Land protection as economic driver

There is an unfounded assumption out there that land protection is bad for the economy. And in the red and blue world we live in, the red team is associated with economic development and the blue team is all about the environment. Everyone has identified themselves based on their "values" and we all tend to talk and listen to only those who share our "values."

But the recent government shutdown may have changed this old dynamic. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle took to the floor to address the implications on small business of missing tourists -- which was especially painful here in Utah -- and underscore the importance of the $646-billion outdoor recreation industry.

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My company, which manufactures and distributes outdoor gear, is part of the outdoor industry. Our products make visiting our public lands easier and safer, and all signs indicate that we are inspiring people to get outside, both in their own backyards and through gateway communities near our National Parks and National Forests throughout the country. Our federally managed, publicly owned protected lands provide all Americans with a chance to experience the natural world. And yes, with some common-sense planning, we can balance energy development with conservation and recreation.

I am proud to be a citizen of a country where land ownership is shared and we all have the opportunity to visit our natural wonders. I don't believe Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park or Delicate Arch in Arches National Park should be privately owned, closed off to the public or exploited for profit. I won't agree with everything our Congress does/doesn't do, but I am happy to join them in letting people know that protecting our public land has lasting economic power.

Metcalf is CEO and lead founder of Black Diamond Equipment, a Salt Lake City-based manufacturer of equipment and clothing for climbing, skiing and mountain sports.

 

 

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