Capitol March Is Trade Show’s Thanks, Goodbye to Utah After Two Decade Run
People who attend the Outdoor Retailer trade show are saying their goodbyes to Salt Lake City. Around a thousand of them hiked to the State Capitol Thursday for what they called the “This Land is Our Land” March for public lands
“I’m a strong believer that keeping public lands wild is in every single person’s best interest and not just people of Utah or people of the United States but people of the world,” said California filmmaker Craig Flax.
Like others who climbed the hill on the hot summer afternoon, he’s sad the show is quitting Utah even though he supports the reasons why. The Outdoor Industries Association and allies in the conservation community organized the event. They’re relocating their trade show to protest land policies pushed by the state’s Republican leaders.
The last straw was two resolutions passed by lawmakers last winter. One urges the Trump administration to scrap Bears Ears National Monument. The other presses Washington to shrink another national monument in southern Utah, the 20-year-old Grand Staircase Escalante.
Jerry Stritzke, CEO of retailer REI, told the crowd public lands are good for the economy and for quality of life.
“To those that are listening who will see these reports, I have a statement,” he said. “Do not underestimate our passion, our commitment to protect these national treasures. We stand united with a shared commitment to act on our beliefs.”
The twice-yearly convention attracts about 45,000 people and $50 million a year. But those figures are expected to double when the trade show moves to Denver in January and expands. But the groups say they plan to keep up their efforts to protect Utah’s public lands despite the move.