This Week at Interior July 28, 2023


This is Kyla Hastie, Acting Northeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,’re watching This Week at Interior! 

This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen Cantor wrapped up a week-long trip to the Pacific Islands this week. In Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Secretary stressed the Administration’s ongoing commitment through the President’s Investing in America agenda. Both territories are recovering from Typhoon Mawar and each face the long-term challenges of climate change and aging infrastructure. The delegation also visited the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, two of the Freely Associated States of the Pacific; the Secretary met with leadership and discussed the extension of economic assistance and programs that increase climate resiliency. 

President Biden designated the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument this week, which protects three historic sites in Illinois and Mississippi that will help tell a more complete story of our country’s history. The new national monument includes places that were central to Emmett Till’s racially motivated murder, the acquittal of his murderers and the subsequent activism by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, that helped catalyze the civil rights movement. The designation came on what would have been Emmett's 82nd birthday. 

Interior this week announced a $152 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will bring clean, reliable drinking water to communities across the West through six water storage and conveyance projects. The projects in California, Colorado and Washington are expected to develop at least 1.7 million acre-feet of additional water storage capacity, enough water to support 6.8 million people for a year.  

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel Davis joined Administration leaders at the first-ever White House Methane Summit this week to discuss the urgent need to dramatically reduce methane emissions as a way to protect public health, create good-paying jobs and advance the Administration’s climate agenda. Methane leaking from many unplugged oil and gas wells is a serious safety hazard and significant cause of climate change. Interior is investing a historic $4.7 billion for orphaned oil and gas well-plugging through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement this week announced nearly $6 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to create good-paying jobs and catalyze economic opportunity by reclaiming abandoned mine lands in Iowa. The Law allocates a total of $16 billion to address legacy pollution, including $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years. Millions of Americans nationwide live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams this week visited a fish passage project nearing completion on the Little Tonisina River in Alaska's Valdez-Cordova Borough. Once complete, the project will open more than 70 miles of relatively pristine Coho and Chinook Salmon spawning and rearing habitat that lie above the barrier. It was made possible by $1.3 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.   

Personnel from the National Park Service and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement were on hand at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, site of this year's National Boy Scout Jamboree. Rangers from New River Gorge National Park and Preserve offered the scouts a range of activities, and OSMRE staff helped scouts learn about coal mine reclamation technology, while completing their Mining in Society Merit Badge. 

Meanwhile Girl Scouts from across the nation gathered in Orlando, Florida, for the tri-annual Girl Scout Convention and Phenom event, and Interior was there in force! Over three days, representatives from the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Geological Survey shared interactive activities and crafts and introduced the girls to a variety of Interior careers. 

Happy 51st anniversary to Landsat! Since 1972, the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA have worked together on an unprecedented and nearly continuous visual record of Earth’s landscapes, icescapes and coastal ecosystems. Landsat satellites provide scientists with the data needed to tackle problems crucial to everyday life on our planet, including water use, wildfire impacts, coral reef degradation, glacier retreat, tropical deforestation and more. 

Get ready to get outdoors! Interior is celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act with a fee free day on our public lands; entrance fees will be waived August 4th at all lands managed by the Department. It's all part of commemorating the bipartisan law, which bolsters climate resiliency, improves visitor experiences, and invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs in our national parks, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools. 

And our social media Picture of the Week comes from Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, where the fireweed blooms bright every July. This resilient plant gets its name because it thrives in areas once devastated by fires, covering over scarred landscapes with blazing color. 

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That's This Week at Interior 

This Week: Secretary Haaland wraps up her week-long trip to the Pacific Islands; President Biden designates the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument; Interior announces new investments that will bring clean, reliable drinking water to communities across the West; the White House holds its first-ever Methane Summit; nearly $6 million in funding will create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity by reclaiming abandoned coal mines in Iowa; a fish passage project is getting close to completion in Alaska; Interior turns out in force to support gatherings of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; Landsat marks another anniversary; it's a "fee free day" to celebrate the Great American Outdoors Act's third birthday; and we'll take you to where the fireweed is burning bright this summer in our social media Picture of the Week!