Missoulian mailbag

In a few days, we are likely to see President Trump announce big changes in the size of two Utah national monuments. That possibility is why I and other gateway community entrepreneurs from five Western states gathered in Montana recently to send a message to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in his home state: local businesses and communities depend dearly on nearby national monuments and public lands for their livelihood. Visitors from all over the world come to enjoy America’s best landscapes, cultural and historic sites, and they take advantage of nearby lodging, restaurants and shops. Without protected public lands, our businesses and a thriving Western outdoor economy suffer.

I own a microbrewery in Taos, New Mexico, only a few miles from the entrance to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Since the area was “put on the map” by the designation, the uptick in business has been phenomenal. There’s a noticeable increase in visitors who come for the hiking or the views, and who choose to stop by before and after.

I want Secretary Zinke and the president to know that tampering with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will only hurt the nearby local economies in Utah.

Dan Irion,

El Prado, New Mexico

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