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January 22, 2018 04:11 PM UTC

Outdoor Retailer Show Puts Anti-Environmental Pols on Notice

  • by: PKolbenschlag

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If this past weekend’s #PinkWave wasn’t enough to get the attention of Colorado’s elected leaders about what may be coming their way in November, let the Outdoor Retailer Show’s massive presence in Denver this week be their next reminder.

Climate change and stopping the Trump environmental roll-backs were among key issues that brought out hundreds of thousands of women, and men who support them, across America last weekend.

The outdoor industry’s primary convention—expected to draw 28,000 attendees and bring in over $50 million dollars (that’s for each of the twice-annual event)—should be a wake-up call to our state’s elected officials: Colorado cares about the environment—and we will support leaders that act to protect our public lands, rivers, clean air and water, and who act to address climate change. Others, not so much.

And this reminder is not only for our federal representatives, not only in response to the Zinke and Pruitt roll-backs as poorly as they may serve the public, and much as those may drive the national narrative. This time we are coming for every level of government–from county commissioners and state legislators, to gubernatorial candidates, and, yes, to U.S. Representatives and Senators.

That the Outdoor Retailer Show is in Denver and not in Salt Lake City is itself a shot across the bow of anti-environmental politicians. As the Outdoor Industry Association, the entity that puts on the twice-yearly show, was considering its move from Utah, it made it clear that it was driven by the hostile policies of its host state’s elected leaders.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reported about a meeting that the OIA had with Utah Governor Gary Herbert:

Colorado has been a top destination spot for outdoor adventures for over a century. The appeal of its great outdoors remains a key feature for residents too, both life-long and newly arrived.

“It is clear that the governor indeed has a different perspective on the protections of public lands from that of our members and the majority of Western state voters, both Republicans and Democrats — that’s bad for our American heritage, and it’s bad for our businesses. We are therefore continuing our search for a new home as soon as possible.”

The show’s owner, Emerald Expositions, said in a news release that it would not include Utah in its request for proposals from cities hoping to host the trade shows, which bring about 40,000 visitors and $45 million to Salt Lake City each year.

“Salt Lake City has been hospitable to Outdoor Retailer and our industry for the past 20 years, but we are in lockstep with the outdoor community and are working on finding our new home,” said Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer.

The relocation of this multi-million-dollar boost to the state economy, a twice annual event, followed Utah’s relentless push to privatize public lands, gut public lands protections, grease the skids for energy development on public lands, and weaken protections for cultural and natural sites.

“Our end goal is to provide protection to Bears Ears, for example. We just don’t think a monument is the best vehicle to do that,” Herbert said.  

Public lands are just the beginning.

This latest series of storms has certainly added a boost, but Colorado’s snow-pack remains far behind average.

This year, against a backdrop of a thin snow-pack, climate change is certain to be a hot issue, central to the advocacy, discussions, and activity that will swirl around the event.

Protect Our Winters is partnering with Mountainsmith to host a climate change awareness happy hour. The “Night of Stoke” on Saturday at the Bellco Theater  will feature  films from the Backcountry Film Festival and celebrity and guest speakers to lead discussions about climate change, public lands, and water.

Perhaps the feature advocacy event is Night Zero, hosted by Outside Magazine, among others (reservation-required):

This month, Outdoor Retailer will hold its first show (January 25 to 28) in its new Denver home. To celebrate a future of ongoing advocacy, members of the outdoor industry will gather with members of Colorado’s environmental community, from the Access Fund to Protect Our Winters, at an event called Night Zero. We at Outside think it’s crucial that these types of conversations continue to happen, and that’s why we’ve decided to support the event.

“As the move from Utah demonstrated, the public land conservation community and outdoor industry have a lot in common,” says Scott Miller of the Wilderness Society, which is also sponsoring the event. “And that is fighting to protect our lands and address climate change. Night Zero is to welcome the outdoor industry to Colorado and get people together under the same roof to talk about these important issues.”

Colorado’s elected leaders should take notice.

Colorado’s elected leaders might start by taking note that words alone will not be sufficient. Nor will photo ops posing with windmills satisfy. At this time action is necessary, and if our elected leaders don’t lead, then we’ll just move them out of the way.

Climatewire: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Blue wave seen as a rebuke to Trump’s climate views

Cory Gardner poses with windmills.

The Outdoor Retailer Show attracts the best of America’s outdoor manufacturers, athletes, and advocates. America’s outdoor retailers and the enthusiasts that support them, are familiar with quality. They’re wise enough to pick out a counterfeit, to shrug off the veneer of words about the beauty of purple mountains majesty, as nothing more than a fraud when used to hide bad policy.

And our purple state is right there with them. We can spot the phony sales job and the narrow self interest a mile away. We’re not fooled so much to miss the lopsided designs on our public lands, the casual indifference to public health, the disregard for our  environment. And we won’t be putting up with it much longer.

Senator Gardner might reconsider his position on the Clean Power Plan, for instance, and side with the State of Colorado to keep pushing toward its (minimal) goals to reduce carbon pollution, and drive renewable energy development. Sen. Gardner could urge that the Interior Department keep the BLM methane venting rule in place, to protect both U.S. taxpayers and Colorado’s air, and bringing about a climate benefit.

State legislators could support efforts to encourage more clean energy and electric vehicles through the Colorado Energy Office, to make our state a leader for the future, and to oppose any efforts to weaken this office’s mission.

Rep. Tipton’s anti-environmental record is too extreme for Colorado. Will 2018 be the year we tell him?

Rep. Tipton could stand up for Colorado’s public lands, and stand up to the big spending oil and gas interests. Instead he is standing with the very same anti-environmental extremists who chased the retailers out of Utah, and to whom he seems to have surrendered leadership.

Rep. Tipton has voted to ease restrictions for logging, mining, and drilling in National Forests and on public lands, to gut the Antiquities Act that allows presidents to create the National Monuments which have led to America’s most beloved National Parks, and to put special interests ahead of science, public health, and the environment.

The Outdoor Retailer Show will undoubtedly be a time to celebrate Colorado outdoors, to laud its qualities that unite us, its features that inspire us, the recreation and economy the outdoors bring. Politicians of all persuasions will undoubtedly welcome the business this event brings to the state.

But policy matters. Lip service paid to Colorado’s glorious outdoors without commitment to protecting and safeguarding the qualities that make them what they are, will no longer be tolerated. If Colorado’s elected leaders doubt that: just ask the State of Utah how much they miss the Outdoor Retailer Show. And wise up.


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