This Week at Interior March 11, 2022


Hello from Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Welcome to This Week at Interior!


This Week, at Interior  

Secretary Haaland was on the road this week in Ohio, where she announced more than $144 million is available to help states and Tribes address abandoned mine lands. That's in addition to the $725 million available this year under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The visit was part of the Secretary's ongoing tour of Appalachia and commitment to invest in coal communities.  

On her second day in Ohio the Secretary met with elected officials, community leaders, and Interior employees to highlight infrastructure investments that are helping to preserve, protect and restore Ohio’s lands and waters. She toured an orphaned oil and gas well site at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, then visited Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Oak Harbor, where she discussed ongoing efforts to restore, enhance and reconnect coastal wetland habitats. 

The Secretary also traveled to Maryland this week where she continued Interior's celebration of Women's History Month with a visit to Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park. Tubman, born 200 years ago this month, helped many enslaved people find freedom before and during the Civil War. The Secretary also visited the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which surrounds the park and preserves the landscapes familiar to Tubman as she grew up, escaped slavery, then returned to free others. 

Martha Williams was sworn in this week as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Martha will play a critical role in implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $1.4 billion investment in ecosystem restoration and resilience, which will help restore America's lands, and fund stewardship contracts, ecosystem restoration projects, invasive species detection and prevention, and native vegetation restoration efforts. 

Interior is joining the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to accept applications for the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. The commission was established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to recommend federal policies and strategies that more effectively prevent, mitigate, suppress and manage wildland fires, and help rehabilitate areas where a fire has struck. The commission is scheduled to meet for the first time in late spring of this year. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced it's asking for proposals to help restore the health and vitality of the Klamath Basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California. More than $160 million is available to fund restoration projects through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Service is soliciting ideas from Tribes, local and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other conservation partners. 

The Bureau of Reclamation this week announced that water levels for Lake Powell will decline below target levels, due to an abnormally dry winter season. Lake Powell is an artificial reservoir on the Colorado River in Utah and Arizona, the second largest in the United States behind Lake Mead. Reclamation says water levels on the lake should improve throughout the upcoming spring runoff.  

With continued decline in COVID-19 infections and recent updates to Centers for Disease Control guidance, the National Park Service this week updated its masking guidance to align with the CDC’s new COVID-19 community levels tool. While masks are still required on all forms of enclosed public transportation, other masking requirements now vary by park based on local conditions. Visitors should check park websites when planning their visit, and all are always welcome to wear a mask if they choose. 

Happy birthday to one of the oldest bureaus in the federal government. On March 11th, 1824 the Bureau of Indian Affairs was administratively established to oversee and carry out the federal government's trade and treaty relations with Native American Tribes. Over almost two centuries since, the Bureau's mission has evolved dramatically as federal policies designed to subjugate and assimilate American Indians and Alaska Natives have changed to policies that promote Indian self-determination. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, one of the most visually striking geologic sandstone formations in the world, Arizona's Coyote Buttes North, more commonly known as "The Wave." You'll find it in the undeveloped backcountry, and Bureau of Land Management permit-holders can hike a physically demanding 6.4-mile round-trip...along the way experiencing the brilliant cliffs and a variety of wildlife species of a geologically spectacular area. 

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That’s This Week, at Interior. 

(Music fades)

This Week: Secretary Haaland travels to Ohio where she announces additional federal funding for the cleanup of abandoned coal mine lands and orphan oil and gas wells; a salute to Women's History Month at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park in Maryland; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a new Director; applications are now being accepted for the Biden-Harris Administration's Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission; Interior looks for proposals to help restore the health and vitality of the Klamath Basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California; an abnormally dry winter season means lower water levels for a western reservoir; the National Park Service updates its COVID-19 masking guidance for visitors; one of the oldest bureaus in the federal government celebrates its 198th birthday; and one of the most visually striking sandstone formations in the world is our social media Picture of the Week!