Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today visited Washington State where he met with state and local leaders regarding community-driven efforts to conserve and protect the San Juan Islands. Secretary Salazar's public meeting with stakeholders in Anacortes is a part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to support local conservation and recreation efforts.
"The San Juan Islands are home to unique cultural and natural resources and a great example of the types of land we want to conserve for the benefit of all Americans," Salazar said. "One of the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative is to connect people, especially our young people, to the beauty and richness of our public lands and ensure we protect places like the San Juan Islands for generations to come."
The San Juan Islands are a series of islands in the northwest corner of the United States. With more than 450 islands at high tide and covering approximately 131,000 acres, the San Juan Islands are diverse in wildlife and habitat. The islands' unique biological features, including old growth forests, freshwater marshes, and rocky coastlines, are home to bald eagles, orca whales, harbor seals and other rare species. Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently manages approximately 955 acres of the San Juan Islands, providing an opportunity for visitors to experience the natural beauty of the undeveloped landscape.
Salazar fielded a variety of ideas for conservation in today's public meeting, including a proposal to make the BLM-managed lands a National Conservation Area, and Salazar noted that he looks forward to pursuing these and other opportunities for collaboration with various government agencies, stakeholders and other partners.
"This is just the beginning of a dialogue with our partners in the northwest," Salazar said. "It is important that we build consensus from the ground up as our nation develops a 21st century conservation agenda."
In the morning, Secretary Salazar also met with Washington Governor Chris Gregoire to explore how the Department of the Interior and Washington can work together to advance the goals of the America's Great Outdoors initiative.
The meeting was one of a series that Salazar is holding with the nation's governors to discuss potential partnerships in their states, ranging from revitalizing urban parks to restoring rivers to using conservation easements in rural areas to conserve wildlife habitat while allowing ranching and farming to continue.