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New Study Highlights Economic Impact of Colorado's Protected Lands

Colorado welcomes more than 7  million visitors a year to federally protected lands, including Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, who inject nearly $500 million into local economies. (Wikimedia Commons)
Colorado welcomes more than 7 million visitors a year to federally protected lands, including Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, who inject nearly $500 million into local economies. (Wikimedia Commons)
July 17, 2017

DENVER – Public lands draw millions of visitors to Colorado who support local jobs and boost revenues, according to a new report by Democratic members of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.

Each year the outdoor recreation industry adds more than $28 billion in consumer spending in Colorado, nearly $10 billion in wages and some $2 billion into state and local tax coffers.

Joel Benson, mayor of Buena Vista, says federally protected lands are an economic driver in many rural parts of the state.

"Browns Canyon National Monument put a star on the map for us,” he states. “In the last couple of years we have seen increased tourism to the community, specifically because of the monument. Sales tax records are increasing every year."

America's national monuments are under scrutiny after President Donald Trump issued an executive order charging the Department of Interior to review monuments designated under the Antiquities Act after 1996, including Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Republican Party leaders maintain the federal government overstepped its authority and have urged Trump to remove or shrink designations.

According to the report, the National Park system in Colorado welcomes more than 7 million visitors every year who inject nearly $500 million into local economies.

National parks and the outdoor recreation industry support more than 235,000 and jobs in the state.

Deborah Gangloff, president and CEO of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, says protected lands are a big draw for businesses, including the Montezuma County-based Osprey Packs.

"Companies like that want to move to Colorado in order to give their employees that quality of life,” she stresses. “Employees can spend their off hours hiking and skiing and boating and all the great things that our outdoors provide."

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is expected to submit a final report on monument designations by Aug 24. In his initial report, Zinke recommended shrinking Utah's Bears Ears National Monument.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO