I submitted this letter to the editor to the Staunton News Leader. It ran today.
If you enjoy the great outdoors, especially hunting and fishing on public lands, then President Obama deserves your vote. The simple fact is that without public lands like the George Washington National Forest or the Shenandoah National Park, Valley sportsmen would be hard-pressed to find places to hunt and fish. Even if you don’t hunt or fish, these public lands provide exceptional recreational venues for people to play outside.
Our public lands are also an important economic engine here in the Valley. We have hunting, fishing, biking, hiking and camping shops and an archery manufacturer all close by to Staunton. They all provide sustainable local jobs and help attract visitors to the Valley who buy food and gas, stay in motels, eat in our local restaurants and visit those stores.
The outdoor recreation economy is serious business. It is responsible for 6.1 million direct American jobs, $646 billion in direct consumer spending and $80 billion in combined state, local and federal tax revenue.
President Obama has made outdoor recreation a priority since taking office, and his efforts have been important for sportsmen here in the Valley and across the nation. His America’s Great Outdoor initiative is a concrete example of his emphasis on outdoor recreation. He has consistently looked for ways to expand access and recreational opportunity on public lands. His budget proposals have included funding for critical fish and wildlife conservation programs. He understands that our hunting and fishing traditions and heritage are based on public lands where everyone can have a chance to hunt, fish or enjoy the wild places.
As sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts, we need a president who understands how important public lands are for both recreation and the local economic benefits they provide. President Obama has shown he understands, he has put his words into actions, and he deserves another term in office.