This week the Utah Legislature learned something important about those so-called message bills they love to pass.
The often anti-environmentalist, anti-Washington gestures that tickle the good ol' "drill, baby, drill" boys back in Kanab and Vernal can bite you in the pants in Salt Lake City—in very real terms. Like cash flow.
The Outdoor Retailers Association, whose two-per-year confabs bring almost 50,000 visitors and $40 million into Utah, would, for obvious reasons, like to preserve a little wild space on which to use the sports and outdoor equipment they sell. Association president Frank Hugelmeyer said in a statement:
"Of greatest concern is the governor’s lawsuit challenging the federal government over jurisdiction of the federal public lands and some road claims within national parks, monuments and wilderness areas. We have not and will not sit silently on threats to the nation’s recreation infrastructure."
The group called on Herbert to "pursue public land policies that support the outdoor industry" and gave Gov. Gary Herbert a month to come up with an answer or they will consider it another reason to move the show to another western city. So far, the best he could do was insult the retailers' intelligence:
"I think there are some issues out there that are legitimate and some that are rumor and myth."
One of the "myths" apparently is the bill Herbert signed in March demanding the federal government turn over public lands to Utah by 2014. State attorneys have said it's likely unconstitutional.
Just a "rumor," I guess, is Utah's relentless legal actions to eliminate any further wilerness designation and rescind the protections of places like Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Businessman Peter Metcalf of Salt Lake-based Black Diamond must have been delusional when he resigned from Herbert’s snow sports advisory group this summer. Metcalf complained Utah's political leaders are “killing the goose that lays the golden egg” with land policies that could destroy the state's future as a tourism and recreational wonderland.