Metcalf quits state working group |

Metcalf quits state working group

Gina Barker, The Park Record

In a public stand against Governor Gary Herbert’s position on public land policies, Black Diamond founder and CEO Peter Metcalf stepped down from a working group tied to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Metcalf removed himself from the Utah Ski and Snowboard Industry working group following the governor’s proposed legislation, R.S. 2477, a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management pressing the federal government to hand over several thousand acres to the state.

"It was really clear that the role that the (GOED) office plays and we as industry play in having a voice in creating public policy in Utah is nonexistent," Metcalf said in an interview with The Park Record.

"Public lands play an important role to industry and recreational activity," he added. "These policies are some of most damaging in country, in any state, and are an attempt not to steward and preserve our greatest public asset."

Metcalf formally resigned last week, only days after an op-ed piece written by the Black Diamond CEO appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Metcalf, who has sat down with the governor and personally discussed issues involving land preservation, said after the piece ran he received a letter from the governor citing their disagreements as a possible reason Metcalf should consider stepping down.

"This letter said basically, ‘Look, I don’t want members of working groups challenging me like that. If this is approach you’re going to take, you should seriously consider resigning from my task force,’" Metcalf said. "I thought about this long and hard, talked to colleagues, and decided that yes, I should."

For the past four Utah governors, Metcalf has served on other working groups and built what he referred to as a "collaborative working relationship," but that this was the first time he felt shut out by differences.

"It became clear that (collaboration) was not happening with this governor," he said. "I decided the best thing to do was rather than being part of some coalition, I needed to become part of the respectful opposition."

The current administration’s lawsuit, originally filed in early May, against the federal government for the transfer of public lands to state ownership has stirred controversy as to state motivations. Critics view the plan as "a short-term sell off that almost exclusively benefits private developers and the oil, gas, and coal industry, without regard to the value of conservation and recreation interests," according to a press release from Black Diamond.

Riley Cutler, the outdoor industry director for GOED, said that the Metcalf’s stand was understandable but never involved the purpose of the working group which was first formed in early 2011.

"Black Diamond is a valuable member of the outdoor industry, and Metcalf himself is a great friend and valuable member of outdoor industry," Cutler said. "I gathered a few ski industry experts and CEOs of Utah companies to come together as working group, an unofficial working group.

"This was never a policy group, but more about what the ski industry needed to expand and do more business in the state."

Cutler went on to cite the other agencies in play in steering the governor’s policies regarding public land, including the Attorney General’s offices and the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office.

But Metcalf stands firm that as a large player in such an important and growing Utah industry, as a member of a working group created by the governor, he and the other outdoor industry businesses that make up an estimated $4 billion worth of annual sales and services should be heard more clearly.

"Through 21 years worth of committed, tenacious hard work trying to make a difference in our community people have come to respect and appreciate the role Black Diamond plays," Metcalf said, "the betterment of Utah through the jobs we create, the philanthropic work we do, and the work we do to influence public policy for betterment of state. I hope the governor does interpret this as a sign or indication not to take for granted the support of the outdoor industry."

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