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By Tripp Baltz
Utah’s perceived hostile stance against federal public lands designation spurred The North Face, Patagonia, REI and other outdoors recreation companies to urge a retailer association to move three major trade shows from Salt Lake City to Denver, an officer for The North Face told Bloomberg BNA.
Eric Raymond, senior manager of brand and corporate social responsibility communications for The North Face, told Bloomberg BNA July 12 the company repeatedly voiced its opinion to state and federal officials that Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah, set aside by President Barack Obama, should remain protected. “We have also written to other government leaders on other public lands,” he said.
The comments motivated Outdoor Retailer—an association of outdoor gear and clothing vendors and manufacturers—to announce it will be relocating three lucrative 2018 shows from Salt Lake City to Denver, Darrell Denny, executive vice president of Emerald Expositions, which owns Outdoor Retailer, told Bloomberg BNA.
Members and attendees of Outdoor Retailer’s events called for the move after Utah elected officials refused to back away from their position toward public lands.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), and other members of the state’s congressional delegation joined other state and local elected officials in asking the Trump administration to rescind Obama’s Antiquities Act designation of Bears Ears National Monument and other public land set-asides.
Paul Edwards, deputy chief of staff for Herbert, declined to comment on the state’s public lands stance but said the governor’s office wishes Outdoor Retailer well in its move to Denver.
Hatch in April called the designation of Bears Ears a “massive land grab” the Interior Department should “get rid of.”
Bears Ears, located in San Juan County in southeastern Utah, encompasses 1.35 million acres, or more than 2,000 square miles of public land, and is 900 square miles bigger than Rhode Island. Grand Staircase-Escalante is the country’s largest national monument at almost 1.9 million acres.
The North Face, Patagonia, REI, KEEN, Clif Bar & Company, JanSport, Columbia Sportswear, and several other outdoor companies sent an open letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging him to leave Bears Ears alone and instead seek even greater protections for public lands. In June, Zinke announced Bears Ears would be reduced in size, but it’s unclear the White House can undo an Antiquities Act designation by a previous president, since the question has never been decided by a court.
After Zinke acted, Patagonia issued a statement calling his decision “unlawful” and an “egregious violation of our shared American values.”
Outdoor Retailer announced July 6 it would withdraw from Salt Lake City and instead hold Denver trade shows in January, July, and November. The events will bring an estimated 85,000 visitors to Denver and could pump some $110 million into the local economy on an annual basis, Denny said.
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