This Week at Interior September 29, 2023


Hello I’m Bart McDermott, Refuge Manager at Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge here at Elk Grove, California, and you’re watching This Week at Interior. 

This Week at Interior 

Secretary Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning visited Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument this week to meet with federal, Tribal, state and local officials, and community members to learn about their vision for conserving the natural and cultural resources in the region. The Secretary heard about proposals to expand the existing National Monument to protect culturally important sites on adjacent BLM-managed public land. 

The Secretary then traveled to Colorado where she highlighted how investments being made through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda are putting people to work to plug and remediate orphaned oil and gas wells, and reduce the risk of wildland fire. She also visited Rocky Mountain National Park, where she toured several projects funded by the Great American Outdoors Act to improve recreational access for park visitors. 

At the White House Summit on Building Climate Resilient Communities this week, Secretary Haaland announced new policies to strengthen Interior’s ability to meet its mission in the face of a changing climate. For the first time, the Department will factor the climate crisis into every facet of its operations. The new policies will make for clearer and more consistent climate information to be used across the Department. 

Interior also announced that all of its bureaus and offices have moved forward in the effort to implement Secretary Haaland’s directive to phase out single-use plastics on public lands over the next decade. Plastics are devastating fish and wildlife around the world – less than 10-percent of the plastic ever produced has been recycled. 

Interior this week announced the launch of an oral history project that will document and make accessible the experiences of the generations of Indigenous children who attended the federal Indian boarding school system. This effort – the first of its kind to be undertaken by the federal government – is part of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative launched by Secretary Haaland, to ensure stories and experiences from survivors can be shared with current and future generations. 

The Biden-Harris administration’s Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission released its report this week, outlining a comprehensive, consensus-based set of recommendations to address the nation’s wildfire crisis. The recommendations provide strategies for transforming our wildland fire response approach from reactive to proactive, building sustainable and long-term solutions, and creating communities and landscapes that are more resilient and adaptable to wildfire as a fundamental part of our world. 

Interior this week renewed its commitment to support civil rights protections for all Americans, as the Biden-Harris administration clarified its position that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits certain forms of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and related forms of discrimination and bias in federally funded programs and activities. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams visited Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana this week, to highlight how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping to fund the cleanup of pollution left behind by orphan wells. Director Williams toured the refuge with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, meeting with refuge staff and with contractors involved in the cleanup efforts. 

The National Park Service this week added 23 new listings to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The program recognizes places and programs with connections to the Underground Railroad and the resistance to enslavement through escape or flight in the years before the Civil War. A church in Canada with ties to Harriet Tubman is the first international site added to the network. 

BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning and BLM California State Director Karen Mouritsen toured the Cosumnes River Preserve this week, part of the Cosumnes Watershed Restoration Landscape. That's where the President’s Investing in America agenda is infusing $7.6 million for improvements and restoration to the wetlands, protecting native plants, and conducting fuels treatments.   

Fat Bear Week returns to Katmai National Park & Preserve this October 4th through the 10th, and we need your help to crown the fattest bear. The brown bears of Brooks River have spent the summer fattening up to survive winter hibernation -- now they contend for the title of champion. You can check out the live cams and find out more about this year's contest at 

And our social media Picture of the Week, we're shining a light on a park that stretches about 185 miles from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park provides a place to enjoy nature and recreation while preserving America's early transportation history along the Potomac River. 

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That's This Week at Interior. 


This Week: Secretary Haaland highlights locally led conservation efforts during a visit to Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument; the Secretary tours orphan well sites in Colorado undergoing cleanup thanks to President Biden's Investing in America Agenda; Interior places climate change front and center in its operation policies; the Department moves ahead in the effort to phase out single-use plastics on public lands; a new oral history project launches to share the stories of federal Indian boarding school survivors; the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission releases a report aimed at more effective wildfire strategies; Interior renews its commitment to support civil rights protections for all Americans; the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping to fund the cleanup of legacy pollution in the nation's wildlife refuges; the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom adds 23 new sites; $7.6 million in federal funds will help improve and restore a California watershed; it's time to choose this year's fattest bear at Katmai National Park & Preserve; and the sun shines bright on our social media Picture of the Week!