Friday, September 25, 2009

Department of Interior

On March 3, 1849, Abraham Lincoln on the last day of his one and only term as a U. S. Congressman voted with the majority to create the Department of Interior. A little over thirteen years later on May 20, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862. The General Land Office which had been selling public land since 1812 was transferred from the Department of Treasury to the Department of Interior when the latter was created in 1849. The General Land Office would continue to sell public land, but was also set up to transfer land to homesteaders beginning the first day the Homestead Act went into effect. Daniel Freeman was one of the first to file for a homestead on that first day, January 1, 1863.

On March 19, 1936 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Public Law No. 480 which created Homestead National Monument of America on Daniel Freeman’s homestead. Homestead National Monument is administered by the National Park Service an agency in the Department of the Interior.

The Department of Interior has often been called the “department of everything-else.” The Department of the Interior (DOI) is the nation's principal conservation agency. It’s mission is to protect America's treasures for future generations, provide access to the nation's natural and cultural heritage, offer recreation opportunities, honor trust responsibilities to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and island communities, conduct scientific research, provide wise stewardship of energy and mineral resources, foster sound use of land and water resources, and conserve and protect fish and wildlife. The work that DOI does affects the lives of millions of people; from the family taking a vacation in national parks to the children studying in Indian schools.

The Department of Interior has over 67,000 employees and 280,000 volunteers located at approximately 2,400 operating locations across the United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, and freely associated states. DOI has a $16.8 billion total annual budget. DOI raises more than $18.2 billion in revenues collected from energy, mineral, grazing, timber, recreation, land sales, and other revenue producing activities.

DOI manages 500 million acres of surface land, or about one-fifth of the land in the United States, including:
-256 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management
-96.2 million acres managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service
-84.6 million acres managed by the National Park Service
-8.7 million acres managed by the Bureau of Reclamation associated with reclamation projects
-66 million acres managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs
-Over 200,000 acres of abandoned coal mine sites have been reclaimed through the Office of Surface Mining's Abandoned Mine Land Program
-Other agencies in the Department of Interior are the Minerals Management Service and the U. S. Geological Survey.

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