Date: Friday, March 24, 2023
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz visited Alabama this week to highlight President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and celebrate new investments that help tell a more complete story of America.
Assistant Secretary Estenoz visited Historic Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, Alabama to celebrate a $750,000 investment through the National Park Service’s (NPS) History of Equal Rights grant program. The funding is part of a nearly $4.5 million investment the NPS is making this year for projects across the nation to preserve sites directly associated with the struggle to gain equal rights for all, as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing work to advance equity and social justice. She also toured Selma University to see how a recent $500,000 investment from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund for Historically Black Colleges & Universities is helping preserve Dinkins Hall.
Assistant Secretary Estenoz also toured the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge to view a mine reclamation project partially funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Alabama has received over $20 million this year for abandoned mine land reclamation projects. Enhancing communities’ quality of life by improving outdoor spaces and addressing legacy pollution is one of the Department’s restoration and resilience goals unveiled in a recent framework, which will help guide a $2 billion downpayment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to restore our nations lands and waters.
Assistant Secretary Estenoz also traveled to Springville, Alabama to highlight a $1.1 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will replace inadequately designed road crossings with more effective culverts or bridges to improve critical habitat for the trispot darter. The Department is investing an overall $200 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into the National Fish Passage Program over five years to bolster efforts to address outdated, unsafe or obsolete dams, culverts, levees and other barriers fragmenting our nation’s river and streams, which will help restore fish passages and aquatic connectivity while addressing public safety and enhancing recreation.
These investments come as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) turns 50 years old in 2023. Throughout the year, the Department of the Interior is celebrating the ESA's importance in preventing imperiled species' extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend.
Assistant Secretary Estenoz also visited the A.G. Gaston Motel and Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. Established in 2017, the National Monument preserves and interprets the events, stories, and places associated with the nonviolent struggle against racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, during the mid-20th century. The National Park Service has funded nearly $4.7 million to the monument’s sites through the Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant Program for Preservation and Rehabilitation.