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Agency in Brief: Department of the Interior (DOI)

What does the agency do, why does it matter for TU, and what are the key programs and partnerships that affect our work?

What does the Department of Interior do?

The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is the federal executive department responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources. About 75% of federal public land is managed by the DOI. The department is administered by the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.

Within the department there are a number of major agencies that play important roles for habitat research and conservation that align with Trout Unlimited’s mission to restore and maintain cold-water fisheries. These agencies include the following:

How do the Interior Department Agencies Connect to TU’s Mission?

The Department of Interior, through its several agencies and programs, administers several conservation programs that leverage taxpayer investment with public and private resources through wildlife conservation, historic preservation, and recreation grants. These voluntary programs encourage partnerships by providing matching funds that produce greater benefits to taxpayers for the Federal dollars invested.

Let’s Meet the Interior Agencies:

USFWS — United State Fish and Wildlife Service

The Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is an agency of the federal government within the U.S. Department of Interior. The agency is tasked with the management of natural habitats: “to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

Trout Unlimited partners with USFWS staff and utilizes funding from USFWS research and conservation programs to support habitat restoration projects across the country.

BOR — Bureau of Reclamation

The Bureau of Reclamation is an agency of the federal government within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is primarily responsible for the management of water resources throughout the Western United States. Since its foundation in 1902, the BOR has become a major supplier of water and hydroelectric power to the Western United States, providing water to more than 31 million people and allowing around one in five western farmers to irrigate their crops. The BOR has constructed over six hundred dams and reservoirs and operate 53 hydroelectric powerplants, which allow it to act as the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States.

The BOR is important to Trout Unlimited because it seeks to manage the great rivers of the United States in an environmentally responsible manner, and its significant and expansive projects and responsibilities along many western rivers make it a valuable partner in preventing harm from coming to waterways and the fish populations which inhabit them.

BLM — Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for administering 245 million acres of American public lands, or approximately one tenth of the landmass of the continental United States. The mission of the BLM calls for the Bureau to manage public land for multiple uses while also preserving its natural, historical, and cultural resources. It is responsible for protecting 32 million acres of specially designated National Conservation Lands and for overseeing energy development, grazing, and mining on the public lands that it manages to ensure that they take place in an effective and responsible manner.

Trout Unlimited works in partnership with BLM staff in the field to preserve public lands, the rivers that flow through them and the populations of fish and wildlife that these places support. The BLM is responsible for administering public lands around some of America’s most well preserved and beautiful rivers and streams, and they share TU’s responsibility to maintain and protect these resources for future generations.

OSMRE — Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

Clearfield Creek, PA: TU works with OSMRE funds to restore waters damaged by abandoned coal mines.

What does OSMRE do?

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is an agency of the federal government within the United States Department of the Interior. It is responsible for overseeing mining operations in the United States, ensuring that mining takes place in a manner that protects citizens and the environment, and ensuring that the land is restored to beneficial use following the end of mining operations. The organization was developed to ensure compliance with and carry out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. OSMRE also seeks to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing the reclamation of mining sites.

Why does it matter for TU?

Given that abandoned or poorly reclaimed mines pose significant health risks and can frequently cause severe environmental damage, the OSMRE is an important partner in Trout Unlimited’s efforts to protect watersheds and their fish populations. OSMRE’s objective of limiting the environmental impact of mining and of ensuring that closed mines no longer pose a threat to the world around them is highly valuable to all conservation efforts, TU’s included.

USGS — U.S. Geological Survey

What does the USGS do?

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is a scientific agency within the U.S. Department of Interior. The organization is a fact-finding unit with no regulatory responsibility. Rather, the scientists of the study the landscape of the United states, its natural resources and the natural hazards that threaten. The USGS uses biology, geography, geology and hydrology to inform various entities throughout government and the American public, more broadly.

Why does it matter for TU? Key programs and partnerships:

The USGS operates several programs of significance to TU and our project work:

  • Operates the Stream Gauge Network across the country, monitoring water levels in over 7400 streams. {SEE TU SUPPORT LETTER}
  • National climate change and Wildlife Science Center
  • Topographic mapping, mineral/coal investigations, land use and land cover mapping

NPS — National Park Service

What does the NPS do?

The National Park Service is an agency of the federal government within the United States Department of the Interior. It is responsible for protecting and administering national parks within the United States, and faces the double responsibility of preserving and protecting National Parks while also making them accessible to public use. There are approximately 417 different sites under the jurisdiction of the NPS, which total some 84 million acres of land. The NPS frequently partners with private companies and interest groups in order to pursue its responsibilities of improving and protecting America’s national parks.

Why does it matter for TU?

National Parks boast some of the best fishing in the United States, and the efforts of the National Park Service to protect and preserve these lands is a vital part of keeping them pristine and beautiful. Many significant rivers either rise on or pass through National Parks, and the NPS is therefore responsible for keeping them clean and safe.



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Kate-TU Miller

Kate-TU Miller

Government Affairs Director for Trout Unlimited. Editor of ShoutForTrout, a publication for TU advocates. Twitter: @KmillerTU Visit: