from the NEW MEXICO NEWS CONNECTION - A statewide news service for New Mexico
Washington, D.C. - Two unrelated reports released yesterday look at the economic value of public lands in New Mexico. They find that leaving wilderness intact rather than extracting resources through logging, mining or drilling could have more long-term benefits, both economically and in terms of quality of life.
'There's gold in them thar hills!' and that's been the cry from industry behind the energy boom in New Mexico and the rest of the Rockies, but two new reports out this week find the real treasure is the hills themselves. Economist Jennifer Thacher from the University of New Mexico says research has found that our state's "unspoiled' reputation draws businesses and employees who value natural amenities and quality of life. Many are even willing to take a pay cut, "Our research is showing that individuals in New Mexico are showing strong amenity values for the types of things that we have in New Mexico in forested areas and wilderness areas."
A Wilderness Society report out yesterday finds the role of public lands and wilderness in Western economies is growing while the importance of oil and gas and other industries are waning. A separate report from Environment New Mexico found that industrial use of New Mexico's national forests jeopardizes the state's source of clean drinking water and over 800 million tourism dollars each year. Randall Coleman with Environment New Mexico says a bill before Congress would strengthen the 2001 Roadless Rule and help protect New Mexico's wilderness from industrial development, "...safeguarding our national forests so that we do not see new roads or oil derricks and new oil and gas drilling within these lands."
The reports are online at http://www.wilderness.org/Library/Documents/NaturalDividends.cfm and https://www.environmentnewmexico.org/reports.