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Summit Focuses on Mutual Interests on Outdoor Rec

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The Outdoor Recreation Summit is trying to bring together people with diverse views about public lands to support the multi-billion-dollar a year industry ands the jobs it creates around the state.

  Utah’s second annual Outdoor Recreation Summit gets underway in Salt Lake City Tuesday. The daylong meeting is aimed at bringing together communities that have been at odds in the past.

Utah created the nation’s first Outdoor Recreation Office in 2013, and Brad Petersen stepped up to lead it. He’s been trying ever since to get outdoor industry leaders and state politicians talking about their mutual interests.

“Outdoor recreation across the state of Utah right now has a tremendous amount of momentum,” he says.

This year’s summit is bringing more than 500 people and businesses to the Salt Palace. The reason? Consumers spend about $12 billion on outdoor recreation in Utah each year and rafting, fishing, skiing and other outdoor activities support 122,000 jobs.

But there’s also new tension over efforts by Utah lawmakers to put the state in control of most federal lands.

“It just seems to me and the industry that the risks are huge, the potential lifestyle costs to Utah citizens are very high and the potential benefits are so few, so negligible,” says Peter Metcalf, CEO of Black Diamond Equipment and a critic of the lands-transfer movement.

Meanwhile, an interstate tug-of-war is shaping up over the industry. Idaho’s House of Representatives passed a billlast week that encourages outdoor retailers to move their twice yearly trade shows to that state, since they’re not talking about suing the federal government over the transferring those disputed lands.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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