Getting down to (outdoor) business

January 31, 2014

Hannah Clark, the Coalition’s LWCF campaign director, sends a dispatch from Utah.

Earlier this month, I traveled to Salt Lake City for the Coalition’s first visit to the Outdoor Retail Winter Market.

The Outdoor Retail Winter Market is not only the country’s biggest showcase of new outdoor gear, clothing and cutting edge companies, but a gathering of the folks who care most about protecting our outdoors. All of these businesses and the jobs they create rely on protected public lands for their bottom line and that fact was top-of-mind for all attendees.

The first night, our friends at the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) hosted an Advocacy Awards Dinner to honor the leaders in the outdoor industry who are advocating for our parks, trails, forests and wildlife refuges.

Coalition member Marc Berejka, the government affairs director at REI, was recognized for his tireless work to protect the outdoors – congrats again Marc!

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell snuck in for the dessert reception where I spoke with her – one of my highlights of the whole show.


Of course, we here in Washington know Secretary Jewell from her many years at the helm of REI, board leadership at the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, and speaking at the Coalition’s events.

She affirmed her strong support for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and told me that the Coalition’s work is essential to achieve our shared goal of full, permanent funding for the program.

Every speaker during the week – Sally Jewell, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, VF Outdoor CEO Steve Rendle, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation CEO Jeff Trandahl – talked about the need for the outdoor industry to come together with a strong voice for the LWCF.

And with good reason – having fun outdoors is serious business here in Washington and across the nation. In our state alone, our $22 billion outdoor industry supports 227,000 jobs, generating $7 billion in wages and $1.6 billion dollars in state and local taxes.

But my trip wasn’t all work – outdoor businesses know how to have fun. At about 4pm each night, businesses like Stanley, Pendleton, Keen, and Columbia Sportswear broke out the reusable aluminum cups and kegs of beer (or in the case of Pendleton, their own whiskey) and the crowds grew. The very cool thing was that all of the proceeds from these mini parties went to supporting some of our partners, like the Conservation Alliance and Pacific Crest Trail Association.

To all of our outdoor business partners, hope we see you at Outdoor Retail Winter Market next year!

Photo by BLM Oregon.