Could Utah lose the Outdoor Retailers Show over public lands fight?

Outdoor Retailers ShowColorado Governor John Hickenlooper says efforts by Utah lawmakers to win control of public lands in their state should prompt the Outdoor Retailers Show to move to Denver.

Hickenlooper told the Denver Post that he’s not trying to “poach” the Outdoor Retailers Show from Utah, but he thinks that Colorado is a better home for the annual event.

Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, strongly disagrees with that stance.

“I’m not surprised Hickenlooper said that,” said Okerlund. “We in Utah think a lot of our outdoor recreation and programs and do a lot to support it.”

Hickenlooper’s stance is moderate compared to the militancy of Black Diamond founder Peter Metcalf, who is supportive of moving Outdoor Retailer from Utah to Colorado.

From the Denver Post:

“Utah is the birther state of the most anti-stewardship, anti-public-lands policy in the country and, conversely, I would say Colorado ranks very highly as the opposite,” Metcalf said. “If we can’t affect policy by staying, then the next step is leaving.”

Okerlund says the recent decision by President Obama to create the Bears Ears National Monument shows the other side of this contentious issue.

“I hope they would understand the impact of having 1.3 to 1.5 million acres of land locked up,” said Okerlund. “If Colorado were in that situation, I would wager that they wouldn’t be too happy about it.”

The Outdoor Retailers Show attracts 20,000 people with an estimated $45 million annually in economic activity for Utah.

Okerlund remembers what happened the last time the Outdoor Retailers studied a potential move to Denver in 2012.

“We met with them for almost a year to work out our differences. That was a good conversation, and I think we can do the same thing again. We hope they stay.”