The Economic Case

Elected officials require sound information to advocate on behalf of outdoor rec and public lands. When business joins the coalition of public land advocates, doors open, political leaders listen and legislation related to the interests of outdoor rec and public lands advances. This track looks at ways the economic power of the industry is being used to bolster the case for public lands.

Panels are designed to frame up the topics under consideration with topic experts. Following the panels, panelists and audiences break into small groups that employ the World Café format to facilitate dynamic interaction and networking among participants and crowdsource solutions to challenges identified by the panelists.

Panels include:

The REC Act

Teton Room

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) produces some of the nation’s most important economic statistics, including the gross domestic product (GDP). The Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, or REC Act—a bipartisan bill that sailed through both the House and Senate—authorized the BEA to assess outdoor recreation’s contribution to the GDP with an Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account. Significantly, this assessment marks the first time that the federal government will officially and comprehensively recognize outdoor recreation as a distinct sector of the U.S. economy. The data produced by this account will be used to help inform a wide variety of audiences and decision makers on the importance of outdoor recreation.

This panel explores how the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account fits into the big picture of the American economy, how the information it generates will impact decision-making that effects outdoor rec and public lands, and what you can do to support the continuation of this important work.

Moderator: Michael Degnan, Consultant


The Business Case for Advocacy

Grand Room

In February, Patagonia launched a campaign to flood Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s office with comments in favor of Bears Ears National Monument. In May, Adidas Outdoor sponsored Climb the Hill, a lobbying event orchestrated by Access Fund and the American Alpine Club that brought climbers and business leaders to Washington DC to advocate on behalf of public lands. In July, REI sent an email to its six million members urging them to respond to the Department of the Interior’s call for comments on its review of national monuments—and linked to the submission page. As the outdoor industry flexes its political muscle, this panel highlights lessons learned from some of the companies that are leading the movement to champion our public lands.

Moderator: Lindsey Elliott, Co-Founder, Wylder (2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection)


  • Ryan Callaghan, Director of Public Relations, First Lite (2016 SHIFT Award Official Selection)
  • Ron Hunter, Activism Manager, Patagonia (2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection)
  • Taldi Walter, Government & Community Affairs Manager, REI (2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection)
  • Garrett Long, Conservation Liaison, Sitka

The OR Trade Show Leaves Utah

Timberline 1

For twenty years, the Outdoor Retailer trade show had been held in Salt Lake City, drawing as many as 50,000 attendees and generating some $45 million each year with its biannual events. In February, the Outdoor Industry Alliance, the show’s primary sponsor, announced that the show would leave Utah to protest the state’s efforts to transfer federal public lands to state control and rescind the designation of Bears Ears National Monument.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs each year. As the industry begins to leverage its economic power to address issues important to its customers, it has begun to grapple with how little that (predominantly Caucasian) customer base reflects the diversity of the country. More customers = greater revenues + more power, but diversifying the space is not without its challenges.

This panel explores the case study of an industry, political power, social justice, what we’ve learned and what comes next.

Moderator: Peter Metcalf, Founder, Black Diamond Equipment


  • Luis Benitez, Director, Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation
  • Len Necefer, Founder, Natives Outdoors (2017 Emerging Leader)
  • Amy Roberts, Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association
  • Danielle Williams, Founder, MelaninBasecamp (2017 Emerging Leader)

Rocket Fuel