Guest opinion by KEITH PANGBORN
Keith Pangborn is a Ketchum resident
a broker with the Sun Valley Group real estate firm.
Last week, I proudly joined over 130 Idaho
business leaders in sending letters of support for a Boulder-White Clouds
wilderness to Congressman Mike Simpson. These business people include doctors,
accountants, outdoor retailers, restaurant owners, dentists, developers, grocery
and bookstore owners. Business leaders from across the state have come together
to send a clear message: protecting the Boulder-White Cloud mountains as
wilderness makes good sense for Idaho. Wilderness is one important piece of an
economic strategy that will lead to a more diverse, more stable and more
prosperous local economy and a brighter future for Idaho children.
As a member of the Wood River Valley
community, I support the Boulder-White Cloud wilderness efforts for two reasons.
First, as Broker of SVG Real Estate, I believe wilderness designation will be a
catalyst for sustained economic growth for all of Idaho.
Having been in the real estate industry
for the past 10 years I am familiar with the main reason people move here; it's
our beautiful pristine state. Wilderness designation will only enhance this
perception. Secondly, and most importantly, the Boulder-White Clouds are a
unique place that should be protected for future generations to enjoy. I have
spent many hours in this magical place hiking, fishing and skiing and only hope
the same for my grandchildren and yours. I believe this special Idaho place
deserves wilderness protection and wilderness protection here will benefit the
local and state economy.
The money that wilderness brings in to
Idaho businesses is significant. According to consumer reporting,
recreation-based businesses, such as Idaho River Sports, Backwoods Mountain
Sports, and Jimmy’s All-Seasons Angler, generated roughly $40 million in sales
Having more protected wild places in Idaho
will help us compete as an attractive job market. One example of this is the
growth of the technology industry in Idaho, which has "led to many new residents
and customers. Employees value what wilderness offers--solitude, beautiful
scenery, and opportunities to hike, hunt, and fish.
The connections between protected public
lands and economic success are documented. An economic review of the counties
that contain our largest National Parks shows that over the past 30 years, job
growth was three times faster than the national average, and incomes jumped
twice as fast. The Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, North Carolina,
reports "states that do the most to protect their natural resources also wind up
with the strongest economies and the best jobs."
Most importantly, a recent report entitled
"Working Around the White Clouds" by the Sonoran Institute highlighted these
connections on a local level. The report notes the economic opportunities that
wilderness designation for the White Clouds has to offer Blaine, Butte and
Custer counties. These opportunities include job creation in the private and
public sector and attraction of retirees, who spend their money locally.
Protection of the Boulder-White Clouds
would support hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching, which also benefit the
Idaho economy. In 2001, Idaho anglers spent $409 million on trips, tackle, and
other items and fishing created 7,773 Idaho jobs, according to the Idaho
Department of Fish and Game. Likewise, Idaho hunters spent $319 million on trips
As a local business owner, I believe it is
vital that places like Boulder-White Clouds stay just as they are for us, our
children, and their children to enjoy. Wilderness is part of what makes this
state such a special and attractive place to live and visit. And the bottom line
is that it's just good business sense. Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is to
be commended for his efforts to preserve our wild lands.