Today, the outdoor industry raised their voice at the “This Land is Our Land” March for Public Lands in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event – organized by the Outdoor Industry Association, The Conservation Alliance, and Outdoor Alliance – was a celebration of public lands across America, the foundation and bedrock of the outdoor industry. (Photos of the event can be found here, full video of the speakers here, and a March highlight reel here. Credit: Outdoor Industry Association.)
More than 2,500 people joined the March that began at the Salt Palace Convention Center during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and culminated at the Utah State Capitol Building where outdoor industry executives, community leaders, elected officials and Native American tribal leaders all voiced their support for public lands.
Speakers also thanked the Salt Lake City community for hosting Outdoor Retailer for 22 years and expressed their hope that Utah’s governing officials will keep public lands public and intact for all Americans to enjoy.
Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, said, “This march is the outdoor industry’s opportunity to demonstrate our collective conviction that public lands belong to every citizen of the United States, and they are not only the foundation of our industry, they are fundamental to our national heritage. And it’s not just outdoorists who feel that way. According to a recent poll by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, 97 percent of sportsmen and women—hunters, hikers, anglers, skiers, paddlers and more—believe we must conserve and protect our public lands for future generations. Ninety-five percent believe it’s important to maintain public lands infrastructure. Bottom line: Americans agree on something, and it’s public lands.”
Shaun Chapoose, Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee member and founding member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, said, “I think we all value public lands more than people realize. I think times have changed, though, as far as how we manage public lands […] In this whole discussion, I hope you don’t lose sight of what this is about. You only get one earth – you better take care of what you got.”
Adam Cramer, executive director of Outdoor Alliance, said, “As an industry, as a community of people who love outdoor recreation, our affection for these places means that we have a commitment to protecting them and ensuring they will be there for our generation and future generations.”
Conrad Anker, captain of the North Face Global Athlete Team, said “Part of Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy was the Antiquities Act of 1906. This law gives the president authority to create monuments for cultural, natural and scientific features. Sixteen presidents have used it to create 157 monuments for all of us to enjoy. From Devils Tower, the first National Monument, to the Statue of Liberty, we have made sure that part of our collective heritage is preserved for future generations.“
Jerry Stritzke, CEO of REI, said, “We make this country better by helping everyone to enjoy the outdoors; introducing new people and families to a way of life that has a special place in the heart of our country’s identity. I believe the biggest danger to our UNITED, overwhelming support for public lands is to allow others to paint this – cynically – as a partisan issue. It is not. And we cannot allow that to happen. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into that trap, because public lands are for all.”
Blake Spalding, owner of Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah, said, “I want to give a shoutout to all of you for standing up for public lands, for marching for public lands, for speaking for public lands and for working to save our most precious resource of all, which is wilderness. In our country, public lands and our national monuments are our most precious resource, and the fact that they’re under threat is terrifying.”
John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance, said, “We are absolutely committed to doing all we can to ensure those monument designations remain intact and that those boundaries do not change […] By challenging the integrity of our public lands, they have unleashed a nationwide movement in support of public lands.”
Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City Mayor, said, “These lands have inspired our country’s greatest leaders, writers and philosophers. They are home to the history and culture of indigenous peoples, and should be respected in a manner consistent with their beliefs and traditions. Our responsibility as leaders should be to ensure all who want to experience this legacy can do so responsibly. Let me be very clear, Salt Lake City will always be your ally in the fight to protect and preserve public lands.”
Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, said, “We need to inspire our next generation of youth to get outside. The funding from Parks4Kids will help Utah to get active and to do so responsibly. As a father of three little boys, I know it takes a village to do this and we need to do it together. Together we can create the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and good stewardship for a generation to come. I want to thank Parks4Kids, REI, OIA, and everyone who came out today.”
As the rally concluded, the Outdoor Foundation and Outdoor Industry Association announced a new fundraising campaign through the Utah Parks4Kids initiative. The initiative will fund youth/parks projects across the state as a way to get Utah kids to explore Utah’s public lands. The grants are a way to say thank you to the Utah and the Salt Lake City community for hosting Outdoor Retailer for over twenty years and a way to continue investing in the state of Utah, public lands and outdoor recreation.
Five sister “This Land is Our Land” Marches were also held simultaneously in Medford, Oregon; Bend, Oregon; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Ely, Minnesota; and Mammoth Lakes, California. demonstrating the widespread support of public lands across the country.
The March comes on the heels of the Outdoor Industry Association’s release of their Outdoor Recreation Economy State Report at Outdoor Retailer. The report demonstrates the huge impact that outdoor recreation has on state economies. Earlier this year, OIA released its national Outdoor Recreation Economy Report, which found that the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually and directly sustains 7.6 million American jobs.