This Week at Interior March 24, 2023


This Week at Interior

Tribal leaders, elected officials, and conservation advocates came together at Interior this week, for the White House Conservation in Action Summit. President Biden announced major new actions to conserve and restore lands and waters across the nation, including two new national monuments. The President designated Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada and Castner Range National Monument in Texas. 

Our country’s natural treasures define our identity as a nation.  They’re a birthright — they’re a birthright we have to pass down to generation after generation. They unite us. That’s why our conservation work is so important.  It provides a bridge to our past and to our future — not just for today, but for all ages.

The Administration also released the 2022 America the Beautiful Annual Report.....which showcases progress made to support locally-led conservation and restoration efforts and meet the President’s goal to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.  

Interior and the Department of Defense this week announced a new partnership. It includes $80 million in investments from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and matching DOD funds to preserve land around military installations as well as improve access to outdoor recreation for millions of visitors. The partnership will encourage planning and coordination across local, state and federal agencies to preserve natural areas that increase outdoor recreational opportunities, sustain native wildlife and habitats, and guard against climate impacts and severe weather events such as wildfire and flooding. 

Interior this week joined the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology to announce the first-ever, whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan. The plan will advance climate solutions, promote environmental justice, and ensure sustainable coastal communities and a healthy ocean economy. 

Secretary Haaland and UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield headed the U.S. delegation this week at the United Nations 2023 Water Conference in New York. This is the first time the Conference has been held since 1977. Secretary Haaland delivered the national statement on behalf of the United States to highlight more than $49 billion in investments from the Biden-Harris administration. She also participated in two additional events at the conference, one focused on collaborative conservation and the other on the importance of leveraging Indigenous-led conservation and knowledge as we work to address the climate and drought crisis. 

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz visited Alabama this week. In Selma, she celebrated a $4.5 million National Park Service investment to preserve sites directly associated with the struggle to gain equal rights for all --- then she traveled to St. Clair County to highlight Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments to help restore fish passages and aquatic connectivity while addressing public safety and enhancing recreation. 

The Bureau of Reclamation this week announced a $67 million construction contract for continued progress on the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project’s San Juan Lateral in New Mexico. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the construction will support clean drinking water for Native communities through two main pipeline systems: the San Juan Lateral and the Cutter Lateral.  

And our social media Picture of Week, this baby desert tortoise from the Western Ecological Research Center. That's where the U.S. Geological Survey studies the life history and ecology of the desert tortoise, which is a federally listed threatened species only found in the Mojave Desert. 

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That's This Week, at Interior. 

This Week: The President announces two new national monuments at the White House Conservation in Action Summit; Interior and the  Defense Department partner to enhance outdoor access; Interior and its federal partners announce the first-ever whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan; Secretary Haaland highlights the Biden-Harris administration's investments in water access and infrastructure at a United Nations conference; the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks highlights investments in infrastructure and historic preservation in Alabama; the Bureau of Reclamation announces the latest construction contract for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project; and an adorable baby desert tortoise is our social media Picture of the Week!