Press Release about Biological Survey at Interior

Julian Humphries jmh3 at CORNELL.EDU
Mon May 10 15:23:00 CDT 1993

Text of one of the announcements concerning the new
Biological Survey.


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
     lower cost.

*    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
     local entities.

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.

Julian Humphries
The Vertebrate Collections and The MUSE Project, Cornell University
Building 3, Research Park
83 Brown Road
Ithaca, NY  14850

Voice: 607-257-8143
Fax:   607-257-8109
Email: jmh3 at

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