Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) is committed toensuring that Indian landowners will receive fair market value for their fractional lands.
With the massive scope of the properties involved (more than 93,500 tracts on approximately 150 reservations), the Buy-Back Program plans to use mass appraisal techniques in which values are assessed simultaneously for many properties within a particular geographic area. This efficient and cost-effective process for valuations will be used to appraise homogenous, non-complex, vacant lands that have comparable land sales available. At the same time, recognizing that data limitations, non-homogeneous property types, and unique characteristics of specific properties may limit the use of mass appraisals, the Buy-Back Program will also employ project appraisals and property-specific appraisals as appropriate.
This strategy has been reviewed by The Appraisal Foundation (TAF), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has been authorized by Congress to issue national appraisal standards and appraiser qualifications, and has previously provided the Department with guidance regarding valuation methods and techniques.
In addition to its determination that the Department's Valuation Plan, developed by theOffice of Appraisal Services in the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians,represents a methodologically sound approach to meeting the requirements of the Buy-Back Program, TAF also provided a set of recommendations to further strengthen the program. The Department responded to those recommendations, which have been adopted and incorporated into the Valuation Plan.
In 2015, The Appraisal Foundation reviewed the implementation of the Program's appraisal method, which concluded that appraisals are being conducted appropriately and effectively.