Utah’s insistence on pursuing its losing battle over public lands could cost the state the Outdoor Retailer’s (OR) show. Salt Lake’s contract with OR is already up for reconsideration with OR and with limited space available for the expansion of the show, OR has reason to be considering states, not to mention other states are fighting for their business.
Much like Utah argued, “we aren’t Arizona” during the immigration debates of 2011, Idaho is arguing, “Idaho isn’t Utah.” Idaho just passed a resolution inviting the Outdoor Retailer’s show to their state, noting in the bill that Idaho is not pursuing litigation to force a transfer of public lands to state control like Utah. They wanted to send a message to the $464 billion outdoor recreation industry that Idaho values their public land and it just may work. The OR show would bring $40 million to Idaho’s economy.
Outdoor Retailers have clearly voiced their objections to Utah’s tenacious legal action to gain control over federally managed lands. The OR show is one of Utah’s biggest revenue generators and our state’s aggression toward the federal government could lose it for us—particularly in the face of aggressive competition for the business from neighboring states like Idaho. Outdoor Retailers could easily decide not to bring their benefits to a state whose policies are viewed as a direct attack on the public lands essential to their livelihood.
In addition to the legislature’s appropriation of another $2 million to this fight, to add insult to injury, Gov. Herbert and other Utah leaders sent a strong message of their own to the outdoor industry when they reached into their pockets to personally pay for Commissioner Phil Lyman’s court costs after he was found guilty of illegally leading an ATV protest ride through protected land with wanton disregard for historic Anasazi sites and artifacts.
It’s time Utah leaders saw some consequences to their actions, but it shouldn’t keep happening at the expense of Utah citizens. The legislature is appropriating taxpayer funds to fight the Feds, Utahns pay taxes to the Feds that will be used to defend against our own lawsuit for public lands, and now we risk the revenue and benefits of the Outdoor Retailer’s show which is being invited to Idaho as a result of these efforts. How many ways does Utah need to pay for this public lands folly?
Contact your legislator HERE and let them know what they’re costing Utahns.