Udall rejects GOP idea to raise revenues by selling public lands

Congressional Republicans float idea to avoid fiscal cliff

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“Selling off our parks, forests, wilderness and other public lands — in Colorado and throughout the West — would not only be shortsighted, but it also would undermine a critical component of our thriving outdoor economy.”

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., about opposing the sale of public lands to avoid a fiscal cliff.

In an effort to avoid a fiscal cliff Congressional Republicans earlier this month floated an idea to raise revenues by selling public lands.

Reps. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Stevan Pearce, R-N.M., first presented the idea in November through a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Because the western United States is home to the country’s largest expanses of public lands Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., rejected the idea, saying a sell off of public lands would be imprudent and detrimental to western economies.

“Colorado is home to some of the best open spaces in the West,” Udall said in a news release. “In fact, many Colorado businesses and families have moved here because of our high quality of life and spectacular public lands.

“Selling off our parks, forests, wilderness and other public lands — in Colorado and throughout the West — would not only be shortsighted, but it also would undermine a critical component of our thriving outdoor economy. Our public lands are, in many ways, our most renewable and reliable economic driver.”

According to a report by Montana-based think tank Headwaters Economics, Colorado’s public lands give private companies located in the state a competitive advantage in attracting talent and growing and creating jobs, the news release states.

Colorado’s economy created 228,893 new jobs between 2000 and 2010, according to a June Headwaters Economics report.

Much of that growth was contributed to Colorado’s public lands and high quality of life, the release states.

“We need to leave every option on the table when it comes to confronting the fiscal cliff, but we also cannot abandon the strategic investments and job creating resources we already have in place,” Udall said in the release.

Udall serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, and chairs the subcommittee on National Parks.

He has pledged to oppose the sale of public lands as part of any budget deal.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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