By Jake Lee Green
Kern Valley Sun
The Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, carefully weighed his options before making the decision to temporarily suspend the collection of all entrance fees for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recreational sites across the United States. The decision is in an effort to encourage social distancing through outdoors activity and will waive all site specific day-use fees indefinitely. However, fees attributed to overnight camping, cabin rentals, group dayuse, and use of special areas will remain in effect. Many facilities on BLM managed lands will be closed. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said this. “I’ve directed the Bureau of Land Management to waive entrance fees at recreation sites and national monuments that remain open.
This small step makes it a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors across the 245 million acres of public lands managed by the agency.” Recently, other land management agencies such as the United States Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife have preceded the BLM by offering similar incentives at refuges, public parks, and recreation sites. “Our vast public lands overseen by the Department offer special outdoor experiences to recreate, embrace nature and implement some social distancing.” Secretary Bernhardt added. Both the Department of the Interior and the BLM are still encouraging folks to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines which ask the public to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching orifices, and covering your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing. The CDC is also encouraging people who feel ill to stay home with additional recommendations for the elderly and people with underlying conditions to take extra precautions.
The BLM will be posting updates as they come in to their website www.blm.gov. Please check with local field and district offices and visitor’s centers for specific details about operations in your area. Publics lands that are managed by the BLM offer recreational opportunities such as hiking, hunting, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating, whitewater rafting, off highway vehicle driving, and much more. According to the BLM, Americans make approximately 67 million visits annually to lands managed by the BLM which supports approximately 48 thousand jobs nationwide. These visits contribute almost $7 billion in revenue to the United States economy. Please visit www. recreation.gov for further information on recreation opportunities.