Assistant Secretary Estenoz Highlights President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda in St. Louis

Visit comes as nation celebrates Endangered Species Act’s 50th Anniversary 

Last edited 07/12/2023

Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2023


ST. LOUIS — Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz visited St. Louis, Missouri this week to highlight the President’s Investing in America agenda and new and increased funding through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) that are restoring America’s lands and waters and expanding access to the outdoors.

During the visit, Assistant Secretary Estenoz highlighted how President Biden’s economic strategy to grow the economy from the middle out bottom up — Bidenomics — and and the America the Beautiful initiative are helping advance the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to making communities more resilient to climate change and ensuring that everyone, no matter their background or zip code, can enjoy the benefits of green spaces and the outdoors.

On Monday, Assistant Secretary Estenoz, Congresswoman Cori Bush, local leaders and community members visited the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Park to celebrate a nearly $1 million investment. The new funding is helping provide new and upgraded infrastructure, enhance visitor safety, restore meadow and woodland, and improve nature trails. The investment through the ORLP program is being matched by a $2.3 million local investment, spotlighting the importance of collaborative partnerships to improve access to the outdoors.

Assistant Secretary Estenoz later visited the St. Louis Zoo to highlight the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the recovery of both the hellbender and American burying beetle. Since 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation have partnered with the Zoo on conservation efforts for the hellbender. In one of its most successful projects, the Zoo hatches and rears both eastern and Ozark hellbenders before releasing them back into their native rivers. Last year, partners celebrated the 10,000th individual being released into the wild. The burying beetle was listed as threatened by the Service in 1989 when its only known remaining population was in Rhode Island. After decades of conservation efforts, including breeding efforts at the Zoo, the American burying beetles were reclassified to threatened status in 2020.

Throughout the year, the Department is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ESA and its importance in preventing imperiled species' extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The ESA has been highly effective and credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or downlisted from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status. Hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.  

On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary Estenoz joined the Department of Defense’s 2023 Climate Resilience Workshop to highlight the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis. President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is delivering historic resources to make communities more resilient to climate change. Combined, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act represent the largest investments in climate resilience in the nation’s history and provide unprecedented resources to support the Administration’s comprehensive, all-of-government approach.

The Assistant Secretary later traveled to Gateway Arch National Park to tour ongoing renovations efforts of the Old Courthouse and highlight the Department’s commitment to investing in efforts that help tell a more complete story of America. Completed in 1862, the Old Courthouse was the site of hundreds of freedom suites, including the first Dred Scott cases in 1847 and 1850 that led to Dred Scott v. Sandford, the landmark Supreme Court decision that voided the Missouri Compromise and ruled that African Americans were not entitled to citizenship, hastening the Civil War that ultimately led to freedom for enslaved people in the United States. Through federal funding and a public-private partnership, the park is investing $24.5 million for the design, fabrication and installation of new exhibits, improvements to accessibility and structural upgrades to the historic building. The renovation is a contributing project to the CityArchRiver project, the largest public-private partnership in the history of the National Park Service.  


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