November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Salazar, Laverdure Praise President Obama's Signing of HEARTH Act to Restore Tribal Control of Land Leasing
President Obama signs the HEARTH Act in the Oval Office on July 30. Standing behind him, from left, are Bryan Newland, senior policy adviser, Department of the Interior; Gov. Randall Vicente, Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico; Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes; Jefferson Keel, president, National Congress of American Indians; U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, N.M.; Sen. Daniel Akaka, Hawaii; Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar; Cheryl Causley, chairperson, National American Indian Housing Council; Gov. Gregory Mendoza, Gila River Indian Community of Arizona; and DOI Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Del Laverdure.) Photo by Pete Souza, White House.
WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today praised President Obama's signing of the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act (HEARTH Act) which grants greater authority to federally recognized tribes to develop and implement their own regulations for leasing on Indian lands. The Act passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law today by President Obama.
“The HEARTH Act underscores President Obama's commitment to empower Indian nations and strengthen their economies by expanding opportunities for tribal governments,” said Secretary Salazar. “This legislation complements the work we are doing at Interior to undertake the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years. These parallel efforts will have a real impact for individuals and families who want to own a home or build a business – generating investment, new jobs and revenues.”
Under the HEARTH Act, federally recognized tribes can develop and implement their own land leasing regulations. Upon approval of these tribal regulations by the Secretary of the Interior, tribes will have the authority to process land leases without Bureau of Indian Affairs approval. This new authority has the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to approve leases for homes and small businesses in Indian Country.
“The HEARTH Act has been a legislative priority for Interior because it advances the authority and ability of federally-recognized tribes to control their homelands and provides them greater self-determination,” said Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Donald E. “Del” Laverdure. “We are moving forward to finalize our internal reforms at Indian Affairs that will bring greater transparency, efficiency and workability to the Bureau of Indian Affairs approval process.”
In 2011, Salazar announced a sweeping reform of federal surface leasing regulations for American Indian lands that will streamline the approval process for home ownership, expedite economic development and spur renewable energy development in Indian Country.
The proposed rule would modify regulations governing the Bureau of Indian Affairs' process for approving the lease of surface acres on lands the federal government holds in trust for tribes and individuals. As trustee, Interior is responsible for managing approximately 56 million surface acres in Indian Country.