Protecting the outdoors is not just about sustaining the strength of our economy. In Colorado, our natural resources represent the essence of our way of life.
I have a good life. I live on a ranch under the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I am the founder and CEO of one of the world’s leading brands of fly fishing and outdoor equipment. I’ve been invited to the White House to discuss the significance of the outdoor economy. And I’m the father of two wonderful daughters.
With all of this, you might imagine I would take one look at politics—at how divided we are—and opt out. Cast a line, wait for a tug, and enjoy the silence.
But I am 100 percent committed to voting on Tuesday, November 6th . And if you love Colorado, I hope you are, too—because this is our chance to vote for Colorado’s good life and help millions of Americans in other states, as well.
Let me be clear: I am not going to try to persuade you to vote for any particular candidate. That decision is up to you. But I do want to suggest three reasons to get out and vote for the men and women you believe will best protect Colorado’s unique natural resources.
First, Coloradans love outdoor recreation. It feeds our economy and our souls. In fact, Colorado has the third largest outdoor recreation industry in the nation (second only to California and New York.) It is a $28 billion industry that contributes 229,000 jobs. Another 82 million people visit Colorado every year—in large part, because they are attracted to our natural resources.
But protecting the outdoors is not just about sustaining the strength of our economy. In Colorado, our natural resources represent the essence of our way of life. For many, love of Colorado’s special landscapes runs very deep. And when you love something, don’t you want to protect it?
Second, we need to step up the protection of our natural resources, and the species we co-exist with, from the current and growing threats of climate change. In fact, in Colorado, we have a special responsibility to do that to ensure continued fresh drinking water for millions in our state and beyond our borders. The Colorado River alone provides drinking water for 40 million people. And our great biodiversity is what helps keep Colorado wild.
Earlier this month, the United Nations released a landmark report that found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, it will lead, among other impacts, to ever worsening wildfires, food shortages, and drought—within the lifetimes of many of us. We must elect leaders with the courage to do what is needed to dramatically and rapidly reduce carbon emissions.
If they don’t—and we continue to have winters as we did last year—not only will those of us who love the outdoors and the economy suffer, so will those who 2 depend on drinking water that comes from Colorado massive snowcaps—which are the greatest, by landmass, in the country.
Third, in these times of painful polarization, protecting our natural resources are a common ground we can all come together on because a healthy environment matters to everyone. And as a state that is synonymous with the great outdoors, Colorado is in a position to send that message to the rest of the nation.
So please, pick a candidate who gives a damn about you, about our state, and about the natural resources generations before us were wise enough to protect. If you want to see where the candidates stand, check out the Voters Guide [link] from Protect Our Winters.
We’ve seen what a difference even a small number of votes can make in an election. We’ve also experienced the damage that can happen under one Administration. The midterm elections on November 6 th are an opportunity to demonstrate Colorado’s leadership. Let’s use it to vote for the good life.
John Land Le Coq is the CEO and founder of Fishpond and a member the CEO Alliance, a project of Protect Our Winters and the Outdoor Industry Association.