This Week at Interior September 1, 2023


Hello my name is Jeff Sanchez, I’m the Refuge Manager here at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, and you’re watching This Week at Interior! 

This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland visited three sites across New Mexico this week to highlight how federal investments are helping improve infrastructure on public lands, invest in local economies, and ensure that public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change. During her visits to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro Nature Area, and Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, the Secretary underscored how the Great American Outdoors Act and other federal investments are putting billions of dollars towards infrastructure projects to ensure that visitors can continue to enjoy public lands for generations to come.   

Continuing the Department’s month-long tour to highlight the Great American Outdoors Act, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz traveled to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee this week. Combined with investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, these historic investments are helping address overdue maintenance and repairs, and meeting critical ecosystem resilience, restoration and environmental planning needs. 

Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland joined members of the Hualapai Tribe this week for a celebration of the Tribe’s historic $312 million water rights settlement. The agreement provides much-needed water to the Tribe and establishes a trust fund to develop water infrastructure on the reservation, providing certainty regarding access to water resources, enabling Tribal economic growth, and promoting Tribal sovereignty and self-sufficiency. 

Assistant Secretary Estenoz joined White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and federal, state and local leaders in Mississippi this week, at a commemoration event at Graball Landing. That's the site where Emmett Till's brutalized body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River, one of three sites that make up the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument. Emmett Till's racially motivated 1955 murder, the acquittal of his murderers, and the subsequent courage of his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, were a catalyst for the modern Civil Rights movement. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management this week held the first-ever offshore wind energy auction for the Gulf of Mexico region. The Lake Charles Lease Area received a high bid of $5.6 million -- it has the potential to generate approximately one and a quarter gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity and power nearly 435,400 homes. The auction advances the President’s commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. 

The Bureau of Reclamation joined local and state partners this week to break ground on the next phase of a water project to bring a safe, reliable water supply to eastern New Mexico, thanks to more than $200 million in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Once complete, the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System will convey water from Ute Reservoir to approximately 70,000 people. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams was on hand this week as the Service announced nearly $15 million in funding for 36 conservation projects in the Delaware River Watershed. That support includes more than $4.5 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for projects that will improve public access, recreational opportunities and water quality, as well as enhance shoreline and wildlife habitat.   

The U.S. Geological Survey this week announced nearly $3 million in investments as part of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. That funding includes $1.5 million from USGS, which will be matched by partners -- it aims to reconnect urban communities with their waterways, particularly those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution or economic distress. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, the Piedras Blancas Light Station on the California coast. Named after the white rocks that loom just offshore, the historic lighthouse offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, coastal wildflowers and unique wildlife. 

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That's This Week at Interior. 

This Week: Secretary Haaland and Department leaders highlight how Great American Outdoors Act investments are improving infrastructure on public lands and preparing them for the challenges of climate change; Interior and Hualapai Tribe celebrate a historic Indian water rights settlement in Arizona; the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument is commemorated in Mississippi; the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conducts the first-ever offshore wind energy auction for the Gulf of Mexico; the next phase of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System Project means safe, reliable water for 70,000 people; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces nearly $15 million in funding for 36 conservation projects in the Delaware River Watershed; the U.S. Geological Survey renews its commitment to urban waters; and we shine a spotlight on our social media Picture of the Week!