SALT LAKE CITY, CA (BRAIN)—Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
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That was the message Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had for the outdoor industry at yesterday’s Industry Breakfast. A record, standing-room crowd of more than 850 attendees heard the man in charge of U.S. public lands policy speak on the Obama administration’s plans to work with the industry.
“For most people this is a part of the discussion which is sometimes lost on Washington, D.C., and those who are making decisions,” Salazar told the crowd. “This is about jobs right here at home. Yes, it's about a lot of other great things. It’s about health. It’s about the importance of taking care of our planet. But it’s also about jobs here in the United States.”
Salazar pointed out that the outdoor industry, including hunting and fishing, contributes $730 billion to the U.S. economy and supports 6.5 million jobs.
Considered a moderate, Salazar has drawn on his background as a fifth-generation Colorado rancher to find common ground between conservation and industry on public lands.
He referenced a recent compromise on The Bill Barrett Corporation’s natural gas wells near Utah’s Desolation Canyon that was accepted by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
As Colorado attorney general, he also created a program to get youth outside. In his talk, he stressed the importance of expanding the way people of all ages and ethnicities enjoy the outdoors.
“We need to fashion a conservation agenda for the 21st century,” he said.
After his address, the secretary donned a baseball cap and strolled the show floor with OIA President Frank Hugelmeyer and show director Kenji Haroutunian.
He made scheduled stops at The North Face, Cascade Designs, Confluence Watersports, Timberland and Smartwool. He was especially interested in Wilderness Systems’ fishing kayaks and Timberland’s product sustainability index, and expressed his pleasure at seeing so many exhibitors getting down to business.
“It’s a demonstration of the economic engine of the outdoors,” he said of the show floor. “When you see the thousands of companies, the billions of dollars people spend and the over 6.5 million jobs created every year, it’s very heartening. You have people who are very passionate about the outdoors and protecting them for all the right reasons. It’s just a delight to be here.”
Also speaking at the Industry breakfast was Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who stressed the philosophy of listening to communities to better address contentious environmental issues.
“At the end of the day these solutions won’t come from Washington. They’ll come from the communities. They’ll come from the bottom up and not the top down. They'll begin in our communities with partnerships between business and government, sportsmen and women, farmers and ranchers, and conservation groups and the many other people who care about our outdoors,” she told the crowd.