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"State of the Land:" Balancing Energy and Recreation in CO

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013   

"State of the Land" is a weekly look at the issues that affect Colorado's outdoor way of life. Hosted by Chris Thomas of Public News Service, it runs 1:46 with voice narration. This week's topic: Is it possible to have an energy boom and still keep Colorado wild and inviting enough to attract both tourists and high-tech companies? We hear the perspective of John Land Le Coq (la-COKE), founder, Fishpond (a fishing gear designer and manufacturer), and longtime professional outdoor photographer. Image available: Photo of Gore Range, north of Vail.

I'm Chris Thomas for State of the Land.

One Coloradan who wants to be at the table to help find a balance between conservation and energy development in the state is John Land Le Coq. He's a renowned nature photographer and founder of Fishpond, a Denver-based company that designs and makes outdoor gear. Le Coq points out that a lot of people in the oil and gas industry also are avid sportsmen - and he's convinced that balance is possible, with a little more effort.

"Is Colorado doing enough to bring private industry like ourselves and also people in the oil and gas industry to address the issues that we're all facing? I think we can always do more. And we have a lot of consumers who hunt and fish, and they care about habitat, they care about open land."

A report out this month from the Center for American Progress says public land now is being leased for oil and gas development at a rate two-and-a-half times faster than it's being protected as parks, monuments and wilderness.

During this energy boom, the researchers recommend policymakers bring the equation back into balance - by directing that the impacts on conservation and recreation be considered in all oil and gas planning. Le Coq says his business also is booming - and to him, the case for conservation is just as compelling as for drilling.

"Places like here in Colorado, they're attracting a lot of high-tech industry - very talented people from around the world who are coming to Colorado to set up business here because they enjoy the lifestyle and the recreational aspects of what our state offers."

The Interior Department says more than 60,000 jobs in Colorado alone depend on public lands. The diversity of those jobs underscores Le Coq's message of the importance of balance.

I'm Chris Thomas for Public News Service, member and listener supported and online at publicnewsservice.org.

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Statistics from the Interior Department are online at doi.gov. The Center for American Progress report is at americanprogress.org.


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