Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
People walk through the Outdoor Retailer show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 28, 2017.
As the Outdoor Retailers show packed up after its final visit to Salt Lake City, the same trade group leaders who chose to leave Utah in protest over public lands policy found themselves roundly applauding legislation co-sponsored by a Utah congressman to make it easier for people to recreate on federal lands. There’s more than a little irony in this confluence of events, which reveal how the ideological differences over land management are not as cut and dry as some would believe.
Rep. Rob Bishop is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would make it easier for outdoor recreationists to cut through red tape when applying to access public lands to ski, climb or run rivers. A representative of the Outdoor Industry Association reacted to news of the bill by saying, “Any good policy that gets more people outside and makes sure the lands can continue to provide recreation is good for the recreation economy.” The statement did not address the fact that the law carries the name of a congressman lumped into the category of Utah public officials once viewed as averse to promoting the outdoor recreational industry’s values.
The bill, introduced in the Senate by Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, was in the works before the Outdoor Retailers’ decision to discontinue its long relationship with Utah as the host of its two annual trade shows. It is exactly the kind of legislation the outdoors industry lobbies for. The fact that Bishop has signed on as House co-sponsor runs counter to the narrative that Utah officials are united in their desire to elevate extractive industries over recreational and conservationist interests in the management of federal lands.
From the beginning, it was our opinion that members of the trade show organization were unreasonable in their relentless criticism of Utah’s governor, legislature and congressional delegation over lands policy, particularly regarding the squabble over the designation of the Bear’s Ears National Monument. The organization was unwilling to give credence to…