Salazar, Cantwell push to protect San Juan Islands

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ANACORTES, Wash. (AP) -- U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he's pleased community members are as dedicated as ever to preserving the natural treasures of the San Juan Islands.

Salazar was in Anacortes, Wash., Saturday to discuss national efforts to protect nearly 1,000 acres of federally-owned lands in the San Juan Islands in northwest Washington. In November, Salazar included the islands on a list of lands that deserve permanent protection.

Salazar hosted Saturday's town hall meeting with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.

Cantwell has introduced legislation to turn several dozen spots across islands into a National Conservation Area, which would ensure continued public access and protection. Rep. Rick Larsen introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House.

The locations range from forests to lighthouses and draw thousands of visitors each year.