Recently, 100 economists, including three Nobel Laureates, sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to expand protection on public land, rather than removing various wilderness designations. “They [public lands] help define who we are and are what attracts vibrant employees, exciting new companies, visitors and consumers to the West,” says Roger Marolt, an accountant in Aspen.
Preserving public lands has bipartisan support in California where both Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are both supporting the expansion of a wilderness area in San Diego County. Public land designation is a detriment to local economies according to some, including Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). [Link provided by ThinkProgress.org.] But it appears the message might have been received even before it was sent. Three weeks before the letter went out, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called for 18 new wilderness designations in nine Western states.