This week our Colorado Senator Cory Gardner will have an opportunity to honor our country’s heritage and public lands legacy by voting to protect America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from fossil fuel drilling while casting votes on the Senate budget.
As Colorado outdoor businesses, we understand the importance of public lands and wild places – not only to our bottom lines, but also to our personal lives. The threats facing our public lands are not limited to Colorado, and as an outdoor industry we must continue to protect and preserve pristine public lands all across the nation. We must preserve sensitive lands that serve as critical wildlife habitat.
From Colorado’s rugged Rocky Mountains to the Alaskan arctic region, we must work together to protect not only the land, but the outdoor recreation economy we have all come to rely on. Outdoor recreation contributes substantially to our economy. According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s economic data report released this summer, in Colorado alone, our industry generates $9.7 billion in wages and salaries, 229,000 direct Colorado jobs, $2 billion in state and local tax revenue, and over $28 billion in consumer spending annually, eclipsing the oil and gas industry in jobs and revenue 4 to 1.
Senator Gardner often touts his work to protect our public lands and, as his website states, we need to “be good stewards of our natural environment.” We hope as our senator, he continues to protect all public lands across our country, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure. It is an inspiring, wild landscape stretching from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean, and is home to polar bears, wolves, migratory birds, and the 197,000-strong Porcupine Caribou Herd. Senator Michael Bennet has introduced a bill to protect this area as wilderness, but the threats still remain. The efforts underway in Washington could open America’s most sensitive wildlife refuge to oil drilling and all the harm to the land, air, water and habitat that development could bring. Opposing these efforts is more than good business for our industry; we have a moral responsibility to preserve and protect this precious American treasure for future generations.
Drilling in Arctic is incredibly risky. The massive infrastructure needed to extract and transport the oil, as well as accompanying air, water, and noise pollution from drilling, would have devastating impacts on this pristine and fragile natural area. Chronic spills of oil and other toxic chemicals in the fragile tundra would forever scar this now unspoiled land while disrupting its wildlife and harming indigenous populations that rely on the Arctic and its animals to maintain their vibrant cultures and their traditional ways of life.
The outdoor industry’s contribution to our Colorado economy, including the number of jobs and the amount of consumer spending we generate, is significant. So is our voice. We are powerful, and our need to protect all of our nation’s public lands is crucial to our businesses and the quality of life we enjoy. We, over 100 Colorado businesses, urge Senator Gardner to respect our voices; as an economic powerhouse in our state, we ask him to disallow any congressional or executive action that would open America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel development.
Alpacka Raft, Backcountry Experience, Durango Cyclery, Durango Outdoor Exchange, 4Corners Riversports, Mild to Wild Rafting, Osprey Packs, Pine Needle Mountaineering, Tailwind Nutrition, Zukes, Verde Brand Communications
Durango, Bayfield, Mancos and Cortez
Editor’s note: In addition to these businesses, this letter was signed by 92 additional Colorado outdoor businesses across the state.