Leaving Hanksville

November 19, 2018

Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM, Department of Interior) great photographer Bob Wick captures a photo that separates the redrock lovers from everybody else.

The road seems to dead end in the mountains ahead. Nobody visible in the land for miles around. It’s either incredibly desolate and lonely, or among the most beautiful, everyday views among rocks of incredible beauty you’ll ever see and remember forever.

Caption from America's Great Outdoors, Tumblr blog of the U.S. Department of Interior: Heading south from Hanksville, Utah, towards Lake Powell, highway travelers bisect the remote Henry Mountains – the last area mapped in the lower 48. The 11,000-foot forested peaks of the main mountain range rise to the west, while two distinctive summits, Mount’s Ellsworth and Holmes, jut skyward from the rolling red sandstone mesas to the east. Known as the “Little Rockies,” these peaks are studied by geologists around the world as a classic example of igneous rocks, formed deep within the earth’s mantle, thrusting through the overlying sandstone layers. The Little Rockies have been designated as a National Natural Landmark for their geological significance. The peaks also provide habitat for desert bighorn sheep and numerous birds of prey. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

Caption from America’s Great Outdoors, Tumblr blog of the U.S. Department of Interior: Heading south from Hanksville, Utah, towards Lake Powell, highway travelers bisect the remote Henry Mountains – the last area mapped in the lower 48. The 11,000-foot forested peaks of the main mountain range rise to the west, while two distinctive summits, Mount’s Ellsworth and Holmes, jut skyward from the rolling red sandstone mesas to the east. Known as the “Little Rockies,” these peaks are studied by geologists around the world as a classic example of igneous rocks, formed deep within the earth’s mantle, thrusting through the overlying sandstone layers. The Little Rockies have been designated as a National Natural Landmark for their geological significance. The peaks also provide habitat for desert bighorn sheep and numerous birds of prey. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

Outdoors people in Utah usually know the Henry Mountains. There’s a buffalo herd there, open to hunting. It’s an amazing rock formation in the middle of other amazing rocks, a towering landmark for miles.

Hanksville would have to be invented by a good fiction writer if it didn’t exist, a desert town where everybody stops who passes by, with nothing really to commend it but the fact that it’s there, and populated by people of great character. Who names a town “Hanksville?”

Who wouldn’t like to be on that road?


227 years ago today, in this room

September 17, 2014

Independence Hall, Philadelphia; room where the Constitution was created and signed; Dept of Interior photo

Caption from Department of Interior’s Tumblr site: 225 years ago today, the Constitution of the United States was signed in Independence Hall. Today, you can tour the Hall and see where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were both signed, and you can also view the Liberty Bell [close by]. This is a site not to miss while visiting Philadelphia.
Photo: National Park Service

Does this room look a little familiar?  You’ve probably seen Howard Chandler Christy’s painting of the event we celebrate today.

Howard Chandler Christy’s “Signing of the Constitution,” 1940

Howard Chandler Christy’s “Signing of the Constitution,” 1940; Architect of the Capitol image. This massive, 20′ x 30′ painting hangs in the House Wing of the U.S. Capitol, in the east stairway — a location where, alas, most people cannot get to without a guide anymore.

Click to the Architect of the Capitol’s site for the story of the painting, intended by Congress to fill a gap in the story of America told by art in the Rotunda and throughout the halls of the building.

Dr. Gordon Lloyd, Pepperdine University, creator of the interactive

Dr. Gordon Lloyd, Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, and expert in the Constitution and its history.  I met Lloyd almost a decade ago, in programs for history teachers, sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, Liberty Fund, and National Endowment for the Humanities.

My old friend Dr. Gordon Lloyd of Pepperdine University, working with the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, created a study tool from the Christy painting which should be used a lot more in classrooms.  Click over to the Edsitement site, and see for yourself.

Every year there are a few more tools on the internet to study the Constitution with, for teachers to use in the classroom on Constitution Day and every day.  I wonder what will be the effects in another decade.

How important is it that students learn the Constitution, what it says, and how it affects our daily lives?  How important is it that students learn the history of the creation of the Constitution, and does that history reverberate for those students as they venture out into their roles as citizens in the republic created by the document?

More:

This is an encore post.

This is an edited encore post.


Insta-Millard: Department of Interior’s quick take on climate change report

May 9, 2014

Department of Interior’s video this week leads with climate change — and in fact, each segment deals with climate change in some way.

Published on May 9, 2014

This week: the White House releases the third annual National Climate Assessment, showing that climate change is already affecting Americans and the U.S. economy; USGS releases a Climate Change Viewer that can track water resource changes at the county, state, and watershed level; Secretary Jewell joins California leaders and first responders as the state braces for another tough wildfire season; the Secretary meets with community leaders and experts to talk about the balance between conservation and smart development; the Secretary announces the approval of a new solar energy project on tribal lands in Nevada, and attends the 69th Departmental Honor Awards Convocation in Washington, DC.


Arbor Day sunset in Redwood National Park

April 25, 2014

Another stunner from our public lands, from the Department of Interior’s Great American Outdoors Tumblr:

Department of Interior:  Let's end #ArborDay with this great shot from Redwood National Park in #California. pic.twitter.com/SzlkQASYFI

Department of Interior: Let’s end #ArborDay with this great shot from Redwood National Park in #California. pic.twitter.com/SzlkQASYFI

Today is Arbor Day, too?

 


DOI honored Rachel Carson in Women’s HIstory Month

April 6, 2014

You can use this year around.  For Women’s History Month, the Department of the Interior did a brief biographical video honoring Rachel Carson.

Interior is home to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the agency where Carson spent most of her life in research and writing.  The film is narrated by Dan Ashe, the current Director of USFWS.

Details:

Published on Mar 25, 2014

Saluting biologist, writer, and conservationist Rachel Carson.

Photos courtesy of http://www.rachelcarsoncouncil.org.
Credits:
Photo 1: Marian Carson with her three children, Marian, Rachel (about 3) and Robert (Carson family photograph)
Photo 2: Rachel Carson as a child, reading to her dog Candy (Carson family photograph)
Photo 3: Rachel Carson with Bob Hines in the Florida Keys, gathering information for “The Edge of the Sea.” (Rex Gary Schmidt)
Photo 4: Rachel Carson entrance photo for Johns Hopkins Graduate School, 1928 (Carson family photograph)
Photo 5: Rachel Carson at microscope, 1951 (Brooks Studio)
Photo 6: Rachel Carson in her “summer laboratory” at Woods Hole, MA (Unknown)
Photo 7: Rachel Carson at Woods Home, MA, 1951 (Edwin Gray)
Photo 8: “Silent Spring” cover photo (yale.edu)
Photo 9: Rachel Carson watching migrating hawks at Hawk Mountain, PA, 1945 (Shirley A. Briggs)
Photo 10: Rachel Carson’s government photograph while she was working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (USFWS)
Photo 11: Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (DOI)
Photo 12: Rachel Carson on the dock at Woods Hole, MA 1951 (Edwin Gray)

Hang on to the bookmark for next year, or better, use it in an appropriate part of your regular curriculum.  Women’s history, and environmental history, doesn’t happen in just one month.  Teach it when the kids need it.


Delicate sunset in Utah

March 21, 2014

From the U.S. Department of Interior:  This stunning photo of dusk @ArchesNPS by Jonathan Backin is the perfect way to end the week. #utah #nature pic.twitter.com/5bIanEG8sZ

From the U.S. Department of Interior: This stunning photo of dusk @ArchesNPS by Jonathan Backin is the perfect way to end the week. #utah #nature pic.twitter.com/5bIanEG8sZ

Delicate Arch, with a dusting of snow, as the sun sets.

A great reason to live in Moab, Utah, or visit there.


Snow falling on yucca on White Sands

March 18, 2014

Another great shot from America’s public lands:

One of the world'a great natural wonders - the glistening white sands @WhiteSands_NPS. #NewMexico pic.twitter.com/dbzPpIfSRW

Department of Interior Great American Outdoors Tumblr caption: One of the world’a great natural wonders – the glistening white sands @WhiteSands_NPS. #NewMexico pic.twitter.com/dbzPpIfSRW

One of the problems of touring places like White Sands National Monument is that most tourists arrive mid-day; most spectacular views are probably close to sunrise or sunset, when the sky adds colors other than “bright” to the scene.

Like No Place Else on Earth

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

Yes, the same White Sands where the Trinity Project first triggered an atomic weapon, in 1945 — but the blast site is actually about 100 miles north of the National Monument on the military’s White Sands Missile Range. Historical reasons to visit, as well as nature and beauty reasons.

I assume that’s some sort of yucca in the photo; can you tell more specifically?

More, related:


Sunrise on the Shenandoah Mountains

March 11, 2014

This is a hopeful picture.

US Dept of Interior Tweet:  Beautiful #sunrise over @ShenandoahNPS last weekend. #Virginia #travel #nature pic.twitter.com/T2sEgczGsz

US Dept of Interior Tweet: Beautiful #sunrise over @ShenandoahNPS last weekend. #Virginia #travel #nature pic.twitter.com/T2sEgczGsz

Probably taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  At the bottom of the photo, note the stone wall, probably built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Franklin Roosevelt administration, and still contributing to America’s beauty and economy 80 years later.

I can imagine driving along, catching a beautiful sunrise, but not being at a point to stop to photograph it.  Driving farther along, the photographer found a safe place to stop, but the sunrise itself was gone by 15 minutes.  With the aid of a young tree, however, the photographer can recapture that moment of the Sun’s peeking over the horizon, without special effects.  Nice thought for the shot.


Just ducky! It’s turtles, all the way down . . .

March 5, 2014

From the U.S. Department of Interior:  Friends come in all shapes & sizes in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. #California #nature pic.twitter.com/CvUkY6HoxF

From the U.S. Department of Interior: Friends come in all shapes & sizes in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. #California #nature pic.twitter.com/CvUkY6HoxF

Watching the wildlife can be endlessly entertaining.


Grizzly on the Snake, in the Tetons

January 15, 2014

A Grizzly Bear crossing the Snake River at sunrise in the Grand Teton National Park.   Photo: Donald Higgs (www.sharetheexperience.org)

A Grizzly Bear crossing the Snake River at sunrise in the Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Donald Higgs (www.sharetheexperience.org)

From the U.S. Department of Interior’s Great American Outdoors Tumblr:

A Grizzly Bear crossing the Snake River at sunrise in the Grand Teton National Park.
Photo: Donald Higgs (www.sharetheexperience.org)

I was born on the Snake River, farther south and west, in Burley, Idaho.  It’s a grand river, not so much in the water it moves as the way it moves through the landscape and becomes a part of grander parts of the American west.  Kathryn and I honeymooned in Yellowstone, and stayed in Grand Teton on the way out.

There is nothing grander on Earth than a sunrise in the Tetons.  Do you think a grizzly appreciates that?

Yeah, gotta get back there.


America’s wildlands: Sunset at Malheur NWR, Oregon

November 8, 2013

In Oregon, a scientist’s view from a field research station at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Sunset at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Field Station, Oregon, May 2012. Great eye and photo by Amanda Holland.

Sunset at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Field Station, Oregon, May 2012. Great eye and photo by Amanda Holland.

A photo from the actions of President Theodore Roosevelt:

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Lake Malheur Bird Reservation. Roosevelt set aside unclaimed lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” The newly established “Lake Malheur Bird Reservation” was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created by Roosevelt during his tenure as president. At the time, Malheur was the third refuge in Oregon and one of only six refuges west of the Mississippi [six, then].

More:

English: Harney Lake and Malheur Lake in Orego...

NASA has a different viewpoint: Harney Lake and Malheur Lake in Oregon, USA NASA NLT Landsat 7 image. Final image made using NASA World Wind. Via Wikipedia


Fall colors at Great Sand Dunes National Park? White?

October 18, 2013

Looks like snow to me.  From the Department of Interior:

Fall colors have arrived at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Department of Interior

Fall colors have arrived at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. #nature #autumn #colorado pic.twitter.com/34RXSkuBLe


Mountain goat nemeses everywhere!

August 12, 2013

Normally I might just let this beautiful photo slide by without comment.

In this case, I find this particularly frustrating.  See that creature?  That’s the same goat that blocked my trail in Glacier National Park.  I’m sure of it.  I’d recognize those beady eyes and horns anywhere! (See the first story linked to in the “more’ section; maybe this goat stopped in Washington on the way to Alaska.)

He’s probably in Alaska now under the Federal Goat Protection Program.

Harding Icefield Trail @KenaiFjordsNPS. #alaska pic.twitter.com/yozsSLnrcD

Interior US Dept of Interior 6h Caption from the Department of Interior: That’s quite the hike to the top. Harding Icefield Trail @KenaiFjordsNPS. #alaska pic.twitter.com/yozsSLnrcD

He probably thinks he’s safe there at Kenai Fjords National Park.  Ha!  He’s farther away, but that just means I have farther to travel to find him!

I’m taking a longer telephoto, a wide angle, and a first aid kit, next time.  I’ll be prepared!

More:


Department of Interior finally settled the Native American trust case

November 27, 2012

Here’s a headline that shouldn’t be buried in lame duck Congress folderol nor holiday news doldrums:  The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and plaintiffs in the Cobell case reached a settlement that the court has approved. This is the end of litigation — parties hope — on the long-running saga of government mismanagement of trust accounts held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the benefit of Native Americans, over the last century.

Billions of dollars went missing to bad accounting.

Elouise Cobell met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, 2010

Elouise Cobell met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, in December 2010, after the passage and signing of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.

Wikipedia has a concise, but thorough enough description of the case and its predecessors:

Cobell v. Salazar (previously Cobell v. Kemp- thorne and Cobell v. Norton and Cobell v. Babbitt) is a class-action lawsuit brought by Native American representatives against two departments of the United States government. The plaintiffs claim that the U.S. government has incorrectly accounted for the income from Indian trust assets, which belong to individual Native Americans (as beneficial owners) but are managed by the Department of the Interior (as the legal owner and fiduciary trustee). The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The original complaint asserted no claims for mismanagement of the trust assets, since such claims could only properly be asserted in the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Arguments, appeals and deeper investigation strung the case out; lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfoot Tribe, did not live to see the end of the case (she died in 2011).

It’s difficult to judge whether justice has been served in this case, and that judgment may not be ripe for many years.  Ending the litigation should create some hope for better conditions on Indian Reservations, and for Native Americans across the nation.  Especially the education benefits of the law required to settle the case, could provide a foundation for future prosperity of the affected tribes and people.

DOI announced the settlement in a press release November 26 (links in the body of the release added here):

Salazar Announces Final Steps on Cobell Litigation and Implementation of Settlement


Settlement includes land consolidation program to help promote tribal self-determination and strengthen economic development

11/26/2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today lauded the final approval of the Cobell settlement and outlined steps that Interior will take to help implement the historic $3.4 billion settlement. The settlement resolves a long-running class action lawsuit regarding the U.S. government’s trust management and historical accounting of individual American Indian trust accounts. It became final on November 24, 2012, following action by the Supreme Court and expiration of the appeal period.

“With the settlement now final, we can put years of discord behind us and start a new chapter in our nation-to-nation relationship,” said Salazar. “Today marks another historic step forward in President Obama’s agenda of reconciliation and empowerment for Indian Country and begins a new era of trust administration.”

The settlement includes a $1.5 billion fund to be distributed to class members for accounting and potential trust fund and asset mismanagement claims. The settlement also includes a $1.9 billion fund for a land consolidation program that allows for the voluntary sale of individual land interests that have “fractionated,” or split among owners, over successive generations. Fractionated land can have many owners – sometimes hundreds or more – diminishing the land’s value and making it difficult for individuals to use the land for agriculture, business development, or housing from which tribes can benefit. Up to $60 million of the $1.9 billion fund may be set aside to provide scholarships for American Indians and Alaska Natives to attend college or vocational school.

“This marks the historic conclusion of a contentious and long running period of litigation,” said Hilary Tompkins, Solicitor for the Department of the Interior. “Through the hard work and good will of plaintiffs, Interior and Treasury officials and Department of Justice counsel, we are turning a new page and look forward to collaboratively working with Indian country to manage these important funds and assets.”

Payments to Claimants
The Claims Administrator will now begin overseeing disbursement of the $1.5 billion to nearly 500,000 class members. The court previously approved GCG, Inc., as the Claims Administrator. The Department of the Treasury will transfer the $1.5 billion to an account at JP Morgan Chase, a bank approved by the court. Per the terms of the settlement agreement, Interior’s Office of the Special Trustee (OST) has assisted GCG with its database by supplying contact information of individual class members from its records.

“We will continue to work with GCG to ensure it has the information it needs to make expeditious and accurate payments,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes said. “At the same time, we’re focused on making meaningful improvements to our trust administration so that we’re more transparent, responsive and accountable in managing these substantial funds and assets.”

Trust Land Consolidation Program
The Department of the Interior will use $1.9 billion from the Trust Land Consolidation Fund to acquire interests in trust and restricted lands that have “fractionated” over successive generations since the 1880s.

Individual owners will be paid fair market value for such interests with the understanding that the acquired interests will remain in trust and be consolidated for beneficial use by tribal communities. Interested sellers may convey their fractional interests on a voluntary basis. Currently, there are over 2.9 million fractional interests owned by approximately 260,000 individuals.

While the settlement was pending, Interior held a series of consultation meetings with tribes in 2011 to ensure that this landmark program incorporates tribal priorities and promotes tribal participation in reducing land fractionation in a timely and efficient way. These discussions informed a draft land consolidation plan released in February of 2012. Interior is incorporating public comments and expects to release an updated plan by the end of the year for additional consultation.

“The land consolidation program is our chance to begin to solve a fractionation problem that has plagued Indian country for decades,” said Interior Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn. “We are anxious to get started. We know that Interior’s continued outreach through consultations with Indian Country is a crucial component to accomplishing truly open government-to-government communication”

Congress approved the Cobell settlement on November 30, 2010 as part of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. President Obama signed the legislation on December 8, 2010. The district court approved the Cobell settlement on August 4, 2011 and it has been upheld through the appeals process.

For additional information about the individual class-action payments, please contact GCG, Inc. at 1-800-961-6109 or via email at Info@IndianTrust.com

For additional information on the Trust Land Consolidation Program, please visit http://www.doi.gov/cobell/index.cfm

More:

  • Page in memory of Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the case — who died in 2011; President Obama described Ms. Cobell, and the litigation, in remembering her:  ¶”As treasurer of the Blackfeet Nation, Elouise spoke out when she saw that the federal government had failed to account for billions of dollars that it owed to hundreds of thousands of her fellow Native Americans. In 1996, she filed suit, and for 15 years, tirelessly led a legal battle, with seven trials, 10 appeals, and dozens of published decisions. She fought her battle not just in the courts, but in the halls of Congress before finally securing justice for more than 300,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives in the form of a $3.4 billion settlement.  ¶”The agreement reached in Cobell v. Salazar marked the largest government class-action settlement in our nation’s history. The scholarship fund this settlement established will give more Native Americans access to higher education. Tribes will have more control over their own lands. Elouise’s tireless efforts strengthened the government-to-government relationship with Indian country, and a generation of Native Americans and all Americans has seen the promise of justice realized.  ¶”Last December, I had the privilege to meet with Elouise in the Oval Office prior to signing into law a bill to make things right. The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 is a direct result of the settlement that bears her name. It is proof of an enduring American idea – that change is always possible.”

Jefferson Memorial from above

October 27, 2012

Must be rare to get such a reflection of the sky in a calm Tidal Basin pool; from the Department of Interior‘s Instagram:

Jefferson Memorial from the air, Department of Interior photo

From Interior’s Instagram: Last night we posted an aerial photo of the #Washington #Monument, which everyone seems to really enjoy. So we are keeping it going today with a #photo of the #Jefferson #Memorial. #NationalMall #DC

One commenter noted the photo almost makes it appear that the Jefferson Memorial is floating in the clouds.

There are more than 300 units in the National Parks System.  In the past two days we’ve had two spectacular photos from almost the same place, two memorials about a half-mile apart.  How many thousands of great photos are possible from all of these properties?  NPS’s job, caring for all of that stuff, is monumental.

 


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