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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 453  

Experiencing “America’s Great Outdoors” at the L.A. County Fair

Neither heat nor thunderstorm could curtail the enthusiasm of the thousands who experienced an acre of “America’s Great Outdoors” at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona.  The “America’s Great Outdoors” experience -- sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management’s California Desert District, the U.S. Forest Service, and the L.A. County Fire Department Division of Forestry – included activities from climbing a historic fire lookout tower to learning about wild horses and burros. (text continues below)

An audience watches as a man on stage blows up a balloon
Magician Paul Cash teaches environmental concern through magic tricks at BLM and partners’ “Caring for the Land Amphitheater.”

Employees and volunteers from the three agencies designed, built, and staffed the “America’s Great Outdoors” exhibit, which occupied about an acre of natural environment in the fair’s “Wilderness Ridge” section.  More than 50,000 school children alone were estimated to have visited the interactive site exhibits and activities.  They attended the Paul Cash Environmental Magic Show … took home free tree seedlings … toured the historic fire lookout-tower … sawed and branded logs … made environmental buttons … learned about Smokey Bear from a quiz and prize wheel … made friends with Mudslide (a burro) and Ringo (a mustang) … explored the Backcountry Horsemen encampment on the Leave-No-Trace Hiking Trail … got first-hand experience with live reptiles of Southern California … and cheered the “America’s Great Outdoors” entourage as it marched in the fair parade.

The unique educational site will continue to be used throughout the year by groups such as the Career and Technical Education Center program, in which BLM and its partners enable local high school students to apply technical knowledge to real-life situations. Students have already identified a new trail route through the site and will be learning and using trail construction techniques as part of their training.

Now in its 87th year, the L.A. County Fair is the largest county fair in the U.S. with attendance topping one million every year but one since 1948; this year nearly 1.4 million attended.

a large audience of children watch the stage
In the shadow of the historic Johnstone Peak Fire Lookout tower, some students are spellbound  by the Environmental Magic Show, while others color buttons about the environment, and still others try their hand at sawing logs with an old-fashioned cross-cut saw.

- Story and photos by Barbara Croonquist, BLM California Desert District, 10/15/10

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 453

Last updated: 10-20-2010