Outdoors pays off

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

At the recent Western Governor's Association conference in Park City, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell talked at length about what drives the West's economy.

I was pleased to hear her talk about outdoor recreation as a key economic driver for the West and the importance of balancing development with conservation to secure recreational opportunities.

As someone who has dedicated much of my career to protecting and expanding climbing opportunities, this message struck a chord with me. The economic impacts of outdoor recreation are huge — generating $646 billion in spending every year and 6.1 million jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Outdoor recreation and especially active sports such as climbing or mountain biking also present a great opportunity to engage younger generations in the great outdoors.

But as impressive as the industry is and as much promise as it shows for engaging younger Americans, it is essential that leaders like Jewell continue to advocate for policies that advance conservation of these recreational opportunities and our public lands. Some places are too special to drill or develop.

Seeing conservation and recreation as equally important to development will help to ensure these recreational opportunities are here for generations to come.

Brady RobinsonExecutive director, Access Fund

Boulder, Colo.