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Patagonia announced early this morning that it would not be attending Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this year, or any future shows hosted in Utah, because of the state’s opposition to Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands issues.
On Friday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert urged the Trump administration to revoke the monument status of Bears Ears, which President Barack Obama designated in December after a long fight. The land is sacred to Native American tribes in the area, and it holds countless recreation opportunities, advocates argued.
Herbert is “making it clear that he and other Utah elected officials do not support public lands conservation nor do they value the economic benefits–$12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs–that the outdoor recreation industry brings to their state,” Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. “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 and 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 has one retail store in Utah, in Salt Lake City, and is not considering closing that store.
“In addition to being a place where you can purchase Patagonia products, our stores serve as centers of environmental activism,” Corley Kenna, director of global communications and PR for Patagonia, wrote in an email. “We look forward to continuing that tradition of convening people around environmental issues that cross all political boundaries and impact all people.”
During Outdoor Retailer Winter Market last month, Black Diamond founder Peter Metcalf wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune urging OR to move out of the state because of its legislators’ attempts to sell and privatize public lands.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard also penned a letter to Herbert during Winter Market, telling him that the brand would stop going to the trade show in Salt Lake City if Utah did not come around and start actively supporting public lands rather than opposing them.
Outdoor Retailer announced on Monday afternoon that it would be seeking proposals for new venues for the trade show, and may move as early as fall 2018. The public lands debate was a significant factor in considering other cities to host the show.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox held a press conference at the show from the booth of Salt Lake City-based Kühl, claiming that Utah has a great relationship with OR and the outdoor community. He brushed off Metcalf’s op-ed as the opinion of “one individual,” but Chouinard’s letter was released minutes after his statements. After hearing of Chouinard’s letter, Kühl President Kevin Boyle said his brand would likely follow Patagonia in the event of a boycott of the show. Boyle is out of the country at the ISPO trade show in Germany, and was unavailable for comment Tuesday morning.
Outdoor Retailer brings an estimated $45 million annually to Utah’s economy.