Two Montezuma County businesses have joined a petition to Congress by outdoor retailers to keep protections in place for public lands.
Mancos’ Alpacka Rafts and Cortez’s Osprey Packs are among about 100 outdoor equipment companies that signed the letter, which was sent on Monday to nine Colorado representatives.
The petition asks lawmakers to resist any changes to the Antiquities Act of 1906, which governs which public lands can be declared national monuments, and is currently under scrutiny by the federal government.
According to the letter, Colorado’s history with protecting national monuments like Canyons of the Ancients was a major factor in the recent decision to move the Outdoor Retailer Show, one of the largest conventions in the industry, to Colorado from Utah.
According to a news release Monday from Conservation Communications, a company that provides public relations services for nonprofits and businesses, the letter was sent partly in response to President Donald Trump’s decision in December to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Monuments in Utah. The letter states that the Retailer Show left Utah after the state’s congressional delegation backed similar legislation.
“After holding the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City for 20 years, the industry decided to move the show due to ongoing efforts by some of Utah’s elected officials to undermine public land protections – the very places on which recreationists and the outdoor economy depend,” the letter said. “Colorado has a rich tradition of keeping its national parks, national monuments and wilderness areas, and other public lands, protected and accessible.”
The Retailer Show was held in Denver for the first time in January.
The letter goes on to express concern about some Colorado representatives’ support of legislation like a section of the Republican tax bill, passed by Congress in December, which would open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. According to the letter, supporting such legislation could undermine the main reason the Retailer Show moved to the state.
Sarah Tingey, outreach and operations director for Alpacka Rafts, said her company has been active in conservation causes throughout its 17-year history. Alpacka also regularly buys equipment at the Outdoor Retailer Show. Tingey said she signed the letter because it seemed like a good way to remind Colorado’s leaders of their state’s history in conservation.
“It was important to us from both a personal and a professional perspective,” she said. “I see it as more of a reminder that we’re all here because we want to put our dollars into a state that values public lands.”
The letter was addressed to Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, and Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter, Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman.
In addition to Alpacka and Osprey Packs, the letter bore signatures from numerous Colorado businesses, as well as some from outside the state, like the Minnesota-based Granite Gear and the Washington-based Platypus.