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.
Peer Review of Scientific Findings in Draft EIS on Drakes Bay Oyster Company Now Available
Office of the Secretary Policy Management and Budget
WASHINGTON - The Department of the Interior today publicly released the results from an independent peer review panel that evaluated the scientific and technical information and scholarly analysis in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a commercial shellfish operation in Point Reyes National Seashore, California. The panel's detailed findings and recommendations will help inform the National Park Service's final EIS on the Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit.
Atkins North America, an independent consulting firm specializing in peer reviews, facilitated the panel of five independent subject-matter experts from across the nation to obtain suggestions on how the draft EIS can be improved from a scientific perspective.
Atkins found generally the analyses in the draft EIS to be “appropriate, and that there is no fundamental flaw with the larger scientific underpinning of the DEIS.” The panel also makes specific recommendations for how the final EIS can be strengthened, including: a more explicit discussion of the uncertainty associated with the estimates of eelgrass cover and damage due to boat propellers; a more robust analysis of potential effects on juvenile coho salmon of chemicals leached from pressure-treated wood used by the company; conducting a “sound source verification” study to document all the company's noise sources; and, most significantly, using the best available science and additional quantitative measurements and data to conduct the socioeconomic analysis.
The peer-review report and its recommendations are available here.
“The peer-review accomplished exactly what we were seeking – that is, specific recommendations on how to improve the final environmental impact statement to make it a better science product,” stated Dr. Ralph Morgenweck, Interior's Scientific Integrity Officer.
Morgenweck commissioned the independent peer review of the draft EIS in recognition of high interest in the science related to Point Reyes.
“We welcome these constructive recommendations that will help strengthen the Final EIS,” said Peggy O'Dell, Deputy Director for Operations of the National Park Service. “We will look to address the Atkins Report comments, as well as information contained in the public comments on the draft EIS as we work toward a more comprehensive and thorough final report."
The National Park Service released the draft EIS in September 2011 which evaluates four alternatives on the potential issuance of a permit, from “no-action” under which the existing agreement to operate will expire and the area would be converted to wilderness, to the issuance of a new 10-year permit at differing levels of operation.
The National Park Service's final EIS will be informed by the peer review report released today, the public comments received on the draft EIS, and any other relevant scientific and technical information. This may include the Marine Mammal Commission Report and any National Academy of Science review.