The Bureau of Land Management estimates about 85,000 people visited the dunes this weekend, though official numbers will be coming in the next few days, said Margaret Goodro, El Centro field office manager. The rain had an effect on the numbers, but it was still a good weekend.
While the dunes season lasts until Easter, United Desert Gateway Program Manager Charla Teeters said she expects President’s Day weekend to be one of the last big weekends of the season. And there looked to be a lot of visitors.
“Gecko Road was full, Dune Buggy Flats was full, Vendor Road was busy. … Overall it looked like a good weekend,” she said.
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Vendors had told her it was a good weekend for sales and the dunes received a special visitor in the form of the secretary of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management director, she said.
Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau Director Bob Abbey visited with officials and families in the area Sunday to promote President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
It was really neat to have the heads of the federal Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management come out, Goodro said. The bureau got to show off the area and its successes.
One of the big achievements has been an about 50 percent reduction in the number of emergency medical service calls in the past 10 years, she said. That occurred through education and enforcement efforts.
“We’ve made it much safer for people to go out and recreate,” she said.
There’s also been a quicker medical response time and fewer fatalities, she added.
A few accidents were reported to the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office over the weekend, two of which occurred Sunday, according to Sheriff’s Office logs.
One man was flown out of the area after an accident caused what could have been a broken rib, according to the logs. The Sheriff’s Office was called just before 11 a.m. Sunday near Glamis to help the unidentified 52-year-old man.
Another accident in the Glamis area had an air ambulance called as well, according to the logs. A man ran over a sand rail about 4:30 p.m.
The condition of the two men was not known by press time.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.
By the numbers
1.4 million — acres of public land in Imperial and San Diego counties
95 — percent of that land is in Imperial County
85,000 — estimated visitors over the weekend
1.3 million — visitors a year
*Specific numbers for President’s Day holiday were not available by press time.
Staff Writer Roman Flores contributed to this report.