During Puerto Rico Visit, Department Leaders Highlight Investments in Climate Resilience and Ecosystem Restoration

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support the island’s economic development and recovery efforts, create good-paying jobs

4/6/2022

Date: Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams visited Puerto Rico this week to highlight how investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Great American Outdoors Act will help strengthen climate resilience and ecosystem restoration initiatives on the island. The visit underscored the Department’s commitment to helping support the island’s economic development and recovery efforts through a comprehensive and holistic approach that sets the island on a course for prosperity.

On Sunday, the leaders visited the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most ecologically diverse wildlife refuges in the Caribbean. In Vieques, Deputy Secretary Beaudreau and Director Williams met with Fish and Wildlife Service staff to hear about how the refuge’s diverse wildlife and 17,000 acres of ecological and historically significant landscapes are facing the impacts of the climate crisis. They highlighted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $1.4 billion investment in resilience and restoration, including funding for stewardship contracts, ecosystem restoration projects, invasive species detection and prevention, and native vegetation restoration efforts.

On Monday, they participated in an environmental justice roundtable with San Juan community leaders. The group discussed the Interior Department’s proactive efforts to ensure that historically underrepresented communities benefit from the Department’s work to clean up legacy pollution, boost the clean energy economy, and make America’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to everyone.

Later, Deputy Secretary Beaudreau met with San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero at Castillo San Felipe del Morro, part of the National Park Service’s San Juan National Historic Site. There, Deputy Secretary Beaudreau highlighted the more than $8 million investment from the Great American Outdoors Act for the San Juan National Historic Site, which will make historic structures more climate resilient, improve the visitor experience, and keep residents safe. Through the Great American Outdoors Act, between fiscal years 2021 and 2023, the Interior Department will invest nearly $14 million on the island to support economic development and recovery efforts and create good-paying jobs.

On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary Beaudreau and Director Williams visited the Iguaca Aviary, located in El Yunque National Forest, which was severely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. At the Aviary, they underscored robust partnership efforts to recover the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, the Interior Department’s commitment to conserve Puerto Rico’s emblematic species, and the Biden-Harris administration’s work to help the island recover from the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

On Wednesday, Director Williams visited the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge to highlight Interior’s efforts to distribute more than $3.5 million in fiscal year 2023 from the Great American Outdoors Act to upgrade the refuge’s infrastructure to be more climate resilient and create a better visitor experience. The refuge is home to ecologically and economically significant salt flats that serve as a vital shorebird habitat. 

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