Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Outdoor companies still angry at Utah’s stance against protected lands

A large coalition of outdoor industry companies are going on record opposing a plan to move the gigantic annual Outdoor Industry Retailer Show back to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The show, which is produced by Emerald Expositions, was moved from Salt Lake City to Denver in 2017 after Utah state officials decided to ask the federal government to change the boundaries of the newly designated Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in Utah. The monuments were originally designated during the Obama Administration.

The future of Bears Ears National Monument is just one of the public lands in the debate.

24 national companies say no to Utah

The business coalition of at least 24 national companies is saying they oppose moving the annual show back to Salt Lake City and won’t attend any trade show event in the state if its elected officials continue their attacks on national monuments and public lands protections.

“In 2017, REI Co-op strongly supported the decision to move the outdoor industry trade show out of Utah when the state’s leadership refused to protect duly designated national monuments and natural treasures,” said Ben Steele, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for the REI Co-op. “Although those protections have since been restored by President Biden, Utah’s leaders are again aiming to undermine those monuments and their protections. As a result, REI will not participate in any Outdoor Retailer trade show in the state—nor will we send members of our merchandising or other co-op teams—so long as Utah persists in attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them.”

Utah would love to have the show back in Salt Lake City, since it adds about $45 million to the local and state economy. The two protected monuments have received widespread public support, including from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and more than three million American citizens who submitted public comments five years ago.

The companies in the coalition protesting the show are still angry that Utah Governor Spencer Cox continues to try to strip the federal designations from the lands, while at the same time trying to lure the trade show away from Denver and back to Salt Lake City.

The entire kerfuffle puts show producer Emerald Expositions in a tough spot. If it decides to move the show back to Utah, they won’t have several key players participating.

Outdoor companies currently calling on Emerald Expositions not to return the show to Utah include…

  • REI Co-op
  • Patagonia, Inc.
  • The North Face
  • Public Lands
  • KEEN Footwear
  • Oboz Footwear, LLC
  • Kelty
  • Sierra Designs
  • Peak Design
  • Toad&Co
  • MiiR
  • NEMO Equipment
  • Backpacker’s Pantry
  • Smartwool
  • Therm-A-Rest
  • MSR
  • Timberland
  • Helinox USA, Inc.
  • U Energy Labs
  • La Sportiva N.A., Inc.
  • Alpacka Raft
  • Icebreaker
  • Arc’teryx


Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


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Craig Eley
1 year ago

The land in question is not Utah’s land. It is land owned by the federal government, i.e., all of us. The question is whether it will be protected from uses such as mining, logging, grazing, etc. While these industries make money for Utah and its residents, it is not Utah’s call. The owner of the land (citizens of the United States) should make land use judgments based on what’s perceived as best for all of us, not just the people who live around our land.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Craig Eley

Yes and no. As much as you think its tyrants take all, such is not the case here. Lets deal with the Grand Stair Case, as an example. There are different levels of acceptable use, based on classification of the land. It was decided under Slick Willy, that the most restrictive category be applid to GSC, under his authority as granted constitutionaly (see antiquities). However, that was viewed as too extreme, so that Presidential Order, was curtailed considereably, by a subsequent President, much to the pleasure of the residents of the State of Utah.

Mind you, those lands were being used for recreation, and other forms, prior to Willy’s action. And essentially, the prior use then became illegal, So as a Representative Republic, those harsh restrictions were curtailed. The whole process is not left up to the whim of the “public”.

For those who just pass through, and say lock this all up, you dont live there, so its a driveby version of NIMBY. This isnt a feel good thing, its about what the law, and constitution provide. It really is that simple.

1 year ago

The number of acres that are under fed protection is huge in Utah! Look that up and see if you think that is fair to the state of Utah! Let the state run things.

1 year ago
Reply to  Hank

I live in Illinois and sure hope the lefties never decide to shut down the production of corn and soybeans. Could you imagine the entire State of Illinois being turned into National Monuments or National Parks?

Ron Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Hank

Utah was carved out of federal lands, not the other way around. States have a very poor record of looking after federal lands once they gain control over them. Historically over 85% of former federal lands given to the state are now closed to public access. Utah is just trying to take the people’s land to open it for private extractive industry.

I strongly support the companies boycotting a move back to Salt Lake City.

Warren G
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Smith


BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Smith

What is a “private extractive industry”. Oil and gas perhaps, where the leasee pays fees for minerals that maybe contained therein. Which in turn, are produced into fossil fuels that ylu use in your RV gas hog! We already have one John Kerry flying to climate events aboard his private jet, with Leonardo DiCaprio flying right behind him. Please spare me the agony of flushing those two hypocrites out!

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Smith

Where do you get such poppycock. 85%, good golly Miss Molly. Get a grip man.

1 year ago

I fully agree with the boycotting the trade show if they move it back to Utah. They promote the outdoor lifestyle and Utah wants to get rid of areas that need more protection and allow people to get out and experience what’s left of our beautiful country.

1 year ago

So the monument was put back in place to protect it. However, there really isn’t much protection going on. I think there might be a few portable toilets installed at a couple of trailheads. Anyone can drive out there and do whatever they want to the antiquities. And unfortunately a lot of tourists destroy things every day. There is no one out there monitoring anything because there is no funding. My opinion is the whole thing was a grand political gesture but there wasn’t anything actually put in place to protect the area. Maybe give the land back to Utah and see if Utah can do a better job.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago

Thanks for compiling a list of companies not to do business with. I suggest they read the constitution of the US of America. The President has the authority, not congress, nor the courts under the antiquities clause.

So to those companies that dont agree, with individual states rights, or the US Constitution, too bad.

1 year ago

I buy from these companies and will buy even more from these companies. Agree with the earlier post about posting the companies that are okay with the Utah governor who wants the payment from the mining companies that want to exploit this AMERICAN natural resource.

1 year ago
Reply to  Les

Same here! I totally agree.

The Lazy Q
1 year ago

Yep, woke companies that I don’t do business with anyway. Like the article above, and comments to it, this land belongs to us for recreation use oh but only the recreation you agree with. Most complainers have never been to or even know where these lands are. Let Utah manage her lands as they see fit. Hope the governor stands fast.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  The Lazy Q

Exactly right! Notice the other drive by commenters, that dont adress the LAW, but only offer their feel good replies, with no basis in law.

Jesse Crouse
1 year ago

Good for those companies who took a stand. We can’t loose those areas.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Lose? What does that mean. Its their state, not yours, unless you live there.

Doug R
1 year ago

Those are spectacularly beautiful areas we have RVed through. They deserve to be protected for sure. I do wonder however what exactly Utah lawmakers are doing that is threatening. The devil is in the details. The author does not mention any specifics. So do the proposed changes actually present a threat, or just the perception of one? Proposed changes to law are often written in unclear fashion, making their impact difficult to nail down. Just wondering…

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Doug R

Its their state. Why is it so difficult to understand that individual states have rights. Unless the antiquities act is envolked, or the State of Utah, wants to restrict land use, its nobodies business to be telling what another state should, or shouldnt do, unless yojr a resident.

1 year ago

So happy to shop with these companies. Stand firm. Great companies.

1 year ago

Good for them

Don Woods
1 year ago


1 year ago

How about posting the list of companies that ARE willing to go back to Utah?

Aj grac
1 year ago

Thank you for this article. I’m glad that I shop these companies!!

1 year ago
Reply to  Aj grac

I support protecting Bears Ears and Grand Staircase and stand with these companies also

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