Opinion: National monuments threatened by Trump drive millions of private sector jobs

The Mercury News
By Nancy Pfund
August 22, 2017

America’s pro­tect­ed pub­lic lands con­tribute to our nation’s eco­nom­ic vital­i­ty in so many ways. But new poli­cies from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or Ryan Zinke are putting our nation’s parks, pub­lic lands and nation­al mon­u­ments at risk, and our econ­o­my along with them.

Rescind­ing or mod­i­fy­ing Cal­i­for­nia Nation­al Mon­u­ments on the basis of a sin­gle 120-day review end­ing Thurs­day, and with­out pub­lic hear­ings and trans­par­ent pub­lic debate, would cre­ate pre­cise­ly the kind of uncer­tain­ty that our busi­ness­es abhor. It also would not fol­low the law regard­ing nation­al mon­u­ments.

A recent report from the Out­door Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion shows that Amer­i­cans spend $887 bil­lion annu­al­ly on out­door recre­ation, sup­port­ing more than 7.6 mil­lion jobs.  Regions sur­round­ing nation­al mon­u­ments have seen con­tin­ued growth or improve­ment in employ­ment, per­son­al income and increased per-capi­ta income. Rur­al coun­ties in the West with more than 30 per­cent pro­tect­ed pub­lic lands saw jobs increase by 345 per­cent over areas with­out pro­tect­ed lands.

Beyond these direct eco­nom­ic impacts, the val­ue of our nation­al mon­u­ments man­i­fests itself in more indi­rect ways, as entre­pre­neurs and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists know. We have seen first­hand that the pro­tec­tion of nation­al pub­lic lands – and the des­ig­na­tion of nation­al mon­u­ments, in par­tic­u­lar – is impor­tant to the health and growth of entre­pre­neur­ial, inno­v­a­tive com­pa­nies across Amer­i­ca.

Our employ­ees work hard and play hard. Spec­tac­u­lar land­scapes pro­vide the inspi­ra­tion which the best and bright­est of our employ­ees val­ue when they take time off for fam­i­ly recre­ation. Access to these lands helps us recruit and keep the peo­ple we need, and increas­ing­ly, those employ­ees come from a diverse set of com­mu­ni­ties.

The Cal­i­for­nia Nation­al Mon­u­ments under review – includ­ing Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, and Berryessa Snow Moun­tain – pro­vide a case in point. We advo­cate their per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion not only to ensure the longevi­ty of our nat­ur­al and cul­tur­al trea­sures, but also because of the eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits to America’s fastest grow­ing com­pa­nies.

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