This Week at Interior February 18, 2022


Greetings from the African American Monument in Vicksburg National Military Park. You’re watching This Week, at Interior. 

This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland was on the road this week, taking part in a multi-state tour to explore how Interior can play a role in telling America’s story. First stop was Mississippi, where she visited sites associated with the 1955 murder of 14-year old Emmet Till. His story captured national attention and helped catalyze the struggle for equal rights in Mississippi and across the nation. The Secretary also visited the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, which celebrates the lives of those two civil rights activists. Medgar Evers’ assassination marked the first murder of a nationally significant leader of the American Civil Rights Movement. 

The Secretary then traveled to Alabama, where she visited significant sites associated with the civil rights movement. At the Selma Interpretive Center operated by the National Park Service, she met with community leaders and foot soldiers who fought for voting rights in 1965. She was also briefed on ongoing projects to expand the interpretive facilities of the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. Then she traveled to Birmingham, visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, which preserves and interprets the events, stories, and places associated with the nonviolent struggle against racial segregation during the mid-20th century. 

Secretary Haaland was in East Hampton, New York this week to commemorate the groundbreaking of the South Fork wind energy project. This is the second commercial-scale, offshore wind energy project approved for federal waters in the United States. The South Fork project will be located offshore Rhode Island and New York and have a capacity of 130 megawatts of wind energy — enough to power over 70,000 homes and businesses. The South Fork project was approved by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in November 2021. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs this week announced a series of reforms to the Office of Justice Services Correctional Program to protect the rights, dignity and safety of those being held in custody. BIA launched a three-month review in the Fall of 2021 after concerning reports about the treatment of incarcerated individuals, to include 16 inmate deaths in custody between 2016 and 2020. 

The National Park Service says the number of park visitors is climbing back to pre-pandemic levels. Nearly 300 million people visited national parks in 2021, an increase of 60 million over 2020 numbers. And some of the nation's most famous parks actually set a record for the number of visitors last year. 

Several Interior bureaus this week submitted their plans for putting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into action. Those plans are a significant step in the Department’s efforts to help communities tackle the climate crisis and address legacy pollution while creating good-paying union jobs, advancing environmental justice, and boosting local economies. 

The National Park Service this week announced a $31 million award for the rehabilitation of a 17-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway. The funding is made available from a Great American Outdoors Act project with the Federal Highway Administration. Congress established the Foothills Parkway in 1944 as a scenic parkway that would provide magnificent views into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, Maryland’s historic Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1933 as a sanctuary for migrating birds, the refuge also celebrates the life and history of Harriet Tubman, who was born nearby two hundred years ago. She risked her life to help hundreds of enslaved people escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad. 

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That's This Week at Interior. 

This Week: Secretary Haaland tours significant civil rights sites in Mississippi and Alabama, part of a multi-state tour exploring how Interior can better tell the story of America; the Secretary commemorates the groundbreaking of the South Fork Wind project; the Bureau of Indian Affairs announces a series of reforms to protect the rights, dignity and safety of those being held in custody; the number of national park visitors is on the rise toward pre-pandemic levels; Interior’s bureaus submit plans to put the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into action; a $31 million award is made to rehabilitate a portion of the Foothills Parkway; and we head to Maryland’s Eastern Shore for our social media Picture of the Week!