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USGS Programs and Products Enhance Outdoor Recreation
Released: 8/28/1998

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Bob Reynolds 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-6829 | FAX: 703-648-4466




September 26 is National Hunting and Fishing Day...

National Hunting and Fishing Day will be celebrated on September 26, 1998, in recognition of the millions of Americans who hunt, fish, bird, photograph, or simply watch and enjoy our country’s rich wildlife and natural resources.

As the U.S. Department of the Interior’s science agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides the scientific understanding and data that undergirds many public resource management decisions, including the setting of bag limits and hunting seasons. USGS provides topographic maps for hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts. The agency monitors water quality, streamflows, and wildlife health. Listed below are several USGS programs that support hunters and anglers, as well as a number of products that may be of interest to sportsmen and women, or those who write about or for them.

Mercury Contamination in Sport Fish. USGS studies sport fish in lakes and rivers in New England, looking for mercury concentrations that may pose a health threat to human consumers as well as to wildlife. (Contact: Terry Haines, Orono. Me., 207/581-2578)

Central Flyway. A migratory game bird study is under way in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin and central Platte River Valley, focusing on the diet and nutrient reserves of many species of waterfowl. (Contact: Robert Cox, Jamestown, N.D., 701/253-5509)

Reestablishing Atlantic salmon. Once a valuable recreational and commercial fishery in New England, Atlantic salmon have declined drastically in numbers and are currently being managed through a moratorium on fishing and a joint state/federal Conservation Plan. To assist in the recovery of Atlantic salmon, USGS scientists are studying the physiology and life history of this fish in New England rivers; its response to water quality and habitat variables in rivers, estuaries and hatcheries; the success of hatchery stocking in the Connecticut River; the control of disease and mortality in hatcheries; the genetic population structure of salmon in Maine rivers; and the effectiveness of using sterile fish in net-pen aquaculture operations off the coast of Maine. (Contact: Ed Pendleton, Kearneysville, W.Va., 304/724-4461)

North American Bird Banding Program. The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center’s Bird Banding Program supports the work of federal and state conservation agencies, the academic community, professional and amateur ornithologists, and many others. The work of both professionals and volunteers contributes to the development of hunting regulations, provides information to bird population monitoring projects, gives insights into the effects of environmental contaminants on bird populations, and supports many other efforts to understand bird population movements and health. (Contact: John Tautin, Laurel, Md., 301/497-5807)

Alaskan Rainbows. The Alagnak River in Alaska is famous among anglers seeking huge rainbow trout, but surprisingly little is known about the trout population and the effects of increasing numbers of anglers working the river’s banks and riffles. This year, two dozen USGS Alaska Biological Science Center fisheries biologists and volunteers have spent the second season of a five year study to learn more about the health and habits of these prized fish. Their work is beginning to answer basic questions about the population’s size and distribution, spawning locations, and seasonal movements. (Contact: Eric Knudsen, Anchorage. Ak., 907/786-3842)

River Level and Streamflow Information. The USGS monitors water levels through a network of -- stream gages across the country. Many of these have a satellite feed, providing web-accessible data in nearly real-time for safe boating and wading. (URL: http://water.usgs.gov/public/yourstate/html)

Fish Health. Currently, the USGS studies pfiesteria, a fish disease (http://md.water.usgs.gov/publications/fs-98-114/) that may affect humans, and whirling disease (http://biology.usgs.gov/wfrc/ccfh.htm), that affects trout. Check our latest information on these websites.

National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA). Every successful angler knows that good information about fish habitat and water quality are critical to good fishing. The information collected by the NAWQA program helps fill this need for anglers and fish and game managers alike. The USGS, NAWQA program samples fish, aquatic habitat, and water chemistry in more than 600 sites across the nation. Changes in water quality can influence the species and numbers of fish present in a stream or river. In addition, certain contaminants can accumulate in fish, raising concerns about human health and that of animal predators. (Contact: Mike Meador, Raleigh, N.C., 919/571-4000, or check the website http://www.rvares.er.usgs.gov/nawqa/natsyn.html)

Enhancing Fish Reproduction. The USGS conducts intensive research of conditions affecting spawning success of anadromous fish including striped bass, American shad, river herring, shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, Atlantic salmon and others. The research focuses on habitat and stream passage needs of species that migrate to spawn. Experiments focus on ways to improve passage success of migrating fish and involve physical models that simulate stream conditions including flow rates and man made sructures such as dams. The work benefits coastal as well as some Great Lakes region species. (Contact: Henry Booke, Turners Fall, Mass., 413/863-8991)

In addition to comprehensive programs that look at the population, distribution, health, and habits of various game species and their habitats, USGS provides a wealth of products and services for the active outdoorsman or woman.

Microsoft Terraserver. Imagine being able to download on your home computer an aerial image of a hunting or fishing destination that has been on your wish list for years, or an aerial image of a dream vacation home site in the back country. Whether you are wondering about vehicle or boating access at a sporting destination, or just want another look at the house you grew up in, the USGS/Microsoft Terraserver can provide hours of indoor daydreaming fun about the outdoors. (URL: http://www.usgs.gov/atlas)

Finding Your Way with a Map and Compass. If family members accompany you on hunting or fishing outings, or if your family just likes to hike or camp, this simple program can educate them about scale and how to determine direction and distance. It explains what topo maps are and how to use them. ( http://mapping.usgs.gov/www/products/mappubs.html#Brochures)

Elevation and Distance. This handy 15-page pocket book provides tables of information covering the elevation of geograpic features such as mountains and the distance between points in the U.S. (Order from USGS, Information Services, see instructions under special maps below or access by internet — http://mapping.usgs.gov/www/products/mappubs.html#Brochures)

USGS Learning WebSite. This site has a variety of resources for the K-12 and life-long learning audiences interested in outdoor life. (a href="http://www.usgs.gov/education/"> http://www.usgs.gov/education/)

Special Maps. All USGS maps sell for $4, unless otherwise indicated. A handling fee of $3.50 is also charged for each order. USGS maps are available from Information Services, Box 25286, Denver, Colorado 80225 (FAX: 303-202-4693).

National Wild and Scenic Rivers. The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with unique natural, cultural, or recreational features in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. As of December 1992, the National System had grown from its initial eight components to a 152-river system with representation in 34 states. Ordering instructions listed above.

Topographic Maps of the National Parks. The USGS also publishes special topographic maps for many national parks and national monuments. Maps of national parks, battlefields, and historic sites are prepared at various scales from standard topographic maps. Many are available with a shaded-relief overprint which gives a three-dimensional impression of the terrain. A complete listing can be found in the free publication entitled "Index to USGS Topographic Map Coverage of National Park System." Ordering instructions listed above.

Topographic Maps for All States. A topographic map accurately represents the natural and manmade features of the land. USGS topographic maps are compiled to National Map Accuracy Standards using modern mapping techniques. The shape and elevation of the terrain are portrayed by contour lines and specific features such as road, towns, water areas, and vegetation are portrayed by map symbols and colors. It takes about 57,000 maps to cover the conterminous 48 states, Hawaii, and territories. These maps are now for sale to the public. Orders for 1:24,000 scale topographic maps can be made through Information Services in Denver, Colorado or through the Global Land Information System (GLIS) website under Map Finder (http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/glis/glis.html/).


The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.

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