From the Crested Butte News & the Gunnison Country Times
The One Valley Prosperity Project has asked Gunnison County residents to define what “prosperity” means to them. There are many pieces to prosperity for local businesses, but healthy public lands are critical in a County that is 83% BLM and Forest Service lands and heavily reliant on tourism and recreation.
Tourism accounts for roughly 40% of our economy. We bring in thousands of visitors each year, primarily for our natural amenities – whether its for our County’s incredible views, world-class recreation, or opportunities to see wildflowers and wildlife.
Keeping our wild places intact is critical to the future success of small businesses and the growth of our local economy. According to a 2012 study from Headwaters Economics, an independent, non-profit research group, Western non-metro counties with more than 30% of their federal lands protected saw the economy grow by 345% from 1970-2010, while the economy of similar counties with no protected federal lands only grew by 83%.
This study also found that in 2010, per capita income in western non-metropolitan counties with 150,000 acres of protected public lands is on average $6,540 higher than per capita income in similar counties with no protected public lands.
Not only do protected public lands drive economic growth and increase wages, but they also help attract a talented workforce. More educated and experienced workers choose live in places with protected public lands because of the high quality of life it affords them.
Healthy public lands not only help our businesses to thrive but also make us prosperous beyond monetary means. The ease of access to trails means that we live healthy and active lives. We are fortunate to live in a place with clean air and water, and landscape filled with diverse and healthy wildlife. We have a strong connection to nature and live surrounded by incredible views.
There are not many places where you can establish a successful business and still have the opportunity to get out in the afternoon for a hike or bike ride. This is what makes our valley special. We support protecting public lands and recognize that public lands are foundational in our long-term prosperity in Gunnison County.
Linda Mladenka - Owner, At Home in Crested Butte
Kim Frayer - Owner, Cleavage Candy
Daniel Davenport - Owner, Crested Butte Auto Repair
Mark Sawyer - Owner, Diamond Blue Pool and Spa
Daniel Crean - Owner, Double Shot Cyclery
Nan Lumb - Owner, Four Eighteen
Paul Elam - Owner, Gunnison Shipping
J.C. Leacock - Owner, J.C. Leacock Gallery
Doug Kroft - Owner, Kroft and Associates Inc
Jon Kaminsky - Owner, Mesa Hydrologic
Kirsten Dickey - Owner, OffCenter deSIGNS
Kara Harris - Owner, Pat's Screen Printing
Ed and Heather Fornataro - Co-owners, Powderhound Marketing LLC
Mallory Logan - Owner, RoShamBo
Andrew Winogradow - Owner, Whetstone Garden Supply
Hilary Henry – Coordinator, Gunnison Public Lands Initiative