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for people who care about the West

What is the Department of the Interior?


The Department of the Interior protects and manages the United States’ natural and cultural resources. This executive branch department is made up of 10 agencies that oversee federal public-land management on roughly 500 million acres, largely in the West. These include the National Park Service, responsible for national parks and some national monuments, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages endangered and threatened species and wildlife refuges. The Bureau of Land Management handles oil and gas leases, mineral extraction, water rights and grazing permits on vast swaths of public land. The Bureau of Reclamation is responsible for dams and reservoirs, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement deals with abandoned mine cleanups. The Interior Department conducts scientific research through the U.S. Geological Survey and works with Native American tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 2016, Interior had a budget of $12 billion, and 70,000 employees.