Outdoor retail industry pushes new Utah national monument

Posted at 5:23 PM, Nov 13, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-13 19:49:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY - A coalition of outdoor industry retailers is asking President Obama to create a new national monument in southeastern Utah.

The "Greater Canyonlands National Monument" would comprise 1.4 million acres of public lands outside Canyonlands National Park in Moab. More than 100 outdoor retailers signed a public letter to the president on Tuesday.

"This is one of the great recreational gems of the state of Utah," said Peter Metcalf, the CEO of Black Diamond Equipment.

Metcalf told FOX 13 the Utah State Legislature's recent push to reclaim federal lands was the catalyst for his support of a new national monument. He hoped to leverage the outdoor industry's $4 billion a year it puts into the state's economy to get it.

Backers of the monument said the area around Moab is a huge tourism and recreation hub. They opposed plans for mining and oil exploration.

"Hunting will be allowed," said Metcalf. "There's thousands of miles of dirt roads, where you'll be allowed to ride your Jeeps, pickup trucks and ATVs. But there will be a better form of planning and protection in line with the magnificence of these lands."

The last national monument designation in Utah did not go over well. In 1996, President Bill Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument amid protests.

In a statement on Tuesday, Governor Gary Herbert's office said he had not been approached about any proposed monument.

"We certainly hope we don't have another Bill Clinton approach to creating a monument," Herbert's deputy chief of staff, Ally Isom, said in an email to FOX 13. "Canyonlands was established by statute and any expansion ought to be rightly created by statute, involving all interested parties, including Utah stakeholders."