Dozens of corporations specializing in outdoor gear and recreation are pulling a flagship trade show out of Salt Lake City after state leaders reaffirmed calls to transfer federal public lands into state hands.
Utah officials were enraged when the Obama administration, in the waning days of its tenure, designated the new Bears Ears National Monument under the Antiquities Act.
Gov. Gary Herbert (R) and Rep. Rob BishopRob BishopPublic lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show House votes to overturn Obama drilling rule Overnight Energy: Dems delay vote on Pruitt | GOP options for breaking deadlock | House votes to undo two Obama rules MORE (R), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, have worked to reverse that decision.
Herbert, the group said, refused to change his mind.
“It’s disappointing Gov. Herbert and the Utah congressional delegation are in a different place from Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., and across the country,” said Amy Roberts, head of the Outdoor Industry Association, which organized the call.
As a consequence, Outdoor Retailer, the industry’s largest semi-annual trade show, will leave Salt Lake City after 20 years. The show, which attracts 40,000 visitors a year and contributes up to $45 million to Utah’s economy, will look for a new home after its summer 2018 edition.
Herbert’s office called the show’s decision to ignore future Utah bids “offensive.”
The decision “perpetuates the false narrative that Utah, a state that derives much of its inspiration and identity from its iconic public lands, a state that invests tens of millions of dollars into the protection of and access to its public lands, is somehow hostile to those public lands,” said Paul Edwards, Herbert’s deputy chief of staff. “It shows how a political agenda, rather than reason or merit, seems to have captured the decision-making at the Outdoor Industry Association.”
Addressing reporters at his monthly press conference Thursday, before the call took place, Herbert said Utah had been as good for the trade show as the trade show had been for the state.
“We’ve been a blessing to them, too. They’ve doubled or tripled over the last 20 years since they’ve been sited here in Utah,” Herbert said.
The trade show has used its economic heft as leverage for public policy changes before. In 2012, as the show considered finding a new home, Utah agreed to create the Office of Outdoor Recreation to promote outdoor tourism within its borders.
But Obama’s decision in December to designate Bears Ears, along with Gold Butte National Monument in neighboring Nevada, enraged Utah Republicans. Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Hatch7 key players in the GOP's border tax fight Public lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show Overnight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight MORE called the move an “egregious abuse of executive power.” Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeTop antitrust senators call for Sessions to scrutinize AT&T-Time Warner merger Public lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget MORE renewed his push to rewrite the Antiquities Act, along with Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiPublic lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show Oprah's network provides Senate with tape of abuse allegations by Puzder's ex-wife: report More than 100 groups back Puzder for Labor secretary MORE (R-Alaska).
Bishop, long a critic of the Antiquities Act, has asked the Trump administration to limit the size of Bears Ears, or to nix the new park altogether.
But it’s not clear the Trump administration can act without Congress’s consent. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), President Trump’s nominee to head the Interior Department, said during his confirmation hearings he does not believe the Antiquities Act would allow a president to cut back an existing monument.