I’m Pissed Off – Taking a Stance on Utah Public Lands – BEARS EARS

The Outdoor Industry is Pissed Off. I’m Pissed Off, and You Should Be Too!


Maybe you have heard of the impassioned pleas by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and Peter Metcalf (CEO of Black Diamond), who are calling for the Outdoor Industry Association’s twice yearly tradeshow to leave Utah because of the state government’s plans to sell off public lands and challenge the newest national monument, Bears Ears National Monument. Really, they want to sell off the State’s newest major asset?! This, from a state famous for the tourism its national parks generate? C’mon, people.

Not long after, the OIA announced that it was indeed willing to move elsewhere, and started polling the industry about where we should end up. When I saw this, I jumped up and headed for our marketing department and started ranting. Something like, “We aren’t Patagonia, but we have to tell them what we think. OR (Outdoor Retailer, our industry show) needs to move. We need to go someplace where they get our values, and where the dollars we spend will go towards communities and businesses we are aligned with.”

That is why I’m pissed off enough to write a blog post.

So here it is… Simple premise, simple request: We should do business with companies and organizations whose values match our own.

I am surprised and proud of the fact that the city of Seattle recently decided to move its $3 Billion in assets away from Wells Fargo. Seattle is my kind of place. Utah? Not so much these days.

I will buy clothes from Patagonia and gear from Black Diamond because those companies get it. My next new wetsuit, gulp, will be from Patagonia. We actually compete with Black Diamond in some areas, so maybe I won’t buy lanterns from them, but my crampons, ice tools, carabiners, will absolutely be from Black Diamond. And BD manufactures in the USA to boot, something we care about even in the liberal state of Washington. Bottom line is that these are good companies that spend time and resources trying to do more than just make a good product. I am proud to support them.

Now the OIA needs to get us out of Utah. I love the place, I’ll always have great memories of the skiing, mountain biking, fishing and hiking that I have done there for 20+ years. It saddens me greatly to see the government’s stance on Utah public lands. This leads me to believe that as a business, I’d rather see OIA move us somewhere that aligns more with our values. I’m thrilled to learn that the Outdoor Industry Association is already considering finding a new home, and I’m eager to see what they come up with.

That’s my plea today. Vote with your dollars, people. Campaign for companies who stand up for the things in life that matter. Play in places where the community respects and protects its resources. Be thoughtful when you buy, and make those votes count for something. Last but not least, don’t be a bystander! Call your local governor (Governor Gary Herbert of Utah in particular if you’re from The Beehive State) and let them know that you support public land conservation.


Graeme Esarey, President of UCO