November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
1. FEDERAL LANDS. Interior prepares for and responds to emergencies on lands managed by DOI as part of its responsibilities. In some areas, Interior units have primary responsibility for responding to wildland fires, environmental disasters, emergency medical incidents and wildlife health events; protecting lands and resources with its law enforcement capabilities; and employing its unique skills for search and rescue activities. In other areas, responsibility is shared with other units of government. Additional Information is provided by the land management bureaus, including National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management.
2. TRIBAL EMERGNCY RESPONSE. As part of its trust responsibilities, the DOI, as delegated by the Secretary to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs (AISA), provides emergency management support to Federally Recognized Tribal governments in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies. This work is closely coordinated with individual Tribes which are sovereign entities and is also closely coordinated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other Federal and State partners, as outlined in the National Response Framework (NRF), the Emergency Support Function 15Annex, and the Tribal Coordination Support Annex. All Federal Departments and Agencies have trust responsibilities to Federally Recognized Tribes. Departments and Agencies with emergency management missions and capabilities should be prepared to fulfill those responsibilities for Federally Recognized tribal governments that are impacted by emergencies and disasters, whether or not there is a Stafford Act Presidential Declaration. Additional information can be found at Bureau of Indian Affairs.
3. INSULAR AREAS. Interior has administrative responsibility for coordinating federal policy in the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the responsibility to administer and oversee U.S. federal assistance provided to the Freely Associated States of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Interior works closely with these governments and other Federal agencies in addressing preparedness and response requirements. Additional information can be found at Insular Areas.
4. LOCAL COMMUNITIES. DOI units assist neighboring communities through mutual aid agreements and may also provide immediate emergency response assistance at the request of local officials when imminently serious conditions occur. Immediate emergency response assistance is generally of short duration and is intended to protect life, property and the environment until other resources become available. Policy for assisting local communities in such situations is contained in the Departmental Manual.
The FWS, NPS, and other DOI bureaus support interagency response to oil and hazardous substance spills providing technical and subject matter expertise to response operations. DOI and its bureaus support response operations serving as a trustee for fish, wildlife and natural resources, cultural resources and Tribal resources.
7. EMERGENCY ACTION PLANNING at DAMS. DOI owns or regulates over 1,500 high and significant hazard dams across the United States. Emergency Action Plans are prepared for these dams in coordination with downstream and upstream jurisdictions. The Emergency Action Plans are periodically exercised to ensure emergency preparedness. Bureaus and Offices responsible for dams are BIA, BLM, BOR, NPS, OSMRE, and FWS. Additional information is available at Bureau of Reclamation.
8. NATURAL HAZARDS. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is responsible for monitoring and reporting earthquakes, volcanoes, stream and river levels, landslides, and provides scientific information to mitigate the impact of these disasters. USGS also operations the National Wildlife Health Center which focuses on issues related biological hazards to wildlife health and monitoring of animals for zoonotic diseases which may be transmitted to humans, such as avian flu. Additional information on the science programs which support emergency management are available from the U.S. Geological Survey.
9. INTERAGENCY SUPPORT DURING MAJOR DISASTERS. Interior is a key participant in the NRF and the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). During Hurricane Katrina, the Department deployed more than 6,100 personnel to the relief effort. The NPS leads interagency planning for land Search and Rescue and the OEPC leads activities to protect and restore Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties. Interior personnel also provide significant support to interagency efforts related to Public Works and Engineering, Firefighting, and Public Safety and Security. Policy regarding DOI support to the NRF can be found in the Departmental Manual.
10. NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES AND HISTORIC PROPERTIES. Interior provides support capabilities that assist in the preservation and protection of our Nation's historic and cultural sites. The Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance is responsible for leading activities that protect natural and cultural resources and historic properties as outlined in the NRF, NDRF, and the NPS awards Historic Preservation Grants for preservation projects across the 50 states and U.S. Territories. These grants are not established for response or recovery, but can be utilized for such purposes if grant criteria are met. Reimbursable preservation services for Federal, State, and locally owned historic properties are also available through the Historic Preservation Training Center.
11. LAW ENFORCEMENT. Interior may provide trained law enforcement personnel and security resources, and, as appropriate, federal law enforcement, investigative, and security authorities for areas under the Department of the Interior’s jurisdiction or to other locations if appropriate authority is provided by the requesting jurisdiction. Capabilities that are provided are special event teams and civil disturbance units to handle large-scale demonstrations, special events, and crowd control. They also provide mobile communication cache and command posts, Marine assets including certified boat operators and divers, aviation assets including fixed-wing and rotary-wing capability, hazardous materials technicians and first responders, protestor device extrication teams, horse-mounted units, backcountry tracking teams, snowmobile, and all-terrain vehicle assets. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can provide communications systems and technical and support personnel to support other Interior communications assets.
Other bureaus with Law Enforcement capabilities include: BLM, BOR, BIA and NPS (including the U.S. Park Police). Additional information on law enforcement can be found at the Office of Law Enforcement and Security.