Interior grants will protect coral reefs and natural resources in the Insular Areas
WASHINGTON — U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced Coral Reef Initiative and Natural Resources program funding from the Office of Insular Affairs to protect coral reefs, conduct clean-up and restoration activities, and combat invasive species through a variety of projects across the U.S. territories and the freely associated states.
“The Secretary and I are pleased to announce funding support for the protection of coral reefs and natural resources in the insular areas,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Funds will be used to support a coral reef fellowship program, strengthen coral reef protection activities, continue restoration initiatives, and remove invasive species. The support that Congress provides every year for the Office of Insular Affairs’ Coral Reef Initiative and Natural Resources program is extremely important for the insular areas.”
A grant provided through the Coral Reef Initiative and Natural Resources program for fiscal year 2020 for American Samoa is to protect Pago Pago bay:
• American Samoa Office of the Governor — $135,930 — Funding will be used to clean up the Vaipito stream as well as its associated tributaries and wetland areas in order to protect Pago Pago Bay and the surrounding marine environment from sedimentation and run off. Clean-up and restoration efforts will also focus on the removal of trash and debris from target areas to reduce disease-carrying mosquito and rat populations, as well as revegetation of the lower Vaipito area with mangrove trees and riparian salt-resistant native tree species. All efforts will support the Governor’s Island-Wide Clean-Up Initiative and are included in American Samoa’s long-term conservation plan.
In addition, the following grant was provided for under the fiscal year 2020 Coral Reef Initiative and Natural Resources program to combat invasive species
• American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife - $297,791 - Funds will be used to continue control and humane eradication efforts of the invasive Myna and Bulbul bird populations on Tutuila Island. First funded by the Office of Insular Affairs in 2017, the American Samoa government has completed the National Environment Policy Act environmental compliance requirements with the Historic Preservation Office and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; constructed more than 4,000 live traps; completed consultations with the Office of Samoan Affairs, village councils, and mayors; and provided outreach presentations to local communities and schools. The initial dispatch of these invasive birds in certain areas has already allowed for the return of some native birds and other species.
Numerous grants were also made to other Insular Areas and granting total came to $1,626,225
All projects are funded through the Office of Insular Affairs’ Coral Reef Initiative and Natural Resources program and are made available each year by Congress to support the protection of coral reefs and natural resources in the U.S. territories and the freely associated states. For more information on grant assistance provided through the Office of Insular Affairs, please visit: https://www.doi.gov/oia/financial-assistance.