Ask any westerner what they love most about the West and many are likely to tell you about some of their favorite places and memories of time spent outdoors. Opportunities to hike, bike, fish, ski, paddle and play out among beautiful mountains, wild rivers, and peaceful deserts are what make our region the best place to call home.
For many of us, recreation deeply connects us to the magnificent places of the West. As others learn how great it is to live here, population growth and other development pose increasing threats to many places that need and deserve our protection.
Our friends and partners at the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) have an intimate understanding of the value of public lands and share with us a deep appreciation of the need to care for the places we play in and call home. Over the last year in particular, OIA has emerged as a powerful leading voice in raising awareness about the threats to our public lands and the rivers and ecosystems within them. OIA is inspiring outdoor enthusiasts to take action to protect these treasures today and for future generations.
This year, OIA notably stood up to the Utah state government’s proposal to eliminate Bears Ears National Monument and other federal public lands. By moving its hallmark trade show, Outdoor Retailer, and its estimated $45 million annual local spending out of Salt Lake City and to Denver, OIA called national attention to the fact that preserving landscapes, rivers and the places we love is also good business.
OIA has also mobilized its 1,200 member businesses and its larger network in support of the Wilderness Act and the Clean Water Act, worked to secure full, lasting funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and engaged outdoor industry companies to begin to lead on climate change. As a result, supporters of public lands across the nation are increasingly raising their voices. And when an $800 billion industry and its members speak, they are heard.
OIA and its member businesses’ advocacy is not risk free. It’s logical that some businesses might fear backlash from a portion of their customer base. That’s why OIA’s leadership on critical conservation issues is so important. Like no other industry, the outdoor industry has been able to highlight that today a healthy environment and a healthy economy are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are dependent on one another. OIA’s advocacy has highlighted that businesses thrive in a healthy environment, where customers have clean air to breathe, rivers to run and places to explore. We applaud OIA for underscoring this deep connection between business and a healthy environment and the importance of access to the inspiring landscapes that make our lives richer.
In recognition of their leadership and commitment to protecting the West, Western Resource Advocates is proud to honor the Outdoor Industry Association at our Protect the West Celebration on September 7th. We invite you to celebrate the OIA’s achievements, and to join us in protecting the places we love and call home.