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Outdoor Industry Takes on Lands-Transfer Movement

Ads in Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers Thursday urge people to transform their support for public lands into political action. It’s part of the outdoor industry’s new counteroffensive against efforts to put federal lands under state control.

Outdoor recreation companies say their $646 billion industry depends on having beautiful places to play in. So, hunters and fishermen are joining hands with mountain bikers and backcountry hikers to foil what they see as an existential threat. John Sterling, director of the political coalition called theConservation Alliance, is urging recreation businesses and the conservation community this week to fight the Utah-grown lands-transfer movement.

“We hope to galvanize a renewed commitment not just to stopping this bad idea,” he said, “but to standing up for protection of your federal lands and the important role they play in the success of this industry and your lives.”

The outdoor industry says derailing what they call a “public-lands heist” means reminding Americans about their stake in the Great Outdoors.

Meanwhile, the lands-transfer movement is taking hold outside Utah, where Republican Rep. Ken Ivoryoriginated the idea. He couldn’t be reached for comment. But critics of his campaign say reversing its momentum means speaking out.

Janae Pettit and her husband Bob operate AirGo Paddle Boarding in Orem.

“We rent paddle boards, and we sell paddle boards. If our customers have nowhere to take them, we don’t have a business,” says Pettit.” I started realizing this really impacts us more than I was thinking.“

The couple hopes to band together with other small-business owners to educate their customers and the political leaders who are making decisions about public 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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