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.
Secretary Salazar Announces $26 Million for Wetlands Grants, Nearly $12 Million for Refuge Acquisitions Benefiting Migratory Waterfowl
Last edited 4/25/2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved more than $26 million in grants to protect and restore more than 200,000 acres of wetland areas and wildlife habitat in the United States and Mexico.
The commission awarded the grants under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). They also approved $11.5 million in Federal Duck Stamp funds to add more than 3,500 wetland acres to seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
“By restoring and conserving our wetlands, we are able to help protect this vital habitat for the birds and wildlife that make their homes there,” said Salazar, who chairs the commission. “This funding will help conserve more than 200,000 acres of wetland areas and add an additional 3,500 acres of wetlands to national wildlife refuges.”
The commission includes Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Representative John Dingell of Michigan, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, as well as state representatives serving as ex officio members who vote on projects located within their respective states.
“I am honored to oversee a program that for nearly eight decades has secured hundreds of thousands of acres of wetland habitat throughout North America for migratory birds,” Salazar said. “The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is the definition of common-sense conservation, protecting wetlands critical to birds throughout their nesting, wintering, and migratory ranges irrespective of state and international borders that may intersect the flyways,” he added.
More than $24.2 million of the more than $26 million in NAWCA grant funds will support 25 projects in 21 states and Puerto Rico, with partners contributing an additional $60.6 million in matching funds to help protect, restore and enhance almost 185,000 acres. Nearly $2 million for seven projects will help protect 2,470 acres of habitat in Mexico, with partners contributing an additional $3.5 million the projects.
The grants were awarded under NAWCA's U.S. Standard Grants and Mexico Grants Programs administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. They are funded by annual Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties and forfeitures levied under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; interest accrued on funds under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
The commission also approved the purchase of wetland habitat that will be added to seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System to secure breeding, resting and feeding habitat. These acquisitions are funded with proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamps. These acquisitions include:
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Camden, Gates and Pasquotank Counties, North Carolina – Acquisition of 51 acres to protect, restore and maintain habitat for breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl.
San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria and Matagorda Counties, Texas – Acquisition of 1,454 acres to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl species, including mallard, gadwall, and northern pintail.
Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, Pondicherry Divisions, Coos County, New Hampshire – Acquisition of 80 acres to preserve and protect important migratory waterfowl habitat, and provide feeding, nesting and resting habitat.
Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge, Avoyelles and Rapides Parishes, Louisiana – Acquisition of 265 acres to protect and enhance seasonally and permanently flooded wetlands for migrating and wintering waterfowl.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Wapato Lake Unit, Washington and Yamhill Counties, Oregon – Acquisition of 225 acres to manage as a migration and wintering area for waterfowl, especially tundra swans.
North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area, Colusa County, California – Acquisition of 388 acres to protect, restore, and maintain wetlands for waterfowl and other migratory birds.
Grasslands Wildlife Management Area, Merced County, California – A permanent easement of 1,077 acres protecting and enhancing a major wintering area for migratory waterfowl.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the 1934 amendment to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that created the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the Duck Stamp. For every dollar spend on Federal Duck Stamps, ninety-eight cents goes directly to purchase vital habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission oversees the use of Federal Duck Stamp funds for the purchase and lease of these wetland habitats for national wildlife refuges. To date, more than 5 million acres of wetlands have been purchased using more than $650 million in Duck Stamp revenue.