By Eric Tegethoff
Public lands, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, generated $12.8 billion in consumer spending in Oregon in 2012. (Bureau of Land Management/Flickr)
PORTLAND, Ore. – Public lands provide a major economic boost to local communities in Oregon.
That’s the view of groups that support the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument being kept as it is, as the U.S. Interior Department reviews its status.
Democratic Party members of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress released a report Thursday showing outdoor recreation generated $12.8 billion in consumer spending and $4 billion in wages in Oregon in 2012.
Chad Brown runs Soul River, a company that organizes trips to public lands for military veterans and urban youth. He says the review process has already hurt his business.
“I’ve been very effective, been able to change lives, getting a lot these youth and turn these lives around,” he states. “It’s been over-the-top success over a course of years – up until today, when the things start happening on Capitol Hill and the changes. It has affected my organization directly.”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is visiting Cascade-Siskiyou this weekend. It is one of 27 monuments that his agency is reviewing, to examine whether there was enough public input in their creation or expansion, and if they are properly sized. He’s expected to release a decision in late August.
Brown says he is constantly worried about the threat to public lands and what it might mean for the future of his organization. He says Zinke, as a fellow veteran himself, should understand what these lands mean to the country’s veterans.
“Veterans need these spaces for healing, and it’s critical,” he stresses. “I’m a vet that actually needs that space for my personal healing as well.”
The Joint Economic Committee report also found in rural counties with 100,000 acres of protected public lands, compared to those with none, income per person is higher by more than $4,300.Φ
Eric Tegethoff is a writer for Public News Service. This article first appeared at Public News Service on July 14.