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.
Obama Administration Offers More Than 20 Million Acres Offshore Texas for Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Development
Office of the Secretary
November Sale Will Offer All Available Unleased Areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico, Builds on Several Major Offshore Sales Held in the Last Year Alone
WASHINGTON – As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau today released the final details for an oil and gas lease sale that will offer more than 20 million acres offshore and will make available all unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area.
Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 229, which will be held on November 28, 2012, in New Orleans, will build on two major Gulf of Mexico lease sales in the past year—a 21 million acre sale held last December and a 39 million acre sale held in June—and supports the Administration's goal of continuing to increase domestic oil and gas production, which has grown each year the President has been in office, with domestic oil production in 2011 higher than any time in nearly a decade and natural gas production at its highest level ever. Foreign oil imports now account for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995.
“The President's commitment to a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy strategy is creating jobs here at home while reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Salazar. “Exploration and development of our Western Gulf's vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.”
This will be the first offshore sale under the Administration's new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017 (Five Year Program), which makes available for exploration and development all of the offshore areas with the highest conventional resource potential, which together include more than 75 percent of the Nation's undiscovered, technically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources. BOEM also recently announced that the next Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale, proposed Lease Sale 227, will take place on March 20, 2013, making 38 million acres available.
“This sale is part of the regionally tailored approach that we are taking under the Five Year Program,” said BOEM Director Beaudreau. “We are committed to promoting the safe development of the Nation's vital offshore oil and gas resources while also safeguarding the marine and coastal environments.”
With today's action, BOEM is fulfilling the requirement to provide final details at least 30 days before the sale. The sale will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area – encompassing 3,873 blocks and covering roughly 20.8 million acres, located from nine to 250 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (five to 3,346 meters). BOEM estimates the proposed lease sale could result in the production of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
The most recent sale in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning area, Western Gulf of Mexico Sale 218, took place on December 14, 2011. BOEM awarded 181 leases on tracts covering 1,036,205 acres to the successful high bidders who participated in the sale. The accepted high bids were valued at $324,971,001.
BOEM established the terms for the sale after extensive environmental analysis, public comment and consideration of the best scientific information available. These terms include measures to protect the environment, such as stipulations requiring that operators protect biologically sensitive features and provide trained observers to monitor marine mammals and sea turtles to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant. The terms also continue a range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers — including an increased minimum bid for deepwater tracts, escalating rental rates and tiered durational terms with relatively short base periods followed by additional time under the same lease if the operator drills a well during the initial period.
The Final Notice of Sale for Sale 229 details the lease terms and conditions, as well as all the environmental stipulations for this sale. The Final Notice of Sale information package is available at: http://www.boem.gov/Sale-229/. Copies can also be requested from the Gulf of Mexico Region's Public Information Office at 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70123, or at 800-200-GULF (4853).