This Week at Interior June 2, 2023


Hi, my name is Marie Frías Sauter and I’m the Superintendent at White Sands National Park, and you’re watching This Week at Interior. 

This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland this week took action to protect the cultural and historic resources surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from new oil and gas leasing and mining claims. A new order withdraws public lands within a 10-mile radius of the national park for 20 years, subject to valid existing rights. The move responds to decades of efforts from Tribes, elected officials, and the public to better protect the  sacred and historic sites and Tribal communities currently living in northwest New Mexico.  

Interior this week announced plans to infuse $161 million into ecosystem restoration and resilience on the nation’s public lands as part of the President’s Investing in America agenda. The Bureau of Land Management will spearhead the work, which will focus on 21 “Restoration Landscapes” across 11 western states —ranging from wildlife habitat restoration in the sagebrush steppe of the high desert, to re-creating wetland meadows, to repairing watersheds on former industrial timberlands. 

In celebration of Great Outdoors Month and National Trails Day, Secretary Haaland announced the designation of nine new national recreation trails in nine states. That adds 340 miles to the National Trails System, managed by the National Park Service. The newly designated trails join a network of more than 1,300 existing national recreation trails, which can be found in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  

Interior this week announced that nearly $725 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is available to 22 states and the Navajo Nation to reclaim abandoned coal mine lands. The law provides a total of $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years through the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, which will help communities create good-paying jobs and catalyze economic opportunity while cleaning up dangerous environmental conditions. 

Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo joined other federal officials, as well as state, local and Tribal partners to celebrate the Taylor Slough Flow Improvement Project ribbon cutting this week. The project will increase the flow of clean, freshwater to the Florida Bay, where it is needed to balance salinity levels and promote ecological health.  

The Bureau of Indians Affairs is celebrating a milestone this week, the approval of the 100th Tribal regulation under the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act of 2012. The HEARTH Act promotes Tribal self-determination by making a voluntary, alternative land-leasing process available to federally recognized Tribes. 

The National Park Service this week awarded 14 grants totaling approximately $3.4 million through the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program. The grants will fund a variety of projects aimed at preserving and interpreting the history of Japanese American incarceration during World War II. 

A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners shows how Yellowstone's grizzly bear population is adapting to a changing ecosystem. Grizzlies need substantial body fat to withstand months of hibernation, even as their traditional food sources have diminished due to climate change and human activity. The study shows grizzlies have learned to shift to other available food sources within the Yellowstone ecosystem to maintain the same levels of body fat. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, the promise of a new day at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, where sunlight burns through the fog and bursts through a burl oak tree on a serene Minnesota morning, casting light upon magnificent wildflowers. 

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That's This Week at Interior 

This Week: Secretary Haaland takes action to protect the cultural and historic resources surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park; Interior infuses $161 million from the President’s Investing in America agenda into ecosystem restoration and resilience; the Secretary designates nine new national recreation trails, just in time for Great Outdoors Month; Interior announces the availability of $725 million to clean up legacy pollution from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; Interior leaders cut the ribbon for an Everglades restoration project; the Bureau of Indian Affairs celebrates a new milestone under the HEARTH Act; National Park Service awards grants aimed at preserving and interpreting Japanese American confinement sites; Yellowstone's grizzly bears find new sources of food in the face of a changing ecosystem; and it's the promise of a new day in our social media Picture of the week!