One of President Obama’s cabinet members visited the Desert Southwest on Sunday (Feb. 20).
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar came to Glamis Dunes in Southern California to emphasize the importance of the outdoors, public safety and its economic impact, KYMA-TV, Yuma, Ariz., reported.
Bureau of Land Management Direct Bob Abbey accompanied Salazar on his rare and unique trip to Imperial County.
Salazar came to emphasize President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
He told county officials protecting the dunes is crucial, not just to conserve the land, but to build the economy.
Salazar says 1.3 million million people visit the dunes each year, calling it “a big economic engine.”
He adds 6 1/2 million jobs across the country are created from these types of recreation activities.
Salazar says, “You see the economic investment people make in their recreational vehicles; the money that they spend on gasoline, the money that they spend on parts — it’s all part of a healthy economy. And it’s not being exported.”
The secretary of interior also touched on the importance of federal land. And how it holds the key to the future of not just the Imperial Valley, but also the rest of the country.
He says, “This will become one of the places where we’re generating power for Los Angeles, for San Diego, for some of the big consumption of electricity.”
County officials were taken aback by Salazar’s decision to come to Imperial County.
District Five Supervisor Raymond Castillo remarked, “The last time we had the secretary of the interior out here was during Reagan’s administration which was 30 years ago, so this is great for us.”
District Two Supervisor Jack Terrazas added, “Hopefully this is a message he can take back to the president, who obviously he has direct contact with, especially in these times of cutting numbers.”
Meanwhile, while Congress grapples with a budget, county supervisors hope Salazar’s visit sends a message that the valley needs more funding.