In September, our ever-genial Gov. Spencer Cox invited the Outdoor Retailers show back to Utah. You may recall that in 2017, the OR left Utah after 20 years of summer and winter shows in Salt Lake. Organizers could no longer tolerate the disdain for public lands voiced by Utah’s elected officials. Their vociferous advocacy for shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments proved to be the last straw. The OR show moved to Denver.
Now, Cox wants the show and its $50 million annual economic boost back again. In a short video, the governor touts the new Salt Lake City airport and convention center hotel. Gingerly addressing the very issue that drove the OR away, he says, “We’re working with key stakeholders and the Department of the Interior to establish sustainable ways to manage Bears Ears National Monument and other cherished lands.” With his usual heartfelt sincerity, he concludes, “The outdoor industry is important to Utah and the Outdoor Retailer trade show is important to Utah. We invite you back and we’ll take great care of you.”
Despite the governor’s earnest plea, it’s not likely. The governor, state legislative leaders, and the entire Utah congressional delegation howled in unison at the president’s restoration of both monuments. Cox called the return of full protection for the monuments “disappointing.” Mitt Romney called Biden’s proclamations “a devastating blow.” This knee-jerk reaction from Utah’s patriarchy puts the lie to the sweet words the governor offered OR organizers. The OR show is better off elsewhere.
Joanne Slotnik, Salt Lake City