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This Week at Interior December 13, 2013


December 13, 2013


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THIS WEEK, AT INTERIOR…

 

THE FIRST COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT FINALIZED THIS WEEK BETWEEN INTERIOR, AND THE OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE OF THE PINE RIDGE RESERVATION.  THE AGREEMENT OUTLINES THE STRATEGY AND RESOURCES THE TRIBE'S LEADERSHIP CAN USE TO UNLOCK TRIBAL LAND WITH MULTIPLE OWNERS, FOR THE BENEFIT  ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRIBE. THE RESERVATION IS AMONG THE MOST HIGLY FRACTIONATED IN THE UNITED STATES...IT’S ALL PART OF THE LAND BUYBACK PROGRAM ESTABLISHED UNDER THE COBELL SETTLEMENT, WHICH PROVIDED FOR A FUND OF NEARLY TWO BILLION DOLLARS TO HELP CONSOLIDATE LAND INTERESTS WITH HUNDREDS OF OWNERS SO THAT LAND CAN BE HELD IN TRUST FOR THE TRIBE OF JURISDICTION.

 

THE BUREAU OF INDIAN EDUCATION HAS A NEW DIRECTOR… ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR INDIAN AFFAIRS KEVIN WASHBURN THIS WEEK ANNOUNCED HE’S SELECTED DR CHARLES “MONTY” ROESSEL, AN ENROLLED MEMBER OF THE NAVAJO NATION WHO’S BEEN ACTING DIRECTOR FOR THE LAST ELEVEN MONTHS. WASHBURN SAYS ROESSEL HAS BEEN AN EFFECTIVE STEWARD OF INTERIOR’S INDIAN EDUCATION PROGRAM, AND CALLED HIM A STRONG MEMBER OF HIS SENIOR MANAGEMENT TEAM. 

 

THE ROESSEL APPOINTMENT CAME AS WASHBURN JOINED SECRETARY SALLY JEWELL IN LAGUNA, NEW MEXICO, TO TOUR A BIE TRIBALLY CONTROLLED GRANT SCHOOL ON THE PUEBLO OF LAGUNA RESERVATION. THAT VISIT WITH SCHOOLCHILDREN, AND A SUBSEQUENT ROUNDTABLE WITH PRINCIPALS FROM OTHER LOCAL TRIBAL SCHOOLS, WILL HELP INFORM THE WORK OF INTERIOR’S AMERICAN INDIAN EDUCATION STUDY GROUP, THAT'S WORKING TO IMPROVE EDUCATION OUTCOMES FOR NATIVE AMERICAN YOUTH.

 

THE SECRETARY THIS WEEK ALSO TRAVELED TO NEVADA, FOR A TWO-DAY SWING UNDERSCORING INTERIOR’S COMMITMENT TO TACKLING CONSERVATION AND WATER ISSUES… THURSDAY THE SECRETARY DELIVERED KEYNOTE REMARKS AT THE WESTERN GOVERNORS’ ASSOCIATION WINTER MEETING, WHERE SHE DISCUSSED HER FIRST SECRETARIAL ORDER ESTABLISHING A DEPARTMENT-WIDE STRATEGY to ENCOURAGE BALANCED DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING ON PUBLIC LANDS. FRIDAY THE SECRETARY GAVE KEYNOTE REMARKS AT THE 2013 COLORADO RIVER WATER USERS ASSOCIATION’S ANNUAL CONFERENCE… THERE SHE TALKED ABOUT INTERIOR'S EFFORTS TO IMPROVE WATER MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS OF THE COLORADO RIVER SYSTEM, DURING A PERIOD OPF HISTORIC DROUGHT IN THE BASIN.

 

A NEW USGS REPORT THIS WEEK SAYS COMMUNITIES AND COASTAL HABITATS OF THE SOUTHERN CHESAPEAKE BAY REGION ARE FACING INCREASED FLOODING, AS THE LAND SURFACE SINKS, IN SOME AREAS AS MUCH AS A FOUR AND HALF MILLIMETERS A YEAR… SCIENTISTS SAY THE LAND SUBSIDENCE IN THE REGION HAS A NUMBER OF CONTRIBUTING FACTORS, AMONG THEM EXTENSIVE GROUNDWATER PUMPING.. THE RISING WATER LEVELS NOT ONLY THREATEN HUMAN COMMUNITIES, BUT THE LOSS OF COASTAL MARSH AND WETLANDS DECREASES THE AMOUNT OF HABITAT AVAILABLE TO WATERFOWL THAT WINTER IN THE REGION.

 

AND A POLAR BEAR SUMMIT MEETS IN MOSCOW… THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE THIS WEEK REPORTS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE POLAR BEAR RANGE STATES -- THAT'S THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, GREENLAND, NORWAY, AND THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION -- RECENTLY MET FOR TWO DAYS IN THE RUSSIAN CAPITAL. THE GATHERING BROUGHT TOGETHER POLAR BEAR SCIENTISTS, WILDLIFE MANAGERS, TECHNICAL EXPERTS, REPRESENTATIVES OF ARCTIC PEOPLES, INCLUDING ALASKAN NATIVES… ALL TO TALK ABOUT THE CURRENT AND FUTURE CHALLENGES FACED BY THE POLAR BEAR. U.S. PARTICIPANTS SAY THEY ARE making PROGRESS TO PROTECT AND SUSTAIN POLAR BEAR POPULATIONS.

 

THAT’S THIS WEEK, AT INTERIOR.