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Stimulus 2009 Department of the Interior Appropriations (05-15-09)

Science received significant one-time appropriations in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; H.R. 1; Public Law 111-5). Science agencies are now starting to release their reports and plans for the stimulus spending. All agencies that receive one-time funds are required to submit a plan with spending specifics to Congress within 60 days of enactment. In addition all agencies will be tracking the stimulus spending in separate accounts and providing updates on the uses of the stimulus spending. The Administration is also tracking stimulus spending for all federal programs at their website.

Geoscience-related agencies covered by the Interior stimulus funding include the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, and Bureau of Reclamation. Below are updates of stimulus spending plans, provided as the agencies release information and use the funds.

Stimulus 2009 Updates

Update on Stimulus Spending Plan for the USGS (5-15-09)
About $140 million will fund 308 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) projects.  The funds will be used generally for repair, construction and restoration of facilities, equipment replacement and upgrades, national map activities, and critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects.  Specific expenditures include: $15.2 million to modernize equipment in the National Volcano Early Warning System at all USGS volcano observatories; $14.6 million to upgrade high-data radio technology and upgrade streamgages with new technologies for streamflow measurement; $14.6 million for remediation to remove streamgages, cableways, and ground-water wells that are no longer in use; $29.4 million for projects that address health and safety issues and functional needs, make facilities more energy efficient, and incorporate sustainable design criteria in project implementation; $29.4 million to modernize the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) by doubling the number of ANSS-quality stations and upgrading seismic networks nationwide; $17.8 million for construction of wildlife and environmental research facilities in Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin; $14.6 million to improve mapping data; and nearly $500,000 to digitize and make publicly available via the Internet bird banding records, which are useful for disease research.

Update on Overall Stimulus Spending for the Department of the Interior (2-17-09)
Department of the Interior
*U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): $140 million
*Bureau of Land Management (BLM): $320 million
*Bureau of Reclamation (BR): $1 billion

USGS –The USGS will receive $140 million. The Conference Report indicates that “The Survey should consider a wide variety of activities, including repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred-maintenance and improvement projects which can maximize jobs and provide lasting improvement to our Nation's science capacity.”

BLM – The BLM will receive $125 million for management of lands and resources, $180 million for construction and $15 million for wildland fire management. The Conference Report indicates the $125 million should go toward “While maximizing jobs, the Bureau should consider projects on all Bureau managed lands including deferred maintenance, abandoned mine and well site remediation, road and trail maintenance, watershed improvement, and high priority habitat restoration.”

BR – The BR will receive $1 billion for management, development and restoration of water and related natural resources.

Geoscience Value of Agencies within the Department of the Interior Appropriations bill

Created by an act of Congress in 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has evolved over the years, matching its talent and knowledge to the progress of science and technology. According to their website, the USGS serves the Nation as an independent fact-finding agency that collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The value of the USGS to the Nation rests on its ability to carry out studies on a national scale and to sustain long-term monitoring and assessment of natural resources. Because it has no regulatory or management mandate, the USGS provides impartial science that serves the needs of our changing world. The diversity of scientific expertise enables the USGS to carry out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations that build the base of knowledge about the Earth. In turn, decision makers at all levels of government--and citizens in all walks of life--have the information tools they need to address pressing societal issues.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing 262 million acres of land--about one-eighth of the land in the United States--and about 300 million additional acres of subsurface mineral resources. The Bureau is also responsible for wildfire management and suppression on 388 million acres. Practices such as revegetation, protective fencing, and water development are designed to conserve, enhance, and develop public land, soil, and watershed resources. Keeping public lands protected from fire on all Department of the Interior managed lands in Alaska, and suppressing wildfires on the public lands in Alaska and the western States is a high priority for BLM since they are dominated by extensive grasslands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra, and deserts. The BLM manages a wide variety of resources and uses, including energy and minerals; timber; forage; wild horse and burro populations; fish and wildlife habitat; wilderness areas; archaeological, paleontological, and historical sites; and other natural heritage values. The Bureau also has an active program of soil and watershed management on 175 million acres in the lower 48 States and 86 million acres in Alaska.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) is the federal agency that manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The agency collects, accounts for and disburses more than $5 billion per year in revenues from federal offshore mineral leases and from onshore mineral leases on federal and Indian lands. For FY 2005, the agency expects to collect and distribute about $9.5 billion from active Federal and Indian leases. There are two major programs within MMS, Offshore Minerals Management and Minerals Revenue Management.

Established in 1916, the National Park Service (NPS) has stewardship responsibilities for the protection and preservation of the national park system. The system, consisting of 388 separate and distinct units, is recognized globally as a leader in park management and resource preservation. The national park system represents much of the finest the Nation has to offer in terms of scenery, historical and archeological relics, and cultural heritage. Through its varied sites, the National Park Service attempts to explain America's history, interpret its culture, preserve examples of its natural ecosystems, and provide recreational and educational opportunities for U.S. citizens and visitors from all over the world, according to the NPS website.

The Smithsonian Institution is unique in the Federal establishment. Established by the Congress in 1846 to carry out the trust included in James Smithson's will, it has been engaged for over 150 years in the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men" in accordance with the donor's instructions. With the expenditure of both private and Federal funds over the years, it has grown into one of the world's great scientific, cultural, and intellectual organizations. It operates magnificent museums, outstanding art galleries, and important research centers. Its collections are among the best in the world, attracting approximately 25,000,000 visitors in 2002 to its museums, galleries, and zoological park, according to the Smithsonian webiste. As custodian of the National Collections, the Smithsonian is responsible for more than 140 million art objects, natural history specimens, and artifacts. These collections are displayed for the enjoyment and education of visitors and are available for research by the staff of the Institution and by hundreds of visiting students, scientists, and historians each year. Other significant study efforts draw their data and results directly from terrestrial, marine, and astrophysical observations at various Smithsonian installations.

Congress established the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the Nation’s benefit. Their website indicates that over the years, the public expanded the list of what they want from national forests and grasslands. Congress responded by directing the Forest Service to manage national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. Multiple use means managing resources under the best combination of uses to benefit the American people while ensuring the productivity of the land and protecting the quality of the environment. National forests encompass 191 million acres (77.3 million hectares) of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas. The Forest Service is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the purpose of the Forest Service—"to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run."

Sources: Department of Interior budget documents; USGS budget documents; National Park Service budget documents; U.S. Forest Service budget documents; White House Office of Management and Budget.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Contributed by Linda Rowan and Corina Cerovski-Darriau, AGI Government Affairs Staff.

Last update May 15, 2009.

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