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Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland walking into the Department of Interior in March 2021. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Department of the Interior announced Friday it will invest $1.6 billion to improve transportation and recreation infrastructure in national parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas as part of the Great American Outdoors Act passed last year.

Why it matters: The department said the investment, which includes improvements for Bureau of Indian Education schools, will support an estimated 18,800 jobs and contribute $2 billion to the nation’s annual gross domestic product.

What they're saying: “Through the Great American Outdoors Act, we are investing in the American people, and in the future of our public lands and sacred spaces,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

  • "We must address the long-delayed maintenance needs of the nation’s aging buildings and infrastructure. Importantly, this funding also honors our commitment to Tribal communities by investing in Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools for current and future generations," Haaland added.

The big picture: The first major expense, $3 million to the National Park Service, will complete the restoration of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

  • The act grants as much as $1.6 billion for the National Park System yearly to address its multi-billion-dollar deferred maintenance backlog at national parks, on other public lands and at tribal schools, according to the department.

Go deeper

Haaland creates unit to "pursue justice" for missing and murdered Native Americans

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland testifying before Congress in February 2021. Photo: Leigh Vogel/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Interior on Thursday announced the creation of a new unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs tasked with supporting investigations into missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Why it matters: Approximately 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons cases have been reported to the National Crime Information Center, and about 2,700 cases of murder and nonnegligent homicide offenses have been reported to the federal government, according to the Interior Department.

Inside Republicans' battle plan on infrastructure

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans' criticism of President Biden's infrastructure package isn't just about its cost, but also the definition of "infrastructure."

The big picture: Top Republicans aides tell Axios they learned their lesson after failing to successfully define Biden's coronavirus relief package. This time around, they'll try to convince voters the infrastructure legislation is more of a wishlist for progressives than a "roads-and-bridges" measure.

"No-code" miracle for startups

Expand chart
Data: Interactive Advertising Bureau; Table: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has reached a tipping point in its shift from the industrial economy — one that relied on the buildout of hardware — to an information economy that relies on the transfer, storage and implementation of data, according to a new report.

Why it matters: This shift towards a data and information-based economy has allowed more businesses to establish themselves and scale quickly and at a very low cost. As such, the number of jobs created by the commercial internet has more than tripled since 2012.

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