Mark Udall said it would be imprudent and detrimental to the Western economy if the federal government were to sell off public lands as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.) floated this idea in a letter this week to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).
"Colorado is home to some of the best open spaces in the West. In fact, many Colorado businesses and families have moved here because of our high quality of life and spectacular public lands," Udall said. "Selling off our parks, forests, wilderness and other public lands - in Colorado and throughout the West - would not only be shortsighted, but it also would undermine a critical component of our thriving outdoor economy. Our public lands are, in many ways, our most renewable and reliable economic driver."
According to a new report from Headwaters Economics, a Montana-based think tank, Colorado's public lands give private companies located in the state a competitive advantage in attracting top talent, growing and creating jobs. And according to a June report from the think tank, Colorado's economy created 228,893 new jobs between 2000 and 2010. Much of this growth is due to Colorado's high quality of life and public lands.
"We need to leave every option on the table when it comes to confronting the fiscal cliff, but we also cannot abandon the strategic investments and job-creating resources we already have in place," Udall added.
Udall, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, has been a vocal advocate for Colorado's public lands and the jobs they create. He also has been a strong opponent to the sale of public lands as part of any budget deal.