WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress is set to give final approval for several requests totaling $893,000 secured by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) for funding in Rhode Island as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report. The bill provides money for biotechnology and health research programs in Rhode Island. Reed stated, "Rhode Islanders will benefit greatly from the advanced health and research efforts funded through this bill." The bill is expected to be signed by the President shortly after he receives it from Congress.The projects include:University of Rhode Island (URI) Biotechnology Initiative$643,000The bill provides $643,000 for the University of Rhode Island (URI) to continue its partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and acquire equipment for its new Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences. In the fifth year of federal funding, URI is entering a new phase of research: the Rhode Island Biotechnology Research Initiative. In Rhode Island, biotechnology has already enabled the development of vaccines against food contamination; identification of biotechnological solutions to vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease; investigation of scourge diseases of aquatic organisms; and the establishment of a genomics sequencing center on the URI campus. Last fall, Rhode Island voters approved a $50 million referendum to support the construction of the URI Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences.Last year, Reed secured $553,000 for the Biotech program. In FY 2004 he secured $537,000.For more information contact: Jeffrey Seemann, Dean, College of Environment and Life Sciences, 401-874-2957Reed said, The University of Rhode Island is doing excellent work and should be commended for its leadership on these projects.University of Rhode Island Tick-Born Disease Prevention $150,000The bill provides $150,000 for URI to continue its successful tick-born disease public health education outreach initiative and to implement an interactive website driven by real-time pin-point forecasts of tick-borne disease risk in Rhode Island and the northeastern United States. In its forth year of federal funding, URI has established an effective program to help citizens understand their risks for Lyme Disease and reduce their likelihood of getting this tick-borne disease. Over the past 10 years, Rhode Island has consistently reported the second highest incidence of Lyme disease in the nation, with almost 70 percent of those cases originating in Washington CountySince FY 03, Reed has secured $477,000 for URIs tick-borne disease prevention program. For more information contact: Jeffrey Seemann, Dean, College of Environment and Life Sciences, 401-874-2957Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Survey Management Office $100,000The bill contains $100,000 for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop coastal and underwater soil mapping techniques, classification, and soil analysis, as well as provide ongoing training.NRCS has recognized the importance of underwater soil to coastal water quality and the $111 billion U.S. coastal fisheries industry. Increased information on the properties and spatial distribution of these soils can benefit the management of activities such as dredging, fishing and conservation in critical shallow water habitats. In Rhode Island, NRCS and its state and federal partners formed the Mapping Partnership for Coastal Soils and Sediment (MapCoast) project in 2004, hosting two user conferences, developing a mapping and data collection protocol, and implementing a pilot project to map soil and vegetation in Ninigret Pond. For more information contact: Roylene Rides at the Door, State Conservationist, NRCS, 401-828-1300