In an op-ed piece in The Salt Lake Tribune, Peter Metcalf, former CEO and founder of Black Diamond Equipment, argued that organizers of the Outdoor Retailer Show should consider pulling out of the state due to Utah political leaders’ vows to upend President Obama’s recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument.
The show’s current contract with Salt Lake City expires in 2018.
Metcalf, who helped lure the Outdoor Retailer shows to Utah in the mid-1990s, sees the current initiatives by the state’s leadership as an utter failure, in terms of both environmental and economic policy. “If they don’t want to change their policies, we should respond with our dollars, with our conventioneers, with our money, and take this show to a state that is much more aligned with our values,” Metcalf wrote.
He added, “The agenda that is being pursued by our governor, our Legislature and our delegation is an absolute attack on our public lands.”
Metcalf has no official leadership position with the show or its sponsor, the Outdoor Industry Association. He’s a prominent outdoor industry activist on conservation issues. He specifically mentioned Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop’s opposition of public lands like the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument
“Why are we here?” Metcalf asked. “We are in the birther state of these anti-public land policies that have metastasized and exported elsewhere in the West. We need to stand up to this power to power, truth to power and tell the state: We will not stay here with our trade show if you do not change these policies.”
Gov. Herbert did not respond to Metcalf but in a written statement his Deputy Chief of Staff Paul Edwards said: “There is no all-out-assault against Utah’s public lands. Gov. Herbert has been clear that Utah is, always has been, and always will be a public lands state. What concerns Gov. Herbert is the process that has been used to make public lands decisions.”
The association and show released a statement to Deseret News in response to Metcalf’s remarks but declined to say whether a departure from Salt Lake City is under consideration.
“We’ve always had an open and honest relationship with the governor and the congressional delegation, but we must be clear that the protection of America’s public lands, including those in Utah, are critical and any threat to their protection is a threat to the outdoor industry,” the statement read.
The statement points out the association and retailers are “extremely grateful” to President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for preserving a record number of public lands while in office, but concedes those moves have sometimes “generated controversy.”