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.
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.
Generally, your official travel must be paid for with appropriated funds. However, under certain circumstances, DOI or your office or bureau may be reimbursed for your travel expenses by a non-Federal source.
This law allows Executive Branch agencies to accept reimbursement or in-kind donations from non-Federal sources for an employee's transportation expenses (including food, lodging, incidental expenses, and registration costs) to certain functions related to the employee's official duties.
Acceptance of travel expenses from non-Federal sources is only permitted when the employee's travel is for attendance at a conference, meeting, seminar, training course, speaking engagement, or similar event that takes place away from the employee's official duty station. Travel under this authority may not be used for events required to carry out DOI's statutory and regulatory functions, such as investigations, inspections, audits, site visits, or to attend vendor promotional training.
In addition to an approved travel authorization, the employee must also have an approved ethics form DI-2000 in advance of travel. Approval for accepting travel expenses is also subject to conflict of interest considerations. Acceptance of travel expenses from non-Federal sources will not be approved if it would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of all the relevant facts to question the integrity of the programs or operations of the Department or its offices or bureaus.
It is not permissible for the employee to personally accept reimbursement from an outside source. All checks must be made out to DOI or to the employee's bureau. Employees may, however, accept "in-kind" items such as airline tickets, meals, or hotel accommodations purchased or paid for by the non-Federal entity. In addition to accepting travel expenses for an employee, DOI may accept travel for a spouse to accompany the employee to the same event where the spouse's presence is in the interest of DOI.
Other Authorities to Accept Travel Expenses
31 U.S.C. § 1353 is the preferred authority to use if reimbursement or in-kind donation of travel expenses to a meeting or similar function is offered by an outside source. There are additional statutes that authorize acceptance of employees' travel expenses for other than meetings or similar functions.
The authority under 5 U.S.C. § 4111 to accept travel expenses from non-profit organizations described by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (with the approval of the DAEO or bureau ethics counselor), still exists when it is reasonably impractical for the agency to accept travel under 31 U.S.C. § 1353. Employees may also accept travel expenses under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act when the employee is attending an event other than a conference or a meeting, or occasions permissible under 31 U.S.C. § 1353.
Other provisions that remain in effect are (1) the authority under 5 U.S.C. § 3343 for employees to accept travel expenses in connection with details to foreign governments and public international organizations, (2) the authority under 5 U.S.C. § 5751 for employees and agencies to accept travel expenses when summoned or assigned to provide official testimony on behalf of parties other than the United States, and (3) the authority under 15 U.S.C. § 3710a to carry out agreements under the Federal Technology Transfer Act.
Finally, there are statutory authorities that allow bureaus to accept gifts of travel, food, and lodging, in connection with programs for the advancement of Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, or other bureau-specific programs that are not covered under 31 U.S.C. § 1353. Assistance in using these authorities is provided by the Departmental Ethics Office, ethics counselors from your bureau, and your Solicitor's office.