By Laura Belleville
As the director of conservation for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and active board member of the American Hiking Society, I wanted to offer another point relevant to the Point/Counterpoint discussion “Should fracking for natural gas be allowed in the George Washington National Forest?” (Aug. 11 and 18).
I would like to highlight the important economic impact of outdoor recreation and the challenges we face when extractive uses conflict with recreational pursuits. As background, a recent 2012 Outdoor Industry Association report concluded that nationally, outdoor recreation pursuits generate 6.1 million American jobs, $646 billion in outdoor recreation spending each year, $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $39.7 billion in state and local tax revenue.
Belleville is the director of conservation for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. She is based in Blacksburg.