuaries is included in the plan, but is not transcribed here.]

Strengthen the quality and focus of marine research by ensuring that the national system of sanctuaries ahs adequate, qualified research staff, effective research and information management programs, and productive inter- and intra-agency partnerships.
Resource Assessment
Profile the structural and functional elements of Sanctuary ecosystems. This will include delineation of biological community dynamics, identifying links with abiotic processes, and evaluation the social, cultural and economic aspects of marine sanctuaries, and effects of human activities on natural systems.
Resource Monitoring and Research
Improve resource management decisions and strategies by implementing a quality research and monitoring program to document trends and produce information or data to guide day-to-day operations. The objective is to create a strong conservation science and monitoring program to support management of marine protected areas.

Principal functions of the NMSP are resource management, conservation policy development, resource protection, public education and outreach, and conservation science. Each contributes to and is guided by the others. Monitoring, site assessment, and research address the conservation science needs of the NMSP. These elements provide scientific information to: understand ecosystem function and change; ensure objective decision-making in responding to emerging management issues; allow for effective intervention, when appropriate, to mitigate damage and enhance the ability of natural communities to recover from human-caused injury; and form the basis of national policy. Effectiveness of these elements can only be assured by the development of strategic linkages with appropriate partnering organizations and plans. A variety of communication mechanisms will enhance the contributions of conservation science to other functions of the NMSP, and vice versa.

Staffing -- Permanent scientific staff at each site is essential to carry out and direct research and monitoring to meet management objectives.
Data and Information Management -- A well-designed information management and dissemination system will facilitate conservation science-based management.
Strategic Linkages -- Partnerships will be used to expand federal, state, and local support for the NMSP, increase resource leveraging, and improve national ocean governance structure.

Site assessment and characterization data will allow managers to better understand the protected natural and cultural resources and important environmental processes and threats in the NMSs. This will enable effective policy development, risk management, and threat reduction, as well as enhance education and outreach programs of the NMSs.

Monitoring -- Monitoring data will be acquired and compiled, allowing managers to establish baseline conditions and discern trends so they may effectively conserve, enhance, and restore habitats and ecosystems.
Research -- Research results will demonstrate linkages between nature and human activities, and contribute to effective resource management by facilitating information-based decision-making.

The Science Plan is designed to provide information required for the development of informed conservation policy and resource management decisions, but also actively contributes to Marine Sanctuaries Division (MSD) education and outreach efforts. The MSD will integrate natural sciences with socioeconomic and cultural sciences to provide the foundation upon which successful protection, maintenance, and restoration of species and ecosystems can be accomplished. Feedback from these functional elements of the NMSP, in turn, bears on annual and longer-term science priorities and efforts. In combination, the MSD can address the diverse needs of its resource protection mandate.

National Ocean Service

Opportunities for USGS/NOAA Collaboration to Address NOAA Strategic Goals (Primarily based on GD and NMD. Expect similar opportunities with BRD and WRD) [FY 02*Note: X-N = Known NOAA Initiative with potential for Joint; X-J = Known Joint Initiative; X = Opportunity for Joint Initiative]

NOAA Strategic Goal Management Issue USGS Contribution Geographic Scope Ongoing FY 02*
Build Sustainable Fisheries

Fishery Habitat Preservation, and Restoration

High-Resolution Mapping of Coastal Ocean Seafloor

Site Specific



Geologic Controls on Habitat Gains and Losses (seagrasses, corals, marshes)

Sediment Dynamics Geochemistry of Coral Reefs




Advanced Short-Term Warning and Forecast Services

Improved Tsunami Warnings

Tsunami Generation (Observations and Predictions

US West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska



Improved Flood Forecasts

Stream Gage Data




Coastal Erosion Warnings

Storm Beach Erosion Predictions


Nearshore Wave Forecasts

Nearshore Bathymetry


Sustain Healthy Coasts

Contaminated Sediments (Sources, Sinks, Transport)

Sediment Dynamics
Geochemical Binding Process

National Problem Site-Specific Solutions


Role of Geology in Coastal Eutrophication and Hypoxia

National Problem Site-Specific Solutions


Harmful Algal Blooms

Role of Geology in Harmful Algal Bloom Occurrences

National Problem Site-Specific Solutions


Coastal Erosion

Seasonal, Interannual, and Climate-Scale Erosion Rates



National Marine Sanctuaries

Habitat Delineation/Mapping



Promote Safe Navigation

Accurate Navigation Charts

Topographic/Bathymetric/Shoreline Mapping

National Problem



Shoaling Rates/Processes in Navigation Channels

National Problem Site-Specific Solutions

National Weather Service

[Note: Text only of handout provided, which contains several maps and graphics]

Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services -- Water Predictions for Life Decisions
Improved flood and river predictions to affect life's decisions (longer lead times; information for risk-based decisions)
75 percent of Presidentially declared disasters are associated with flooding events
Need to infuse new science into operations
Limited snow water equivalent data
Expected Results
Fast national delivery of web-ready graphical products (predicted river levels)
Extend existing 3-day river forecasts out to 2 weeks or longer
Provide information for risk-based decisions
Infuse science into operations
Refresh operational software
Collect snow water equivalent data nationwide

Program Services Rollout

Program Activities

Life Decisions
Flood and Drought Action Planning, Water Supply, Irrigation, Power Generation Scheduling, Evacuation

Federal/State Agencies, Non-Federal Officials, Emergency Managers, Industry, Hydropower, Navigation, Recreation, and Heads of Households

Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz

The USGS review of programmatic directions comes at an important time in the evolution and development of the marine science community around the Monterey Bay Research Crescent. As you strategize about your future directions and priorities I hope you will seriously consider how to increase the presence and integration of your people and programs in emerging scientific centers such as ours. The Monterey Bay research community is now home to 21 marine research and educational institutions or facilities employing about 1850 scientists and staff and with an annual budget in excess of $150 million. In recent years the institutions have joined together to form the Monterey Bay Crescent Ocean Research Consortium (MBCORC) to help further our collective interests related to the ocean and coastal zone. This concentration of marine related education, science, technology and policy is one of the world's most comprehensive and collaborative marine focused communities. In 1998 this uniqueness attracted President Clinton and Vice President Gore and other national leaders to hold the country's first National Ocean Summit along the shoreline of the bay. Although the USGS is an important member of our regional community (the cooperative agreements with both the Biological Resources Division and Coastal and Marine Team at the University of California, Santa Cruz), compared to other expanding programs, the USGS does not yet have a strong and visible regional presence. The USGS could become one of the Monterey Bay region's anchor institutions, joining NOAA, the University of California, and others. I urge you to be aggressive in strategizing how to expand your partnerships with communities such as ours to better leverage your strengths, expand your base of scientific colleagues and cooperative agreements, and increase you benefits to society.

Recommended Future Directions for USGS:

Earth and marine scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz are in general agreement with the summary of USGS future directions as presented in the Conference Announcement. We feel that the USGS is on track, that the critical earth sciences and related biological sciences issues have been included in their agenda and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the USGS of the 21st century.

The University of California at Santa Cruz has a 30 year history of close interaction and collaboration with the Menlo Park Center of the USGS which includes:

Scientists within the Institute of Marine Sciences, the Earth Sciences, Ocean Sciences, and Biology departments have active research programs underway in a number of the areas identified by the USGS in Conversations with Customers including:

  1. Coastal environments
  2. Ecosystems
  3. Environment and human health
  4. Ground water resources
  5. Hazards
  6. Living resources
  7. Land surface changes
  8. Up-to-date maps and imagery

It is because of the parallel and overlapping nature of past and future research directions between the USGS in Menlo Park and UC Santa Cruz that we have developed a collaborative and complimentary relationship that has persisted for three decades. This culminated in a major effort to relocate the entire Branch of Pacific Marine Geology to UC Santa Cruz in the mid-1990's. Although national politics intervened at the last minute, we have successfully moved forward with a very productive but smaller scale collaborative relationship focused on coastal hazards and processes, coral reefs and marine habitats, contaminated sediments and sediment transport, hydrogeology of coastal aquifers, and the ongoing sea otter recovery project (Biological Resources Division). Because of the success of these efforts, however, and the synergism provided by this cooperative relationship, we have again embarked on a plan to develop a Pacific Science Center in Santa Cruz to accommodate a USGS integrated sciences program.

A focus on coastal environments is altogether appropriate for the USGS of the 21st century. In order to be healthy and productive over the long term, coastal oceans and the industries which depend on them need to be healthy and sustainable. It is apparent in California and elsewhere, however, that human activities have led to significant modifications of the earth's ecological systems, in particular those of the coastal oceans, threatening or seriously impacting the ability of these physical and biological systems to sustain themselves. Rapid population growth with all if its attendant impacts, particularly in coastal counties, has created a number of well-documented problems. Estuarine and nearshore waters receive the wastewater and terrestrial runoff from both domestic, industrial and agricultural drainage. Contaminated sediments have increasingly begun to restrict dredging of ports through which 95% of our foreign trade must pass. Nearly 90% of California's once productive wetlands have been filled, and many of the state's coastal streams have been dammed for flood control and water supply. These impoundments upon which our agricultural base has developed has significantly impacted migratory fish populations such as salmon, and also reduced the supply of sand necessary to nourish beaches that support the state's large tourist industry and provide for the resident's recreational needs. Rising sea level and a higher frequency of El Nino driven coastal storms over the past two decades are eroding the state's intensively developed shoreline.

We are working cooperatively with the USGS on a number of these coastal problems and are developing good relationships with local and state government agencies and user groups for the collected information, a critical final step necessary if policies are to be influenced and changed or developed.

Investigations of Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and continents and the biota that inhabit these environments are at a crossroads. The traditional approach of measuring and documenting the nature of environmental change is rapidly being augmented by a new approach wherein dynamic processes are resolved, modeled, and understood in terms of how and why they occur, and, ultimately, how they impact society. The shift in research approach has resulted largely from the recognition that 1) the Earth's climate and natural environments are dynamic systems with high spatial and temporal variability, 2) they are changing as a result of human induced climate modification, 3) environmental systems are dynamically linked via physical, geochemical, and biological processes, with perturbations in one system often impacting others, and 4) climatic and ecological change pose economic, health, and political risks to society as a whole.

One of the most dynamic and important system interfaces is where the continent meets ocean, on the land-sea interface. This is a region where atmospheric and fluvial processes effectively couple marine and terrestrial systems. California's land-sea interface is one of the world's most dynamic. It is characterized by active uplift and shoreline erosion, intense coastal upwelling, monsoonal rainfall, and is also one of the world's most heavily populated and economically fertile coastal regions. With a goal of focusing efforts on this region and these sorts of issues, the University of California, Santa Cruz has recently developed a Center for the Dynamics and Evolution of the Land-Sea Interface (DELSI). The primary focus of this new center will be on marine and terrestrial systems that constitute the land-sea interface and the processes that modify and couple these systems. These include climate processes, such as atmospheric circulation, geologic processes that help shape the margin of the continents and transport water and sediment from the mountains to the coastal ocean, and biogeochemical and biological processes that influence the cycling of carbon, nutrients, and other elements in this system. Emphasis will be on understanding the dynamics (actions, interactions, controls, limits, future potential for change) of these systems over time scales (~10 Kyr) exceeding those of modern instrumental monitoring (i.e., 50-100 yrs). Through studies of climate records held in sediments and the organisms they contain, researchers may evaluate how the frequency and intensity of El Nino and other climatic phenomena have varied over the past and examine the responses of the biosphere to these changes.

The Center will also be unique in that the focus on the land-sea interface will allow development of techniques and technologies for solutions to a wide range of basic research problems as well as applied, regional problems. For example, studies of climate dynamics should result in development and testing of models for the state of California. On a regional basis, studies of coastal hydrologic patterns could help coastal communities that are dependent on aquifers and coastal surface waters with fresh-water resource planning.

National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges

The National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges welcomes the opportunity to participate in the USGS Listening Session and commends the Agency Director for his leadership in fulfilling his pledge to reach out to the constituent community. NASULGC is the nation's oldest higher education association. Currently the association has over 200 member institutions -- including the historically black Land Grant institutions -- located in all fifty states. Member institutions represent the leading public research institutions of the nation. The Association's overriding mission is to support high quality public education through efforts that enhance the capacity of member institutions to perform their traditional teaching, research, and public service roles. NASULGC universities have worked closely with USGS over the years in an array of formal and informal partnerships and have competence to engage in a constructive dialogue via the Listening Session mechanism. This document represents a consensus view of leading environment and natural resource scholars at NASULGC universities. What follows are some of the major themes important to NASULGC institutions.

Strategic Plan
Ideally, the Strategic Plan should explain what the agency does and lay out a clear and unambiguous plan for the future. It should serve as the foundation for the Agency's activities and programs. In reviewing the revised strategic plan last year, NASULGC forwarded a number of suggestions. First the plan should contain a bold and challenging vision, rather than a modest statement of improvements to current processes. Second, the plan needs to identify a process for developing new goals and programs. Third, the plan should highlight the value of partnerships, and identify strategies for engaging in increased partnerships as a means to meet dramatically increasing demands with uncertain budgets.

The agency clearly has rightfully earned a reputation for stellar science, while being a bureaucratic black hole. In the past, the management shortcomings could be overlooked, but today's world requires new and innovative management regimes to maximize efficiency and ensure relevance. The agency was founded on the need to conduct science; it earned respect for the conduct of science; and it needs to retain the conduct of science as a core value. USGS has served its constituents by acquiring and disseminating information in a timely and quality manner; it must continue to do so. Perhaps there is need to give some emphasis to dissemination of information so it is useful for decision-makers and managers.

General Science and Data Management
One of the areas in which USGS should strive to become THE world leader is the development and application of remote sensing/GIS decision-support tools, i.e., tools to aid decision making in the natural resources/environmental management arena (not just map making). The emerging area of bioregional planning, in which a wide array of natural resources are considered, might provide a context for developing this capability. While the bioregional planning concept might not be fully embraced throughout the Agency, there are several USGS personnel who already are heavily engaged in this work.

Another major area of strength on which the USGS could capitalize is risk analysis and decision making under uncertainty. This may seem like an obscure area but in fact it is emerging as a unifying theme in the environmental sciences, for challenges as diverse as earthquake prediction, groundwater supply forecasts, climate forecasting, wildlife population predictions and endangered species recovery. The USGS already has major strength in this area in several divisions. Again, this is an area in which could become THE world leader.

A national assessment of watersheds in the late 1990s shows that about 1,000 of more than 2,000 watersheds in the United States need plans and actions to restore and sustain their health and flow of services, products and values. For example, 40 percent of the nation's waterways are unsafe for fishing and swimming and need attention immediately. USGS could contribute immensely by developing fundamental information on those 1,000 watersheds. This would assist state and federal agencies, such as the EPA, and local communities in designing plans and actions to enhance management of those watersheds.

The need for regional and local information management (including databases of all sorts, geographic and non) is already critical. What is required is a cooperative effort of federal and state offices to join together and develop the appropriate hardware and software with a team of technicians that keep the system running. Such an undertaking should be complemented by a group of professionals who can provide data to clients and can do analyses that will develop meaningful information from the data.

The federal government now spends millions of dollars every year on research, the data from which ends up on shelves or on computer disks or otherwise is lost to society. USGS should be working more aggressively in the arena of information management so that the dollars that are spent on research are not as wasted in the future as they have been in the past.

In a changing world of data, USGS offers the greatest opportunity for data continuity. An example of the importance of this concern is where the National Weather Service has shifted from land-based, human weather observations to satellite and automated data gathering. As a result, all of the instruments have been completely changed in the last 20 years. Even if climate change has occurred it is now more difficult to establish because we aren't measuring temperature with the same instrument any more. USGS is very conscientious about making sure how instrumentation outputs compare and in the future it may be one of the few agencies which has that level of ability too make long-term comparisons.

Living Resources/Ecosystems
The USGS science centers would benefit from closer university affiliation. Some of the existing centers truly are world centers for their area of expertise (Patuxent Wildlife is one example), but others are marginally effective. The best centers have a long tradition of interaction with academic scientists. While there has been some movement already on center responsibilities and alignments, more would be beneficial.

The USGS has found it somewhat difficult to integrate the biotic and abiotic elements of its organizational structure and must do so to be successful. The division themes based on the physical sciences should not be allowed to dominate and the integration of BRD with the other elements must become more seamless than it is. Also, the USGS should endeavor to develop a process that truly incorporates a landscape level ecological approach to how they do business. In this regard, the Agency should strive to clearly define its role and avoid redundancy with other agencies (especially EPA and FWS). We support the new Director in his efforts to make USGS the science provider for Interior agencies, and to develop the means to be more efficient and responsive toward that end.

It is important to fully fund the existing Coop Units, both in terms of staff and operational resources. Also, the science centers could form the heart of integrated and cooperative science and need to be fully funded. The Agency should give serious consideration to initiating a modest competitive grant program (perhaps with a cost-share component) that would support proposals from Science Centers and university partners. This could be a mechanism to promote partnerships between science centers and universities. There are various models in other federal agencies to follow, most of which have been fruitful and rewarding for both the agencies and the grantees.

There is strong support within the NASULGC community for the Agency's reorganization. Nevertheless, since the Coop Units function well, they probably should remain administered through a national office, as opposed to regional administration. Key to meeting research and informational needs, particularly of the states, are the Coordinating Committees that function at each Unit. Those important Committees should continue carrying out their responsibilities, as they have for more than six decades.

After undergoing several reductions in recent years, the USGS budget is inadequate to permit effective USGS responses to ecological, biological, hydrologic, economic and social situations needing attention. All four USGS Divisions are constrained, but especially the Biological Resources Division. Research needs identified by federal and state agencies are being addressed only in small part. State biological and ecological needs, in particular, are largely going unmet. USGS, in concert with its University and other partners, should develop an attractive proposal to fund programs and projects to meet ecological, biological, hydrologic, economic and social needs. Unless such an initiative is launched, USGS will, in all likelihood, continue to struggle on inadequate budgets. Only through stronger working relations with partners on new initiatives can USGS hope to improve its financial status and strengthen its capabilities to help respond more effectively to ecological, biological, hydrologic, economic and social needs.

In the 1960s through the 1990s, new concepts and procedures to maintain and manage habitats for wild living resources were emphasized through a number of new national laws and policies. Both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act call for conservation recovery of ecosystems to benefit wild living resources. Similarly, in 1992, the USDA Forest Service established a new policy calling for ecosystem management on the 192 million acres in the national forest system. Other federal agencies and some state fish and wildlife agencies also have moved to an ecosystem framework and approach for planning their field activities and managing fish, wildlife and other natural resources.

These efforts and others demonstrate that a new approach is needed in planning, designing and carrying out human activities on an ecologically sound basis. Polls show that people want sound consideration and management of natural resources.

USGS should be focusing its work on providing information to prevent adverse impacts on the resource base. Attention and actions must focus, in sequence, on ensuring (1) ecological integrity or soundness, (2) economic compatibility and (3)social acceptance. USGS could be instrumental in providing information required to meet these three conditions to help meet public obligations to prevent and minimize soil erosion, meet clean water standards, perpetuate fish, wildlife and plants held in trust for all people, manage forests to achieve forest health and sustainability, store carbon, and, where possible, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. Likewise, they will help avoid costly restoration and enhance the quality of life for people.

The Agency has been very slow to engage in meaningful and substantive partnerships to accomplish its goals in science. A first step would be to increase exploitation of the current relationships and successes. We are confident that the new Director appreciates and fully understands the importance of partnerships, and is attempting to enhance the Agency's efforts in this regard. To the best of our knowledge, however, there is no system by which he can get an annual update on the level of USGS interaction with universities. Such a systematic effort would be very valuable. In addition, the agency should undertake an inventory of programs and activities for the explicit purpose of identifying areas where partnerships could leverage additional resources and expertise to bring the necessary forces to bear to resolve, and not simply address, real and compelling problems. Partnerships are also vital in building the necessary coalitions to keep the public informed of the value of earth science and ensure support for USGS programs. Universities constitute a vast technical and scientific reservoir for the Agency and they should be considered natural partners in many areas of interest to USGS.

The Cooperative Research Units represent one of the best USGS models for partnerships in which NASULGC is involved. However, this model that serves fish and wildlife so well is limited to a restricted number of universities because of fiscal and political constraints. We believe that mechanisms for cooperative agreements could be put in place to facilitate joint ventures, cooperative research, contract research, etc. with virtually any university program that has resources and expertise to complement those of USGS and that can provide science-based information to serve the public interest.

The Agency also needs to assert itself in the Federal process on issues where its interests are obvious. For example, leaving USGS out of the new MOU on biocomplexity, developed by the National Science Foundation, is a major weakness. The well-grounded scientists in USGS, particularly those in the Science Centers administered through the Biological Resources Division and those in the Water Division, should participate in emerging studies and not continue to be overlooked. Working relations among the Department of the Interior, USGS and the NSF need to be strengthened.

USGS has a long-standing problem in having sufficient positions (FTEs) to respond to its workload. It should explore several approaches, such as contracts with Universities, to enlist the services of well-qualified individuals to help meet those needs without influencing FTE ceilings. Such approaches deserve special exploration to identify new acceptable solutions to current limits on staff capabilities.

In the past, when a university met with USGS there was a common refrain: "We are not a grant-giving agency, we are a grant-getting agency." Other agencies, such as USDA's Agricultural Research Service, of whom the same is true, is nonetheless very active in partnerships, which have proven quite valuable. Rather than just closing that door, USGS should develop a set of methods by which these partnerships occur.

Environment and Natural Resources
Some areas USGS may want to consider addressing include the following: 1) find mechanisms to inventory, manage, and use renewable natural resources without adverse impact on biodiversity; (2) couple land use planning with hazard risk assessment to reduce ecological and human costs; and (3) minimize environmental impacts associated with exploitation of non-renewable natural resources. These challenges can be broadly lumped under the banner of timely inventory, cost-benefit analyses, and risk assessment to maximize societal benefit with minimizing irreversible ecological damage.

Water Resources
The Water Institutes also comprise a successful and important partnership between USGS and universities. We have several practical suggestions that would improve this program for the benefit of the entire nation.

Specifically we would urge that the Agency request a budget for the Institutes more in line with their Congressional authorization. The base (104-B) should be expanded to $100,000 per Institute per year, then grow the 104G program to $3-4M per year. In addition, there should be some sort of combined enhancement of monitoring programs, whereby USGS improves both its level of monitoring and its early availability (important progress has been made here) while the universities are tasked with utilization of these data to produce high-demand analyses. USGS provides stream flow data that the university turns into more site-specific data such as reservoir holding calculations, base flow for fish, etc.

Both the 104-B and 104-G programs could be improved by setting aside a pot of USGS money specifically for the use of the Agency people working in collaboration with universities. In addition, use of the Internship program with the Institutes should be expanded. The Internship program is a long-term relationship builder as more students have projects with both university and USGS personnel.

State-level cosponsorship of symposia and conferences could be enhanced by providing incentives to Agency staff who successfully plan such events. There should be more models of activities, which are planned for joint USGS/University proposals for larger programs. The experience would help resolve some of the difficulties of universities and USGS working together. For example, USGS tends to assume that in any partnership they will purchase and own all equipment in the project. Universities don't allow this.

Coastal Environments and Marine Geology
A recent report by the National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board, "Science for Decisionmaking: Coastal and Marine Geology at the U.S. Geological Survey," provides some useful recommendations for the Agency. We would encourage USGS to give this report close consideration. The general thrust of the report is consistent with what we have been advocating, that the Coastal and Marine Geology Program needs to develop a strategic plan with a vision statement and defined goals, to expand its partnerships, to consolidate and strengthen its leadership, and to employ a long-term, robust, focused research strategy.

One of the most urgent resource problems confronting coastal states concerns the conflict between economic and sustainable use of coastal watersheds, water resources and ecosystems of their recipient estuaries. A major obstacle in addressing these problems lies in the absence of a common medium for the information that must pass through the scientific, economic and political sectors before appropriate remedial action can be taken. In partnership with universities, USGS could develop pilot projects to demonstrate that the systems approach can be adapted as a common medium for assessing the cause-and-effect relationships within a coastal watershed system in a manner useful to scientific research, resource management and public concerns. The systems-analysis approach devises holistic strategies to extract information on the functioning of these coastal watersheds that could not be garnered from a sequence of independent, stand alone, subsystem scale studies. The pilot projects could show the applicability of an integrated systems approach as a tool for addressing watershed scale issues and for establishing a watershed management capability, accomplished through the development and use of a new generation of simulation modeling linked to economic risk assessment.

Energy and Geology
There is some concern within the university community regarding the future of the Geologic Division. It appears its programs are being increasingly short-changed and staff positions are not being filled. In the Science Strategy of the Geologic Division for 2000-2010, enhancement of cooperative efforts with universities is stated as a priority. A specific plan discussing at what scale and on what timetable it is anticipated that this enhancement will be effectuated would instill confidence in the Division's commitment to partnership with universities.

There is also concern that the Energy and Mineral Resources programs of the Geologic Division are now primarily assessment programs. This view seems to be supported in the 1998 NRC Report. The Agency should develop plans to implement some basic research programs in the mineral and energy areas, such as basin analysis, petroleum system modeling, facies analysis, depositional modeling, integrated geoscientific and engineering reservoir studies, 3-D and 4-D seismic modeling, seismic attribute analysis, rock-fluid interaction studies, and diagenetic and pore system analysis. Such studies provide an excellent mechanism for collaboration with universities.

To maintain our Nation's competitive edge in the geosciences, USGS needs to ensure it retains the highest quality research knowledge base. Yet the level of USGS staff expertise in the geosciences appears to be declining each year. Cooperative efforts with universities could reverse this trend, and vastly improve the diversity of expertise available to the USGS for solving the Nation's earth system's problems.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide these comments. The science conducted at USGS is indispensable to the nation. However, partnerships with universities will be the key for the agency to keep its science at the highest level, to make sure it is addressing the real needs of the nation, and to give decision-makers and managers the type of information necessary for informed policy choices.

National Institutes for Water Resources

Michigan State University -- Institute of Water Research
DOQ Backdropping
Develop a method in cooperation with USGS to allow users the ability to dynamically overlay digital orthoquad imagery on GIS data layers through their browsers.
Current Registration Process
A multiple step process must occur before DOQ imagery can be used in a GIS. Upon opening TerraServer, one must choose a location. Once the location is determined and a DOG has been presented, it can be downloaded in JPG format. After downloading, the coordinate information must be collected. These point locations are then manually fed into a small conversion program that creates the world file associated with the DOQ allowing the image to be registered properly.
Envisioned Registration Process

  1. The envisioned registration process would allow a user to select an area of interest on a web-based GIS.
  2. Then using the USGS database format (meaning the request parameters that need to be sent in order to receive a particular image) the DOQ request for that area would be sent from the Institute of Water Research (IWR) server.
  3. The image would be sent from the TerraServer in JPG format to the IWR server with an additional text file that contained the real world coordinate information (such as lat/long, or UTM) of the four corner points and image size, i.e. 800x600.
  4. With the additional text file the IWR server can register and project the DOQ then send it to the user as a GIS backdrop.

[Note: A 4-step Process Diagram was included, which is not replicated here.]

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