This Week at Interior September 24, 2021


This Week at Interior  

This public art display is an expression of our loss and gives everyone who comes here a chance to remember all those who have died and to say goodbye. 

A sobering sight on the National Mall this week: nearly 680,000 small white flags, together marking the American lives lost to the COVID 19 pandemic.  

Each white flag on this field represents someone’s loved one, each name written down on each white flag reminds us of the families that will live the rest of their lives without them. That includes the 37 members of the Interior Department family who we tragically lost.

The Secretary also emphasized the need to prevent more devastating deaths by doing everything we can to keep our communities healthy, including getting vaccinated. The display of flags, called "In America: Remember," is the creation of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg. It will remain on the National Mall through October 3rd. 

In a virtual ceremony this week Secretary Haaland saluted the recipients of the 2020 and 2021 Interior Convocation Honor Awards. That's the most prestigious recognition that can be granted by the Department for career accomplishments, exceptional support of the Department’s mission, or for heroism.  

As someone who grew up with a mother who dedicated 25 years to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and is no stranger to public service, I know that it takes commitment and passion  to do the jobs that you all do. 

Before the virtual ceremony Secretary Haaland held individual sessions with nearly all of this year's more than 200 recipients, to thank them personally for a job well done. 

Interior this week announced a plan aimed at rebuilding the Bureau of Land Management, most notably, the return of the Bureau’s national headquarters to Washington DC. The BLM’s current presence in Grand Junction, Colorado will grow and expand as the Bureau’s official Western headquarters. The move follows extensive consultations with employees and Tribes, and meetings with local, state, and federal leaders. 

Secretary Haaland this week signed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai-Montana Compact passed by Congress last year. That paves the way to improving the Tribes’ access to water within the Flathead Reservation and restoring and protecting vital Tribal resources. 

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission this week cleared the way for more than $111 million in federal and partner funding to help conserve or restore nearly 177-thousand acres of wetlands and associated habitat across 28 states. Wetlands provide economic as well as ecological and recreational benefits, helping to protect communities from rising sea levels as a result of climate change. 

Saturday September 25th is Public Lands Day, the nation's largest single-day volunteer event on public lands. It's also a fee-free day, with entrance fees waived at all Interior-managed public lands, as thousands come out coast-to-coast to help improve and restore our beloved public spaces. 

National Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin turned 100 years old this week. From her work in a segregated Union Hall during World War II, to her role in developing Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, Betty had a remarkable life and career, and that was *before* becoming a full-time Ranger ten years ago. Happy Birthday, Betty!  

And our social media Picture of the Week, autumn colors already in full force at Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. At more than 19 million acres it's the largest national wildlife refuge in the country, home to large varieties of plant and animal species, including black, grizzly and polar bears, wolves, caribou, eagles, and several species of migratory birds. 

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That’s This Week, at Interior 

This Week: Nearly 680,000 white flags on the National Mall honor the American victims of the COVID-19 pandemic; Secretary Haaland congratulates the recipients of the 2019/2020 Interior Convocation Honor Awards; Interior announces plans to rebuild the Bureau of Land Management; the Secretary signs the Confederated Salish and Kootenai-Montana Compact, paving the way to improving the Tribes’ access to water; more than $111 million in federal and partner funding announced to help conserve or restore nearly 177,000 acres of wetlands and habitat across 28 states; Saturday, September 25th is Public Lands Day, the nation's largest single-day volunteer event on public lands; one of the National Park Service's most famous rangers marks her 100th birthday; and fall colors are in full force at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska!