Out­door Re­tailer show folds up tent

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Brady McCombs

SALT LAKE CITY» Out­door recre­ation in­dus­try lead­ers aren’t go­ing qui­etly as they stage their last trade show in Utah be­fore mov­ing it to Colorado.

As they said good­bye and thank you Wed­nes­day to Salt Lake City for host­ing the expo for two decades, some in­dus­try lead­ers also crit­i­cized Utah’s Repub­li­can lead­ers for their hard­line op­po­si­tion to a new na­tional mon­u­ment and for their ef­forts to seize con­trol of fed­eral lands.

Those is­sues led the in­dus­try to move the twiceyearly expo that gen­er­ated an es­ti­mated $45 mil­lion in an­nual di­rect spend­ing in the state by vis­i­tors to the expo.

“It’s about do­ing what is right,” said Marisa Ni­chol­son, Out­door Re­tailer show di­rec­tor. “It’s about open spa­ces and get­ting out­side; ac­tion over words.”

Sev­eral heavy-hit­ters in the in­dus­try spoke at the start of the show, say­ing the de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate to Den­ver is part of their ef­fort to flex the in­dus­try’s col­lec­tive power and sup­port preser­va­tion of pub­lic lands.

Amid threats by sev­eral ma­jor com­pa­nies to boy­cott the expo if it stayed in Utah, show or­ga­niz­ers an­nounced ear­lier this year that they would leave Utah over Repub­li­can op­po­si­tion to the des­ig­na­tion of Bears Ears Na­tional Mon­u­ment and the on­go­ing push to take more con­trol of fed­eral pub­lic lands.

Some vis­i­tors to the fi­nal expo in Utah bought hats and T-shirts bear­ing the phrase, “This land is your land.” Hun­dreds were ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in a march Thurs­day to the Utah state capi­tol that is be­ing or­ga­nized by in­dus­try of­fi­cials to show sup­port for pre­serv­ing pub­lic lands.

For­mer In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Sally Jewell, who was CEO of REI be­fore serv­ing un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, said the de­ci­sion to leave for Den­ver sends a pow­er­ful mes­sage to Utah lead­ers who be­lieve they know best how to man­age land in the state.

Jewell also blasted Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­view of the des­ig­na­tion of two dozen na­tional mon­u­ments, say­ing it’s out of step with what Amer­i­cans want.

“Pres­i­dent Trump is play­ing games with our pub­lic lands, treat­ing the mon­u­ments like they are con­tes­tants on a game show,” Jewell said in her first ma­jor pub­lic speech since leav­ing the In­te­rior post. “But the con­se­quences, as you know, are real and dev­as­tat­ing.”

Utah lead­ers dis­pute the con­tention that they don’t want to pro­tect pub­lic land and say lo­cal lead­ers are best po­si­tioned to man­age the ar­eas.

Show or­ga­niz­ers thanked Salt Lake City for help­ing the expo grow from about 5,000 peo­ple at the first show in 1996 to about 29,000 last sum­mer, and for giv­ing the bur­geon­ing in­dus­try a place to share ideas and make their po­lit­i­cal voice heard.

But they stood firm be­hind the de­ci­sion to leave for Colorado.

In­dus­try mem­bers clam­ored for a move to a state “that bet­ter sup­ports our col­lec­tive val­ues,” said Amy Roberts, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Out­door In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, which es­ti­mates that the out­door recre­ation in­dus­try gen­er­ates $887 bil­lion in an­nual con­sumer spend­ing in the U.S.

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