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.
The CSCs will provide managers of natural, cultural and historic resources with the information and tools they need to plan for the challenges posed by climate change and other landscape-scale stressors -- including fire, invasive species and changing land use. Interior has established centers in the Northwest, Alaska, and Southeast, and has announced plans for CSCs in the North Central and Southwest regions in partnership with universities.
“The Climate Science Centers help ensure that science has a seat at the head of the table as we make decisions on how to manage the natural and cultural treasures entrusted to the Department of the Interior,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “These CSCs are critical to helping federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector decision-makers understand changes from various environmental stressors and plan in ways that reduce economic and ecological impacts.”
Secretary Salazar initiated a coordinated climate change strategy in September 2009 through Secretarial Order 3289. The order called for establishing not only regional CSCs but also a network of “Landscape Conservation Cooperatives” that engage federal agencies, local and state partners, and the public in using the best available science to craft practical, landscape-level strategies for managing the impacts of stressors such as climate change on natural, cultural, and historic resources.
Each of the five existing or planned CSCs is a cooperative endeavor between the Interior Department and one or several universities acting as a consortium. On Feb. 24, the Department held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Alaska Climate Science Center, which is hosted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and located in Anchorage. In addition, the Department has already announced the Southeast Climate Science Center hosted by North Carolina State University; the Northwest Climate Science Center led by a consortium of three universities--Oregon State University, University of Washington and the University of Idaho; The Southwest Climate Science Center with a large consortium including University of Arizona-Tucson; and the North Central Climate Science Center with nine universities headed by Colorado State University.
Salazar continued, “We are joining hands with the top scientific talent in the country to take on these challenges. The network of researchers, data management infrastructure and partnerships with resource agencies in the existing centers is tremendous, and we expect strong proposals from the remaining regions.”
Once fully instituted, the CSCs will form a network with the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center to access the best science available to help managers in the Interior Department, states, other federal agencies, and the private and nonprofit sectors.
The National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, established by Congress in 2008, is located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey which is taking the lead on establishing the CSCs and providing initial staffing. Ultimately, funds and staff from multiple Interior bureaus will be pooled to support these centers and ensure collaborative sharing of research results and data.
Within their respective regions, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives will focus on impacts that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit—such as the effects of climate change on wildlife migration patterns, wildfire risk, drought or invasive species. Twenty-one LCCs are planned through FY 2012, with 15 already established across the nation.