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Trade show fight with Colorado has Utah on its back

February 17, 2017 Updated: February 17, 2017 at 10:54 am
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The fight over a Salt Lake City outdoor retail equipment trade show that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper inadvertently picked hit a new threshold Thursday evening.

The parent company of the Outdoor Retailer show said it's leaving Utah over some politicians' determination to make more federal public lands open to energy development, grazing and local management.

Leaders of Emerald Expositions met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert via a teleconference Thursday, and it didn't go well.

Company vice president Pat Hus said he is open to invitations for a new home, and Colorado leaders are eager to welcome the 22,000 exhibitors here.

The four-day show each winter and summer is the largest such gathering of outdoor retailers in the country, and it's been in Utah for 20 years. The contract expires next year.

Conservation Colorado launched an ad campaign in Salt Lake City to put out the welcome mat and assure the show that Colorado bests Utah in its commitment to public lands, good beer, great cycling and getting high.

"Colorado has a long and proud history of protecting our public lands, and Coloradans know just how important these remarkable places are to our economy and Western way of life," Conservation Colorado executive director Pete Maysmith said Thursday evening, as news broke. "If the outdoor industry is looking for show locations that reflect its values of stewardship and a passion for outdoor recreation, it should look no further than the Centennial State."

SnowSports Industries America, which puts on a Snow Show in Denver each January, said it would be happy to partner up with the Outdoor Retailer trade show.

"As leaders from across the outdoor-recreation community step forward to discuss the best way to respond to public-lands policies that would negatively impact our industries, we also have an opportunity to address other, significant business challenges and to position suppliers and retailers for future success," Nick Sargent, president of the Denver trade show, said in a statement.

In Utah, the news isn't being taken well. Herbert called the trade show ungrateful.

"It smacks of gross ingratitude to a community that has embraced the Outdoor Retailer show, subsidizing its success and expansion through direct investment - let alone extraordinary hospitality," Paul Edwards, the governor's deputy chief of staff, said in a statement to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

The newspaper reported negotiations broke down around the state's request that President Trump toss out President Obama's decision in December to set aside 1.35 million acres south of Moab as the Bears Ears National Monument.

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