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Dear Editor:

The Arkansas River Outfitters Association supports ballot issue 1A. The measure provides funding and practical actions to support forest health and fire mitigation, recreation impact management, and preservation of agricultural lands.

We recognize that the Arkansas Valley is ripe for catastrophic wildfire, and that such a fire would cause silt and ash to wash into the river, severely impacting our businesses, water quality and the health of the river ecosystem. Such impacts will have a ripple effect through the entire economy of the valley. With the budget and staff cuts to federal land management agencies, additional funding is necessary from the county to adequately mitigate wildfire risk, and it needs to happen now.

In addition, we recognize that protecting open agricultural lands helps to maintain the rural character of our valley and protects associated wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge, which enhances the experiences we can provide for our clients.

We operate river trips in the Arkansas Valley because we love this place, and we value the beauty and health of the natural environment here. Ballot initiative 1A will help insure the health of our valley, its rivers, forests, public lands and agricultural lands for present and future generations to enjoy. By protecting the Arkansas Valley watershed with a dedicated county fund, we will protect the economic vitality of our valley, as well.

Brandon Slate
Chairman, Arkansas River Outfitters Association