Friday November 16, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- More than 100 outdoor-recreation companies riled Utah's Republican establishment Tuesday by formally petitioning President Barack Obama to designate a national monument surrounding Canyonlands National Park near Moab, a major tourist hub for everything from mountain biking to navigating the area's famous slot canyons.

Leaders of the outdoor industry -- including The North Face and Patagonia -- say they know they're going up against political opposition in Utah and want to take the idea to a national level.

With Congress refusing to move any land-protection bills, the companies are reaching out to Obama, who can use his presidential author ity and political capital after reelection to designate a monument on his own, said Ashley Korenblat, president of Western Spirit Cycling in Moab, a mountain biking town that draws people from around the world.

The outdoor-industry leaders say Utah is blessed with a $4 billion recreation economy that's more important than mining or oil-and-gas drilling on federal lands around Canyonlands National Park. A monument would protect 2,200 square miles around a park one-quarter of that size. It would take in more of the Colorado and Green rivers and the Dirty Devil River, and such landmarks as Labyrinth Canyon, Fiddler Butte and Robbers Roost.