The nation’s outdoor industry is celebrating President Barack Obama this weekend for creating the Bears Ears National Monument. Outdoor recreation companies have taken out full-page advertisements in Utah newspapers.
“With the President having acted for the benefit of all Americans and all Utahns, we wanted to thank him,” says Peter Metcalf, CEO emeritus of the Black Diamond company in Holladay and Utah Small Businessperson of the Year honoree in 1995.
In recent years, Metcalf’s been active in mobilizing outdoor companies politically as part of the Outdoor Industry Association.
“They recognize these landscapes are what differentiates the state,” says Metcalf, “and allows them to recruit the best and the brightest that are critical for running and growing successful businesses.”
The outdoor recreation industry generates around $646 billion in consumer spending nationwide and $12 billion in Utah. Its member companies have supported conservation advocacy groups that, in turn, have backed the Native American organizations behind the Bears Ears monument.
Metcalf says that alliance was a natural fit that strengthened after U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, released his public lands compromise.
“At which point, we realized that it was basically a sellout,” says Metcalf, whose industry had participated in negotiations until then. “It was filled with poison pills. It was not at all balanced.”
The outdoor industry’s involvement with Bears Ears has made it a target of monument opponents.
“The only ones that I can find that are in favor of the monument are some radical environmentalists,” said Utah U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, earlier this month.
Metcalf counters that there’s a quiet majority of mainstream businesses in Utah that favor the monument.
“We're not advocating this simply because it will help the outdoor industry,” says Metcalf. “We believe it is the right thing to do for the people of Utah for the future vibrancy and vitality of this state.
The ad ran in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News on Saturday and Sunday. Patagonia, one of the companies behind the advertisement, posted a congratulatory video on Facebook following the monument announcement Wednesday.