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Salt Lake leaders ask outdoor show to reconsider leaving

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News, File

Salt Lake leaders ask outdoor show to reconsider leaving

By Ben Lockhart, Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 8, 2017 at 9:39 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Council wants the lucrative Outdoor Retailer show to reconsider its decision to leave Utah after two decades.

But an official with the outdoor industry group that runs the show says a resolution from the Salt Lake City Council urging them to stay isn't enough to change the decision.

The council passed the resolution Tuesday night calling on show and industry leaders to reconsider their decision to move. The council says it shares the outdoor industry's values and appreciates the industry's efforts to protect public lands.

The resolution, which passed unanimously, specifically cites Salt Lake City's stewardship of the Central Wasatch Front watershed, the environment-conscious aspects of the city master plan through 2040 and the city's commitment to the Mountain Accord.

"Until February 16, 2017, Salt Lake City appeared to meet the criteria for bidding on future Outdoor Retailer shows, in particular the criterion requiring that a bidding city be aligned with the outdoor industry's core values," the resolution stated, referring to the day that it was announced the city wouldn't be considered when its contract ends.

The show announced last month it's leaving because of the stance by the state's Republican leadership on public lands. The industry is upset over demands by state leaders for the new Bears Ears National Monument to be rescinded.

Gov. Gary Herbert told Outdoor Retailer Industry leaders in a phone call Feb. 16 that "we're going to have to part ways" in the face of what he called an "ultimatum" to the state's resolution asking President Donald Trump to undo the Bears Ears National Monument designation.

Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke said the council wants to distance itself from the public lands position of state leaders.

"This is a response to some of the tone that was coming from the state," Luke said of the resolution. "We just want (the Outdoor Industry Association) to know that we don't agree with that."

The city's resolution expresses hope that, rather than committing to leaving, "the Outdoor Industry Association will join the City Council in a long-term strategy to protect and preserve public lands which are precious to all Utahns and people nationwide."

Outdoor Industry Association Executive Director Amy Roberts said in a statement to The Associated Press Wednesday that Utah's top political leaders continue to push for what she considers "anti-public lands" measures.

She pointed to U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop's proposal asking for $50 million to help transfer federal lands to state control.

"Until Utah's political leadership reverses its anti-public lands agenda, we cannot consider Utah as an appropriate home for the trade show," Roberts said.

The Outdoor Retailer contract in Utah runs through the summer of 2018. Colorado, Oregon and Montana have expressed interest in hosting the show.

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Despite that response from Roberts, Luke is still holding out hope that the appeal of Salt Lake City will change the organization's mind going forward.

"When it comes to priorities for open space and public lands protection, they're not standing alone in Utah. … I always feel like there's always a chance," he said. "We just want them to look at Salt Lake City, consider what Salt Lake City has done."

As part of its plea, the City Council assured the Outdoor Industry Association, the host of the show, that city leaders would work with various stakeholders to ensure important conservation goals in the area are met.

"The City Council will actively seek out the involvement and help of the outdoor industry and local outdoor-focused businesses to stand with us as we work to achieve the compatible objectives of vigilantly protecting our environment and building an economy that encourages businesses that champion similar goals," the measure stated.

The twice-yearly show brings an estimated $45 million in direct spending. The show has been a major source of revenue for several Salt Lake City businesses, Luke said.

"Certainly the businesses downtown do benefit greatly from having the presence of having both Outdoor Retailer shows each year," the councilman said, adding that the prospect of the Outdoor Industry Association leaving "will have an impact on them."

"It will have an impact on the city, as well as the state," he said.

The Executive Appropriations Committee has recommended a one-time $1 million funding item, titled "Outdoor Retailers Convention," to the list of approved funding items for the 2017 legislative session, state Sen. Jerry Stevenson confirmed.

Stevenson, chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee, said it "will not hurt to let the money to stay put for now."

Lawmakers hope that it will improve the chances of the organization staying in Utah "moving forward."

Contributing: Associated Press

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Ben Lockhart

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