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'Curt finish' to talks led by Gov. Gary Herbert on Outdoor Retailer show

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SALT LAKE CITY — Talks led by Gov. Gary Herbert to stop the Outdoor Retailer show from leaving Utah over the state's efforts to undo the new Bears Ears National Monument designation came to "sort of a curt finish" Thursday.

"We felt that we were being presented with an ultimatum," Paul Edwards, the governor's deputy chief of staff, told reporters after a conference call with the Outdoor Industry Association, the sponsor of the biannual trade show.

Edwards called the discussion "frustrating" and said it ended with "sort of a curt finish."

Visit Utah President and CEO Scott Beck said "there were no threats" made during the call that the summer and winter exhibitions of outdoor products would leave before the current contract is up in 2018.

But Beck said a new "ethos" provision in future requests for bids to host the trade show may hurt Salt Lake City. He said he could not put a price tag on the revenue that would be lost, but said other, likely smaller, conventions could be booked.

Edwards said the association "expressed to us their frustration with seeing a state pass a resolution hostile to a monument designation." He said the governor's offer to help put together a group "to work through differences" was not accepted.

"We are largely in agreement. We all want protection of those areas," Edwards said, but there may be a better way than a monument designation. "They didn't want to engage in any dialog," he said, other than keeping the monument in place.

Earlier in the day, the governor said he would talk about reversing the resolution.

"We'll have that discussion today and see, in fact, how that comes about," Herbert said during the taping of his monthly news conference on KUED. "Again, my job is to reflect the desires and the will of the people in Utah."

He said Utah has been consistent in saying, "We want to have a legislative fix," citing the stalled Public Lands Initiative proposed by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, that would "bring peace to really 18 million acres" in the state.

The conference call with the association and industry leaders followed recent efforts by the state to persuade President Donald Trump to reverse the monument designation.

That included a resolution passed earlier this month by the Legislature and signed by the governor opposing the creation of the new 1.35 million-acre monument taken by then-President Barack Obama in the final days of his presidency.

In response, Patagonia and a growing number of other companies have said they will not exhibit at the Outdoor Retailer show if it stays in Utah and the Outdoor Industry Association has made it clear the show may leave Utah.

Other places, including Colorado, are actively competing to host the show, estimated by the association to contribute more than $856 million in state and local tax revenues.

"If they are unable to reach agreement, OIA will continue to work with Outdoor Retailer to move the show as soon as possible," the association said in a statement before the meeting.

The governor, the association said, is being asked "to stop all efforts to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument through executive order, to stop efforts to gut the Antiquities Act and to support keeping our public lands public for all Americans to enjoy."

Herbert said his preference is to have land in San Juan County protected through action by Congress. He said the issue can be resolved "in the best interests of everyone" with action by a new president and Congress.

"For me, it's a better opportunity legislatively," the governor said. "It's kind of a repeal and replace. We're going to replace it with this and repeal the monument. That's how I envision it."

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said if the Outdoor Retailer show decides to leave Utah, it won't be part of future discussions about the state's public lands and outdoor recreation.

“Please stay at the table and work with us,” Niederhauser urged the retailers.

He said Utah is a much better place for the outdoor industry showcase.

“My argument for the people of Colorado is that we are still the outdoor capital,” Niederhauser said. “We have more federal land than they do. We have more open space than they do.”

The governor said when it comes to the Outdoor Retailer show and the association, Utah has "been a blessing to them, too. They've doubled or tripled over the last 20 years since they've been sited here in Utah."

Herbert said it's in the trade show's best interest to stay put because "there is in fact no better place than here in Utah" for outdoor recreation opportunities with more than 35 million acres of public lands.

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Lisa Riley Roche


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