This Week at Interior June 25, 2021


This Week at Interior 

Acknowledging a shameful past, and looking toward a better future together... Secretary Haaland this week announced a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies. In her remarks to the National Congress of American Indians Mid Year Conference, the Secretary pointed out it was the Department she now leads, that once led a national effort to wipe out Native identity, language, and culture.  

To address the inter-generational impact of Indian boarding schools and to promote spiritual and emotional healing in our communities, we must shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past, no matter how hard it will be.

Secretary Haaland joined internationally renowned and award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma this week to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Biden-Harris administration marked a milestone last week with 300 million doses administered, but health officials warn cases could rise as variants spread through unvaccinated populations.  

Secretary Haaland took part in a meeting this week of the White House Climate Task Force. The task force is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s whole-of-government approach to tackling climate change, creating good-paying, union jobs, and achieving environmental justice. 

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners details the effects of climate change on the Greater Yellowstone Area since 1950, effects that include decreased snowfall, and a significant rise in temperatures. The trend towards a warmer, drier climate described in the study will likely affect ecosystems in the region and the communities that depend on them as we head toward the end of the 21st Century. 

Nearly $530 million went out from Interior this week to more than 1900 local communities nationwide. The funds are known as PILT, or Payment in Lieu of Taxes. That's money that Interior reimburses local jurisdictions, compensating them for the non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries. PILT payments help local governments carry out vital services, everything from firefighting and police protection to public school and road construction. 

Tommy Beaudreau was sworn in as Interior's Deputy Secretary this week, returning after serving for nearly seven years at the Department during the Obama-Biden administration, including as the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, and Chief of Staff to Secretary Sally Jewell. Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo was also sworn in this week. She most recently worked as a project director with the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign.  

Secretary Haaland proclaimed June 21st through the 27th National Pollinator Week to celebrate the importance of pollinators in our wild and urban landscapes. The proclamation highlights the work of agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service to recover federally protected pollinators, and restore habitat for the benefit of all pollinators and the American public. 

The Fish and Wildlife Service this week proposed changes to the current regulations governing the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Contest. The proposed revisions would provide artists more flexibility when designing their art and broaden the appeal of the Duck Stamp to more audiences. More than $1.1 billion dollars in Duck Stamp sales have been used to acquire wetland habitats that help sequester carbon and contribute to addressing the impacts of climate change, purify water supplies, provide economic support to local communities and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities.  

And our social media Picture of the Week comes from Nevada's Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. You're not seeing things...that's a desert tortoise, dutifully following the signs and using the tortoise crosswalk to get to the other side. It's actually rare to spot a desert tortoise at all, let alone one that follows directions. They're one of the most elusive inhabitants of the desert, spending up to 95% of their life underground. 

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That’s This Week, at Interior. 

This Week: Secretary Haaland announces a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to review the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies; the Secretary joins award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19; it's the fourth meeting of the White House Climate Task Force; a new report from USGS and its partners details the effects of climate change on the Greater Yellowstone Area since 1950; nearly $530 million in PILT payments are headed for more than 1900 local communities nationwide; Interior has a new Deputy Secretary, and Assistant Secretary for Water and Science; the week of June 21st is proclaimed National Pollinator Week; the Federal Duck Stamp contest may be getting new rules; and a slow but steady tortoise makes its way into our social media Picture of the Week!