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Public Lands: Valuable to Our Bottom Line and Way of Life

April 4th, 2015
Dolores, CO

Boggy Draw Trail, Dolores, Colorado. photo via Osprey Packs

 

Public Lands: Valuable to Our Bottom Line and Way of Life,” written by Osprey Packs co-founder & co-owner Diane Wren, originally appeared in the Montrose Press.

 

Twenty five years ago, my husband Mike and I moved from the coastal redwoods of California to the edge of sandstone canyon country in the San Juan Mountains in the hopes of building a headquarters for our homegrown company – Osprey Packs – that would allow us to test our handmade gear in the most inspiring and rugged of places. After settling in Cortez, Osprey quickly became an international force in the outdoor industry, and we’ve been proud to grow our classic American dream in southwestern Colorado. We now employ over 80 people in Cortez and are still growing. Like many other international outdoor businesses across Colorado, we chose to build a business here because access to public lands makes this the perfect spot for our employees to settle down, for us to try out our next idea in the field, and because so many in our community share our love for getting outside and exploring our wild West.

 

The same incredible landscapes that drew us to Colorado, though, are now facing a serious threat. Out-of-state special interests like the American Lands Council are pushing legislators across the Rockies to try to seize our national public lands and transfer them into state control, which could bankrupt our states and lead to massive access closures. Colorado is lucky enough to have 24 million acres of federal public lands within our borders, but the state managing them would cost Coloradans over $300 million a year, and a single wildfire could add tens of millions of dollars to the bill. Our state is constitutionally bound to balance its budget – this additional financial burden would likely force the state to prioritize extractive uses or sell off our lands to the highest bidder for private development.

 

colorado_osprey_40_years_in_the_making

SW Colorado Lightning. image via Rory Pfotenhauer/”Osprey Packs: 40 Years in the Making”

 

Getting locked out of our land would not only be bad for Coloradans, it would threaten businesses like ours that rely on the public’s ability to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and skiing for our livelihood. Outdoor recreation contributes $13 billion to Colorado’s economy annually and supports over 122,000 jobs statewide. Undercutting our industry would be a big blow to the state and especially small towns like ours which serve as gateways to the great outdoors. Osprey, for example, is hoping to hire 14 more employees in Cortez this year – having to “pay to play” or being excluded entirely from places like the San Juan Mountains, Canyon of the Ancients, and our renowned local mountain biking haven, Phil’s World, would make attracting good talent much more difficult.

 

Phil's World

Phil’s World MTB Trail, Cortez, Colorado. photo via Osprey Packs

 

We, along with millions of other Coloradans, have built businesses and homes here distinctly because of our access to these wild places. Losing them would be a huge blow to our bottom lines and way of life. On top of that, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect places like the Uncompahgre National Forest, Dolores River Canyon, and Chimney Rock for future generations to enjoy and explore. Over 70 percent of voters in Colorado think our national public lands should remain open for the enjoyment of all Americans, and we agree – our land is part of our shared outdoor heritage, and part of what makes this country so great. Simply put, these land grabs are bad for our families, and bad for business. On behalf of Osprey, I urge our elected officials to address these efforts to transfer or sell off our public lands with loud and swift opposition.

 

Dolores River Canyon - photo via San Juan Citizens Alliance/ The Conservation Alliance

Dolores River Canyon.  photo via San Juan Citizens Alliance/ The Conservation Alliance

Uncompahgre management area. photo via Western Colorado Congress/The Conservation Alliance

Uncompahgre management area. photo via Western Colorado Congress/The Conservation Alliance

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Land Protection Challenges Evident During Conservation Alliance Visit to D.C.

April 5th, 2012

Conservation Alliance board and staff clean up nicely!

Amongst, cherry blossoms blooming a month early due to unseasonably warm weather,  The Conservation Alliance board and staff recently convened in Washington D.C. for a day of education on conservation issues followed by a day of advocacy on the Hill. While a portion of our board has been strongly involved in advocacy over the years, we have increased our commitment to involve our entire board with this important aspect of our work.

Over the past 18 months or so, there has been an unprecedented amount of legislation that if passed, would directly compromise and roll back protection of our public lands. First there is H.R. 1505, otherwise known as the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act”.  This act would put all federal lands within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders or any U.S. coastline under the control of Homeland Security. Thus any protected areas in this scope would no longer be subject to any protection — think Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Great Lakes and Boundary waters and so on.

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Save Our Lands, Rivers and Trails: Support The National Conservation Lands!

August 30th, 2010

Like hiking, biking, bears, trees, deer, camping, rafting, hunting, skiing, climbing, running or fishing? If you answered yes to any of the above, then you should support the National Conservation Lands and all the local non-profits working to protect them.

Over the next few weeks, and in celebration of their campaign Season of Service, National Conservation Lands will be raffling off more than 100 prizes from companies including: Patagonia, Moosejaw, Keen, Osprey Packs and Venture Snowboards. That’s about one winner per day, so your odds of winning are better than Vegas — and you’ll be protecting America’s wild lands to boot! So keep checking back to see the most recent giveaways.

Pick your favorite project, donate and win!

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