For fifteen years, the outdoor industry has proudly called Salt Lake City the home of Outdoor Retailer and we are deeply grateful to the Utahans that have supported and hosted the show. We know firsthand that Utah is an incredible place to do business and play.
Yet recently, the industry is often surprised and frustrated by Utah’s unfavorable positions on public lands policy. Beyond setting bad national precedent, these policies threaten the recreation infrastructure that is fundamental to the outdoor industry. Good economic policy cannot be divorced from bad public lands policy.
Of greatest concern is the governor’s lawsuit challenging the federal government over jurisdiction of the federal public lands and some road claims within national parks, monuments and wilderness areas. We have not and will not sit silently on threats to the nation’s recreation infrastructure.
It is disappointing that Utah – a place that draws outdoor businesses and enthusiasts alike – has not had a collaborative policy relationship with the outdoor industry. We would like to see that change. It should be the rare exception, not the rule, for Utah’s leadership and congressional delegation to announce or implement policies with little to no consultation or warning for the companies whose lives depend on a well-managed outdoors.
As a result, we view Governor Herbert’s first-ever meeting with the OIA board of directors as a positive step. We are encouraged that Governor Herbert committed to engage with the outdoor industry to create a shared vision of how the State of Utah can pursue public land policies that support the outdoor industry and the National Outdoor Recreation System upon which the health of Utah’s economy and our industry depend. We expect that the governor’s administration will pursue this collaboration with the outdoor industry within the next 30 days, and that the governor’s administration will provide specific recommendations by Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013.
Regarding the future of Outdoor Retailer, OIA, in partnership with owners Nielsen Expositions, is continuing productive conversations about the logistical needs of the trade show and greatly appreciates efforts to meet our challenges. While not the deciding factor in a location decision, the political climate in a host state is one of many elements that will be considered.
We remain open to finding solutions with Utah’s leadership that improve collaboration and ensure the continued growth and success of the state’s expanding outdoor recreation business community.