This Week at Interior April 15, 2022


I'm Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, coming to you on the banks of the beautiful Cheat River in West Virginia. You're watching "This Week at Interior!" 

This Week, at Interior 

Secretary Haaland was on the road this week in Louisiana, visiting New Orleans to commemorate an historic expansion of Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuge, and highlight the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing efforts to conserve, protect, and restore our nation’s lands and waters. The Secretary joined elected officials, community leaders, and Interior employees to celebrate the acquisition of the Little Pine Island tract, a 2,500-acre addition of tidal marshes and hardwood forests to the Refuge. The Secretary also visited Jazz National Historical Park, where she met with local National Park Service employees and was able to enjoy a live performance from the Park’s artist in residence. 

Secretary Haaland then traveled to Colorado, where she met with federal fire response leadership to discuss wildfire preparedness and response that will be bolstered by historic investments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The visit also helped launch the Biden-Harris administration’s Building a Better America rural infrastructure tour, which will highlight how infrastructure investments will make a transformative and lasting impact in communities across rural America. And the Secretary explored Rocky Mountain National Park, where she heard about the park’s ongoing infrastructure investments to improve the visitor experience and protect the landscape. 

The Biden-Harris administration this week launched the $1 billion America the Beautiful Challenge. It aims to leverage federal conservation and restoration investments with private and philanthropic contributions to accelerate land, water, and wildlife conservation efforts across the country. Interior joins the Departments of Agriculture and Defense to support the challenge, with a $375 million investment in Ecosystem Restoration funds to protect and restore core habitats. 

Interior this week announced 40 fish passage projects in 23 states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of nearly $38 million in fiscal year 2022 funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams, visited the Albright Power Station Dam in West Virgina, one of the recipients of the new funding. The National Fish Passage Program supports aquatic ecosystem restoration projects and restores free-flowing waters, allowing for enhanced fish migration and protecting communities from flooding.  

Interior this week announced it will invest $46 million in Tribal communities to address the unique impacts of climate change. The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and fiscal year 2022 appropriations. It's available for projects and initiatives that address and strengthen Tribal climate resilience and adaptation, ocean and coastal management, community-driven relocation and protect-in-place activities, and internships and youth engagement. 

The National Park Service this week awarded $1 million in Underrepresented Community Grants to 22 projects in 16 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. These funds will support the identification, planning and development of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places to increase representation of Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. 

The Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced its first-ever Zoonotic Disease Initiative, a grant program focused on wildlife disease prevention and preparedness. Authorized under the American Rescue Plan, the Initiative will provide $9 million to states, Tribes and territories to strengthen early detection, rapid response and science-based management research to address wildlife disease outbreaks before they cross the barrier from animals to humans and become pandemics. 

National Park Week kicks off April 16th with a fee free day at any national park. The annual celebration is a time to explore amazing places, and discover stories of history and culture. National Park Week runs through April 24th. Find your park at 

And our social media Picture of the Week, this sea otter mom and her newborn pup at Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. A baby sea otter needs constant attention and will stay with its mother for six months until it develops the necessary survival skills. It won't even be able to dive until it loses all its floof, so mom will leave it floating while she forages for food. 

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That's This Week, at Interior. 

This Week: Secretary Haaland visits New Orleans to commemorate the historic expansion of Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuge; in Colorado the Secretary highlights how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will beef up the federal response to wildfires; the Biden-Harris administration launches the America the Beautiful Challenge to accelerate locally led conservation efforts across the country; there's new funding for National Fish Passage Program projects; Interior is investing nearly $50 million for climate resilience in Indigenous communities; new grants from the National Park Service will help underrepresented communities tell their stories; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is putting a new focus on diseases that jump from animals to humans; National Park Week kicks off this weekend with a fee free day tomorrow; and we head to Alaska for our social media Picture of the Week!