Western Colorado businesses back national monuments | PostIndependent.com

Western Colorado businesses back national monuments

Western Slope and other businesses on Monday submitted a joint letter of support for maintaining and protecting all 27 national monuments currently under review by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Twenty-nine businesses from Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Garfield, Montezuma, Montrose, Pitkin and Summit counties, as well as the cities of Boulder and Denver, wrote to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that national monuments are not only important to the social fabric and cultural history of America, but also are integral to the success of nearby economies and businesses.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration issued an executive order that Interior review national monuments of more than 100,000 acres or that were “created without sufficient public input.” The order required an immediate review of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Public comments concerning the review were due in late June.

Secretary Zinke made an initial recommendation to substantially shrink the acreage of Bears Ears. However, pushback from the public led Zinke to extend the public comment deadline for Bears Ears, matching the deadline for the other monuments.

Zinke is expected to deliver his final recommendations to the president by Aug. 24.

The letter from local businesses references the important contribution that national monuments make to the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy nationally, which businesses rely on to attract tourism, outdoors enthusiasts and employees. It also stresses that businesses depend on the certainty of protected public lands and monuments when making decisions about investing in communities.

“As business owners living and working in Colorado, we are concerned about this administration’s current review and consideration to roll back protections for 27 of our national monuments,” the letter reads in part. “Together, we represent a wide range of businesses that prosper from the economic benefits generated by tourism and recreation, which stem directly from people visiting and enjoying these protected lands. Of particular concern to us is any reduction in size or protections for Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients and Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. While two of these monuments are across the state line in Utah, our customers and employees frequently head west to visit these two iconic monuments. Enjoyment and use of national monuments and the subsequent economic benefits are unaffected by state boundaries.”

Garfield and Pitkin County signatories of the letter were: Allyn Harvey Communications, Carbondale; Helene Gude of Alpine Bank in Aspen; Anne Grice Interiors, Basalt; Veronica Chacon of Bethel Party Rentals, Glenwood Springs; John Charters, Bristlecone Mountain Sports, Basalt; Amy Kimberly, Carbondale Arts/The Launchpad; Laurel Astor, Extraordinary!, Glenwood Springs; George Sells, The Omnibus Gallery, Aspen; Kiko Peña, Sopris Liquor & Wine, Carbondale; and Bob Wade, Ute Mountaineer, Aspen.

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