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Feb092017

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.

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