Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia, and Peter Metcalf, the founder and former chief executive of Black Diamond, have both written letters calling for Utah's political leaders to withdraw plans for the state to take control of federal public lands, which could be made easier to implement following rule changes recently proposed in the U.S. Congress.
Land conservation activists are afraid that the state will be leasing portions of those lands to drilling and mining companies. Utah's governor, Gary Herbert, has mounted a legal challenge against one of President Obama's last acts in office, the designation of the Bears Ears area in the southeastern part of the state as a national monument.
Chouinard and Metcalf argue that if the state's authorities move forward, then the outdoor industry should use its economic leverage and boycott the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer Winter and Summer Market trade shows in Salt Lake City, moving the events out of the state.
Metcalf, who in his letter spoke of an “all-out assault” on public lands, left Black Diamond as chief executive about a year ago, but is still an influential voice in the industry. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) posted an open letter as an ad in the Washington Post, signed by 100 large and small outdoor companies
Utah's authorities released a statement saying there is no all-out assault against Utah's public lands, but the issue has raised new hopes by the governor of the state of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, that it will be able to lure the OR show to Denver, joining the SIA snow show at the same venue.
Governor Hickenlooper has already crated an office of recreation, following a similar move by Governor Herbert, who has set up the first state office of this kind in response to the outdoor industry's lobbying efforts.
Denver is much better suited than Salt Lake City to host the OR show, or some of its sessions, in terms of hotel accommodation, restaurants and downtown attractions. On the negative side, it may be more expensive and it's further away from the mountains.