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.
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Secretary Salazar and Secretary LaHood Join Sen. McCaskill to Highlight $20 Million TIGER III Grant to Link St. Louis Arch and Urban Community
Pedestrian Land Bridge to Connect Old Courthouse, Luther Ely Smith Square, and Gateway Arch Grounds
ST. LOUIS —Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today joined Senator Claire McCaskill, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith to highlight a $20 million federal grant awarded last week to the state of Missouri for improvements to I-70 that will better connect city residents and tourists visiting St. Louis with the urban parkland around the base of the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
The improvements funded under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER III program, include a pedestrian land bridge over I-70 connecting the Old Courthouse, Luther Ely Smith Square and the Gateway Arch grounds. The project will reconnect Downtown St. Louis, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (JNEM), and the St. Louis Port District along the Mississippi River improving vehicle and pedestrian traffic patterns while facilitating safer access for people in and out of cars.
The improvements will support the CityArchRiver 2015 plan and the revitalization of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – a priority for the Obama administration under the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch) attracts 2.4 million visitors each year, adding $92 million to the local economy annually and supporting 1,200 local jobs. The ongoing revitalization project will improve connections to the city and expand programming, facilities, and partnerships to enhance visitor experience.
“When President Obama launched the America's Great Outdoors initiative to provide more Americans with more opportunities to get outside and enjoy our nation's heritage, this is exactly the kind of project he had in mind,” Salazar said. “We are putting Americans back to work and growing the local economy while providing better access for everyone to the history, culture and natural beauty of downtown St. Louis.”
“This project is a powerful testament to the American people's ability to do big things,” LaHood said. “Thanks to this TIGER III grant, these improvements to the I-70 corridor will not only make travel safer and more efficient for pedestrians and drivers alike, they will also have a positive economic effect on the entire St. Louis area.”
Today's cabinet visit to St. Louis came just days after LaHood announced that a total of 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $511 million from the third round of the U.S. Department of Transportation's popular TIGER program – months ahead of schedule – including the I-70 improvements in St. Louis. The grants will allow communities to move forward with critical, job-creating infrastructure projects including road and bridge improvements; transit upgrades; freight, port and rail expansions; and new options for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“The entire Jefferson National Expansion Memorial—including the Arch and the Old Courthouse—is synonymous with St. Louis and America's westward expansion,” McCaskill said. “This competitive grant will help to improve safety and accessibility. While much hard work remains, this is an important first step in making St. Louis' vision of a revitalized Memorial a reality. I congratulate the applicants for constructing a meritorious project and application and am excited to be once again joined by Secretaries LaHood and Salazar in St. Louis.”
“Today's grant announcement marks a historic day for the City of St. Louis," Mayor Slay said. "This project is one of my top development priorities, and receiving this TIGER III award will make the CityArchRiver 2015 initiative a reality."
"I am pleased and proud over the announcement of this $20 million grant for the Gateway Arch Expansion – a project which will help boost tourism, provide jobs, and make this national landmark more accessible for generations to come,” Congressman Russ Carnahan said. “It is especially gratifying considering that some 800 projects competed for a portion of the TIGER III funding. The exemplary private-public coalition which rallied behind bringing some of those dollars here, demonstrates the fierce competitiveness and innovative spirit for which St. Louis is known, and indeed is reflected by the Arch itself.”
“I want to thank President Obama, Secretary LaHood and Secretary Salazar for supporting this vital public/private partnership.” Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay said. “This grant is one piece in the puzzle that will get us closer to funding the overall redevelopment plan, and along with private support, it will allow us to move forward on the long-anticipated pedestrian bridge which will reconnect the Arch grounds to downtown St. Louis. I was pleased to support this grant, and I will continue working closely with CityArchRiver 2015, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and the National Park Service as we strive together to reinvigorate one of America's greatest destinations, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.”
The $20 million TIGER grant comes with a local match of $25 million from the Missouri Department of Transportation and $10 million privately from the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, which agreed to provide $1 for every $2 provided by DOT.
The project will construct a landscaped lid over Interstate 70 and reroute surface traffic which currently form a "moat" separating the Arch from the Old Courthouse. This improvement will greatly improve pedestrian accessibility and form a larger urban park, providing increased opportunities for outdoor recreation and inviting more people to fully enjoy the natural beauty, culture, and history of the area.
The event marked the second visit by Secretary Salazar and Secretary LaHood together to St. Louis to review progress underway on transportation initiatives surrounding the CityArchRiver 2015 project, as well as the revitalization of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, one of two projects in Missouri included in a recent 50-state report to the President highlighting 101 projects nationwide that states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
For more information on the revitalization of the memorial, click HERE.
For more information on the TIGER grant, click HERE.