This Week at Interior October 7, 2022


I'm Superintendent Pam Rice at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. And you're watching This Week at Interior

This Week at Interior 

The federal response to Hurricane Ian continued this week in southwest Florida. Ian made landfall September 28th as a category 4 storm, causing massive devastation, flooding and more than 100 deaths. Multiple Interior Department bureaus deployed to support public safety, clear debris, provide emergency supplies, and aid in search and rescue efforts. 

Personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service continue to assess the storm’s impact. More than 40 parks and refuges sustained damage, including the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which is part of Sanibel Island. The Fish and Wildlife Service provided direct support to Sanibel Island first responders, clearing roads and transporting personnel and critical supplies to the island by boat. National Park Service staff also joined other first responders in heroic recovery efforts throughout the region, and many did so while enduring the emotional toll of being directly impacted themselves. 

U.S. Geological Survey teams deployed scientific equipment to measure storm surge and coastal flooding as Ian approached land and were back out in the field this week repairing vital stream gauges and taking flood measurements to give the National Weather Service and local communities the best available water level and flow information. 

Secretary Haaland and National Park Service Director Chuck Sams visited the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in Colorado this week, part of Interior's commitment to tell the whole story of America. The site commemorates the November 1864 assault on an encampment that killed more than 200 Indigenous people, many of them women and children. This week’s ceremony included the announcement of the acquisition of more than 34-hundred acres for the National Historic Site, made possible through funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  

Elsewhere in Colorado and again thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Secretary Haaland and Director Sams celebrated the expansion of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. More than 9000 acres of the Medano Ranch has been transferred from The Nature Conservancy to the National Park. The transfer means a more connected landscape, and better long-term protection for the areas which help create the iconic dunes. 

Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau traveled to Mexico City this week to highlight the U.S.-Mexico partnership on conservation and science. During the visit, he met with Mexican government officials and community leaders to reinforce Interior’s support for continued cooperation on wildland fire management; wildlife conservation; the development of safe and environmentally responsible offshore energy resources; Earth science projects; and earthquake and volcano monitoring, preparedness, and response. 

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz wrapped up a multi-day visit to Washington state this week. She highlighted historic investments being made through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program to conserve ecosystems and economies and support new urban parks.  

Interior this week announced a series of new policies that will help advance transparent, accountable and effective policing practices, build public trust and strengthen public safety. The new policies provide clear guidelines on use of force standards, require law enforcement officers to wear body-worn cameras, and severely restrict the use of no-knock warrants. 

Interior this week released its Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan Progress Report, which outlines how the Department is using a science-based approach to address and mitigate climate change risks, impacts and vulnerabilities. It's part of the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to confronting the climate crisis by integrating climate-readiness across our missions and programs. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and dozens of conservation partners this week celebrated the snail darter’s recovery and removal from the endangered species list. The snail darter is a small fish native to the Tennessee River watershed in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee; it's the latest of five fish species in the country delisted due to recovery, and the first in the eastern United States. 

It's that time again, time to choose Katmai National Park and Preserve's favorite fattest bear. Every year, dozens of bears gather at Brooks River in Alaska to feast on salmon from late June until mid-October as they pack on the pounds and get ready to hibernate for the long winter. Check out and vote for your favorite! 

And our social media Picture of the Week, the October country of the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of the nation's most scenic by-ways, it runs 469 miles through six Appalachian mountain chains in Virginia and North Carolina, connecting Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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That's This Week at Interior. 

This Week: Interior bureaus and personnel are part of the federal response to Hurricane Ian; Secretary Haaland visits a tragic site in Colorado; Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve adds more than 9,000 acres thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund; Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau travels to Mexico City to highlight the U.S.-Mexico partnership on conservation and science; we're highlighting historic investments being made through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the state of Washington; Interior announces a series of new policies to advance transparent, accountable and effective policing practices; Interior releases its Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan Progress Report; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service celebrates a tiny fish's mighty recovery; it's time to pick the fattest bear at Katmai National Park and Preserve; and it's a spectacular snapshot of autumn for our social media Picture of the Week!