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Thar's gold in the tourist trade

October 05, 2008

Re "Mining towns not all happy with this boom," Oct. 1

Your story from Cripple Creek, Colo., made important points about the changing economies in the Rockies. The income derived from tourism and from retirees settling in the region now exceeds income from mining and other extractive industries.

There is another, less-known trend at work. Business owners have discovered that the region's scenery and quality of life help them attract a first-rate workforce and are setting up companies there. The Wilderness Society's report, "Natural Dividends," documents these new economic realities and the importance of protecting "the goose that lays the golden egg."

Much of the region's land belongs to all Americans. Under the Bush administration, there has been a strong push to permit more mining, drilling and logging on these public lands. It would be a mistake to return to the boom-and-bust approach, with short-term profiteering jeopardizing long-term economic health.

As owners of the public lands, all U.S. citizens should exercise their right to urge Congress and the federal land management agencies to provide wise stewardship.

Michelle Haefele

Denver

The writer is a resource economist at the Wilderness Society.

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