Letter: Protect places like the Thompson Divide
The peak of the summer season in the Colorado Rockies is here, and local businesses will undoubtedly reap the benefits of the increased local and visitor-generated activity in the months to come. This is, in no small part, due to the many outdoor opportunities found in the White River National Forest that surrounds us.
The White River is the most visited national forest in the country, and the Roaring Fork Valley brings in more summer tourists, spending more dollars, than any other area in Colorado. Our national forest is quite possibly the most important economic engine we have in this small area of the state. Unfortunately, we currently stand to lose an important part of this economic engine in the Thompson Divide area.
Described as “a Colorado Crown Jewel” by Gov. Hickenlooper, the divide provides endless possibilities for hiking, biking, climbing and fishing. It is an essential grazing area for ranching activities, and home to game management units that generate more than 20,000 big-game license sales every year. It is also of the densest concentrations of inventoried roadless areas in the West. Collectively, economic studies indicate that existing uses in the Thompson Divide support hundreds of long-term jobs and some $30 million in economic activity every year for our rural communities.
Our state is ranked among the top five in the country for business, careers and job growth. If we want to see Colorado’s economy continue to grow, we need to recognize when and where sectors of our economy are working, and allow those sectors to flourish. In order to accomplish this in our specific community, we need to protect the White River National Forest and the opportunities that exist within it. We need to protect places like the Thompson Divide.
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