El Centro, Calif. - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey recently visited the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and rode off-highway vehicles (OHV) in the California Desert to underscore President Obama's America's Great Outdoors, an initiative to promote and support partnerships with local communities to conserve open spaces and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
"The Imperial Sand Dunes are a prime example of how partnerships can create world-class recreation opportunities, reinvigorate our approach to conservation and reconnect Americans, especially our young people, with the nation's recreation lands and waters," Secretary Salazar said. "Thanks to folks like the American Sand Association, United Desert Gateway and a host of others, more than a million people flock to this unique desert landscape each year to enjoy responsible, family-based off-highway vehicle recreation, stunning scenery and wilderness solitude. Their visits infuse millions of dollars into the local economy and ensure a great family tradition for generations to come."
"Covering 160,000 acres, the Dunes is a unique place that not only offers family recreation but also preserves wilderness and provides a home to rare desert plants and wildlife," said BLM Director Abbey. "This magnificent dune system demonstrates how, in partnership with local communities, we can protect the health, heritage, resources, and social and economic value of our nation's lands."
Secretary Salazar rode in a sand rail up one of the more challenging dunes and visited with three generations of off-highway vehicle enthusiasts as part of a tour highlighting President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative. Accompanied by Director Abbey, BLM's El Centro Field Manager Margaret Goodro and Dunes Manager Neil Hamada, the Secretary visited the OHV Safety Training operated by American Desert Foundation to meet some of the younger visitors and discuss the importance of safety measures.
The Secretary also talked with representatives of Imperial County staff to discuss the economic benefits and the commercial importance of the Dunes to surrounding communities. The Secretary ended the day at a campground where he met with families, some of whom have been visiting the dunes for generations.
Following President Obama's Feb. 16 report and memorandum establishing the America's Great Outdoors initiative, Secretary Salazar has been visiting with communities around the country to highlight the importance of working with the American people to develop a conservation and recreation agenda that makes sense for the 21st century.
Recognizing that many public and private lands and resources are under intense pressure, the President's report outlines ways in which the Federal Government will help empower local communities to accomplish their conservation and recreation priorities. These include:
· Accessible parks or green spaces for our children.
· A new generation of great urban parks and community green spaces.
· Newly-restored river restorations and recreational "blueways" that power economic revitalization in communities.
· Stronger support for farmers, ranchers, and private landowners that help protect rural landscapes and provide access for recreation.
· The reinvestment of revenues from oil and gas extraction into the permanent protection of parks, open spaces, wildlife habitat, and access for recreational activities.
· A 21st century conservation ethic that builds on local ideas and solutions for environmental stewardship and connecting to our historic, cultural, and natural heritage.
The America's great Outdoors report and additional information is available at: www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov.
Information on Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is at www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/elcentro/recreation/ohvs/isdra.html