Outdoor sports businesses to Wyden: A good environment means a solid bottom line

Outdoor industry businesses want Sen. Ron Wyden to add more protections for the environment. Doing so would fortify those businesses' bottom line.

Several Northwest business leaders are calling on U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden to seek more safeguards that protect Oregon’s outdoor economy.

The businesses, including KEEN, Yakima and Northwest Rafting Co., say Wyden, by virtue of his role as chairman of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, should take the lead on protecting public lands. Doing so would help those businesses defray the millions those businesses lost during the recent government shutdown.

The businesses sent Wyden a letter and launched an ad campaign urging him “to prevent conservation cornerstones like wilderness protections and the Antiquities Act from being weakened, and to ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund receives full, dedicated funding.”

Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives “would allow for large-scale logging and limit the use of many environmental measures,” the businesses said. Other House members have called for funds to be diverted away from protecting specific outdoor spots.

Wyden had recently expressed concern that the shutdown had slammed industries, such as fishing outfitters, that launch from federal sites on Oregon’s rivers.

The Outdoor Industry Association reports that direct consumer spending on outdoor recreation adds $12.8 billion per year to Oregon’s economy. It supports 141,200 jobs.

“During the government shutdown, Americans made it clear that they don’t like being shut out of their national parks and other protected public lands,” said John Sterling, executive director of the Conservation Alliance, in a release. “Congress should take this cue, and now work to pass legislation that protects our wild places.”

“We are working for the day when outdoor recreation values and jobs are on equal ground with resource extraction jobs on public lands,” added Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industries Association. “The recent closure of federal lands in Oregon during peak fishing and hunting seasons punctuates the importance and value of access to public lands to our industry.”

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