A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Secretary Salazar Announces $15 Million Investment in Hazardous Fuel Reduction Projects, Biomass Production on Public Lands
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Department would invest $15 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to fund 55 projects that will reduce hazardous fuels on thousands of acres of federal land to protect communities at risk from wildland fires, support local economies and rehabilitate ecosystems damaged by wildfire. The funding is part of $3 billion Interior is investing in the nation's economy under President Obama's recovery plan.
“This investment will create jobs in rural communities in 12 states, boost the Department's hazardous fuels reduction activities and generate biomass for use in wood products or power generation,” Secretary Salazar said. “We will create local jobs on both the front and back ends of this initiative, while reducing threats to homes, businesses and schools and restoring healthy landscapes. Where possible, we will invite young adults to join these efforts to help develop a new generation of natural resource stewards.”
A rigorous merit-based process was used to identify projects from California to Montana to Wisconsin and Oklahoma that met the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act: namely, that a project addresses the Department's highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public.
All the hazardous fuels reduction projects are long-standing priorities of the Department's Wildland Fire Management program that:
Increase firefighter and public safety
Reduce threats to homes, businesses, schools, other valuable infrastructure
and cultural and natural resources
Conserve municipal watersheds
Help preserve jobs dependent on natural resources
Uphold environmental quality
Enhance effective use of Federal, State, Tribal, and local skills and resources
Lower the threat of pollution from particulates
Reduce smoke impacts from wildfire
The final selection criteria ensured project planning and environmental compliance work was complete or substantially complete and that projects have the potential to provide additional economic benefits to support local or regional employment through post-treatment use of biomass in wood products or power generation.
Under the Department's Wildland Fire Management program, fuels reduction treatments thin overgrown woodlands, reduce accumulated deadwood and dense underbrush to lessen the potential for intense wildland fire and post-fire damage, and limit the proliferation and spread of invasive species and diseases.
Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in implementing the Department's economic recovery projects. The public can follow the progress of each project on the recovery web site and at www.interior.gov/recovery. The website includes an interactive map that enables the public also to follow where and how the department's recovery dollars are being spent.
Secretary Salazar also has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior's Inspector General to ensure that the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency that President Obama has set.