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September 20, 2017

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Utah land spat causes corporate outcry

SALT LAKE CITY -- A powerful outdoor recreation industry executive said Tuesday the world's largest outdoor retail show going on this week in Salt Lake City should leave Utah if the state's top political leaders continue what he calls an assault on public lands.

Black Diamond Equipment founder Peter Metcalf said keeping the show in Utah makes the industry complicit in supporting rhetoric and strategies that don't align with its values. Metcalf sharply criticized Gov. Gary Herbert and others for strategizing to reverse President Barack Obama's recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah.

Herbert refuted the notion he and others have launched an assault on public lands. His deputy chief of staff, Paul Edwards, said in a statement Herbert took exception to the unilateral designation of Bears Ears by an outgoing president, which didn't take into account input from state and local officials.

The governor demonstrated his commitment to protecting and promoting Utah's scenic beauty with the 2013 creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation, Edwards said.

"Gov. Herbert has been clear that Utah is, always has been, and always will be a public lands state," Edwards said.

The show is committed to Utah through at least 2018.

Metcalf said he isn't advocating for the show to break any contracts, but wants officials to seriously consider his plea as they plan in the coming months for beyond 2018.

"Utah is really ground zero for the worst public lands policies," he said.

Metcalf first made the critiques in a guest editorial for The Salt Lake Tribune published Tuesday.

He is a member of the Outdoor Industry Association that sponsors the show but isn't speaking on their behalf.

The Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Retailer said in a joint statement it will take feedback from members into account as one factor in future decisions that must also consider the importance of being in a city that meets the "business requirements of the industry."

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