Date: Monday, August 29, 2022
WASHINGTON — Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen G. Cantor today completed her first official visit to American Samoa where she met with area leaders, emphasized the agency’s commitment to the people of American Samoa, and announced key investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
During her visit, Assistant Secretary Cantor met with Governor Lemanu Mauga, Speaker Savali Talavou Ale, members of the territory’s executive cabinet, Senate and House of Representatives, the Justices of the High Court of American Samoa, as well as the Matai (traditional chiefs), and U.S. Geological Survey experts who monitor and survey recent seismic activity in the territory.
Assistant Secretary Cantor also announced $389,025 in grant funding provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will be used to clean up the second largest wetland ecosystem on Tutuila and replant more than 1,000 mangrove seedlings and riparian tree species across more than 20 acres of degraded wetland areas and 8 acres of degraded mangrove forests. This restoration area includes acreage impacted during the 2009 Tsunami. The funding will support the distribution of 20,000 agricultural crop, fruit trees, and multi-purpose native seedlings that are salt water-resistant and can better withstand future natural disasters.
The project is in collaboration with the American Samoa Department of Agriculture, the Office of the First Lady of American Samoa and the School Garden Initiative, the Office of Samoan Affairs, the American Samoa Department of Education and 54 local villages.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $1.4 billion for ecosystem restoration efforts over the next five years, building on proven projects, programs and partnerships that conserve our cherished wildlife and natural resources critical to supporting local economies, creating jobs and strengthening communities.
To date, $40 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has been announced for American Samoa. This year alone, the territory will receive more than $8 million for transportation to invest in roads, bridges, public transit, ports and airports and nearly $31 million for clean water. More projects will be added in the coming months, as funding opportunities become grant awards and formula funds become available.
While in American Samoa, Assistant Secretary Cantor visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Hospital, the StarKist cannery, and the Visitor’s Center of the National Park of American Samoa. She also had the opportunity to attend mass in Sailele Village followed by a traditional Sunday village brunch.