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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: December 18, 1998



USGS National Wetlands Research Center Biologists in Honduras

Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La., are part of the first U.S. science team to go to Honduras to provide critical expertise in the wake of Hurricane Mitch's devastation.

The cable channel Discovery will feature interviews with the team at 8 p.m. Friday, December 18. Their daily journal updates and photographs documenting their work are available on the Internet (http://www.usgs.gov); maps and other information related to the Central American countries hit by the hurricane are also available.

Dr. Edward Proffitt, Chief of the Wetland Ecology Branch at the center, is part of the team of scientists surveying geological, hydrologic and biologic impacts and risks. Proffitt is working with local agencies and universities to assess the natural resource damages in the region. He is surveying croplands and forests, shrimp farms, and some endangered migratory animals. This information will be used to determine recovery and restoration.

Accompanying Proffitt is Dr. Tommy Michot, also a member of the center's Wetland Ecology Branch. Michot and Fred Roetker, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are serving as pilots and assisting with surveys and logistics.

Dr. Robert E. Stewart, Jr., center director, said, "We are pleased that we are able to help the people of Honduras who have suffered so much. Everyone has seen the devastation to villages on television and in newspapers. But what is not always evident is the enormous destruction of both natural resources and agriculture that provide food and fiber for the people."

In telephone messages to the center, Proffitt has reported on site visits to landslides, mangrove forests and shrimp farms as well as on pollution from insecticides. He is expected to return sometime around Christmas and will prepare a full report of his survey.

As the nation's largest water, earth and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial scientific information to resource managers, planners and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, to contribute to the conservation and the sound economic and physical development of the nation's natural resources and to enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy and mineral resources.

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