Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
Secretary Salazar, Senator Cantwell Hear Broad Support for Proposed San Juan Islands Conservation Area at Town Hall
Office of the Secretary
ANACORTES, WA -- During his second visit to the Anacortes area today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar heard growing support and enthusiasm from local community members to create the San Juan Islands National Conservation Area (NCA). Home to bald eagles, orca whales, harbor seals and other rare species, the San Juan Islands have been identified as one of 18 areas Interior recently highlighted as deserving protection by Congress as national conservation areas or wilderness areas.
In releasing the report in November, Secretary Salazar called on Congress to pass a bipartisan public lands bill to protect areas like the San Juan Islands, where there is significant local support for Congressional protection.
Joined by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell at the town hall, Salazar also received updates from Interior agencies on the development of a proposal aimed at enhancing conservation and recreation opportunities on the Interior-managed lands in the San Juan Islands.
“With the support of the San Juan Islands community, we continue to make great progress in implementing a long-term conservation vision for the area,” said Secretary Salazar. “It is great to hear that the passion and dedication of those here today is as strong as ever when it comes to making sure that this Northwest treasure is preserved for generations to come.”
"The San Juan Islands are one of Washington state's most beautiful natural treasures,” said Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “This designation would keep existing federal land in its natural state and protect public access for generations to come. The local commitment to protecting the San Juan Islands is inspiring and continuing strong. I will continue to work in Congress to make this legislation a reality.”
Currently, Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 1,000 acres of the San Juan Islands, providing an opportunity for visitors to experience the natural beauty of the undeveloped landscape the chain encompasses.
Last April, Secretary Salazar directed the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to engage with local communities, Members of Congress, tribes and other partners to develop a unified plan to complement a National Conservation Area proposal which would require legislation to be established.
Under the leadership of Karen Kelleher and Daniel Picard of the BLM, the Interior team has held multiple workshops to brainstorm on short-term and long-term action items for joint restoration projects and recreation opportunities.
The BLM currently manages over 245 million acres of land nationwide, primarily in 12 western states. Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, Congress has designated approximately 8,700,000 acres of BLM land as wilderness – equating to just roughly 3.5 percent of the land that the BLM manages.
Public lands managed by the Department of the Interior draw more than 400 million visits a year. According to some recent non-governmental estimates, outdoor recreation supports as many as 6.5 million jobs and provides as much as $1 trillion in annual economic benefits. Congressional designations, such as national conservation areas and wilderness areas, attract additional visitation, tourism, and visitor spending in local communities.