Idaho Sends Invite to Outdoor Retailer Show 

One Idaho legislator thinks the show should move to Boise from Salt Lake City, Utah.


Idaho House Assistant Minority Leader Mat Erpelding can see Boise as a future home of the Outdoor Retailer convention, which brings 45,000 attendees to Salt Lake City every year. His vision might be more realistic now than ever, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Outdoor Industry Association is considering moving the convention.

Utah continues to spend millions of dollars fighting the federal government over a state takeover of public lands, and OIA is growing wary of holding the show in Salt Lake.

"It seems to me that as the Outdoor Industry Association looks at both the economic and political ramifications of Utah's movement to seize public lands, it's increasingly not in the association's interest to associate itself with states that have that much animus toward outdoor recreation in general," Erpelding said.

Erpelding spent the summer of 2014 traveling around Idaho as part of the Legislature's Federal Lands Interim Committee and found Idaho residents did not like the idea of the state controlling federal lands. He said the biggest worry he heard was the state can't afford to manage the lands, so they would be sold off to the highest bidder and logged or mined. Since the committee's report came out, Idaho has backed away from the idea of a federal lands takeover. Utah, however, has not.

Erpelding carried a piece of legislation during this past session to invite the Outdoor Retailer show to move to Idaho. The resolution passed in both the House and the Senate.

"I really thought that Idaho—with its history with Frank Church and the development of wilderness and the development of wild and scenic rivers—should be one of the states that the Outdoor Retailer looks at," Erpelding said.

Even though Boise doesn't have a convention space large enough to host the event, Erpelding is sure that if the OIA made the commitment to Idaho, the state could "come up with the resources" to make it happen.

"That's like the Olympics for Idaho," he said. "That's how much money the Outdoor Retailer brings to Utah. It's $40 million in one week. It is just massive."

According to the Tribune, OIA is considering moving the convention to Las Vegas; Chicago; Dallas; or Orlando, Fla.

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