This Week at Interior March 3, 2023


This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco hosted the first in-person plenary session of the Not Invisible Act Commission this week. Then-Representative Haaland authored the Not Invisible Act which became law in 2020 -- it established the Commission, which is composed of federal and non-federal members including law enforcement, Tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, family members of missing and murdered individuals, and survivors. Field hearings will be held starting this spring. 

Friday March 3rd is World Wildlife Day, and Secretary Haaland marked the occasion with remarks in Washington D.C. at the 50th anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. The Secretary announced a new Order and committed over $25 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to empower Interior’s bureaus and other partners to use the best available science and Indigenous Knowledge to help restore bison across the country, as well as the vast grassland habitats on which they depend. She also announced Interior's new Restoration and Resilience Framework, which will support coordination across the Department's conservation programs thanks to investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. 

The Biden-Harris administration and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation this week announced the release of the 2023 Request for Proposals for the America the Beautiful Challenge. The program, launched in 2022, is dedicated to funding locally led landscape-scale conservation and restoration projects that implement existing conservation plans across the nation. In 2023, the program expects to award up to $116 million in grants. 

Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo was on hand this week as the Provo River in Utah was diverted into a new restored delta, connecting it with Utah Lake. The river’s reconnection will support habitat recovery for the imperiled June sucker and provide and improve recreational experiences for the local community. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides over $11 million for the Provo River Delta Restoration project, part of a $50 million investment for the Central Utah Project, which aims to expand access to clean, reliable water throughout the region. 

The Bureau of Land Management is partnering with the Wiyot Tribe and UC Berkeley to improve Eel River fishery in Arcata, California, thanks to funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. More than half a million dollars will help the Tribe expand monitoring and restoration projects in the Eel River Watershed, which is important habitat for steelhead and salmon populations. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced the population of endangered Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico has surpassed 200 for the first time since their reintroduction into the wild in 1998. The Service says 241 wild wolves were documented in 2022, an increase of 23 percent over 2021. The news comes as Interior marks 50 years since the implementation of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. 

A new report on visitation at America’s national parks shows a rebound toward pre-pandemic levels. The National Park Service says there were more than 311 million recreational visits to national parks in 2022, an increase of nearly 15 million over the previous year. The report also shows that more visitors are showing up at America's lesser-known parks. 

The National Park Service this week announced the projected peak bloom date for the cherry blossoms at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington D.C. -- sometime between March 22nd and March 25th. That's nine days earlier than average thanks to a mostly mild winter. More than a million and a half visitors turn out every year to take in the blossoms and the National Cherry Blossom Festival which runs March 20th through April 16th. 

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Geological Survey! Since 1879 USGS has brought an array of earth, water, biological, and mapping data expertise to bear for across-the-government decision-making on environmental, resource, and public safety issues. 

And with our social media Picture of the Week, we're wishing a happy us! Interior was established by an act of Congress on March 3rd, 1849. For 174 years we've worked to conserve America’s natural and cultural heritage while stewarding public lands and waters for present, and future generations. 

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That's This Week, at Interior. 

This Week: The Not Invisible Act Commission holds its first in-person meeting; Secretary Haaland marks World Wildlife Day with a Secretary’s Order aimed at restoring bison and their habitat; the America the Beautiful Challenge offers over $116 million in grants to fund locally-led conservation; a Utah river gets a new delta to help an endangered fish recover; a half-million dollars from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is on the way to improve a California fishery; endangered Mexican wolf population in Arizona and New Mexico surpasses 200 for the first time since their reintroduction 25 years ago; a new report on visitation at America’s national parks shows a rebound toward pre-pandemic levels; there's a peak-bloom prediction for Washington D.C.'s world-famous cherry blossoms; USGS counts 144 candles, and we're celebrating Interior's birthday with our social media Picture of the Week!