Colorado makes an eager, bipartisan bid for the Outdoor Retailer show

Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner have signed a letter urging the Outdoor Retailer show to come to Colorado.

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Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, seen from the trail to Odessa Lake. Jan. 15, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Rocky Mountain National Park. Jan. 15, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner have all signed on to a letter urging the Outdoor Retailer show to come to Colorado.

Colorado has been angling to get the Outdoor Retailer show, one of the premier conventions for that industry, ever since the first hints of division between show organizers and its longtime host Utah surfaced. At issue: Utah’s lack of support for the status quo on public lands policies. The show owner, Emerald Expositions, made the split official earlier this month.

The joint letter to the Outdoor Retailer show was sent Monday to encourage organizers to consider Colorado as its new home and focused on bipartisan commitment to maintaining and protecting public lands.

“The Centennial State offers tremendous business opportunity for the outdoor recreation community, and we want to emphasize our ongoing commitment to protect the public lands that support a robust outdoor recreation economy in our state,” the governor and two senators wrote.

“Colorado is unmatched in the opportunities to connect with outdoor enthusiasts,” Hickenlooper said in a statement announcing the letter. “We truly believe the show will not only find a new awesome home here but will also land new audiences.”

The letter noted that Colorado politicians and communities had worked together to expand designations on new public lands and that the state as a whole believes protecting public lands is good business.

“These designations often result in booming business for the local communities, such as the Arkansas River Valley around Browns Canyon where we saw more than $70 million dollars flow in from rafting after the monument designation, and Southern Colorado where the Great Sand Dunes contributed over $21 million last year,” the letter said. “And thanks to passage of the Outdoor REC Act, an idea grown in heavily recreated states like Colorado, the federal government is now required to study and report on the outdoor recreation community’s impact on our economy and the U.S. GDP. In Colorado, we know that protecting and promoting public lands is not a partisan issue—it’s just good business.”

The message here is that “we” — Democrats and Republicans — see things the way the outdoor recreation industry does, and that we won’t be pulling any rugs out from under you, dear Outdoor Retailer show.