For more than a decade, local citizens, businesses, sportsmen and conservation groups have advocated for a wilderness designation for Browns Canyon, a stunning, rugged stretch of natural landscape that supports a multimillion-dollar local outdoor industry.
Recently, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recommended to Congress federal protection for Browns Canyon, along with 17 other areas in nine states in the West. If this Congress is truly focused on creating and preserving jobs in our outdoor recreation sector, they will take Secretary Salazar up on his recommendations.
Nationally, the outdoor industry supports 6.5 million jobs and provides $1 trillion in annual economic benefits. The rafting industry alone at Browns Canyon contributes more than $23 million a year to the Arkansas Valley economy. A federal wilderness designation will preserve the natural legacy of Browns Canyon and sustain those funds and the jobs that they support now and into the future.
The writer is executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.
This letter was published in the Nov. 21 edition.