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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

August 2013 Activity Highlights
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Topics covered in the August activity report.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Asian Carp Integrated Pest Management Testing on Illinois River

On August 14, 2013, the USGS hosted a demonstration of Asian carp control technologies at Morris, IL. Staff from the Illinois Water Science Center (IL WSC), Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC), Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and Southern Illinois University (SIU) took part in the demonstration of an Integrated Pest Management approach to Asian carp control. Technologies that were shown at the event included: water guns, an algal food attractant, commercial fishing, hydroacoustic fish tracking, and fish telemetry.  Representatives from The White House Council on Environmental Quality, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Department of Transportation, and IL, IN, MI, MN, OH Departments of Natural Resources were in attendance. This trial is the first to combine multiple technologies in an integrated pest management approach to control Asian carp.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Tributary Food Webs and Land Cover Characteristics

UMESC scientists working on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) project number 82, Characterize Habitat and Foodweb Structures across Great Lakes Rivermouth Estuaries, published the results from an investigation of the variation in the fatty acid (FA) composition of seston and primary consumers within (i.e., among habitats) and among tributary systems of Lake Michigan, USA.  They hypothesized that among-system and among-habitat variation in FAs at the base of food webs would be related to algal production, which in turn is influenced by three land cover characteristics: 1) combined agriculture and urban lands (an indication of anthropogenic nutrient inputs that fuel algal production), 2) the proportion of surface waters (an indication of water residence times that allow algal producers to accumulate) and 3) the extent of riparian forested buffers (an indication of stream shading that reduces algal production).  Of these, only agricultural and urban lands seemed to actually be strongly related to FAs in the aquatic food web.  The article is available from PLOS One at  For more information contact James Larson (

Monitoring Climate Change on Tribal Lands

Walt Sadinski and Mark Roth (UMESC) provided training on the implementation of wetland monitoring protocols and analyses of collected data, August 13-15 in Odanah, WI, at the offices and research sites of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.  Tribal and staff members from Wisconsin and Michigan learned how to collect and analyze data from automated acoustic, temperature, and water-depth sensors and regional weather stations to evaluate responses of wetlands, amphibians, and birds to changes in climate on tribal lands. This training was supported by a grant from the Technical Training in Support of Native American Relations Training Information Program (TESNAR). The Bad River Band is a partner in a USGS-led network of partners and research sites designed to assess the impacts of global change on wetlands, amphibians, and other wetland-dependent biota in North America.

National Park Service

Voyageurs National Park

Wayne Thogmartin, Shawn Crimmins (UMESC), and Steve Windels (Voyageurs National Park) met to discuss the development of park-oriented studies for bald eagles, osprey, cormorants, and common loons, August 13-14 in International Falls, MN.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Andrew Strassman, Kevin Hop, Joe Jakusz (UMESC), Andy Cutko (ME DOC) and Brett Engstrom (NatureServe) conducted mapping verification along the New Hampshire and Maine sections of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (APPA) August 18-29, for the APPA Vegetation Mapping Project from Springer Mountain, GA to Katahdin Mountain, ME.  In addition, Strassman, Hop, and Jakusz conducted vegetation reconnaissance of the APPA corridor within the Shenandoah National Park (SHEN) in eastern Virginia, for a through-map of the trail within SHEN.

Upper Mississippi River

Mississippi River Low-Water Inspection Tour

Center Director Mike Jawson and UMESC staff hosted a visit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District staff and the Mississippi River Commission (MRC) on August 12 during the annual low-water inspection tour of the Mississippi River from La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Morgan City, Louisiana, aboard the Motor Vessel MISSISSIPPI. The MRC is a seven-member advisory group nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S Senate to facilitate public input to projects associated with the Mississippi River and to participate in assessment of the impacts of ongoing or planned projects on the river. The UMESC will provide overview of Mississippi River research and monitoring activities, and provide a facility tour.  Staff will also attend the public hearing held in La Crosse on board the MV MISSISSIPPI and participate in the inspection of navigation Pool 8 with MRC and stakeholders.

Floodplain Science Network

Ken Lubinski (UMESC) gave a presentation on the Floodplain Science Network to the Middle Mississippi River Partnership in Alton, IL and the River Resources Action Team in St. Louis, MO, August 15 and 16.  Both groups emphasize floodplain restoration and the need for science-based planning.

Upper Mississippi River Land Cover/Use Maps

The Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) has completed land cover/land use data sets for Mississippi River navigation Pools 3, 5a, 21, and 22, for the 2010/2011 systemic land cover/land use mapping project for the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS, the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, MN to the Ohio River, and Illinois River).  Color infrared aerial photography was used to create these data sets, collected during late summer/peak vegetation of 2010 and 2011.  Areas upstream of Lock and Dam 13 (near Clinton, IA), where the River’s floodplain is dominated by wetlands, was photographed at 8-inches/pixel.  Areas downstream of Lock and Dam 13, where the floodplain is dominated by agricultural lands, was photographed at 16-inches/pixel.  The data sets were created using a 31-class generalized vegetation classification system designed to complement UMRS data sets created by UMESC in 1989 and 2000.  This mapping effort, and the two previous systemic mapping efforts, was funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program’s (UMRR-EMP) Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) element.  For more information contact Jennifer Dieck ( or visit and

Jenny Hanson and Erin Hoy (UMESC) conducted field reconnaissance of digital 16-inch/pixel color-infrared aerial photography of the Mississippi River between Alton, IL and Grand Tower, IL (August 18-23), to compare on the ground vegetation to aerial photography and collect data points for developing mapping models.  This will be the last field reconnaissance effort for the 2010/11 Land Cover/Land Use mapping project, for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program (UMRR-EMP), Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) element.

Upper Mississippi River Restoration – Environmental Management Program Coordinating Committee Meeting

Nate De Jager (UMESC) presented, “Upper Mississippi River Floodplain Restoration Ecology,” at the quarterly meeting of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Environmental Management Program Coordinating Committee (EMP-CC) meeting, and Michael Jawson and Barry Johnson (UMESC) participated in the business portion of the meeting.  Topics will include; the FY 2015-2019 Strategic Plan, future science leadership goals and needs, project status updates, and FY 2014 appropriation updates.  The meeting was held August 28, at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse, WI. 


Training and Safety

Larry Robinson (UMESC) participated in a Department of Interior (DOI) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) conference call on August 7.  The Office of Aviation Services provided updates on the DOI-Federal Aviation Administration Memorandum of Agreement to DOI User Community.  Additional topics included; UAS training plans, UAS data processing, and status updates from the UAS Working Group.

Larry Robinson, Kevin Kenow, Jack Waide, and Bob Gaugush (UMESC) participated in the UMESC Aviation Program Review, August 22.  The review was hosted by Blaine Moriarty (Aviation Program Evaluation Specialist), Office of Aviation Services, assisted by David Johncox (USGS National Aviation Manager) and Tim Saucier (USGS Midwest Aviation Advisory Committee).  The review focused on the preparation of mishap response plans and aviation management plans, for performing aerial-related tasks (e.g., collecting aerial photographs, conducting wildlife surveys).  UMESC usually performs these tasks in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3.


APPA – Appalachian National Scenic Trail
CERC – Columbia Environmental Sciences Center (USGS)
DNR – Department of Natural Resources
DOI – Department of Interior
EMP-CC – Environmental Management Program Coordinating Committee
FA – Fatty Acid
GLFC – Great Lakes Fishery Commission
GLRI – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
GLSC – Great Lakes Science Center (USGS)
IDNR – Illinois Department of Natural Resources
IL WSC – Illinois Water Science Center (USGS)
LTRMP – Long Term Resource Monitoring Program
MRC – Mississippi River Commission
NPS – National Park Service
SHEN – Shenandoah National Park
SIU – Southern Illinois University
TESNAR – Technical Training in Support of Native American Relations
UAS – Unmanned Aerial Systems
UMESC – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
UMRR-EMP – Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program
UMRS – Upper Mississippi River System
USACE – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
USGS – U.S. Geological Survey

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