A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Secretary Salazar and Associate Attorney General Perrelli Applaud Final Approval of Cobell Settlement
Office of the Secretary
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Departments of the Interior and Justice applauded the final approval by U.S. Senior District Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the settlement of Cobell v. Salazar, a long-running and contentious individual American Indian trust class-action lawsuit. The court's approval of the $3.4 billion settlement paves the way for payments to be made to as many as a half-million individual American Indians who had Individual Indian Money accounts or an interest in trust or restricted land managed by the Department of the Interior. The suit has been pending for 15 years.
Reaching a final settlement of Cobell has been a priority of the Obama administration.
“Judge Hogan's decision is another milestone in empowerment and reconciliation for the American Indians,” Secretary Salazar said, noting in particular the contributions of Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes and Interior's Solicitor Hilary Tompkins in reaching the settlement. “The Cobell settlement not only resolves the contentious 15-year litigation, but also honorably and responsibly turns the page on an unfortunate chapter in the Department's history, demonstrating President Obama's commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for American Indian nations.”
“The judge's finding that the settlement is fair and reasonable is a major milestone in the Administration's effort to reach a resolution of litigation that has cast a cloud over the government's relationship with American Indians,” said Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, who has twice testified before Congress on the settlement.
“The Cobell settlement is the beginning of true trust reform,” said Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, noting that Interior is establishing a Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform. The commission will undertake a forward-looking, comprehensive evaluation of how the Interior Department manages and administers its trust responsibilities. "Interior needs to be more transparent and customer-friendly," said Hayes. "The status quo is not acceptable."
Following an earlier ruling by Judge Hogan, Hayes began scheduling consultation meetings with tribal leaders to begin discussions on the land consolidation component of the settlement. Interior Department officials will hold six regional government-to-government tribal consultations which will provide valuable input in developing an implementation strategy that will benefit tribal communities and help free up trust lands. The consultation process is fundamental to respecting the government-to-government relationship with the tribes.