As a Utah native, I love our wild places and wildlife. Some of my best personal and family experiences have been in Utah's magnificent outdoors, while hiking, skiing, camping, hunting and fishing.
I had the great fortune of serving as CEO of two major companies operating in Utah: Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Vista Outdoor. Vista is one of the world’s largest outdoor companies, and I established Vista’s corporate headquarters in Utah because of our educated workforce, quality of life and wide range of outdoor-based recreation.
When it comes to the outdoor industry, Utah has enjoyed having both the Outdoor Retailer show and the Western Hunting Expo based in Salt Lake City. Both are best-in-class shows and complement the diversity Utah has to offer in terms of outdoor recreation. They both have provided significant positive economic benefits to Salt Lake City and the state of Utah and bring worldwide exposure to our over-$8 billion annual outdoor and tourism industry. Sadly, disagreements on the management and use of our state’s public lands and natural resources apparently contributed to the Outdoor Retailer show leaving Salt Lake City and moving to Denver.
The Outdoor Retailer show made a fortune while in Utah, and the show received millions of dollars in state funding. Unfortunately, the show did not align those proceeds with protecting Utah’s wildlife, their habitat or our open spaces. By contrast, the Hunting Expo has contributed more than $35 million to protect wildlife habitats and ensure a future of abundant populations of these magnificent animals. Our state’s current wildlife populations are healthy and consist of more than 80,000 elk, 325,000 deer and more than 3,500 bison, as well as bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, cougars and bears. Wildlife significantly enhance Utah’s outdoor experience, and all these species benefited from a focused conservation and restoration effort, largely funded by hunters through excise taxes on hunting equipment, license fees and donations.
It is hunters who have funded and rebuilt our tremendous herds of wildlife in Utah — not cyclists, hikers, skiers, animal-rights groups or environmentalists. These sportsmen and women strongly favor a multiple-use land management model. Federal multiple-use management programs are required by law to keep the lands healthy, protect our wilderness and remote open spaces and support wildlife. If properly managed and funded, multiple-use lands provide a truly diverse outdoor experience for our families and visitors, while supporting abundant wildlife, natural outdoor spaces and wise economic development.
As the recently retired chairman and CEO of the largest outdoor equipment company in the world, a past chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and an avid outdoorsman, I believe in keeping public lands public. I also believe in balancing the economic needs of our state and its citizens with the needs of our wildlife and treasured wild places. The best policy to accomplish these objectives is through wisely established and properly managed public lands following the well-established multiple-use land management model and the hugely successful North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
Mark W. DeYoung is the former chairman & CEO of Vista Outdoor Inc., as well as the former CEO of Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK).