Michelle Parker: For the future of the great outdoors, vote Morse | SierraSun.com

Michelle Parker: For the future of the great outdoors, vote Morse

Other Voices
Michelle Parker

As a professional athlete, I have scaled the granite walls of Yosemite, biked along the Tahoe Rim Trail, and paddled the sparkling blue waters of Lake Tahoe.

I first learned to ski at Squaw Valley, the same iconic ski resort where I eventually launched my career as professional big mountain skier. And, I have done all this without ever leaving California's 4th Congressional District, which runs from Truckee south to the Sequoia National Forest.

Not only is this region ripe with opportunities for outdoor recreation, it is my home. And I'm proud to be from such an incredibly beautiful place.

But right now, our region is represented in Congress by Tom McClintock — a staunch climate denier who cares more about campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry outside District 4 than he cares about the health and wellbeing of the people that live here. As our forests burn and our snowpack diminishes, McClintock consistently votes against every climate-protecting measure.

In September 2017, I visited McClintock's office on Capitol Hill to speak with him about how climate change is negatively impacting my hometown of Tahoe City. Located on the shores of Lake Tahoe, my hometown depends on a thriving tourism economy. But, when the mountains have no snow or the air is full of smoke, businesses suffer. And, it's not just the resorts –– it's the hotels, restaurants, shops and outfitters, too. With each passing year, I become more and more worried about my community's future.

Unfortunately, McClintock didn't make time to meet with me when I traveled to Washington D.C. Instead, his staff member told me that if the impacts of climate change bothered me so much, that I should "vote with (my) feet" and move away from the area where I was born and bred. I was horrified. Our district — this beautiful region that means so much to so many people — is represented in Congress by someone who doesn't spend time outside and doesn't live here, but does have the audacity to tell his constituents to move away.

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That's exactly why I am voting for Jessica Morse for Congress. Not only is she an avid outdoor enthusiast who has backpacked the length of the Pacific Crest Trail through our district, but even more, she believes in investing in clean energy and reducing carbon emissions. She understands the actions we need to take to preserve and protect the waters of Lake Tahoe, the soaring walls of Yosemite, the giant sequoias of Kings Canyon, the snowy white slopes of the Sierra.

This region can't afford to be represented by a climate denier — there's just too much at stake. In fact, according to the Outdoor Industry Association, residents of California's 4th District spend over $2 billion on outdoor recreation each year, and provide a thriving economy to more than 90 outdoor companies.

I urge our outdoor recreation community to turn its passion into purpose and join me in voting for Jessica Morse on Nov. 6. Let's show Congressman McClintock that we will use our feet: to walk into the polls and choose a better future for our beloved home.

Michelle Parker is a professional big mountain skier who resides in Tahoe City. She is a member of the Protect Our Winters Alliance.