Virginia and Maryland companies awarded $2.84 million in stimulus funding
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the Department of the Interior, has awarded two contracts totaling $1.46 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Nature Serve, a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia that specializes in conservation services and data management, and two contracts totaling $1.38 million to Dynamac Corporation, an environmental consulting company based in Rockville, Maryland.The companies will prepare assessments of natural resource values, conditions, and trends across large areas, called ecoregions, which have similar ecological characteristics. The assessments are called “rapid ecoregional assessments” (REAs) because they synthesize the best available science and information, rather than gather new data, and are targeted for completion within 12-18 months.Nature Serve was contracted to prepare REAs for the Mojave Basin and Range Ecoregion (which includes portions of California, Nevada, and Arizona), and the Central Great Basin and Range Ecoregion (which encompasses portions of California, Nevada and Utah). Dynamac Corporation was contracted to prepare REAs for the Sonoran Desert Ecoregion (which includes portions of California and Arizona) and the Colorado Plateau Ecoregion (which covers portions of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico).“Public lands are being affected by widespread environmental challenges that transcend management boundaries. These challenges include wildfire management, weeds and insect outbreaks, and pervasive impacts from the effects of climate change and human uses. The assessments we’re preparing will help land managers understand these challenges and design responses that can conserve treasured landscapes, vital wildlife habitats, and valued recreation opportunities,” said Bob Abbey, the BLM’s Director.The REAs will identify areas of high ecological value, including important wildlife habitats and corridors, and gauge their risks from wildfire, energy development, and other environmental changes. The REAs will also identify areas that have important energy resources, and lower ecological values, which may be best-suited for future energy development. This information could be useful to all landowners within an ecoregion. The BLM will use the REAs to help identify resource conservation, rehabilitation, and development priorities for an ecoregion’s public lands.The REAs will also establish a baseline to gauge the effect and effectiveness of future management actions. In this way, the REAs provide a foundation for a science-based management approach that can be periodically updated as new information becomes available, and that can inform decision-making over the long term.The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $3 billion to the Department of the Interior. Of that amount, $305 million is being invested by the BLM to restore landscapes and habitat, spur renewable energy development on public lands, and create jobs.The ARRA funds are part of a stimulus package that is an important component of the President's plan to jumpstart the economy so the country can thrive in the 21st century. Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless treasures — our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage —while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives, employing youth and promoting community service.“With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.