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Weekly Highlights


From: Gaye Farris
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Activities

  • Hurricane Flights: Tommy Michot and Chris Wells, USGS National Wetlands Research scientists, flew pre- (Aug. 28 and 29) and post- (Sept. 4 and 5) Hurricane Gustav missions collecting video and digital photographic images of the Louisiana coast. Images of coastal areas and barrier islands, from Raccoon Island to Grand Isle, can be found on the Center’s Web site ( and will require further analyses to achieve more detailed storm impact assessments. Most of the damage was to barrier islands, the first line of defense for coastal Louisiana. They were overwashed and bare soil was eroded, but vegetated portions appeared intact. Along the coast there was a large wrack deposit in eastern Terrebonne Parish and in Golden Meadow. The National Park Service will be reviewed the video of the storm impact on the Barataria Unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. (Scott Wilson, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8644)

  • Hurricane Bird Habitat Studies: Wylie Barrow and Clint Jeske, USGS National Wetlands Research scientists, sampled insect populations at the Chenier research sites in preparation for Hurricanes Gustav and Ike landfalls in order to capture pre-storm data that would be useful to contrast with post-storm effects. Their post-Gustav surveys showed there was relatively minor impact from Gustav, but Ike may bring a different fate. (Wylie Barrow, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8668)

  • Coastal Forests: Ken Krauss and Richard Day, USGS National Wetlands Research Center scientists, visited their coastal forest plots across Louisiana to check on gage equipment, overturned litter traps, and surge and wind impact to trees and soil salinity. Some sites were likely to have recorded the surge height similar to Hurricane Rita, but we do not as yet know whether the gages withstood the surge force. (Ken Krauss, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8882)

Hurricane Ike Activities

  • Pre-hurricane Flight: USGS National Wetlands Research Center scientists Tommy Michot and Josh Bridevaux flew the Louisiana and Texas coasts Sept. 10 to observe and record the condition of coastal wetlands before Hurricane Ike’s expected landfall. They used aerial videography to document the shoreline condition of southwestern Louisiana and Texas down to Matagorda Bay, including Galveston Island, High Island, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Texas Mid-coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. (Tommy Michot, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8664)

  • Emergency Preparedness: During the week of Sept. 8, USGS National Wetlands Research Center Director Gregory Smith was involved in various emergency preparedness meetings. He discussed emergency preparedness and response with the USGS Denver Office of Regional Services. In Houston Smith met with the Incident Support Team Leaders of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Galveston, he briefed the National Park Service water rescue teams after a meeting with John Simsen, Emergency Management Coordinator for Galveston County Office of Emergency Management. Smith also met with Steve Parris, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Ecological Services Field Office in Houston, for coordination on post storm assets. Tentative plans are to send the Center’s Science Response Vehicle to Texas coastal areas as needed. (Gregory Smith, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8501)

Department/Bureau News

  • Diversity Award: USGS National Wetlands Research Center secretary Debbie Norling has been named the recipient of the Central Region’s Diversity Award, given annually to individuals and groups who make a difference in the workplace. Norling was nominated for the award from individuals both within the Center and from elsewhere in USGS in recognition to her many services for others. At the Center, Norling has helped arrange blood donation drives and health fairs for 16 years, pitched in to help with Hurricane Katrina community work, and arranged Women’s History Month speakers and programs such as this year’s Women and Art. She has also been recognized for her community service work by the Lafayette Commission on the Needs of Women, which presented her with a Women of Excellence award. (Gaye Farris, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8550)

Media Coverage

  • The Weather Channel interviewed USGS National Wetlands Research Center Branch Chief Tom Doyle and used the center’s pre- and post-Hurricane Gustav video for a story entitled “Coastal Erosion from Gustav”. (Thomas Doyle, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8647; Scott Wilson, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8644)

  • The Advocate (Baton Rouge) published an article on Sept. 7 by Amy Wold, who interviewed USGS National Wetlands Research Center scientists about the state of the coastal wetlands and barrier islands: “Gustav Did Damage to Wetlands”. Several blogs picked up this story and alerted their readers to the images on the Web. (Thomas Doyle, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8647)

  • National Public Radio reporter Christopher Joyce interviewed USGS National Wetlands Research Center scientist Tommy Michot for a story on “Efforts to Rebuild, Protect Louisiana Wetlands Stall”. (Tommy Michot, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8664)

Media Contacts

  • The (New Orleans) Times Picayune’s environmental reporter Mark Schleifstein interviewed USGS National Wetlands Research Center geographer John Barras regarding satellite imagery related to Hurricane Gustav. (John Barras, Baton Rouge, La., 225-578-7486)

  • USGS National Wetlands Research Center Branch Chief Thomas Doyle was interviewed by John Felsher of Sport Fishing Magazine about the effects of eroded wetlands on fishing. (Thomas Doyle, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8664)

  • Radio station WJBO in New Orleans contacted John Barras for a possible interview regarding wetland loss. (John Barras, Baton Rouge, La., 225-578-7486)

  • The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources asked John Barras, USGS National Wetlands Research Center geographer, to help them with a story that the Wall Street Journal is doing on the Isle de Jean Charles. The reporter requested a current land loss map. Barras provided Scientific Investigation Map 3019 to be used to create a Terrebonne basin figure. The reporter also called Gaye Farris to confirm the number of square miles of Louisiana wetland loss. (John Barras, Baton Rouge, La., 225-578-7486; Gaye Farris, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8550)

  • In response to a request by Houma Courier reporter Nichole Buskey, Chris Wells, USGS National Wetlands Research Center geographer, sent information regarding the effects of Hurricane Gustav on coastal wetlands that he observed in an overflight. (Chris Wells, Lafayette, La., 337-266-8651)

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