Protect our public lands

Originally published in The Colorado Springs Gazette

Tim Gaudette

A new report released by the National Park Service, detailed in Jason Blevin’s article, “Government shutdown tapped 18.2 percent from Estes Park’s sales-tax take,” shows just how devastating the government shutdown’s closure of our national parklands was to local economies. Unfortunately, this isn’t news to our small business community.

By one estimate, $500 million was lost when tourists were unable to visit national parks and sportsmen were locked out of wildlife areas at the onset of hunting season. This translates directly to the small business community. Small Business Majority’s opinion polling found a majority of Colorado small employers choose to live and do business in our state because of opportunities tied to our parks and public lands. And two-thirds support designating more of Colorado’s public lands as national monuments.

What’s more, a sweeping 90 percent believe public spaces drawing tourists positively impacts local businesses, and two-thirds believe private development of these lands would limit the public’s enjoyment of them.

Colorado’s parks and public lands matter to our economy and small businesses. We need our leaders to recognize how important this is to our state’s economy and take steps to protect our public lands in order to support Colorado’s entrepreneurs.