Patagonia and REI issued statements that said the companies would not attend Outdoor Retailer when it returns to Salt Lake City in 2023.
Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert in a media statement said, “We are disappointed the owners of Outdoor Retailer are blatantly ignoring the Indigenous Peoples, local activists and outdoor athletes who spent years working to conserve and protect wild lands in Utah by moving the show back to Salt Lake City. Until we hear a firm commitment to protect our national monuments, we remain steadfast in our position and won’t return to the trade show in Utah.”
“Utah’s elected officials have repeatedly refused to protect, and are actively working to undermine, duly designated national monuments and natural treasures, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. As we made clear in February, REI will not participate in any OR trade show in the State so long as Utah’s leaders persist in attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them. We remain committed to our employees, members, vendors, and communities in the State,” Steele’s statement read. “The co-op is unwavering in our commitment to public lands—the mountains, deserts, prairies, waters, and forests that tens of millions of Americans from all backgrounds cherish and enjoy annually. We recognize and maintain solidarity with the Native American communities who have stewarded these lands for generations and continue to lead the campaign for their protection. We hope Emerald will reconsider the host site of Outdoor Retailer in the future.”
The Conservation Alliance said in a statement, “Following today’s announcement by Emerald Expositions (“Emerald”) that the Outdoor Retailer show will be returning to Utah, our position remains firm—we stand with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and in support of our public lands. We will not support or attend a trade show event in Utah so long as its elected officials continue attacks on national monuments and public lands protections, doing so would undermine our organizational mission and values.
“We learned of Emerald’s decision this afternoon with no advance notice. We are incredibly disappointed. The Conservation Alliance, along with many of our members, have stated from the beginning that while we love the state of Utah, our commitment is to our partners and public lands conservation first and foremost.
“It is our hope that Utah’s decision makers change course and commit to protecting public lands and national monuments. Should that be the case, we are happy and excited to return and engage with the state of Utah so long as assurances are made that the state will not file the previously planned litigation.”
The Outdoor Retailer trade show, owned by Emerald Expositions, announced on Wednesday it was returning to Salt Lake City, UT in 2023. The show had moved to Denver in 2018 because of Utah’s environmental policies and local political leaders’ support of the shrinking of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and other federal land policies.
Show organizers came under pressure in February when The Conservation Alliance and two dozen outdoor recreation companies, including Patagonia, REI and The North Face, threatened to boycott the event if it was moved back to Salt Lake City despite what they described as widespread industry objections.
In announcing the show’s return to Salt Lake City, the organizers also announced steps to address those environmental concerns, including committing revenue over the next three years from Outdoor Retailer events in Utah to fund programs to support outdoor recreation and protect public lands.
Outdoor Retailer’s statement, signed by Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer SVP and show director, and Jeff Davis, Emerald group vice president, said, “Salt Lake City and County is our hometown, and we’re going back with a commitment to effecting meaningful change. It would be wrong for us to leave the way we did and simply go back as if nothing happened. In reality, leaving after 2017 has not brought the change we had hoped for, so we will push back, not pull back. We firmly believe that staying engaged and collectively contributing to the ongoing discussion, no matter how difficult, is far more constructive.”
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Photo courtesy OR 2017