What’s Happening in the Outdoor Recreation Industry? Here’s a Summary.

2016 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, by Lauren Seaton.

In the past month, there has been significant talk about Outdoor Retailer and the Utah governor’s decision to reduce his state’s public lands. The industry has taken a strong and united stance against Governor Gary Herbert. While that might seem surprising to some, it is a reminder of the money (and power) the outdoor industry has and its subsequent impact beyond recreation.

Below is a timeline, which includes new articles, about the outdoor industry leaders’ decision to boycott the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, and Utah.

We will update this timeline as more information becomes available.

December 2016

On Decemeber 8, 2016, President Obama signed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act into law. More commonly referred to as the REC Act, this legislation requires that the outdoor recreation economy gets assessed through the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This means that outdoor recreation will get tracked like other industries, in order to determine its impact on the overall U.S. economy.

On December 28, 2016, President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah. This is unrelated to the REC Act but is the trigger for future conflict.

Early February 2017

Utah Governor Gary Herbert calls on President Trump to rescind Bears Ears National Monument. This protected land includes a pair of mesas (hence the bear ears) and 1.3 million surrounding acres. State officials claim President Obama’s bill was pushed through without input from the community.

Shortly thereafter, Patagonia and other outdoor companies announce they won’t attend Outdoor Retailer, one of the outdoor industry’s leading trade shows. Salt Lake City has hosted Outdoor Retailer for the past two decades. The Show generates approximately $45 million for Utah each year.

February 2017

Leaders from Outdoor Retailer, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, The North Face, and REI met with Governor Herbert of Utah. After that call, Emerald Exhibitors, the parent company for Outdoor Retailer, announces that it will not include Salt Lake City in the RFP solicitation process for a new host city (current hosting contract expires after Summer Market 2018).

From Outdoor Retailer’s press release
“In light of the outcome of the call today, Outdoor Retailer will not include the state of Utah in the RFP process for future show locations. ‘We are doing the work necessary to procure an alternative location for Outdoor Retailer,’ said Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer.”

Emerald Exhibitors also announces they will no longer “extend the request for proposal” to SLC as a host city for Interbike, the largest annual industry bike show in North America.


Colorado, Oregon, and Montana are all bidding to host Outdoor Retailer.


Related Articles on Outdoor Retailer and Utah Public Lands

Outside Magazine: Moving Outdoor Retailer Isn’t About Politics. It’s About Money (Feb. 8, 2017)

Salt Lake City Tribune: Utah Senate approves call to shrink Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Feb 8, 2017)

The Denver Post: 2 more companies join boycott of Outdoor Retailer shows in Utah (Feb. 10, 2017)

Outdoor Industry Association: Outdoor Industry, Governor Herbert Disagree on Public Lands Protections, Utah’s Recreation Economy

Salt Lake City Tribune: When Outdoor Retailer left, Salt Lake City also lost chance to host cycling convention (Feb. 17, 2017)

Washington Post: Outdoor industry pulls trade show from Utah, citing Bears Ears feud (Feb. 18, 2017)

Denver Post: For Colorado, landing Outdoor Retailer is about more than a trade show (March 3, 2017)

USA Today: GOP leaders want some national monument designations revoked (March 5, 2017)

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