American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

Integrating the Nation's Environmental Monitoring and Research Networks and Programs: A Proposed Framework

Vice President Gore remarked last fall that "environmental monitoring is the foundation for the scientific information necessary to make wise decisions key to meeting the twin goals of continued vigorous economic growth and preservation of our magnificent natural heritage for generations to come." Currently, the United States' monitoring system does not provide the integrated data needed to develop policies across disciplines and agencies. As an initial step of the National Environmental Monitoring Initiative, an ongoing effort to improve that system, the National Science and Technology Council released a study entitled "Integrating the Nation's Environmental Monitoring and Research Network and Programs: A Proposed Framework."

The report creates a framework for integrating monitoring activities that includes linking together synoptic remote sensing schemes, stratified sampling schemes, and intensive monitoring at specific sites. The report also presents four distinct activities necessary to develop the types of data needed for this framework. First, integrate data and programs across resources, agencies, and temporal and spatial scales through research modeling. Next, develop standards to increase the utility of information being gathered. Third, identify and enhance existing national and regional surveys through increased communication and coordination. Finally, establish a network of index sites that contain standardized information on environmental variables.

The report was prepared by the Environmental Monitoring Team, which is part of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. For more information, please contact Rebecca Dittmar at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at (202) 456-6020. Additional information about the report, major monitoring projects, and the monitoring initiative is available on the Environmental Protection Agency web site.

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

Contributed by Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs.
Last updated August 26, 1997

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