History of the Fort Collins Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey

Open-File Report 2006-1336



The U.S. Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center ("the Center") has been a nucleus of research, technology development, and associated scientific activities within the Department of the Interior for more than 30 years. The Center’s historical activities are deeply rooted in federal biological resources research and its supporting disciplines, particularly as they relate to the needs of the U.S. Department of the Interior and its resource management agencies. The organizational framework and activities of the Center have changed and adapted over the years in response to shifts in the scientific issues and challenges facing the U.S. Department of the Interior and with the development of new strategies to meet these challenges. Thus, the history of the Center has been dynamic.

The Center has been nested within the U.S. Geological Survey since 1996. From 1993 to 1996 the Center was a major unit of the National Biological Service (named the National Biological Survey at its inception). This was a period of great organizational flux. During that time the Center comprised multiple field stations and science functions that prior to 1993 had been scattered among the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1993, certain biological research components of these agencies were assigned to join with the National Ecology Research Center, formerly one of the major research and development hubs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This was the year when biological resources research in the U.S. Department of the Interior was consolidated by the Secretary of the Interior, who in an April 1993 memo explaining his intentions wrote, "Our Department has, without doubt, the best biologists in the world." Soon after formation of the new agency, the Center was re-named the Midcontinent Ecological Science Center, reflecting its geographic location within the new Midcontinent administrative region of the National Biological Service (the other three original administrative regions were the eastern, western, and southern). The change in name to the Fort Collins Science Center took place in 2002, soon after the center moved to new facilities on the Colorado State University Natural Resources Research Campus.

At various times during the period when it was part of the National Biological Service (1993–96), the Center served as the administrative and programmatic home base for a wide number of science activities in numerous Western states (table 1). This reflected the previous fragmentation of biological and related science efforts across resource management agencies in the U.S. Department of the Interior. The organization of the 2 Center within the National Biological Service was a manifestation of the desire of the Secretary of the Interior to consolidate its biological science activities in administratively independent entities that would ensure that the science retained its objectivity. Congress later recognized the need to maintain a hierarchical independence between biological science and resource management in the Department. However, Congress also saw that the U.S. Geological Survey, with its long history of objective science support to the nation in geology, water resources, geography, and remote sensing, was a suitable alternative home for these biological science functions. Thus, in 1996 Congress transferred the biological resources functions of the National Biological Service to the U.S. Geological Survey. Detailed overviews and opinions about the history and policy issues surrounding the formation and subsequent fate of the National Biological Service can be found elsewhere (for example Cohn, 1993, 2005; Kaufman, 1993; Kreeger, 1994; Pulliam, 1995, 1998a,b; Reichhardt, 1994; Wagner, 1999)

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title History of the Fort Collins Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2006-1336
DOI 10.3133/ofr20061336
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description iii, 27 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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