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 Resource Protection, Preparedness, Response and Recovery Team and the Regional Offices work with multiple federal, state and local agencies and other organizations to improve protection and recovery of the Department's natural and cultural resource and historic property interests during both emergencies and long-term responses.
Natural Resources Trust
Coordination of environmental response with natural resource restoration. Rapid resolution of contamination and hazardous waste problems is best achieved when response and restoration actions are effectively coordinated. OEPC facilitates such coordination by:
Superfund Coordination – Providing response agencies with a single point of access to the full range of resources and expertise within DOI, coordinating DOI activities when more than one bureau is involved, and resolving potential problems to expedited environmental response and restoration actions.
Safeguard DOI's natural and cultural resources and historic properties, as well as DOI employees and visitors during disasters and emergencies. OEPC makes DOI's emergency preparedness and response processes more efficient and effective through inter-bureau/interagency collaboration. Two principal responsibilities are:
Federal lead for the protection of natural and cultural resources and historic properties (NCH) under the National Response Framework; and,
Departmental lead for response to oil discharges and hazardous substances releases under relevant laws.
Establish and implement interagency policy and guidance when multiple federal agencies are involved in remedial response actions affecting DOI resources. OEPC's works towards early, upfront resolution of interagency issues so that subsequent, multiple case-specific remedial response actions can be taken quicker and more effectively at a reduced cost. The two lines of effort are:
Responses on non-DOI managed lands affecting DOI resources; and,
Non-DOI responses on DOI-managed lands.
The RPPRR Team provides principal support for OEPC's continuity of operations, budget formulation, and financial management execution. The Team supports the establishment, tracking and analysis of performance measures, workload measures and other metrics needed for documenting the office's programs and performance supporting DOI's Strategic Plan.
The Role of OEPC in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response
The Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC) performed the following:
deployed fifteen OEPC staff from 6 regional offices and headquarters to work on the oil spill response at various Incident Command Posts and the Unified Command on the Gulf Coast and at the National Incident Command at US Coast Guard Headquarters, through a series of staggered rotations.OEPC staff worked over 7,800 reimbursable hours and totaled over $600,000 in reimbursable expenditures.The cost of the U.S. Coast Guard National Pollution Funds Center's reimbursement of these costs will ultimately be recovered from BP for the U.S. taxpayer.
provided key support and coordination for DOI to 1) provide substantive scientific input to more accurately measure the oil spill flow rate and total volume of the oil spill; 2) protect DOI interests and the Gulf's natural, cultural, and historic resources, including those located on state, local, private, and tribal lands; 3) improve environmental compliance during the response; 4) advance interagency problem-solving; 5) identify oil spill response strategies and technologies; 6) bolster communications; 7) facilitate tribal consultations by the FOSC and Unified Command; 8) assist development of Congressional testimony; and 9) address possible legislative reforms.
represented DOI on the National Response Team which provided interagency coordination and expertise for the oil spill response for the National Incident Command, senior Administration officials, and provided expertise and support to senior DOI officials.
represented DOI on the two Regional Response Teams which were involved in the oil spill response and associated decision-making regarding the use of dispersants and other oil spill response measures, and participated in thirty incident-specific conference calls to achieve a unified DOI position on such decisions.
applied longstanding oil spill response experience and expertise to coordinate DOI's oil spill response efforts on the Gulf Coast at the Mobile AL, Houma LA, and Miami FL Incident Command Posts, and represented DOI's interests on two Regional Response Teams' work on various issues and decisions, including those pertaining to the use of dispersants and other oil spill response activities.
negotiated, obtained and managed five Pollution Removal Funding Authorizations (PRFAs) from the US Coast Guard (USCG) totaling over $99 Million that were used to assign and deploy staff from DOI bureaus and offices (FWS, $69.7 Million; NPS, $21.2 Million; MMS/BOEMRE, $1.5 Million; USGS, $6.6 Million) to conduct reimbursable oil spill response activities in the Unified Area Command to serve the USCG's Federal On Scene Coordinator (FOSC) who lead the federal response.This funding was used by DOI bureaus/offices to support the Unified Command's objectives by providing support in the field and at the various command posts regarding wildlife response, cleanup techniques, Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique team participation, Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultations, National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 compliance, and monitoring of cleanup activities on DOI lands.
negotiated, obtained and managed a sixth PRFA to mobilize and provide DOI staffing support for the National Incident Command (NIC) to address interagency issues during the spill response, including measures to improve protection of the Gulf's natural, cultural and historic resources during the spill response, and steps to hold BP accountable for the spill.
in the early days of the spill, provided DOI bureaus and offices with helpful guidance on PRFA activities and cost documentation requirements and established the PRFA Cost Documentation Team to help secure reimbursement for DOI's spill response activities.As of April 5, 2012 this team has assisted and/or submitted PRFA cost documentation packages and reimbursement requests totaling nearly $66 Million to the USCG's National Pollution Funds Center and secured reimbursement of $45.22 Million.
represented DOI on the USCG's Incident Specific Preparedness Review Team that gathered and provided key information on the DWH response to the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling and submitted its report that advanced numerous recommendations for improvements in oil spill preparedness and response to the Commandant of the USCG and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in January 2011.