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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — February 6, 2004


Boulder-White Clouds
makes sense

Guest opinion by KEITH PANGBORN

Keith Pangborn is a Ketchum resident and
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 in 2001.

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 in 2001.

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.




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Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.