Salton Sea, Calif. – The hope to see Salton Sea alive and well may be more of a reality than ever.
The area community joined hands this Thursday with government agencies to not only rescue the landmark but reinvigorate tourism as well.
The Varner Harbor and Launch Ramp closed three years ago. But boaters stopped coming long before that.
The Salton Sea – once visited by celebrities like Frank Sinatra – now has struggled for two decades.
And there are many challenges still to overcome.
“Overcoming the perception that the sea is polluted or that the communities around here are wastelands,” said Kelly Claar, Salton Sea Sector Superintendent.
But Clarr assures safety of the waters, saying the salt keeps harmful bacteria out. And adds that the real danger is the sea drying up and salt going airborne.
“People swim here all the time. It’s actually a higher salinity content than the ocean,” Claar said.
Thursday the community celebrated a step in restoring the Salton Sea to its glory as a recreational destination. State officials and locals welcomed the reopening of Varner Ramp.
“We are so excited about this new ramp over here. We invited all the people around here to come enjoy the Salton Sea because it’s beautiful,” said local resident Jesus Franco.
Salton sea authority Bruce Wilcox calls the reopening an achievement. “It’s an example of how the private sector can work with the public sector to move a project forward,” Wilcox said.
DEVCO, a local construction company decided not to wait any longer for outside help and did the harbor cleaning work at their own cost.
Wilcox says the open harbor will bring more awareness to the area’s needs. “Get people to get out on the Salton Sea and look at the bird life and how beautiful the lake is.”
And it’s just one of the many projects planned to restore the Salton Sea.
“Whether that’s import water, treat the water that’s here or some other combination of those things,” Wilcox added.
Claar said this could mean a much needed boost to the local economy.
“It means visitors. It means tourists coming to the area,” Claar said.
I.C. District 4 Supervisor Ryan Kelly calls the reopening revival of hope for the sea.
“The private land owners, the private interests , the public agencies are all involved now. They’re all talking about the same thing. And we have renewed interest out of the state government and out of federal government,” Kelly concluded.