Op-ed by Peter Metcalf, CEO and Founder, Black Diamond Inc.
Over the past several months Utah’s political leadership has unleashed an all-out assault against Utah’s protected public lands and Utah’s newest national monument, Bear’s Ears. It’s time for Outdoor Retailer to leave the state in disgust.
Over 20 years ago, I successfully led the effort to relocate the Outdoor Retailer Trade show to Utah. The state has some of the country’s most beautiful, varied, wild and iconic public lands that personified our industry’s values. Utah’s public lands also formed the underpinnings of the state’s great competitive advantage — an unmatched quality of life unique to much of America that has attracted some of the best and brightest companies and their employees to the state.
This is precisely why I relocated the business I founded, Black Diamond (BD), to Utah in 1991. Thanks in part to both Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade shows and BD’s arrival in Utah, the outdoor, ski, sportsmen and recreation industries have had mercurial growth here and have become one of Utah’s, and the country’s, largest economic sectors. In addition, the twice-annual OR show brings nearly $50 million in direct spending to Utah.
Our trade show, Utah’s outdoor recreation industry and the relocating of many high-tech businesses to the state are predicated in great part on the thoughtful public policy that includes unparalleled access to well-protected, stewarded and wild public lands. Tragically, Utah’s governor, congressional delegation and state Legislature leadership fail to understand this critical relationship between our healthy public lands and the vitality of Utah’s growing economy.
Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah’s D.C. delegation are leading a national all-out assault on the sanctity of Utah and the country’s public lands. Together, Utah’s political leadership has birthed an anti-public lands political agenda that is the driving force of an existential threat to the vibrancy of Utah and America’s outdoor industry, as well as Utah’s high quality of life.
Add Patagonia to the growing list of outdoor retailers who are not satisfied with the current Utah political climate as it relates to public lands. His passioned plea to Utah’s governor can be found here.