The Idaho Outdoor Business Council provides a strong voice on behalf of sustainable recreation and of the benefits of healthy lands and waters to Idaho’s important outdoor recreation economy. 



Offices of Outdoor Recreation Set to Take Over the West

By Tania Lown-Hecht

Outdoor Alliance

The world of outdoor recreation is making its mark on state legislatures across the west. In the last few years, three states (Washington, Utah, and Colorado) have created Offices of Outdoor Recreation to oversee and improve outdoor experiences in the state, and Montana has announced its intent to create an Outdoor Recreation Office. Next week, Oregon and California will make a move to join their neighbors and create Outdoor Recreation Offices of their own.

On Monday, Oregon’s House Economic Development and Trade Committee will have a hearing on H.B. 3350, which will create an Office of Outdoor Recreation within the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. On Tuesday, California’s state Assembly will hear testimony on Assembly Bill 907, which creates an Office of Outdoor Recreation for California.

Both bills reflect the recognition that outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse for the states. Outdoor Alliance has been working closely with the Outdoor Industry Association to support the creation of these offices. In Oregon, the outdoor industry creates $12.8 billion in consumer spending and supports over 140,000 jobs. In California, the outdoor industry generates over $85 billion in consumer spending and supports over 700,000 jobs. These states are homes to incredible outdoor businesses, including KEEN, Danner, Poler, Columbia, The North Face, Camelbak, Royal Robbins, and Patagonia. Many western states have long been known for their outdoor resources, attracting visitors, residents, and businesses because they offer access to quality outdoor experiences. States that view the outdoors as a resource, and want to invest in them, are increasingly installing offices of outdoor recreation.

So why does this matter for outdoor enthusiasts like you? A few big reasons:

  1. Even though outdoor recreation is a major economic player and a huge reason why people move, travel, and work in the west, it still does not have the political weight of other industries. Outdoor recreation offices are part of a movement to take the outdoor community more seriously.
  2. These offices have already been incredibly effective in Washington, Utah, and Colorado, which have grown their outdoor businesses, improved funding for outdoor recreation infrastructure, increased consumer spending and outdoor participation.
  3. Ultimately, this means better policies, more funding, more focus on the outdoors, and better experiences for people like you. This might mean more public transportation to trailheads, more development of mountain biking or climbing resources, investing in local or state parks, working to attract and build outdoor business in the state, protecting natural resources, and improving trails.

At Outdoor Alliance, we are delighted to see Oregon and California join the effort to invest in outdoor recreation, and we hope to see more states following their lead. Click below to read joint letters to the Oregon and California state legislatures from supporting outdoor advocacy groups and outdoor businesses about these offices.  You can also learn more about offices of outdoor recreation with the Outdoor Industry Association’s white paper.


Public Lands Rally demonstrators send message to lawmakers

By Tammy Scardino

KIVI-TV, Boise, ID


BOISE - Idahoans from every corner of the state gathered along the Gem state's Capitol steps Saturday as part of a public lands rally. It was organized to send a clear message to lawmakers.

The debate over who should manage public lands has been ongoing in U.S. history. Opponents of transferring the federal, public lands to state or local management say management costs are something to consider.

Wildfire protection alone is costly, and they fear states would at some point be forced to raise taxes or sell off iconic, national properties to developers or other private investors in order to pay for everything the federal government currently handles.

"The reality is that state lands are not public lands. State lands are for economic purposes for the state. The state has already proven that they would sell those lands off," said Luke Nelson, a professional ultramarathon runner. "Forty-one percent of the state lands that were given to Idaho at statehood have been sold."  

Nelson was asked to provide his perspective at Saturday's rally.

"It [the outdoors] has spoken to me, it has spoken to you and it's time we raise our voices," Nelson said while addressing the crowd.

The man from Eastern Idaho travels the world to run long distances in backcountry areas. Nelson says people in other countries don't enjoy the freedoms that Americans do with regards to having access to the Great Outdoors.

"We have an amazing system right now, and we've got to fight for it," another speaker said.

"I'm a cyclist, I ski, I hunt, I fish... I do all those things that Idahoans do," commented Frank Leone with the Idaho Outdoor Business Council.

Outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, along with representatives of Native American tribes in Idaho, came together wanting to do something to help preserve their heritage.

Leone says keeping public lands open could also save jobs within the industry as well. He fears they could disappear with less places for people to recreate.

"Hopefully, Idahoans will reach out to their legislators and let them know that public lands should remain in public hands," Leone said.

Of course, not everybody agrees with the rally demonstrators. Advocates of transferring federal, public lands to state or local management say decisions on use and development are best made by the people closest to the issue. They say locally driven stewardship of public lands would improve access and environmental health, as well as economic productivity.


Patagonia drops out of Outdoor Retailer over Utah leaders' opposition to Bears Ears

By Erin Alberty | The Salt Lake Tribune

Departure comes amid criticism of state’s public-lands policies, trade show’s interest in other cities’ proposals.

As Outdoor Retailer show organizers open the search for a host city, one major player in the industry says it will boycott the convention as long as it takes place in Utah.

Patagonia announced Tuesday it is withdrawing from Outdoor Retailer in response to a resolution passed last week by the state legislature and signed by the governor, urging President Donald Trump to rescind the newly-designated Bears Ears National Monument.

"Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah," said Patagonia president Rose Marcario in a news release. "... We are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation."

Patagonia's statement came one day after show organizers announced they are opening the door to proposals from other potential host cities after holding the enormous, twice-yearly gear show and convention for two decades in Salt Lake City.

The search for a host city follows complaints by some in the outdoor industry — including Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Peter Metcalf, founder of Utah-based Black Diamond — that political leaders in Utah are hostile to the public lands that the recreation businesses depend on.

Organizers specifically cited last week's resolution on Bears Ears as well as a rules change proposed in Congress by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to alter how federal lands are valued and make them easier to sell, and other efforts to have federal lands turned over to the state.

"We've heard member discontent as well as comments from Utah's [political] delegations and efforts on public-land policy that are out of alignment with what our industry stands for," said Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, which has close ties to the show and encouraged the show's owner, Emerald Expositions, to seek a range of potential host cities.

"The overriding theme," Roberts said, "is a disagreement over keeping public lands public, and we really see that as a foundational issue for our industry."

Show organizers have stressed that they have not decided to leave Salt Lake City but are opening up the floor to proposals as they reconfigure the show's timing to better accommodate shifting product launch schedules in the outdoors market.