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Boulder, CO – A decision by the Department of the Interior today to not implement the Bureau of Land Management Wild Lands policy threatens the very infrastructure supporting the nation’s recreation economy, according to Outdoor Industry Association.
Active outdoor recreation increasingly fuels the U.S. economy and is a primary driver in regional and local economies across the West. The growth in activities such as hiking, paddling, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy, drives $289 billion in retail sales and supports 6.5 million jobs.
However, the announcement today by Secretary Salazar to reverse his December 2010 decision to allow the Bureau of Land Management to inventory and manage BLM lands as ‘wild lands’ is a step backwards for the nation.
“The real losers in this decision are the American people and the communities that rely on outdoor recreation to support their local economies,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association. “Outdoor recreation is a core component of balanced, sustainable economies in every community across the country. Our nation’s wilderness and additional backcountry lands and waters – 245 million acres of Wilderness just within BLM – are the essential infrastructure that allows Americans to hike, hunt, watch wildlife, camp and fish.”
The outdoor industry will continue to work with the Obama administration and Congress on the development of policies protecting Wilderness and lands with wilderness characteristics to ensure that recreation is given equal consideration with traditional agricultural, timber and extractive industries for its ability to provide sustainable, domestic employment and balanced local economies.