Today, as Mark Udall continues to seek public input into his Central Mountains Outdoor Heritage proposal, he thanked local businesses for voicing their support of wilderness. Nearly 300 small businesses in Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties sent letters to urge the offices of Udall and Senator Michael Bennet to recognize the direct link between protecting public lands and the resulting economic windfall in adjacent regions.
"As business owners, we recognize the value of protecting the public lands that surround our communities," 103 businesses from Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Valley wrote in a joint letter. Designating wilderness areas in the Central Mountains "will help strengthen our economies, provide jobs that keep and bring people in to our communities, and help promote prosperity in our region."
"Our protected landscapes help fuel jobs in our region, and the benefits that flow from these lands, either directly or indirectly, are now among the dominant economic drivers in our community," 189 businesses from Summit and Eagle counties wrote in a joint letter. "Wilderness conserves our 'natural capital,' keeping Western Colorado a place where people want to live, businesses want to grow, and everyone wants to vacation."
"Preserving Colorado's natural lands is about more than just protecting our quality of life - it's about protecting our livelihood. Wilderness is one of our state's great economic engines," Udall said. "I want to thank the hundreds of businesses and thousands of residents who have added their voices to the ongoing dialogue about protecting these special places in Colorado. I will use my leadership position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to build on work previously done by members of the Colorado delegation and to develop a plan that a majority in the community agrees will support their interests and their local economies."
Last month, Udall announced that he was embarking on a series of collaborative, community-driven discussions about whether to designate as many as 32 areas in Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties as wilderness and special-management areas, totaling almost 236,000 acres. Udall is urging members of the affected communities to review the proposed maps and submit comments HERE so that he can create the best possible bill with broad support.