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Outdoor companies ask Obama for Utah monument

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 8:45 am •  Published: November 14, 2012
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The outdoor companies have been pressuring Herbert to support land protection by threatening to take a lucrative trade show out of Salt Lake City. At the last Outdoor Retailer show in August, corporate titans sitting on the board of the Outdoor Industry Association asked Herbert, a big proponent of energy development, about his "vision" for outdoor recreation.

Herbert acknowledged he didn't have one, but agreed to deliver a plan accommodating outdoor recreation in time for the January show, said Craig Mackey, the director of recreation policy for the Boulder, Colo.-based Outdoor Industry Association.

At the same time, organizers are shopping for another city that could handle a trade show that pours more than $40 million annually into the Utah economy. The Outdoor Retailer show has grown so large organizers have had to push 300 of 1,200 manufacturers and suppliers out of a convention hall into outdoor tents. Attendees say they have to book hotel rooms as far as 20 miles away. Herbert has promised to submit a plan to satisfy show organizers.

Metcalf said the Moab area is as important to the outdoor crowd as the Uintah Basin of eastern Utah is to drillers. He called it a matter of zoning — putting federal lands to their best use.

Drillers have lately started buying up leases in the Moab area. Other groups from the Sierra Club to Great Old Broads for Wilderness complained to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in 2011 about "rampant off-road-vehicle abuse, proposed uranium and tar sand mining, and oil and gas development" in Utah's canyon country.

"It's about preserving federal lands in their current state," said Metcalf, who expects the monument proposal to start a national dialogue. "It will take some time. I don't think any of us expects an immediate response."