Policy Statements » Letters from the President:

Testimony for Fiscal Year 2005 for the U.S. Geological Survey

Dr. William H. Schlesinger, President
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20036

Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations B-308
Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), the nation?s premier scientific society of ecologists with over 8,000 members, is pleased to provide written testimony on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. ESA is grateful to Congress for report language included in both fiscal years 2003 and 2004 which underscored the importance of USGS programs and cooperative initiatives. We ask that Congress strongly consider funding USGS at $1 billion for fiscal year 2005. This 6.5 percent boost above the FY04 enacted level would restore proposed cuts to key agency programs, fully fund uncontrollable costs, and begin to reverse the nearly decade-long funding shortfall of this agency.

As the Department of Interior?s sole science agency, the USGS conducts research critical to Interior?s responsibilities in managing land, water and in protecting wildlife and environmental resources. In addition, USGS? long term monitoring programs, nationwide network and multidisciplinary scope makes USGS a unique and important research body in such areas as combating invasive species, maintaining water quality and quantity, and tracking wildlife diseases. These problems impact the health, well being and economic security of many U.S. residents, in addition to being key areas of ecological research.

The proposed budget for FY05 includes new funds, including $1 million for invasive species research and $1 million for Water 2025, which we believe deserve congressional support. USGS is at the forefront of innovative research on invasive species ? a nation-wide environmental problem costing the US an estimated $135 billion a year. USGS? stream monitoring network is an unparalleled resource, tracking water quantity and quality all over the nation and providing a valuable dataset to researchers from many institutions.

However, the Society is concerned about the Administration?s proposed cuts?including a proposed $2.8 million cut to the fire ecology and biological fire science activities?which would curb the agency?s ability to provide scientific information in those areas. In addition, there is a real risk that research funds will be redirected in order to meet uncontrollable cost increases.

The USGS is an exceptional and unique research institution. Many of the ecological problems that the USGS is charged with addressing require an interdisciplinary and integrative approach. USGS is positioned to utilize its expertise in geology, hydrology, geography and biology to address these complex problems so crucial to maintaining human and environmental health.

We hope that on this, the agency?s 125th anniversary, Congress will do its best to support USGS at or as close to the $1 billion level as possible. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.