Press Release about Biological Survey at Interior
jmh3 at CORNELL.EDU
Mon May 10 15:23:00 CDT 1993
Text of one of the announcements concerning the new
March 23, 1993
A Proposal To Establish A National Biological Survey Within
The Department of the Interior
Through an internal reorganization within the Department of the
Interior, the Secretary propose to combine substantial portions of
the biological research and survey activities of eight Departmental
bureaus - the Fish and Wildlife Service; National Park Service;
Bureau of Land Management; Bureau of Reclamation; Minerals
Management Service; Office of Surface Mining; Geological Survey;
and Bureau of Mines - into a new National Biological Survey (NBS).
* To reduce overlap and duplication among the biological
research efforts of the eight bureaus within the Department,
and by integrating these efforts, improve the quality and
productivity of the Department's overall research effort at a
* To establish renewed leadership and focus for the Department's
biological research program, thereby enhancing its credibility
and providing a greater incentive for land managers and others
to rely upon research results.
* To allow more effective priority-setting by Departmental
* To develop an anticipatory, proactive biological. science
program that will enable land and resource managers at
Federal, state, and local levels to develop comprehensive
ecosystem management strategies, thus avoiding costs and
conflicts such as those involved in several past Endangered
Species Act crises.
* To give land and resource managers more timely, objective
scientific information essential for decision-making within
the Department and for structuring more effective partnerships
with state natural resource agencies and with other state and
Mission and Components
The mission of the NBS is to gather, analyze and disseminate the
biological information necessary for the wise stewardship of our
Nation's natural resources, and to foster understanding of
biological systems and the benefits they provide to society.
NBS will serve the needs of land and resource managers within all
of the Department's bureaus, for biological research to fulfill
their missions better. NBS will focus on national, regional,
ecosystem and landscape level science needs. It will also help
resource managers acquire and apply scientific tools necessary for
land management decisions at the local level, and provide them with
the best available biological information. NBS will also serve, on
a reimbursable rbasis, the needs of other federal and state
agencies, local governments, and other entities.
In addition, NBS will undertake a coordinated inventory and
monitoring program to assess the overall status and trends in the
abundance, health, and distribution of plants and animals, as well
as the ecosystems on which they depend. This will include efforts
to identify, in a pro-active fashion, chronic declines of species
and natural habitats. Without a standardized program developed by
an entity such as the NBS, monitoring can be inefficient,
inappropriate, and often unnecessarily expensive. The inventory
program will be conducted in concert with state agencies, state
heritage programs and academia. Research results from this program
will enable Federal and state land and resource managers to adopt
ecosystem-based management strategies to protect potentially
imperilled species at reduced levels of cost and conflict.
NBS will include a National Biological Technical Center to transfer
research results to users, and a network of state units to provide
local research support and technical assistance and information
transfer. To ensure responsiveness to Departmental needs and to
mission-dependent needs of the various bureaus, NBS will be advised
by a science board and a policy board on research needs and
priorities. The policy board will consist of representatives from
each bureau, and the science board will consist of scientists from
other Federal agencies, States, and academia.
NBS will serve as a national source for objective information and
analysis, not for advocacy. By focusing on biological research, NBS
will not supplant the staffs of land management agencies or their
operational biologists who apply ecological information to local
land management decisions (such as the carrying capacity of a
particular rangeland allotment, or the height to which water levels
may be maintained). Not all bureau biologists will be included in
the NBS, but only those having research functions consistent with
the NBS function.
To accomplish its mission, the National Biological Survey will:
* Conduct basic and applied research on biological resources,
including plants, fish, wildlife, and ecosystems and their
* Conduct studies to improve the capability for predicting the
effects of natural phenomena and human activities on
ecosystems and biological diversity.
* Collect, analyze, and disseminate data and information
concerning the distribution, abundance, health, status and
trends of biological resources and ecosystems.
* Develop tools, technologies, protocols, and standards for the
consistent, systematic collection and analysis of data on
ecosystems and their components.
* Disseminate data and technologies to resource managers,
scientists, and the public.
* Provide scientific and technical assistance in support of
legislative, regulatory, and resource management decisions.
* Cooperate in international research activities related to the
management of global biological resources.
Examples of research emphases include:
* Species biology, such as systematics, taxonomy, physiology and
* Population dynamics, including modeling minimum viable
* Ecosystems, habitats, and landscapes
* Inventories and monitoring status and trends
* Technology transfer and technical assistance
The NBS will consist of a core of research from existing activities
within Interior bureaus, augmented by new initiatives. The
functions to be transferred include research on biological systems
and their components. In addition to research, the National
Bioloqical Survey will provide the basis for nationwide assessment
of the status and trends of living resources and their habitats.
Many bureaus conduct inventories ranging from nationwide surveys,
such as Gap Analysis and the National Wetlands Inventory, to site-
specific surveys for Refuge, Park, or land management decisions.
NBS will assume the Departmental biological diversity and
monitoring programs that focus on: national and regional
inventories; inventories and monitoring resources of national
significance (such as the spotted owl or other endangered species
inventories); local inventory efforts that can have regional or
national consequences (such as to improve offshore oil and gas
leasina activities); and the development of standards and protocols
for conducting inventories and monitoring programs.
NBS will emphasize the transfer of information to and support for
operational units. For this reason, the Survey will include
components of bureaus involved in or directed toward technology
transfer where consolidation of those components can lead to better
technical assistance and support for Operations.
By consolidating existing fraqments of biological research within
the Department into an independent, non-advocate science bureau,
the National Biological Survey can produce numerous benefits.
Among these are:
* Improved research quality and productivity, at a lesser cost.
* Economies of scale, and consistent standards and protocols not
now existing among the many bureau research programs.
* A net increase in research capability available to individual
* An expanded commitment to technology transfer and support,
including providing analytical support, modeling, and
Geographic Information System assistance to clients.
* Research that will enable resource managers to be proactive,
to design ecosystem management strategies, and to anticipate
resource management needs rather than responding to "train
* Improved interagency coordination and strengthened cooperative
* A reduction in competitlon for resources within bureaus.
* State, university, and other interests will meet with
Departmental officials to provide input on the formation of
the National Biological Survey.
* The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
will help contribute to its vision.
The Vertebrate Collections and The MUSE Project, Cornell University
Building 3, Research Park
83 Brown Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Email: jmh3 at cornell.edu
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