This Week at Interior September 23, 2022


This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland traveled to Georgia this week, visiting the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to highlight the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing efforts to conserve and invest in the nation’s public lands and waters. The Secretary was joined by Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz for a tour of the refuge, and its vast habitat that supports the local economy, water quality, climate resilience, and a diverse variety of species.  

While in Georgia, the Secretary also traveled to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park to participate in the annual Indigenous Celebration. In collaboration with the Muscogee Creek Nation and stakeholders, the park has more than doubled in size, and now provides additional protection for some of the most significant Indigenous mounds in North America thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

Secretary Haaland then traveled to New Mexico, where she and Bureau of Indian Education Director Tony Dearman commemorated the 50th anniversary of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. SIPI, which opened officially in 1971, prepares Indigenous students as life-long learners through partnerships with Tribes, employers and other organizations. 

Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau traveled to Arizona and Nevada this week to highlight the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to address the impacts of wildland fire across the west. More than $36 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will go toward prevention, mitigation and restoration efforts in Arizona, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and California. 

As the worsening drought crisis continues to impact communities across the West, Interior leaders this week outlined new and urgent actions to improve and protect the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System. Secretary Haaland, Deputy Secretary Beaudreau, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo, and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton addressed the Colorado River Symposium in Sante Fe, New Mexico to highlight the steps Interior is taking and propose new actions to prevent the System’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations that would threaten water deliveries and power production. 

Interior this week announced more than $31 million in grants has been approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Matched with more than $60 million in partner contributions, the funding will go toward conservation and restoration efforts on more than 116-thousand acres of wetlands and upland habitat in 18 states. 

Interior and the Bureau of Land Management this week announced the Blythe Solar Power Project is now fully operational in California. The Riverside County project will produce enough energy to power more than 145,000 homes. 

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Kevin Sligh hosted Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis in New Jersey this week for a tour of Ohmsett. That's the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility, the nation’s premier research and training site for offshore oil spill response. 

A new joint report this week from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides a new set of tools designed to boost efforts to restore and conserve the sagebrush ecosystem across the full extent of its range. The Sagebrush Conservation Design is the product of 21 leading scientists from a dozen federal and state offers a path forward to revive the sagebrush ecosystem that spans 165 million acres across 13 states. 

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement this week announced 8 projects that will share $1.6 million dollars through its Applied Science Program. Four of those projects will study methods to improve the recovery of rare earth elements from coal mining waste. 

This Saturday, September 24, is National Public Lands Day, celebrating the connection between people and green space in their community with a coast-to-coast volunteer effort. This week Secretary Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning went live on Instagram to highlight the amazing work of Interior's public lands bureaus. As part of the celebration, all entrance fees are waived Saturday at our nation’s public lands. 

And our social media Picture of the Week, if it's not one thing, it's an otter, a raft of sea otters, to be precise, at Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. Sea otters will wrap themselves up in seaweed to keep from drifting away from each other, forming something that resembles a raft. Find out more about these adorable animals on our blog. 

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That's This Week at Interior. 

This Week: Highlighting conservation in Georgia, Secretary Haaland visits the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park; the Secretary travels to New Mexico to celebrate 50 years of Indigenous education at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute; more than $36 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will go toward woodland fire prevention, mitigation and restoration in eight states; Interior leaders outline new and urgent actions to improve and protect the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River system; Interior announces over $90 million in federal and matching funds to conserve and restore the nation's wetlands; the Blythe Solar Power Project is now fully operational in California; Interior leaders tour the nation's premiere oil spill response facility; there's a new set of tools designed to help restore and conserve the 165 million acres of the sagebrush ecosystem; new projects study how to retrieve rare elements from coal waste; Interior celebrates National Public Lands Day by waiving admission fees; and if it's not one thing it's an otter in our social media Picture of the Week!