Making the Link: Conservation, Recreation and our Economy – Part One

Eagle River, CO | © Fay Augustyn

With the summer months just around the corner and spring peeking out from behind the piles of snow, I’m thinking only of the outdoors. Hiking, rafting, biking, fishing and just enjoying the amazing rivers and landscapes of Colorado. Here in the west, we are fortunate to have an abundance of public lands for all of us to enjoy. These protected lands provide some of the most outstanding recreational opportunities for residents and tourists alike, as well as provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife.

Many communities in the west have already benefited from these protected lands. Just last week the Vail Daily ran an article discussing the numerous benefits of open space and recreation to local economies. According to “Conserving Lands and Prosperity,” a new report on behalf of Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, communities in the west that protect open space and manage it for sensible recreation rather than just extraction have enjoyed higher economic success. Outdoor recreation on public lands in the west has contributed to increased jobs and higher economic vitality in communities across the rural west. Counties making open space and conservation a priority saw a much higher growth rate than those managed solely for commodity production.

In Colorado, places like Eagle County are working to ensure that open space is protected and enjoyed through hiking, fishing, boating, biking and other family-friendly activities. American Rivers is working with the Eagle County Open Space program to protect these treasured public lands and provide opportunities to enjoy them through Blue Trails. By doing so, we are boosting local economies, protecting critical habitat for wildlife, enhancing community stewardship, and inspiring a new generation of river lovers.

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