Made In America: 12 things brought to you by the Interior Department


On March 3, 1849, the Department of the Interior was created to take charge of the nation’s internal affairs. Interior’s diverse mission -- which includes managing America’s vast natural and cultural resources, honoring our tribal relations, and supplying the nation with energy -- has earned it the nickname “The Department of Everything Else.”

Nearly 170 years since it was established, Interior continues to provide invaluable services to the country. From mapping data used by companies to new technologies, Interior is developing innovations, programs and products that are Made in America and serve the public.

Check out some of the interesting things brought to you by the Interior Department:

1. The roots of a good economy. As steward of the nation’s natural resources, Interior drives economic growth and job creation. The Department’s work supported more than $296 billion in economic output and 1.8 million jobs in fiscal year 2015 from energy development on federal lands and waters, grazing allotments and timber sales, and recreation on public lands. Learn more about Interior’s contributions to the national economy.

Two rafts float down the river as water flows over a small falls with mountains in the background.
A group floats down the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.

2. Amazing maps​. Created 30 years after Interior in 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey is responsible for providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth. That includes mapping the country. USGS is the largest civilian mapping agency -- providing the public with geologic, topographic, geospatial maps and more. The agency’s maps have been used to create realistic landscapes in everything from video games like Minecraft and animated movies to drinking glasses and Google Earth.

A detailed map of the pacific northwest showing topography and rivers.
A map of Astoria, Oregon, by U.S. Geological Survey.

3. The idea of National Parks. Just 23 years after Interior was established, so was our country’s first national park. Yellowstone, under control of the Secretary, became the first brick in the foundation of the world’s greatest national park system and sparked a worldwide movement. Today, there are some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves in 100 nations across the globe -- a clear sign that national parks are America's Best Idea.

A lone visitor walks along the thermal ponds as the sun rises over the mountains.
A visitor enjoys sunset after a storm at Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Manish Mamtani (

4. Cutting-edge technology. From an insulation detector that prevents generator failure to a medicinal clay that combats flesh-eating bacteria and a probe that measures temperatures in riverbeds, scientist-inventors at our bureaus are working hard everyday to solve problems and improve efficiency. To prevent the spread of invasive species in ship ballast tanks, USGS scientists developed a technique for killing these dangerous stowaways. These are real-world solutions to help save lives and money -- all brought to you by Interior.

A zebra mussel, with its striped shell and many larva covering the shell. The mussel is held in the palm of a hand
Photo of zebra mussels on a native mussel by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

5. Christmas trees and other forest products. The Bureau of Land Management oversees close to 65 million acres of forest and woodlands in 13 states. These forests provide food and habitat for wildlife, trails for hiking and biking, clean water for local communities, and a variety of different wood products including Christmas trees, firewood, fence posts and more.

A grove of large fir trees covered in snow.
Christmas trees covered in snow by Bureau of Land Management.

6. An astounding museum collection. Interior rivals the Smithsonian Institution in holding natural and cultural objects in trust for the American public. With over 185 million objects and archives, Interior’s collections run the gamut from Native American artwork to zoology exhibits and are held by the Department’s bureaus and offices. Stop by Interior’s building in D.C. to explore the Department’s public museum or check out exhibits from national parks online.

An abstract painting of the head of a Native American woman surrounded by swirls of colors
"Buffalo Calf Woman" by Oscar Howe, Yanktonai Dakota, 1967, Sioux Indian Museum Collection.

7. Sand for coastal resiliency. Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has granted access to more than 143 million cubic yards of sand in federal waters for coastal restoration projects in 8 states. These projects have resulted in the restoration of over 303 miles of the nation's coastline, protecting billions of dollars of infrastructure, as well as important ecological habitat.

A beach is filled with people in the water and on the sand. Large buildings line the far side of the beach.
Florida beach restored by the Brevard County Federal Shore Protection Project. Photo by Robbyn Spratt, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

8. Stamps that save wetlands.​ Issued once a year, Federal Duck Stamps are one of the easiest ways to support bird habitat conservation. The stamp must be purchased prior to hunting for waterfowl like ducks and geese. The stamps are considered collectible to many and 98 percent of the proceeds go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. The first duck stamp was designed by J.N. "Ding" Darling, an avid hunter and angler from Des Moines, Iowa. Today, the stamp continues to feature artwork by U.S. artists.

Two ducks land in the water on the blue and white 1935 Migratory Bird Stamp
The first Duck Stamp was brush and ink drawings of Mallards by Jay N. "Ding" Darling. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

9. Water to the western United States. Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation delivers water to more than 31 million people across the West, making it the largest wholesaler of water in the U.S. That includes providing 1 out of 5 western farms with irrigation water to grow the nation’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

The Red Bluff Diversion damn spans the across the river while a lush patch of grass dots the foreground.
Red Bluff Diversion Dam, on the Sacramento River about 2 miles southeast of Red Bluff, California, diverts water from the Sacramento River to the Corning and Tehama-Colusa Canals. Photo by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

10. The backdrop for some of your favorite films. America’s public lands have long been a popular location for the motion picture industry. The desert landscapes, dry lake beds, mountain terrain, and open range of the American West provide some incredible scenery for national and international film production companies. From Forrest Gump to Star Trek V and Independence Day, many major movies, television shows and commercials have been filmed on lands managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Lean more about the public lands that were film locations.

A rocky landscape with a few small peeks cask shadows as the sun sets.
Pictured here is Trona Pinnacles, where Star Trek V (1989), Planet of the Apes (2001), Battlestar Gallactica and Lost in Space were filmed here. Photo by Bureau of Land Management.

11. Drones that fight wildfires. An important part of managing wildfire is controlling a fire’s fuel sources. Prescribed (sometimes called “controlled”) burns, chemical retardants and other techniques can keep fuel from an ongoing fire, reduce future wildfire risks, and enhance the safety and effectiveness of wildfire response. Interior’s Office of Aviation Services is working with Drone Amplified -- an American startup by two professors at the University of Nebraska -- on drone aircraft able to set prescribed burns.

A drone flied as a fire rages in the background.
Photo of a drone used to fight wildfire by U.S. Geological Survey.

12. Tropical paradises just a flight away. Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs coordinates federal policy in America’s territories -- including American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These areas are internationally, nationally, and locally renowned tourism destinations with pristine beaches, unique coral reefs and an abundance of wildlife. And it can all be explored without even leaving the country.

sandy beach, blue water, palm trees and green mountains
Photo of a beach at the National Park of American Samoa by National Park Service.

Learn more about Interior's work serving the public.