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Healthy environment, economy go hand in hand

2011-03-02T00:00:00Z 2011-03-02T09:17:01Z Healthy environment, economy go hand in hand The Billings Gazette
March 02, 2011 12:00 am

I came to Montana as a working tourist in 1972 — drawn by a summer job in Yellowstone. It took a while, but I found a way to make a life here. In Montana we've got big mountains, big rivers, big wildlife and that big sky. Thousands of businesses, like mine, depend on these spectacular natural assets. The recently released America's Great Outdoors (AGO) Report lays out a practical plan for protecting these things; it's nice to see Interior Secretary Salazar and other leaders in Washington investing in our natural capital.

Montana's outdoors just begin with Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks — from the Bob to the Beartooths and beyond there is so much more. Our peaks, fisheries, wildlife and parks draw visitors from across the world, supporting a tourism industry that brings in over $3 billion annually from out of state. That attracts talent, jobs, new ideas, businesses and a sustainable economic sector that shows off this amazing place and provides a rich quality of life for those of us who live and work here. That's why, as the AGO Report recommends, continued investments in these places through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a win on so many levels: inspiring new small businesses and creating jobs, preserving our communities and tending to the golden goose that drives it all — Montana's great outdoors.

Our economy depends on protecting America's great outdoors. As stated in the AGO Report, "choosing between a healthy environment and healthy economy is a false choice." You can't have one without the other.

Bill Berg


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