They're baaack. Sellers of all kinds of outdoor-recreation equipment are back in Salt Lake City, and, as always, they're not only enticing customers to buy their products, they're spending money on hotel rooms, meals, coffee, and everything else lots of money.
It's not only the twice-yearly Outdoor Retailer Show and its 27,000 participants that bring a boost to Utah's economy. The burgeoning outdoor-recreation industry rivals all the extraction of finite minerals and petroleum products as a mainstay of the state's economic health. And there are no limits to how much steady money outdoor recreation can bring to the Beehive State, unlike the boom-and-bust cycles of carbon-energy production.
Still, Utah elected leaders, nearly all Republicans, have a difficult time embracing the conservation-minded folks who make a living off of and participate in skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, river rafting, camping and mountain biking. It's just not in their DNA the way oil and gas drilling and the mining of coal and tar sands are.