Friends of the Yampa, Conservation Colorado, Rig To Flip: Leave national monuments alone | SteamboatToday.com

Friends of the Yampa, Conservation Colorado, Rig To Flip: Leave national monuments alone

On April 26, President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a review of existing national monuments since 1996. This unprecedented review of our national monuments generated 2.7 million comments from people across the country, with the overwhelming majority speaking out in favor of maintaining current protections for these public lands. Thousands of Colorado residents joined this effort to maintain protections for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, the Colorado monument targeted in this effort.

Altering the status of our national monuments will not only compromise America's public lands legacy and our native and cultural heritage, it will also hurt surrounding communities and small businesses that have come to rely on access to these places. According to outdoorindustry.org, outdoor recreation, alone, drives an $887 billion economy. In Colorado, this equates to 229,000 jobs and $9.7 billion in wages and salaries.

In addition, according to americanprogress.org, numerous studies have shown that communities located near monuments and other protected public lands have stronger economies and that the outdoor and recreational opportunities they provide increase residents' quality of life, making areas near monuments more attractive to new residents, entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as investment.

The response in support of America's national monuments is consistent with recent opinion polling of Western voters. The Colorado College found that 83 percent of Coloradans support keeping current national monument designations in place. If you were one of the many Coloradoans who submitted comments supporting our national monuments, we thank you. This is an important issue to us, and a campaign we proudly participated in with partners such as Smartwool, which provided postcards and postage to make it easy for those who wanted to send their comments.

Engaging in public processes ensure that we, as American citizens, have a voice. With the public comment period now closed, Zinke has until Aug. 24 to deliver his recommendations to Trump. While we don't have control over the outcome, we can definitely say our nation has spoken, and we appreciate your support of our monuments.

Your comments can also make a difference with regard to the BLM oil and gas lease sale adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument. There are several leases under consideration that are very near the park. Five parcels are between 1 and 5 miles from the park boundary, and one of them is within view of the visitor center. We feel this would be an unsightly entry to the park and would send a message that does not reflect good stewardship of the monument. Public comments will be accepted through July 24. If you would like to have a say, electronic comments may be submitted to blm_ut_vernal_comments@blm.gov.

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Refer to December 2017 Oil and Gas Lease Sale in the subject line of your correspondence.

Friends of the Yampa, Conservation Colorado, Rig To Flip

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