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High Desert Knows Public Lands’ Economic Boost


While the economy takes center stage on the campaign trail, an event Friday in Washington, D.C., focused on stimulating the economy that falls near and dear to many in Central Oregon. President Obama spoke at a conference on conserving public lands to help create jobs.

The evidence is no more than a 15-minute drive from Bend.

Some 300 miles from his home in Olympia, Wash., David Remis spent half the day cross-country skiing at Virginia Meissner Sno-Park.

“This community needs to thrive, and unless people come here and spend some of their money here, it’s tough for the local businesses,? said Remis.

We all know; The draw of the great outdoors has a big financial impact each year on Central Oregon.

“Clearly, tens of millions of dollars are spent by people recreating on the Deschutes National Forest and on BLM and other public lands here in Central Oregon,? said Kreg Lindberg, an associate professor of tourism and outdoor recreation leadership at OSU Cascades.

“Effective conservation is about more that just protecting our environment, it’s about strengthening our economy,? Obama said at a conference on conservation and the economy in Washington.

While politics and the economy are debated on the campaign trail, thousands of miles from D.C. at Wanoga Sno-Park, there’s no debate for Amber Greiner.

“If I did not have public lands, I would not have a business to offer,? Greiner said.

Open since 2002, her company, Central Oregon Adventures, rents snowmobiles and leads tours. Meanwhile, over at Meissner, there’s a new business, the Skinny Skis Caf.

“We’re bolstering an outdoor economy that supports more than 9 million jobs and brings in more than $1 trillion,? said Obama.

The White House calls it America’s Great Outdoor Initiative, opening up public land to recreation and creating urban parks and trails.

Remis calls it a reason to buy a second home in Bend.

“From hiking to biking to the water sports, there’s almost nothing here that anybody who’s active can’t do,? said Remis.

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