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.
EPA Chief, DOI Secretary, CEQ Chair Lead Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Public Meeting
Office of the Secretary
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, joined by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, convened an official meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force on Monday in Galveston, TX. This was the fifth public meeting of the task force, which was created by President Obama by executive order to develop a comprehensive restoration strategy for the Gulf of Mexico. The meeting was followed by public listening sessions. Jackson, Salazar and Sutley spoke to attendees about the ongoing Administration-wide effort to address critical recovery issues in the Gulf.
During the public meeting, the task force discussed the strategy under development to support the conservation and restoration of resilient and healthy ecosystems in the Gulf. They also discussed how to gauge the progress of restoration efforts, and addressed ongoing public engagement efforts and international coordination.
“The meetings of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force allow us to bring the communities together and talk about restoring and protecting the waters that affect the health of the people, the vitality of the economy and the way of life for millions of coastal residents. This Task Force is an opportunity for us to come together and harness all of the work, thinking and studying that has been done to address the challenges facing these waters.” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We want to hear from the people who know this area best and talk about how we rebuild the ecosystem, support the local economy and ensure a cleaner Gulf for our children and grandchildren.”
"Through the Taskforce we want to ensure that the priorities of coastal communities guide Gulf Coast restoration every step of the way," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "With our shared goal of healthier coastlines, wetlands, wildlife, and other natural resources, we can develop a long-term ecosystem restoration strategy that will benefit future generations to come."
"Through collaboration among Federal, State and local partners, we are enlisting the input of Gulf Coast residents to restore the health this region's ecosystem which is essential to the strength and vitality of the Gulf Coast and our nation's culture, environment and economy," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality."
Jackson, a native of New Orleans, chairs the Gulf Coast Restoration Task Force which is comprised of lead officials from the five Gulf states appointed by the President at the recommendation of each Governor, and 11 Federal agencies and White House offices.
The President created the task force on October 5, 2010 and charged it with development of an ecosystem restoration strategy that furthers the administration's ongoing commitment to the Gulf region.
Recent events such as hurricanes and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill have added to the ecological decline of the area, making communities, infrastructure, ports and other resources vulnerable. Gulf-wide ecosystem restoration is imperative to address longstanding concerns and move toward a more resilient Gulf Coast ecosystem.