As booths cram the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, outdoor recreation enthusiasts and businessmen gathered at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow on July 31 to show off and gander at new outdoor equipment.
Frank Hugelmeyer, president or Outdoor Industry Association, said the outdoor industry contributes billions of dollars to both the federal and state coffers through the development and sale of outdoor equipment.
But Hugelmeyer and enthusiasts are also discussing an important issue surrounding the industry: wildlife conservation.
Hugelmeyer said outdoor equipment manufacturers pay what he calls hidden taxes that go toward conservation efforts.
“In a great state, outdoor recreation state like the state of Utah," Hugelmeyer said, "where I think we can all agree that protecting America’s parks, waters and trails just isn’t about the land, it’s about protecting this economy, the community, and all the people whose lives depend on having access to the great outdoors.”
But those efforts sometimes aren’t immediately visible to those who regularly utilize the outdoors and the equipment sold by recreation companies.
Trekwest adventurer John Davis, who is currently using human-powered transportation on a journey that will take him from Mexico to Canada, said he thinks conservation funds need to be diversified from the relatively expensive trophy hunting licenses.
“I as a hiker and paddler and mountain biker and so forth would very happily pay an excise tax on the gear I buy," Davis said. "I think that the makers of outdoor gear should support putting a tax on the equipment they sell, the equipment I buy, that goes into wildlife and land conservation programs.”
The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow will continue through August 3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tavin Stucki is a senior in Utah State University's journalism program, and works as a news reporting intern at UPR. He lives for sports, and is the current editor in chief at The Utah Statesman.