Hunters, outdoor industry voice support for BLM wild lands

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Environmentalists aren’t the only Americans who support preserving wild areas on federal land.

Representatives of hunting, tourism and religious interests from four conservative Western states came to Boise Thursday to voice their support for a new U.S. Bureau of Land Management policy allowing for the establishment of wild lands. They spoke to the media via a teleconference hosted by the Wilderness Society.

“We feel (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar’s recent policy change is a step in the right direction,” said David Lien, co-chairman of Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “The BLM lands addressed in his order are prized by fishermen and anglers because they provide clean water and healthy habitat.”

Lien said hunting and fishing creates more jobs than the oil and gas industry, one of the primary groups lobbying against the policy. Sportsman-related jobs last longer because oil and gas jobs exist only as long as wells produce, Lien said.

In another plug for the economic benefit of wild lands, Jennifer Hobson, former New Mexico deputy secretary for tourism, said ecotourism has exploded in New Mexico in the past three years. Tourism now has a $6 billion impact on the state, she said.