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Facing 'ultimatum' in Outdoor Retailer call, Herbert said state and trade show must 'part ways'

Jay Dortzbach, KSL-TV, File

Facing 'ultimatum' in Outdoor Retailer call, Herbert said state and trade show must 'part ways'

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Feb. 27, 2017 at 7:22 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — Faced with a choice between asking state leaders to back down from efforts to undo the Bears Ears Monument designation or lose the lucrative Outdoor Retailer show, Gov. Gary Herbert wouldn't budge.

"If you're giving me an ultimatum here on the phone, then the answer is I guess we're going to have to part ways," the governor told executives from some of the major companies in the show during a Feb. 16 conference call.

The pronouncement was met with a pause, and members of the Outdoor Industry Association offered their thanks and cut the call moments later, ending the state's 20-year relationship with the twice-annual trade show.

In a recording of that call released Monday, Herbert and members of the Outdoor Industry Association — including heads of Patagonia, The North Face, REI and the exposition company that owns the Outdoor Retailer show — laid out their positions after weeks of mounting pressure for organizers to move the show.

The call for a new venue escalated when the Legislature passed a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to rescind his predecessor's action in December that declared the Bears Ears area in southeast Utah a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

The Outdoor Retailer show announced in early February that, compelled by companies pledging to boycott the next installment of the show coming up this summer, it would take bids to move the show out of Utah once the trade show's contract with the state expires.

Gordon Seabury, chairman of the Outdoor Industry Association board, told Herbert toward the end of the call that while it wasn't too late to come to an agreement and keep Salt Lake in the running, something needed to be done quickly.

"We are here in good faith to see what action you are willing to take on our behalf based on what you heard today," Seabury said. "What's happened in the past few weeks has put us in a position where, frankly, you would probably have a week or two to come up with a strong statement and get support for whatever statement you're willing to make in order for Utah to be included in the (request for proposal) process for where the show ultimately ends up."

Discussing Bears Ears, Herbert said he and other elected officials in Utah agree the area warrants protections, including agreeing on the size of the area that needs to be considered. However, he proposed establishing those protections through legislation or by creating a state park rather than a designation under the Antiquities Act.

Herbert asked for time and "a little slack here" to continue seeking a compromise about the area.

Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, told Herbert that the conversations he suggested should have come before the Legislature sought to repeal the monument.

"It's a historic action, like nothing we've ever seen in the conservation and outdoor industry," Marcario said of the resolution. She also voiced concerns over lawmakers' attitudes toward Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

"We know from working on these issues, with these monuments, there are always issues. Some people end up happy with how it is parsed out and some don't, but the long-term vision is these being public lands for Americans to enjoy, generation after generation," Marcario said. "History shows that if these lands aren't protected, they're generally sold to the highest bidder.

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Patagonia's customers and clients, who Marcario called her "constituents," were troubled by "the idea that a national monument would be attacked in any way."

Of the Grand Staircase Monument, Herbert said that designation under the Antiquities Act encompassed huge tracts of land. The move broke from the act's intended purpose of designating the "smallest area necessary to protect the objects that we're trying to preserve," leaving many in the state smarting.

"It doesn't appear that people have been following the purpose of the Antiquities Act, and that's caused some concern," Herbert said, referring to the size of Grand Staircase.

Native American groups, Herbert said, have asked to co-manage the land, something the governor says isn't possible under the federal designation.

During the call, Herbert called Utah an ideal venue for the event because of the "unrivaled" opportunities for recreation. Slot canyons, mountain vistas, river rapids, red rock deserts and "the Greatest Snow on Earth" contribute to the state's backyard, he said, and Utah leaders have committed to preserving all of it.

"There's really no place like it on Earth," Herbert assured, saying that the state's policies should "protect, preserve and enhance the opportunities to have an unparalleled outdoor recreation experience."

Herbert also praised Salt Lake as an accommodating and accessible host city and the state's conservation efforts, stream access and care for wildlife.

The symbiotic relationship between Outdoor Retailer and Utah has "revitalized" Ogden and developed the identity of Moab and Park City, Herbert said, addressing the economic boon that the event has become.

Vendors at the show spend nearly $50 million in the city over the course of 10 days, Visit Salt Lake CEO Scott Beck said earlier this month. He estimated that the economic reach of the trade show to businesses and other cities in the state could be "three or four times the impact" of that spending.

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McKenzie Romero

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