U.S. Interior Secretary Visits Fort Pickens

Posted on June 19, 2020 by Staff reports

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt traveled Wednesday along the Gulf Coast where he conducted several site inspections of National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service units, met with staff, participated in a prescribed burn and visited with local outdoor recreation businesses.

Secretary Bernhardt inspected the Gulf Islands National Seashore, arriving to Fort Pickens by a new ferry boat purchased with restoration funds. 

The Secretary traveled to Panama City Beach where he toured Half Hitch, a family-owned bait and tackle shop. Interior’s mission to conserve and promote outdoor recreation is furthered by small businesses like Half Hitch. Businesses are rebounding as US retail sales surged 17.7 percent in May.

The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have formed a critical partnership to restore Tyndall Air Force Base and collaborate on hurricane recovery projects. At Buck Beach, the Secretary was briefed on ongoing work to restore barrier islands and protect the endangered beach mouse.

In Tallahassee, Secretary Bernhardt conducted a site inspection of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and received a briefing from the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center, which trains thousands of wildland firefighters. The Secretary then took part in a prescribed burn to mitigate the risks of catastrophic wildfire. In 2019, Interior reduced fuels on more than 1.4 million acres of land, over 216,000 of these acres were in Florida.