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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News, File

Retailers ramp up threat for big outdoors show to leave Utah

By Michelle L. Price - Associated Press  |  Posted Feb 14th, 2017 @ 5:30pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A coalition of major outdoor companies on Tuesday ramped up a threat to get a lucrative outdoor trade show to leave Utah unless the governor and elected officials back away from policies they say threaten public lands.

Leaders of Black Diamond Equipment, Osprey Packs and 28 other outdoor companies sent a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert that says Utah leaders are threatening the outdoor industry by pushing back against federal land control and management.

"We see all of these actions as an existential threat to the vibrancy of Utah and America's outdoor industry, as well as Utah's high quality of life," the letter said.

The letter comes two days before Herbert is expected to meet with outdoor retailers to try to smooth the discord.

The governor's office did not immediately have a comment on the letter Tuesday.

The letter is the latest in a string of moves the outdoors industry has made to protest Utah's stance.

Organizers of the lucrative, semiannual Outdoor Retailer trade show said they're considering moving the event after two decades in Utah. Some companies said they'll boycott the show as long as it remains in the state.

Tuesday's letter was signed by CEOs of companies boycotting the show, including Patagonia and Arc'teryx, and others that have pledged to keep attending, such as The North Face and REI.

In the letter, the outdoors CEOs call on Herbert and Utah officials to stop pushing for the recent declaration of the Bears Ears National Monument to be rescinded and to stop pushing for state control of public lands currently owned by the federal government, among other actions.

"If that is something that you are unwilling to do, we are publicly and emphatically urging our trade group's leadership to have our show depart," the letter said.

Speaking about the dispute earlier this week, Herbert told reporters that both sides of the issue need to calm down and understand each other.

Herbert and Utah's Legislature recently approved a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to repeal the monument. Utah's congressional delegation is also pressing the Trump administration on the issue.

Herbert and local officials object to President Barack Obama's use of the Antiquities Act to sweep the area into a national monument. They say the area is too broad and does not allow for a mix of purposes, including development and drilling.

Officials have also sought to limit a president's powers under the Antiquities Act, and the state has floated the idea of launching a $14 million lawsuit against the federal government to gain control of about 30 million acres of forests, rangelands and more acres in U.S. government hands.

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