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 Department of the Interior has a strong commitment to preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species that can have a negative impact on America's economy, the environment, native plants and animals, and human health. As an example of this commitment, the Office of Policy Analysis provides staffing and administrative support to the National Invasive Species Council (NISC). Established by Executive Order (EO) 13112, NISC is co-chaired by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce; ten additional Federal departments and agencies are represented on NISC. The mission of NISC is to ensure that Federal actions to prevent and control invasive species are well coordinated, effective and efficient.
Some critical coordination issues include:
• Raising awareness about the environmental and economic impacts of invasive species, and determining how to best protect natural resources;
• Preventing the introduction of additional invasive species;
• Early detection of invasive species populations, and encouraging rapid responses to slow their spread and prevent their establishment;
• Controlling established invasive species to protect, and where needed, restore natural resources;
• Addressing a range of Federal organizational collaboration challenges;
• Using international-scale approaches and regional initiatives to address the movement of invasive species around the globe.
Tangible improvements in water quality, species recovery and habitat improvement are being acheived through collaborative partnerships to prevent and control invasive species.
For more information on the National Invasive Species Council, please visit