On Tuesday local business and community leaders met for a round table discussion regarding public land policies. The event was hosted by The Road to Equal Ground, a 1,659 mile journey from Montana to New Mexico. The campaign wants to hear from folks of all backgrounds, and bring their stories to Washington.
"Many of us from these areas don't realize what we have," said the general manager of Adventure Bound River Expeditions, Tom Kleinschnitz.
While many enjoy what the state has to offer, others like Kleinschnitz rely on its resources, "My livelihood depends on having a place that people are attracted to coming from around the world, to come play on rivers."
His business has been serving tourists in the Grand Valley for 50 years, and he hopes it can for another 50.
"We need to do long-term thinking, we need to think about what we've got and how to preserve it," said Kleinschnitz.
However, he and other local leaders also understand how important energy resources are to the economy.
"These two important job and economic drivers in Colorado can co-exist," said a representative at the round table.
The Equal Ground Campaign is working to balance industrial energy development with conservation in the west.
Executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, Trevor Kincaid, said, "It's not all energy or all conservation, there's a balance that needs to be struck, and that's what was recognized here."
Conversations from this table and others in the country will be brought to Washington.
"From somebody who has spent my entire adult life in tourism, is to make sure people understand that the quiet industry is still an important industry," said Kleinschnitz.
"Throughout the west there's a variety of voices and a variety of arguments that are economic, quality of life, environmental. For the need to balance conservation with energy development," said Kincaid.
"There's no question that in my view and the way I make my living, I want resources to be taken care of. But we need to be realistic, I like that balanced approach," said Kleinschnitz.
The Equal Ground Campaign is nonpartisan. Their next stops include Paonia, Durango and Santa Fe.
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