This Week at Interior September 15, 2023


Hi, I’m Karrie Schwaab, Refuge Manager at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island. And you’re watching This Week at Interior! 

This Week at Interior 

The nation paused this week to honor and remember the victims and heroes of the September 11th attacks 22 years ago. Secretary Haaland joined servicemembers at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, which commemorates the 184 lives lost when American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon. The National Park Service awarded $4 million in funds to the National September 11 Memorial & Memorial Plaza at the World Trade Center in New York City. That funding will provide critical support for the continued operation, maintenance and security of the site. In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terror attacks in New York, at the Pentagon, and aboard United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. 

Secretary Haaland visited Ottawa, Canada to highlight the United States’ ongoing work with Canadian leadership, ensuring that Indigenous communities have the support and resources they need to prosper. Joined by Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen Cantor and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, the Secretary represented the United States at the fifth meeting of the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls. That group was established by American, Canadian and Mexican leaders to address the high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls as a regional concern.  

Interior announced significant steps to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more than 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. That includes Interior’s cancellation of the remaining oil and gas leases issued by the previous administration in the Arctic Refuge. The Bureau of Land Management is also proposing new regulations for the petroleum reserve that would ensure maximum protection for its more than 13 million acres of Special Areas, while supporting subsistence activities for Alaska Native communities. 

Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau this week announced the final report from the Interagency Working Group on Mining Laws, Regulations, and Permitting to reform and improve the way mining is performed on U.S. public lands. There are more than 60 recommendations to Congress and federal agencies, including better public and Tribal engagement, permitting processes that are more consistent and predictable, and protecting impacted communities and workers, as well as the environmentally and culturally sensitive lands they cherish. 

Interior this week announced $180 million in initial funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for a new large-scale water recycling program through the Bureau of Reclamation aimed at creating new water supplies that are less vulnerable to drought and climate change. The program will play an important role in helping communities develop local, drought-resistant water supplies by turning unusable water sources into clean, reliable ones. 

Interior this week announced $5 million from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to support the restoration of bison populations and grassland ecosystems in Tribal communities. The funding will support Tribally led initiatives to strengthen bison conservation and expansion, improved management of existing herds, and ecosystem restoration efforts in native grassland habitats. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams visited Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, to get a first-hand look at work funded by the Great American Outdoors Act, or GAOA. Interior leaders have been on the road throughout the summer months, to highlight the success and importance of GAOA funding on public lands. 

The Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced more than $10.5 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support 59 strategic projects in Western states focused on habitat restoration in sagebrush country. Deputy Director Siva Sundaresan made that announcement at the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. America’s sagebrush ecosystem is the largest contiguous ecotype in the United States -- it's home to more than 350 species across the West, including pronghorn, elk, mule deer and greater sage grouse. 

The National Park Service and partners this week announced $25.7 million in Save America’s Treasures grants. The funding will support 58 projects in 26 states, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia that will preserve nationally significant sites and collections.   

Interior this week joins the national celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th. It honors the history and culture of both Hispanic and Latino Americans, their achievements and their contributions to American life.  

And our social media Picture of the Week, the surreal and delicate rock formations of Fantasy Canyon. Located in northeast Utah, the naturally weathered sandstone rises dramatically from clay beds, exposing fantastically colored and shaped configurations. 

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That's This Week at Interior. 

This Week: Remembering the heroes and victims of the September 11th attacks; Secretary Haaland visits Canada to highlight work to support Indigenous communities; Interior announces significant steps to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more than 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska; a new report makes recommendations for mining reform; a new large-scale water recycling program aims to create new water supplies that are less vulnerable to drought and climate change; Interior announces $5 million for bison and grassland restoration; the Great American Outdoors Act continues to have a positive impact on our public lands; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces $10.5 million from the President’s Investing in America agenda for habitat restoration in sagebrush country; there are new grants to Save America's Treasures; Interior celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month; and we head for the Utah desert in our social media Picture of the Week!