This Week at Interior April 8, 2022


This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams traveled to Fones Cliffs, Virginia this week...that's where they celebrated the Rappahannock Tribe’s re-acquisition of their ancestral homelands, 465 acres located on the eastern side of the Rappahannock River.  During a celebration with the Tribe, the Secretary said the historic reacquisition underscores how Tribes, private landowners, and other stakeholders all play a central role in the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to ensure our conservation efforts are locally led and support communities’ health and well-being. 

Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau and Director Williams visited Puerto Rico this week, highlighting 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 Interior’s commitment to helping support Puerto Rico’s economic development and recovery efforts through a comprehensive and holistic approach that sets the island on a course for prosperity. 

Interior this week released its five-year roadmap to address wildfire risk, while preparing communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildfire. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $1.5 billion to Interior’s Wildland Fire Management Program, making historic investments in forest restoration, hazardous fuels management and post-wildfire restoration. 

Secretary Haaland this week joined partners in a virtual event to announce several actions the Department is taking to advance our work on wildlife corridors and habitat connectivity. Interior's efforts will focus on conservation and restoration of those corridors and wildlife habitat, in a way that supports conservation outcomes, honors private landowner rights, and encourages collaboration with other federal agencies, state and local governments, Tribes, and other stakeholders. 

Interior leaders this week named Xavier Brown as the new Ambassador to the Anacostia Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz, and Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo made that announcement in an event at the Aquatic Resource Education Center in Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia Park. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership brings together 15 federal agencies working collaboratively with local communities to restore urban waterways and surrounding lands, boost recreational opportunities, help local economies, and protect the health of Americans. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums this week announced more than a million and a half dollars will go to zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens and other facilities across the nation. It's the first wave of reimbursements to facilities for helping to save animals and plants from extinction during the pandemic. Thirty million dollars in all will be awarded under the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan. 

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland this week unveiled new regulations to improve implementation of the Buy Indian Act. That act allows the Department to set aside certain opportunities for Native-owned and controlled businesses to promote economic development opportunities in Indian Country. The new regulations are expected to result in up to 65% of Indian Affairs purchases being set aside for Native-owned businesses, with up to $325 million flowing to Indian Country annually.  

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory this week hosted an outdoor demonstration of the "BSEE Burner.” That's a new low-emission apparatus which can burn emulsified oil in an environmentally safe fashion. BSEE says the technology has the potential to be a game changer in the performance of oil spill recovery. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, the face of a century: 100-year old Betty Reid Soskin retired this week from the National Park Service after a decade and a half at Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. Ranger Betty's interpretive programs at the park shed light on the histories of African Americans and other people of color, and how women from all backgrounds supported the war effort on the home front. Congratulations, Betty!  

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That's This Week at Interior. 

Secretary Haaland joins the celebration as ancestral homelands are returned to the Rappahannock Tribe; Interior leaders visit Puerto Rico to underscore the Department's commitment to economic development and recovery; a five-year roadmap outlines Interior's strategy to take on the threat of wildfire; there's new action in the effort to protect wildlife corridors and improve habitat connectivity; Interior names a new ambassador to the Anacostia Urban Waters Federal Partnership in Washington, D.C.; it's the first wave of reimbursements to zoos and aquariums for helping to save animals and plants from extinction during the pandemic; Interior unveils new regulations to improve implementation of the Buy Indian Act; there's a new tool to help clean up oil spills; and the nation's oldest park ranger is hanging up her hat at the age of 100 in our social media Picture of the Week!