Why Colorado 14er advocates are at nation's largest outdoor retailer show

More than 100 Colorado companies and groups are at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this week - the largest trade show of its kind in America - and the show that will also be moving to Denver next year.

Show organizers announced they would move the show from Utah to Denver because of a public lands debate. Organizers and attendees are frustrated with what they consider Utah’s lack of protection for their public lands and conservation.

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9NEWS is at the trade show this year in Utah speaking with organizers and attendees about what the move means for Colorado.

Lloyd Athearn is head of the Colorado 14ers Initiative, and he's attended the show since 1996 (not every year, but close).

He leads the group, which aims to preserve and protect 14ers on public lands by building trails, re-vegetating areas, and educating the public on stewardship of these areas. 

He calls the OR show a ‘family reunion’ for everyone in the outdoor industry - from athletes to manufacturers to retailers and advocates. 

As the show moves to Colorado next year, Athearn calls it 'bittersweet'.

"Its really exciting this outdoor community said Denver and Colorado are probably the best place to bring this show," he said. "Utah has a lot to offer, they’ve just not been as supportive of wilderness and public lands. So it’s going to be great to have all these people coming to a state that thrives on outdoor industry and is willing to support it."

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In Colorado, Athearn says, the 260,000 people who climb the state’s high peaks per year earn the state more than 70 million dollars in revenue from hotels, gear, and everything else they purchase and spend money on during their climbs. 

"Everyone from Colorado is excited about the show moving to Denver. We’re justifiably proud of the natural resources we have and things we can show off to people around the world. I’m sure convention-related businesses are over the moon about getting tens of thousands of people coming in and people going to brewpubs and all of that," he said.

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Athearn attends the show for a variety of reasons. As a non-profit that seeks volunteers to perform hard work of building trails at 14,000 feet above sea level, he comes to build relationships with companies willing to donate products to the volunteers, items for fundraising, donations, and even the larger public policy conversations. 

Follow 9NEWS on Instagram for behind the scenes photos and videos from the trade show in its last year at Salt Lake City!

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