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.
DOI-ITAP provided technical assistance to the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to train them in establishing long term capability to respond quickly to coal seam fires – particularly those that present a threat to human health and safety, the environment and infrastructure. Before the project started in October 1998, no real effort was made to put out coal fires. DOI-ITAP helped extinguish fires and trained Indonesian staff on fire-fighting techniques. Fifty-six of the fires DOI-ITAP helped extinguish were in the Sungai Wain Nature Reserve release area for rehabilitated orangutans. DOI-ITAP taught appropriate personnel methods of suppression that would minimize disruption of the habitat. The Coal Seam Fire Project contributed directly to establishing linkages between the regional Ministry offices (Kanwils) and the provincial and local governments that helped identify and locate coal seam fires.
DOI-ITAP assistance directly prompted a Ministerial Decree on October 7, 1999 that established policy regarding coal fire suppression for the Ministry. The decree clarifies the Ministry's responsibility to extinguish coal fires, assigns the lead for implementing the program to Kanwil offices, and authorizes use of the Coal Royalty Fund to support the activities. Because of the new decree and the publicity the project has received locally, coal fires are now being reported in several other provinces and, most importantly, the Ministry suppresses fires without outside assistance.
DOI-ITAP provided technical assistance to the Government of Indonesia to support the decentralization process and to build capacity in local governments to manage mineral resource programs at the local level. Through a long-term on-site Project Director on detail from the Department's Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement (OSM), and through short-term exchanges of OSM and state-level mining experts, DOI-ITAP provided technical support to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM), the Ministry of Environment (MLH), the Ministry of Forestry, the National Planning Agency (BAPENAS), the Provincial Governments of South Sumatra, North Sulawesi, and of East Kalimantan, and the county governments of East Kutai, Kutai Kertanegara, Muara Enim, South Sumatra and Sawahlunto, West Sumatra. An intern program and advanced inspector training was provided to appropriate Indonesian professionals to support the efforts of ESDM to decentralize and to build capacity among Kanwil and Provincial Government Mine Inspectors.
Funding: USAID/Indonesia & East Asia & Pacific Environmental Initiative (EAPEI)
Mongolia - Completed
Lake Hovsgol National Park
Lake Hovsgol National Park, part of the Selenge River watershed and a sister lake to Lake Baikal in the Russian Far East, is a particularly environmentally sensitive site of growing tourism interest. The Park boasts several endemic species and also contains two towns, Hatgal in the south and Hanck in the north, which function as part of the cultural heritage of the Park. At the time of project inception, the Park was inadequately managed and the communities in and around the Park enjoyed few benefits from their proximity to the Park or from the tourists that visited the Park. DOI-ITAP's technical assistance program built the capacity of Lake Hovsgol National Park staff to better manage the natural resources of the Park, enhance the visitor experience by improving the interpretation program, increase local community involvement in Park decisions and Park-related income generation, and improve staff resources by establishing a visitor fee program.
Some of the successes of this project include the development of a new visitor center, the installation of a solar electricity system, and the development of a geographic information system (GIS) with digitized maps. This project also benefited local communities through the development of community environmental education centers in all communities around the park, and also improved several local school facilities.
Nepal - Completed
Shey Phoksundo National Park
Shey Phoksundo National Park is Nepal's largest national park, covering 355,500 hectares. Located in the western part of the Himalayas, the Park is a biological crossroads of the Himalayan mountain range and the Tibetan plateau. Shey Phoksundo National Park also has a unique cultural heritage with one of the highest and oldest permanent settlements of highland agriculture and pastoralism. At the time of DOI-ITAP project inception, the Park faced threats from unregulated tourism development and unsustainable resource use patterns, driven in part by increasing numbers of porters and outside guides. The program strengthened environmentally sensitive tourism development, bolstered protected area management, built environmental interpretation skills, and encouraged sound community-based resource management in and around the Park.
Through the project, DOI-ITAP worked to enhance park-community relations through the launch of a junior ranger program that continues to thrive, as well as through partnerships with various businesses to help them benefit more from tourism in the park. DOI-ITAP trained more than 250 community representatives, civic, religious and business leaders, teachers and natural resource professionals on the concepts of community development in association with protected areas. Over the course of the 4-year program, park staff interacted regularly with the DOI-ITAP team and learned about U.S. standards of ethics, professionalism, and dedication to resource management. The Park staff was provided binoculars, bird books, mammal guides, and bird and mammal checklists to enable them to enhance their job performance. DOI-ITAP also helped develop wildlife monitoring reporting forms for use by Park staff. Working with Park staff, local villagers and religious leaders, DOI-ITAP assisted in the development of the Park's first self-guided nature trail and brochure at Phoksundo Lake.
Philippines - Active
Environmental Law Enforcement
Illegal and destructive fishing and severe over fishing threaten biodiversity, food security and the productivity of the natural resource base in the Philippines. Illegal logging and open dumping of solid, toxic and hazardous wastes threaten livelihoods, lives and biodiversity. The goal of USAID/Philippines is to strengthen the ability of national and local government units and communities to address these critical threats to the country's coastal and terrestrial resources and promote good governance – transparency and accountability – in enforcing environmental laws. DOI-ITAP provides technical assistance in the Philippines focused on providing technical assistance and training to increase the capacity of local and national environmental law enforcement bodies in the Philippines. This work builds on previous law enforcement training conducted by DOI-ITAP in the Philippines.
Funding: USAID/Philippines & East Asia & Pacific Environmental Initiative (EAPEI)