Letter: River designation to help economy
Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Columbian's June 27 editorial "Wild & Scenic compromise" correctly highlights the opportunity for preserving our quality of life when we collaborate. However, the editorial overlooked the fact that conservation and economic development often go hand in hand.
As a business owner, I rely on healthy rivers that provide breathtaking scenery and diverse recreation opportunities. The public lands in Southwest Washington, including remarkable rivers such as the Lewis, Green and Cispus have supported a tourism industry for several decades, accounting for an estimated 14 percent of the total private sector jobs in the area, and attracted visitors from across the country to fish, camp, float and hike. Wild and scenic rivers such as our own White Salmon provide real-life success stories for protecting rivers while also promoting outdoor recreation.
With so many incredible rivers in our backyard, we have a tremendous opportunity to both protect these rivers and enhance our outdoor recreation economy. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, activities such as fishing, kayaking, rafting and camping contribute billions of dollars to our nation's economy and support hundreds of thousands of jobs. That's why I support Wild & Scenic designation for the rivers in our region, and I urge local and federal decisionmakers to make these designations a reality.