Improving the quality of life for people across the globe has been a driving force in my life and career. In my work, I’ve used my experience in technology to help provide people in remote regions of the globe without ATMs and banks a way to use their phones to send and receive money.
Here in the U.S., I have strongly supported the protection of public lands for the quality of life they provide as well as their economic importance. Not only do protected public lands like national parks and monuments support robust recreation and tourism industries, they also act like magnets for economic activity – drawing companies and talented employees alike, that seek out these incredible places.
Unfortunately, these places are under attack.
About 50 miles west of Durango lies the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Designated in 2000 to protect cultural and natural resources, I was shocked to hear that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke placed Canyons of the Ancients on a list of sites to consider reducing or eliminating. Secretary Zinke has since decided that no changes were needed to this archaeological treasure, however, two other national monuments within driving distance from Durango were not so lucky: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
President Trump recently assured Utah Senator Orrin Hatch that Bears Ears and Grand Staircase would shrink in size this year. The President’s action, planned for December in Utah, will leave cultural artifacts and sensitive landscapes vulnerable to development. Grand Staircase was established over 20 years ago, and is a valuable draw for visitors and entrepreneurs according to the Escalante-Boulder Chamber of Commerce. Bears Ears was more recently protected, but the area is already a popular site for outdoor recreation, and at the same time preserves tribal cultural heritage.
As an entrepreneur and someone that loves the West, I love these national monuments for the entrepreneurial spirit they inspire in me and others.
Protection of public lands – and the designation of national monuments, in particular – is important to the health and growth of entrepreneurial, innovative companies across America. I am a proud member of the Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition, a group comprised of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who know that the value of our national monuments manifests itself in many ways – including ways that are important to economic growth.
Spectacular landscapes provide the inspiration which the best and brightest of our employees value so much when they take time off for family recreation. Access to these lands helps us recruit and keep the people we need to grow our companies. Our most driven employees place a high value on outdoor recreation, making proximity to public lands and national monuments a major selling point for companies that want to recruit key employees – a critical requirement for these companies’ success.
The Trump Administration’s national monument review process has troubled the Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition because current national monuments – already established and part of the existing recreation landscape we count on for our employees – are on the path to being undone through opaque and arbitrary administrative actions.
Simply put, Secretary Zinke’s recommendations to President Trump that he remove protections for our national monuments – and the uncertainty created by those recommendations – are bad for business.
Now more than ever we need Colorado’s Congressional delegation to show strong support for our protected public lands. We appreciate Sen. Michael Bennet’s opposing the Trump Administration’s efforts to dismantle national monuments, and Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton advocating specifically for keeping Canyons of the Ancients intact. Unfortunately, Rep. Tipton recently voted for a bill that dismantles the Antiquities Act and undermines our national monuments. With a nod to the recent wrap up of the World Series – we need the U.S. Senate, particularly Colorado’s own Sen. Gardner, to step up to the plate and protect our priceless national monuments.
My colleagues at the Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition and I see the fundamental value of protected public lands for communities and local economies. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Trump Administration. Their attack on our national monuments is an affront to entrepreneurs who choose to live and work near America’s greatest asset: our protected public lands.
Carol Realini is a serial Fintech entrepreneur and a member of the Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition. She lives in Durango.