Letter: Protect Canyonlands | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Protect Canyonlands

President Barack Obama deserves deep thanks for proclaiming Browns Canyon as a national monument. Browns Canyon has been appreciated as a tapestry of recreation and nature woven together in its beautiful setting. It has long been enjoyed by those of us in the Roaring Fork Valley, and its protection is overdue.

Hopefully the president will now turn his attention to an area on this side of the Continental Divide with similar values on a larger and more diverse scale — Greater Canyonlands, the spectacular wildlands that surround Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands is one of the last untouched frontier landscapes of the West. It encompasses 1.9 million acres of federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Why protect it?

Scenic values: The red-rock country offers beauty unlike anywhere else on the planet.

Cultural values: A library of 12,000 years of human history, equivalent to about 24 archaeological sites per square mile.

Value as a watershed: The Colorado and Green rivers form the heart of this watershed that 40 million Americans and 15 percent of our nation’s crops rely on.

Recreational values: Who among us does not enjoy the red sand between our sandal straps?

Greater Canyonlands is every bit as much our backyard as Browns Canyon. While the oil-and-gas industry claims that we can’t afford to give up jobs in these areas, it is important to know that the outdoor-recreation industry employs nearly three times as many Americans as oil and gas. In my view as an outdoor retailer, I see how much wild places like Greater Canyonlands mean to us both as natural/cultural resources and as sources of economic vitality. Let’s encourage our president to preserve and protect this treasure of the West.

Bob Wade


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