CEO’s from outdoor retailers, including Utah’s Black Diamond and Petzel America, placed an advertisement in Wednesday’s Washington Post asking elected officials to support public land protection.
The ad appeared in letter form and lists more than 100 outdoor industry businesses and was paid for through a joint effort between REI, The North Face, Patagonia, and Outdoor Industry Association based in Colorado. Amy Roberts is the association’s executive director.
“I don’t think it is a threatening letter,” says Roberts. “I think it really is a letter that’s showing the unification of our industry behind keeping public lands public.”
There are 1,200 association members. The number of small and large outdoor retail business owners who are adding their company’s name to the list of letter writers is growing. As of Tuesday, Utah companies including Black Diamond, Backcountry, Goal Zero, Kuhl, and Petzl of America had signed the letter requesting that when making policy decision, Congress should consider the best places to invest dollars.
“Investing dollars in public lands infrastructure and really standing by keeping our public lands public is going to ensure that this industry, which is a uniquely American industry, is part of who the U.S. is,” says Roberts.
During a recent outdoor retailer winter market in Utah, owners from two of the association’s business members, Black Diamond and Patagonia, sent a letter to Utah lawmakers and economic development leaders threatening to move semi-annual Outdoor Retailer Market trade shows from Utah because of state efforts to undo recent Bears Ears National Monument designation and for funding a legal battle to give the state control over public lands in Utah.
“Many of the people who are our consumers and who are supporters of public lands recreate in Utah.” she says. “So the message we really want to send to the Utah delegation is just a reminder of the economic driver that outdoor recreation is in the state of Utah and the potential to really drive that further and to bring more value and economic vitality to the state of Utah by making the right decisions in Congress.”
The outdoor retailer show is worth $40 million dollars, twice a year, to Utah’s economy. Much like the letter to the governor, Roberts says the association’s letter to national policy makers is there to remind elected officials that the outdoor industry contributes more than $650 billion annually to the U.S. economy.