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.
Salazar Conditionally Approves Shell's Exploration Plan For Certain Chukchi Sea Leases
Drilling Contingent on Shell Adherence to Stringent Environmental Requirements
Last edited 4/25/2016
WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) has approved, with conditions, Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.'s Exploration Plan to drill three exploratory, information-gathering wells in the Chukchi Sea.
“A key component of reducing our country's dependence on foreign oil is the environmentally-responsible exploration and development of America's renewable and conventional resources," said Salazar. "By approving this Exploration Plan, we are taking a cautious but deliberate step toward developing additional information on the Chukchi Sea."
In 2008, Shell's subsidiary paid $2.1 billion for leases during Chukchi Sea Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193. The 2008 sale was included in the previous Administration's 2007-2012 Five-Year Oil and Gas Leasing Program to cover leasing for oil and gas in the Outer Continental Shelf for that five-year period. The Exploration Plan now approved allows Shell to drill up to three exploration wells during the July-October open water drilling season.
Shell proposes activities using one drill ship, one ice management vessel, an ice class anchor handling vessel, and oil spill response vessels. The closest proposed drill site is more than 60 miles to shore and approximately 80 miles from Wainwright, Alaska.
“Our approval of Shell's plan is conditioned on close monitoring of Shell's activities to ensure that they are conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” added Salazar. “These wells will allow the Department to develop additional information and to evaluate the feasibility of future development in the Chukchi Sea.
The 2007-2012 OCS plan is currently undergoing review in response to a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit order which required additional environmental analysis. The Secretary's decision on the remaining plan is forthcoming.