Governor’s Office Responds to Outdoor Industry’s Utah Snub: “The Decision Is Offensive”

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Yesterday Utah Governor Gary Herbert spoke with members of the Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, The North Face, REI, and Outdoor Retailer about the governor’s stance on public lands. The call did not resolve their differences, and the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) announced shortly afterward that they were planning to find a new home for the Outdoor Retailer trade show. “It is clear that the governor indeed has a different perspective on the protections of public lands from that of our members,” they wrote in a statement, ” and it’s bad for our businesses.”

In response, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, Paul Edwards, called the decision “offensive,” noting that Utah has long “embraced the Outdoor Retailer show, subsidizing its success and expansion through direct investment.” 

Furthermore, he called the reason for the dispute — that the governor, in calling to rescind Bears Ears National Monument, is an enemy to public lands — a “false narrative.” As proof, he points to the millions of dollars the state has invested to protect its public lands, which includes five national parks, nine national forests, and 43 state parks. He does not mention the state’s seven national monuments and 22.9 million acres of BLM-managed lands.

The full press release from Paul Edwards is below. 

” The decision by the Outdoor Industry Association to prevent Salt Lake City from bidding for the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Market is offensive.

It reflects a gross ingratitude to a community that has embraced the Outdoor Retailer show, subsidizing its success and expansion through direct investment — let alone extraordinary hospitality.

It perpetuates the false narrative that Utah — a state that derives much of its inspiration and identity from its iconic public lands — a state that invests tens of millions of dollars into the protection of and access to its public lands — is somehow hostile to those public lands.

It shows how a political agenda, rather than reason or merit, seems to have captured the decision-making at the Outdoor Industry Association.

The outdoor retail show may move away for a season, but Utah’s remarkable hospitality, our Mighty Five national parks, our nine national forests, our wilderness areas, our wildlife management areas, our wild and scenic rivers and our 43 state parks are here to stay.

Utah remains the best place to live, raise a family, recreate, and to do business. Today’s action by the OIA and the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Market does not change those facts. ”

—Paul Edwards, Deputy Chief of Staff