Twenty-seven Utah outdoor recreation and tourism companies have sent a letter to the state's congressional delegation asking for greater support for protecting public lands and the jobs they support.
The campaign garnered the support of the Outdoor Industry Coalition, an umbrella organization for outdoor recreation companies and the largest entity to participate in the twice annual Outdoor Retailer trade shows, Salt Lake City's biggest convention. The effort includes two Utah-based companies, Black Diamond Inc. and Petzl America.
"Our industry brings some $4 billion and 65,000 jobs to the Utah economy," said Mark "Roody" Rasmussen, a campaign organizer and president of Petzl America, a Clearfield-based climbing-gear company.
The letter specifically champions the value of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, both of which face the loss of funding as Congress looks for ways to trim the federal budget.
"Funding for these key conservation programs is a crucial long-term investment in the Utah economy," said Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf. "These funds are leveraged many times by private donations and return significant benefits for communities and jobs throughout Utah."
The letter also calls on Congress to refrain from removing protections on wilderness and roadless areas and from prohibiting federal funding to be used to implement designations of national monuments such as President Clinton's 1996 creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
"These policies are short-sighted and ignore the significant contribution to our economy provided by hundreds of Utah companies and the important role our parks, monuments and open space [play as] the infrastructure for a sustainable outdoor economy," said Rasmussen.
Added Red Oelerich, editor of the Outdoor Utah Adventure Journal: "Support of recreation and conservation are the fundamentals of our business. We need a supportive and balanced agenda for Utah's public lands. We are asking [the delegation] to be reasonable, to be pro jobs and pro business."