The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Care for nature and it will reward our state

  • Clouds move in above a pond in the Enchantment Lakes area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in September 2009. Members of Washington's congressional dele...

    George Tibbits / Associated press

    Clouds move in above a pond in the Enchantment Lakes area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in September 2009. Members of Washington's congressional delegation have introduced legislation to expand the wilderness area.

  • Tamara Ahola puts the finishing touches on a paddle at the Werner Paddles factory in Sultan in April 2010. The local company's paddles are sold worldw...

    Herald file 2010

    Tamara Ahola puts the finishing touches on a paddle at the Werner Paddles factory in Sultan in April 2010. The local company's paddles are sold worldwide.

We are fortunate that Washington state's economy has a diverse array of strengths as we work to continue our recovery from the Great Recession.
We build the world's best airplanes. We design software that's changed the way we work and socialize. We grow some of the country's best fruits and vegetables, producing, in fact, 92 percent of the nation's red raspberries. But to keep our economy growing, we need to recognize all of our strengths and leverage them to our advantage.
One critical asset we have is our lands and natural resources. They provide us with spectacular outdoor recreational opportunities. From Mount Baker to Mount Rainer or Olympic National Park -- our rivers, lakes, mountains and forests are some of the most pristine and breathtaking areas of the entire country. Too often, they are talked about as just an amenity for our residents. When in fact, our proximity to these places gives us an incredible economic opportunity that is uniquely Northwest. These lands represent an economic engine for our state, employing 227,000 people and generating $22.5 billion in consumer spending every year, according to a 2012 report by the Outdoor Industry Foundation.
From hiking, fishing, mountain biking, hunting and winter sports, outdoor recreation is big business, accounting for 6.1 million jobs nationwide. The jobs created from outdoor recreation range from outdoor touring companies to the retail clerks at your local fishing and tackle store. There are many rural areas, such as Concrete, Darrington, Monroe, Skykomish and Index in my district, where industries such as logging or mining have declined. In these areas and many others, outdoor recreation can have a dramatically positive effect, bringing in dollars and jobs.
More so than any other part of the country, our forests, mountains, rivers and lakes can simultaneously be both a source of economic revitalization and a way for people to enjoy nature's respite from the bustle of the city.
What's more, Washington is already a leader in the outdoor industry with a number of great companies that call our state home. Local companies like REI, Filson, Cascade Designs, Outdoor Research and Brooks are responsible for thousands of jobs in our state.
We also have companies such as K2 and Werner Paddles that manufacture equipment and gear used by people around the world. These businesses are an important part of ensuring we have manufacturing jobs here at home, which account for $7.1 billion in wages each year.
All this points to the need to have a strong focus on growing this sector of our economy, just like we do when it comes to our aerospace or agriculture.
The core of this strategy must be preserving our natural resources in a way that keeps them accessible for people to enjoy today and generations from now.
This is why I've sponsored several bills to protect lands and help grow our economy. Working with Congressman Dave Reichert and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, we've introduced legislation to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Just a short drive outside of Seattle, the Alpine Lakes is a stretch of pristine nature that is enjoyed by thousands of people. I've also introduced legislation along with Congressman Rick Larsen to save a historic fire lookout on Green Mountain inside the Glacier Peak Wilderness that will be removed if Congress doesn't act. Built in 1933, the beloved lookout is a popular day hike that includes panoramic views of Glacier Peak and Mount Baker. Finally, I've introduced legislation to protect 14 miles of Illabot Creek in Skagit county.
In addition to legislation that protects our natural resources, we must actively maintain our outdoor spaces and access to them. It is crucial that we invest in our existing parks, waterways and trails. Preserving access to these public lands helps the businesses and communities that depend on the tourism and activities that boost the regional economy. It's another reason why Congress must pass a budget that makes investments where we will get returns that result in increased economic growth.
For Washington to have a vibrant, strong economy, we must remember that our outdoor recreation industry should play a starring role. Elected officials, civic and business leaders must come together to support the industry and protect the natural beauty that makes living and working in Washington so special.
Rep. Suzan DelBene represents Washington's first congressional district.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...

Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we wonít ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet highlights

Rocking all over again
Rocking all over again: Heart guitarist Roger Fisher pours soul into new project
Better for knowing you
Better for knowing you: Hall touched the lives of many people, including a Herald writer
Hoop skills
Hoop skills: College students on break teach finer points of basketball
Keeping it wild
Keeping it wild: Camano family honored for farm stewardship
SnoCoSocial