The mission of the US Department of the Interior (DOI) is to protect America’s natural resources and heritage, honor its cultures and tribal communities, and supply the energy to power its future. As such, it uses sound science to manage and sustain America’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources. Part of this management includes sharing information and mitigating risk. This week’s information share includes early earthquake warnings and a wildlife refuge.
DOI and Management to Mitigate Risks
This management includes mitigating the effects of climate change which, for example, is causing droughts to be drier and longer, floods more dangerous and hurricanes more severe. DOI’s management also includes meeting the water supply challenges created by population growth and development in many parts of the country including the American South West.
Bureaus within the DOI as the Bureau of Reclamation, the USGS, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement tackle these goals.
DOI Broadcasting the Good News
To keep the public abreast of the latest at the DOI, they share news in the form of press releases, media advisories, and videos.
Every week a video is e-mailed to interested parties and begins with, “Here’s what happened this week at Interior.” Back on July 19, 2013, for instance, it was Interior joining the USDA and Colorado officials to help mitigate wildfire risks. Then on July 30, 2013, it was Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell signing an historic agreement at the Department of the Interior guaranteeing water rights for the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona. More recently, on October 25, 2013, it was the secretary announcing $162 mitigation projects on the Atlantic Coast.
More recently, the DOI’s short brief of what happened at Interior in the week leading up to November 8, 2013 included: At the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge DOI Secretary Jewell announced a new report that shows America’s national wildlife refuges mean big business, contributing $2.4 billion into local economies, and supporting 35,000 jobs; the Secretary traveled to California to launch her youth and public lands education and employment initiative; at a Menlo Park campus briefing, USGS scientists briefed the Secretary on a new earthquake early warning system; and it was free admission for a weekend in honor of Veterans Day.
New Earthquake Early Warning System
As suggested in the video broadcast, the goal of the new earthquake warning system is to set up a dense network of modern earthquake sensors, or seismometers, that would accurately detect and report quakes in a timely fashion.
Scientists in California have successfully run a test version of the system for two years which they reported on to Secretary Jewell. California will be the first state to get an earthquake early warning system, thanks to a bill signed by the Governor on Sept. 24.
In Japan, private companies provide phone alerts, radios and other custom applications of the publicly available warnings. The hope in the US is that public-private partnerships similar to Japan’s will emerge once the California warning system launches. The Berkeley lab is testing an Android app to provide rapid notification of new earthquakes. It will include a map and a warning such as ‘Moderate shaking expected in 5 seconds.’
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
The Secretary was at this urban and suburban refuge in Minneapolis and St. Paul, a green belt of large marsh areas bordered by office buildings, highways, residential areas, and grain terminals. It is comprised of fourteen linear units totaling approximately 14,000 acres, spanning 99 miles of the Minnesota River.
The management activities at the refuge include the promotion of “native species and natural processes,” and wherever possible, native species are restored and natural processes are mimicked using periodic fire, flooding, and water draw-downs.
Each week announcements like these will be further embellished with scientific explanations surrounding the DOI’s activities.
Wood, Colin. Earthquake Early Warning System Coming to California. (2013). GovTech.com. Accessed November 12. 2013.
US Department of the Interior. Latest Happenings. (2013). Accessed November 12. 2013.