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Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, wrote an open letter to the industry this week.
OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts is in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with members of Congress from Utah, she wrote in a letter to the outdoor industry shared Wednesday afternoon. There have been many headlines about the pushback against Utah for not supporting public lands, she wrote, and OIA and Outdoor Retailer are working to find a new home for the trade show. But this is not the time to splinter, she said. It’s the time to come together. We’ve republished Roberts’s letter in full below.
Outdoor Industry Colleagues,
I am in Washington D.C., this week, and I met with the congressional delegation from Utah today. They have read and dismissed the furor over Outdoor Retailer in the media—but they heard the message directly from me that our industry won’t support a trade show in a state whose leaders seek to harm public lands.
What Can You Do Specifically
Elections have consequences, and the fight to protect our public lands is going to require all hands on deck. What can you do? Come to Washington, D.C., on April 25-26 to be a part of the industry and join over 100 of your fellow industry executives in making the case for public lands and recreation.
Now more than ever, we need everyone who cares about outdoor places to get involved—come to Washington, talk to your elected representatives at home, send letters and make phone calls. Outdoor recreation is a $646 billion economic powerhouse, and our collective voices will be heard.
Our Presence Here Makes a Difference with Our Bipartisan Supporters
In addition to the difficult meetings with Utah officials, I am also meeting with our industry’s many bipartisan supporters on Capitol Hill to make sure our forces are fortified when the fight comes. This is the hard work of getting policy done; it doesn’t often grab headlines, and I am thankful for the many industry members whom I have seen here in D.C. this week—taking time out of their busy schedules to promote our industry’s best interests and the values we care about.
Our Voice Must Be Louder, Especially Now
Later this week, I will be sharing this message with Utah Governor Gary Herbert as well. You support this important public policy work through your OIA dues and by attending Outdoor Retailer—and we have no intention of simply withdrawing from dialogue with public officials and fighting this one only in the media. That is the wrong strategy if we want to have a real and sustained impact. We need everyone to stay involved and dig in, and that means having real conversations with people who disagree with us and with our supporters.
Outdoor Retailer Matters—It is Where We Do Business and Reinforce Our Core Values
As you read earlier this week, Outdoor Retailer is proactively looking for a new home. We owe it to our members to move the show in a timely and responsible way. It is important that we all show up to support the gathering this summer. Our industry is built on new and innovative small- and medium-sized companies that rely on Outdoor Retailer in a very big way to be successful. The show provides the gathering place for all the work we have done on sustainability and public policy. It is also a home for the nonprofits who attend the show to remind businesses to support and fund their work for the long-term good of the industry. Outdoor Retailer is a place for us to come together and recommit to our values.
We Should Not Splinter—We Must Unite
Now is not the time to splinter and retreat down our own individual paths. Only a few of our largest brands and retailers have the resources to engage policymakers on their own. Our industry is more powerful when we come together to send a unified message in support of our public lands.
We Are an Economic Force – April Will Showcase the New Recreation Economy
At the OIA Capitol Summit in April, we will launch the next version of our Recreation Economy report. The numbers will tell the story of an industry that has seen substantial growth since 2012. Come share that story with your elected officials and take our influence to new heights.
Ongoing Engagement and Support is Critical
During my meetings with members of Congress today, I was reminded that our opponents on public lands are hoping that we’ll simply protest, then retreat to the day-to-day of our own companies, fail to gather, fail to show up and splinter as an industry. Our opponents run well-funded, mature and sophisticated public policy operations. They’ll stay united in the fight, and they will show up. I am asking each of you to support OIA, support our industry gathering at Outdoor Retailer and come to the Capitol Summit ready to do the work on April 25 and 26.
Together we are a force!