This Week at Interior April 21, 2023


This week at Interior

Secretary Haaland led the U.S. delegation and delivered the national statement at the 22nd Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues. The Secretary’s remarks focused on the new era of visibility and inclusion that Indigenous peoples are in around the globe, and on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples. 

"Indigenous women and girls are our future. They are best positioned to uplift the needs of their communities and advance climate crisis solutions. If we do not empower women everywhere as innovators and leaders, our global climate goals cannot proceed.

Secretary Haaland, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis and Department leaders traveled to Nevada to celebrate President Biden’s designation of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. They joined Tribal leaders, elected officials, and personnel from the Department’s Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, which co-manage the new national monument. The designation builds upon decades of efforts from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and other Tribal Nations to honor their creation story and to protect the integrity of the historic, cultural and physical landscape they hold sacred. 

Communities near and visitors to the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge in Boise, Idaho will have more opportunities to engage with nature thanks to a million dollar investment for conservation partnerships. The funding is part of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, which supports 101 urban refuges across the country that host more than 11.7 million people a year. The announcement was made during a community event with Secretary Haaland and Service Director Martha Williams. 

Deputy Secretary Beaudreau attended the annual U.S. Climate Action Summit to discuss steps Interior is taking to pursue a clean energy future. The Deputy Secretary highlighted the impact of the President’s Investing in America agenda on the Department’s work to address the climate crisis. He also addressed the importance of engaging with diverse stakeholders, including Tribes, state and local governments, industry partners, environmental groups, and communities affected by climate change. 

The Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council’s spring meeting was held in Washington, DC this week. This federal advisory council provides recommendations to the Interior and Agriculture Departments regarding policies that benefit wildlife and habitat conservation; expand fair-chase hunting, safe recreational shooting sports, and wildlife-associated recreation opportunities; as well as policies that benefit national and local economies.  The council is an important piece of the President’s America the Beautiful initiative. 

The U.S. Geological Survey joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency to release a new study showing the increased economic risk of earthquakes at the annual Seismological Society of America meeting. The new estimate is twice that of previous annual estimates due to increased building value and the fact that the report incorporates the latest hazards, as well as improvements to building inventories. Losses from the last few decades in the U.S. have ranged about $1.5-$3 billion per year depending upon the timeframe. USGS recommends signing up for its ShakeAlert notifications for timely critical safety information. 

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is ensuring offshore oil and gas wells, platforms, pipelines and related infrastructure are decommissioned in a timely, safe and environmentally responsible manner. A new rule published this week specifies decommissioning requirements for rights-of-use and easement grant holders. It also formalizes BSEE’s policies regarding performance by predecessors ordered to decommission Outer Continental Shelf facilities.  

Owners of big cats such as lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars or hybrids of these species must register them with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. An estimated 20,000 big cats are kept in private ownership in the U.S., but as they grow older, many are illegally traded or abandoned. Current private owners may keep their animals if they register them and abide by other applicable state and federal regulations. The deadline to register is June 18 for compliance with the Big Cat Public Safety Act. 

And our social media picture of the week is the dark skies at Badlands National Park Service in South Dakota. The Badlands allow for some of North America's best stargazing and astrophotography. The dark skies result from the park's remote location, limited light pollution and high elevation.  

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That's This Week, at Interior. 

This week: Secretary Haaland leads the U.S. delegation at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues; Department leaders celebrate President Biden’s designation of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument; Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge receives a million-dollar investment; Deputy Secretary Beaudreau attends the annual U.S. Climate Action Summit; the interagency Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council holds its spring meeting in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Geological Survey joins the Federal Emergency Management Agency to release a new study showing the increased economic risk of earthquakes; the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement provides new safety regulations for offshore oil and gas work; big cat owners must register them with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and we celebrate Dark Skies Week in our Picture of the Week!