SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A powerful outdoor recreation industry executive said Tuesday the world’s largest outdoor retail show going on this week in Salt Lake City should leave Utah if the state’s top political leaders continue what he calls an assault on public lands.
Black Diamond Equipment founder Peter Metcalf said keeping the show in Utah makes the industry complicit in supporting rhetoric and strategies that don’t align with its values. Metcalf sharply criticized Gov. Gary Herbert and others for strategizing to reverse President Barack Obama’s recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah.
“If they don’t want to change their policies, we should respond with our dollars, with our conventioneers, with our money, and take this show to a state that is much more aligned with our values,” Metcalf said.
His comments came on the opening day of the Outdoor Retailer’s winter show, which brings about 22,000 people for a business-to-business expo that allows store owners to meet with manufacturers and preview products that will reach the retail market soon. The twice-yearly show gives Utah an estimated $45 million in annual direct spending.
Herbert refuted the notion he and others have launched an assault on public lands. His deputy chief of staff, Paul Edwards, said in a statement Herbert took exception to the unilateral designation of Bears Ears by an outgoing president, which didn’t take into account input from state and local officials.
The governor demonstrated his commitment to protecting and promoting Utah’s scenic beauty with the 2013 creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation, Edwards said.
“Gov. Herbert has been clear that Utah is, always has been, and always will be a public lands state,” Edwards said.
The show is committed to Utah through at least 2018.
Metcalf said he isn’t advocating for the show to break any contracts, but wants officials to seriously consider his plea as they plan in the coming months for beyond 2018.
“Utah is really ground zero for the worst public lands policies,” he said.