On April 21, 2023, during remarks at the Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference in Boise, Idaho,Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a $125 million investment from President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda to restore the nation’s lands and waters.
The funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law advances the Department’s restoration and resilience framework unveiled last month, which will put people to work in locally led landscape restoration projects driven by collaborative partnerships while advancing climate resilience.
“With an extraordinary $2 billion from the President’s Investing in America agenda, we have an opportunity to restore our lands and waters. Historic investments in ecosystem restoration and resilience are a significant down payment in protecting our shared natural heritage,” said Secretary Deb Haaland.
“At a time when tackling the climate and biodiversity crises could not be more critical, these investments in clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, cultural resources and open spaces will benefit people, wildlife and local economies for generations to come,” she added.
The funding, to be spent over the next four years, will support 240 locally led projects that advance goals laid out in the framework.
Build Resilient Communities
Nearly $22 million will help build resilient communities in the wake of more intense wildfires, record drought and more frequent inland and coastal flooding, including:
- $14.4 million to build fire-resilient ecosystems, with a particular focus on reducing fire fuels and restoring strategic areas in the sagebrush ecosystem and advancing the Sagebrush Conservation Design.
- $3.7 million to address drought, with a focus in the Klamath Basin, which builds on previous investments from the Department to restore aquatic ecosystems and salmon in the basin.
- $3.4 million to increase coastal resilience with a focus on restoring existing and proactively managing for new salt marshes, which provide an important natural buffer from coastal flooding, filter and protect water quality, trap climate-change causing gasses and provide critical wildlife habitat.
Restore Healthy Lands and Waters
More than $41 million will support healthy lands and waters, including through coordinated investments to restore rivers and grasslands, support healthy island ecosystems and conserve cultural resources.
- $11.2 million to foster island native biodiversity, including to prevent imminent extinction of Hawaiian forest birds through a multiagency strategy that employs a multi-pronged and bio-cultural approach for native bird conservation and avian malaria control.
- $25.3 million will help build resilient rivers and freshwater systems, which provide drinking water to local populations, serve as habitat for wildlife, and offer unparalleled recreational opportunities. This includes nearly $16 million for the “gravel to gravel” initiative to advance co-stewardship and restore salmon in Alaska’s Yukon, Kuskokwim and Norton Sound region.
Enhancing Local Communities
Nearly $36 million will go towards enhancing communities’ quality of life by building healthy ecosystems, addressing legacy pollution and improving outdoor spaces, including:
- $22 million for restoration projects, with a focus on revegetation and hazard mitigation of formerly mined lands and efforts in the Appalachia region. This funding is in addition to the $11.3 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for grants to states to address legacy pollution by reclaiming abandoned mine lands.
- $13.9 million to build resilient recreation sites to support access to the outdoors while minimizing impacts from growing visitor numbers.
National Frameworks for Restoration and Resilience
Funding will also support national frameworks that advance coordinated restoration, including:
- $17.9 million to advance a National Early Detection and Rapid Response, which proactively addresses invasive species before they become too costly to control.
- $8 million to implement the National Seed Strategy, ensuring seed supplies for restoration of native plant communities that benefit humans and wildlife.
This announcement follows a $68 million investment provided last year for ecosystem restoration projects.
Photo of juniper tree in Utah’s Canyonlands national Park by Mike Goad from Pixabay