Funding from the outdoor recreation industry is an important part of Colorado's economy, and it has the potential to grow, as shown by the recent move of the Outdoor Retailer trade shows from Utah, bringing an estimated $45 million in direct annual spending. I am upset to read in the Feb. 14 Denver Post that Congressman Scott Tipton's and Senator Cory Gardner's support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling is a threat to keeping that spending in Colorado. Please recall that it was elected officials' support for removing federal protection for public lands that led to the decision to move the trade shows from Utah, and that can happen again.
If Colorado were to lose its reputation for protecting public lands for recreation there would certainly be other potential costs besides these particular trade shows. At a time when renewable energy prices are undercutting the costs of fossil fuels for electrical power generation, as in the recent Xcel Energy bids (Denver Post Jan. 16), there is no need to put funding for the outdoor recreation industry in Colorado at risk by Tipton's and Gardner's support for fossil fuel projects like drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.