In a Patagonia article published earlier this week, founder of the company, Yvon Chouingard calls out Utah governor Gary Herbert for taking away public land and having a huge hand in destroying the outdoor industry. You can read the full article here.
While I wasn't born in Utah, I have spent a solid 15 years of my life growing up in this great state. Throughout my childhood, I went on many a camping trip and spent a large majority of time on our family ATVs. As I've grown older, I've spent time exploring our five national parks (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands). Like many Utahns, I can see why Utah is such a large adventure hub.
As many as 23.5 million people visit our national parks each year, and these people drive twelve million dollars into our state's economy and support 122,000 jobs statewide. What would we do without the tourism driven by our ample skiing, hiking, hunting, and all around "adventuring?"
Chouingard discusses how important the January trade show is to Patagonia and other outdoor retailers. In his strongly worded letter published on the Patagonia website to Utah politicians, Chouingard states: "It’s also why the outdoor industry loves Utah. Every January and August, Patagonia and hundreds of other companies spend gobs of money to show our latest products at the Outdoor Retailer show. The whole thing is a cash cow for Salt Lake City. You’d think politicians in Utah would bend over backwards to make us feel welcome. But instead Gov. Gary Herbert and his buddies have spent years denigrating our public lands, the backbone of our business, and trying to sell them off to the highest bidder. He’s created a hostile environment that puts our industry at risk."
And Chouingard is right. Governor Gary Herbert isn't exactly famous for making the best decisions in regards to our public lands. In March of 2012, Herbert passed the Transfer of Public Lands Act that demands the federal government to "hand over" 30 million acres of public land back to the State of Utah. This, combined with a "Roads to Nowhere" lawsuit costs the Utah taxpayers millions of dollars, because citizens are now stuck with the costs to manage such land.
Recently, the State of Utah announced its plans to sue the federal government over the protection of Bears Ears (am arceological site showcasing Native American artifacts and is beloved by many climbers). Herbert wants to make the area state-owned land.
It's unfortunate that the tax payer land seized by Gary Herbert is exactly the kind of land that allows the outdoor industry (and Patagonia included) to flourish, as well as our state's economy. Without these lands, it's impossible for the outdoor industry to grow, and takes away millions of dollars from the tourist industry in Utah.
What is Gary Herbert going to do when the tourism dollars from the outdoor industry run dry?