BLM to Get $300 Million for Stimulus Projects

By: Kathleen Hennessey AP
By: Kathleen Hennessey AP

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Interior Department is sending more than $300 million in federal stimulus money to the Bureau of Land Management to update its facilities and jump-start renewable energy projects across the country, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Saturday.

Salazar said the 650 approved projects will "restore our landscapes and our watersheds" and help fulfill the Obama administration's target for renewable energy development.

Salazar made the announcement at the Red Rock Conservation Area
outside Las Vegas. The desert area's fire station was one of several facilities slated to receive solar panels under the effort.

The money is part of the $3 billion sent to the Interior Department under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $787 billion stimulus bill was intended to spur economic growth and revive the nation's flagging economy.

Salazar said he had no estimate on how many jobs would be created by the $305 million in BLM spending announced Saturday. The total allocation to the Interior Department is expected to create roughly 100,000 new jobs, he said.

The largest chunk of the funding - roughly $143 million - will go toward new construction, deferred maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades on existing facilities, the department said.

The spending also will include $37 million in habitat restoration, $53.4 million in abandoned mine cleanup and $15 million to construct and repair recreational trails.

The BLM manages nearly 260 million acres of land largely concentrated in a dozen Western states. It also administers 700 million acres below the surface, many of which are mined for minerals, oil and gas.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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