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Western Business Leaders Meet in Zinke's Home State to Urge Monuments' Protections

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Marne Hayes, head of Business for Montana's Outdoors, and other western business leaders were in Montana on Wednesday, defending national monuments. (Business for Montana's Outdoors)
Marne Hayes, head of Business for Montana's Outdoors, and other western business leaders were in Montana on Wednesday, defending national monuments. (Business for Montana's Outdoors)
August 10, 2017

HELENA, Mont. – Western business leaders gathered in Montana on Wednesday to tell Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to keep national monuments the way they are.

The business leaders came from Montana, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah to defend national monuments not just in their states, but also across the country.

Marne Hayes, executive director of Business for Montana's Outdoors, says although the state's Upper Missouri River Breaks is no longer under review, she thinks it's important to defend other states' monuments and that western leaders gathered in Zinke's home state.

"We've seen that he will listen to Montanans on a number of important public lands issues and so we thought that to have this kind of a West-wide meeting in his home state would highlight the way that Western states are banding together to talk about the value of these places," she explains.

The outdoor economy generates nearly $900 billion nationally each year, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

The vast majority of the 22 monuments still under review reside in the West. Zinke is expected to announce his decision on these monuments at the end of August.

Still under review is the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico.

Dave Crider, general manager of Southwest Expeditions, which operates in the monument, was at Wednesday’s meeting.

Although the monument is only three years old, Crider says people from around the world come to visit and that locals in the nearby town of Las Cruces worked hard to get monument status.

"This is a grassroots effort that has gone on for a decade to try to get ours where it's at right now at the monument status in Las Cruces, and we don't want to have it taken away on a stroke of a pen," he states.

Gabe Kiritz is public lands business organizer for the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance. Colorado's Canyon of the Ancients will remain intact too, but Kiritz says changes to national monuments in other states affect all of the West. He says these monuments ultimately support jobs and communities.

"These monuments have a similar impact across the region in supporting local businesses and local economies and manufacturers and retailers and tourism," he explains.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT