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US territories to get $7M grant for climate resilience, land and water restoration

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Department of the Interior this week announced nearly $7 million from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to advance climate resilience and restore lands and waters through impactful ecosystem restoration work in the U.S. territories.  

A $3.9 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support programs and projects in American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam to advance biosecurity efforts, restore coastal areas and flora ecosystems and support the eradication of invasive species.

Another $3 million from the Inflation Reduction Act will help Puerto Rico in combatting climate change.  

“The U.S. territories are an integral part of the fabric of America,” Secretary Deb Haaland said. “As the Department stewards new investments from the President’s Investing in America agenda, we are working closely with our territorial partners to ensure they make the largest impact and reach as many communities as possible – particularly as these communities increasingly face the acute impacts of the climate crisis on their communities and ecosystems.” 

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda provides funding for transformational investments in our nation’s infrastructure – and that extends to our partners in the U.S. territories,” said Carmen G. Canto, assistant secretary for Insular and International Affairs. “The Office of Insular Affairs is committed to supporting these critical investments in the territories and supporting resilient physical and natural infrastructure.” 

The announcement helps advance the Interior Department’s Restoration and Resilience Framework, a plan to leverage historic investments in climate and conservation to achieve landscape-level outcomes across the nation – including through a commitment to building resilient islands.

Through the Investing in America agenda, the department is implementing more than $2 billion to restore our nation’s lands and waters and build climate resilience.  

Projects and programs announced that are to be funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law include: 

  • $1,799,000 to American Samoa to support the development of the first biosecurity plan and biosecurity efforts, restoration of coastal areas in locations affected by sand and coral mining, coral reef restoration and outreach efforts, and the revegetation of degraded wetland mangrove forest zones with native mangroves and other native trees. 

  • $975,000 to the Northern Mariana Islands to support the restoration of flora ecosystems, assessing inactive quarries and exploring restoration and reclamation of those quarries, and supporting invasive species efforts throughout the territory. 

  • $971,000 to the U.S. Virgin Islands to support the development of an early detection and rapid response framework of invasive species and support surveys of plant communities that connect northern and southern shorelines across St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John. 

  • $154,000 to Guam for the participation of territorial representatives from American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 2023 Regional Biosecurity Training in Guam hosted by the Department’s Office of Insular Affairs for the Caribbean and Pacific regions. 

Projects funded through the Inflation Reduction Act include: 

  • $2,750,000 for the U.S. Geological Survey to help address workforce capacity challenges and increase the climate expertise of Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. Funds will be used to develop Puerto Rico’s climate workforce through training, fellowships and practicum opportunities for recent graduates and to allow DNER employees to receive advanced degrees focused on climate adaptation. 

  • $250,000 for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue implementation of the National Seed Strategy in Puerto Rico. Investments will put seed collecting teams on the ground in Puerto Rico and invest in seed production to ensure an adequate supply of native seeds that can restore ecosystems degraded by fires, hurricanes, drought, and other natural disasters. 

This funding also advances Biden's Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. 

The Inflation Reduction Act provided the Office of Insular Affairs with $15 million to support climate change planning, mitigation, adaptation and resilience for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Other funding was announced last year.  (DOI)


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