I Will Support Colorado’s Public Lands
By Angie Paccione
Conserving our natural resources enriches our lives and economy. I believe it is our duty to hand down this natural resource heritage to future generations. To waste that heritage through short-sightedness is, as President Teddy Roosevelt put it in 1916, “to rob our country of half its charm.”
As I travel throughout Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District, I am reminded of Roosevelt’s words. This District contains nearly two million acres of public land, from the Roosevelt National Forest, to Rocky Mountain National Park, to the Pawnee National Grasslands, to the Comanche National Grasslands in Southeast Colorado.
Roosevelt’s words are even more important now, because it is not only the charm of these public lands that appeals to us, but also the economic stimulus they provide to our economy. Especially important is the impact that hunters and fishermen have on Colorado’s economy. The Colorado Division of Wildlife estimates that wildlife recreation – a large part of which is hunting and fishing on public land – provides over $1 billion to our state economy.
Beyond Colorado, our national forests and grasslands, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management lands, and national parks are critical to our nation. These lands support many of our game animals, including elk, deer, sage grouse, and pronghorns. The watersheds of these lands provide clean water for fishing, boating, and other recreation, and provide irrigation for farmers and drinking water for communities downstream.
Unfortunately, our public lands heritage is now in danger due to the forces of powerful politicians and special interests. Here in Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District, our public lands are under an extremist attack led by U.S. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) and our own Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave.
Musgrave was given a “zero” voting score from the League of Conservation Voters, and a “minus four” score from the conservation wing of her own party, Republicans for Environmental Protection. In her two terms in Congress, Marilyn has voted to:
- Sell massive acreages of our public lands for mining, development, and other private uses.
- Cut budgets to manage public lands.
- Reduce public input into how our lands are developed for commercial uses.
- Put refineries on public lands, including National Wildlife Refuges.
- Exempt oil and gas drilling activities on our public lands from provisions of the Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water acts.
- And, Marilyn refuses to support wilderness designation within Rocky Mountain National Park.
I believe Marilyn’s votes are absolutely wrong.
I will protect our state’s and our nation’s economy and natural resource heritage. I will battle the extremists who would give away, sell, or irreparably damage America’s public lands. I will work to provide adequate funding for public land management, and I will stand up for hunters, anglers, and other commercial and recreational users of these lands. And finally, I will support, advocate for, sponsor, and vote for legislation declaring official wilderness designation for Rocky Mountain National Park.
Unlike Marilyn Musgrave, I will not risk our nation’s most pristine land, air, and water simply to give away public resources to powerful special interests. We must maintain our public lands for sustainable multiple uses that benefit local economies and the broader public.
On a recent campaign trip up to Red Feather Lakes, I marveled at the natural beauty. After visiting with area homeowners, I also marveled at how those citizens support the sustainable use of these public lands. That area is within the Roosevelt National Forest, so named after President Teddy Roosevelt. His heritage lives on, right here in Colorado, through both the charm and the economic stimulus of our public lands. We must protect that heritage.
State Rep. Angie Paccione represents House District 53. She is a candidate for the Fourth Congressional District against Marilyn Musgrave. Paccione’s website is www.angie2006.com.