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A Serious Side to Paddleboarding Fun

IMAGE: Outdoor Retailer Summer Market attendees are being urged to try a stand-up paddleboard and to "Stand Up" for the Colorado River. Courtesy Protect the Flows.
August 2, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – At this week's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, the hottest new recreation trend has been stand-up paddleboarding – and it fits right in with a campaign also launched at the show.

"Stand Up for the Colorado River" is the slogan, as conservation groups urged people to contact Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Twitter and ask for her support for river protection – with some stand-up paddleboards as prizes.

Craig Mackey, co-director of the group Protect the Flows, says there's a serious side to all the fun – as the Colorado River system supports 250,000 recreation-related jobs, including many in Utah.

"If we take care of those jobs, ensure that Americans have places to get outside and play, those jobs can't be exported, they can't be sent overseas,” he says. “And we can even attract international tourism, and bring more jobs and more money right back here to America."

Mackey describes Protect the Flows as a coalition of almost 900 businesses that say they depend on the Colorado River system.

As an industry, outdoor recreation brings an estimated $12 billion a year to Utah – some of it in conjunction with the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade shows that bring more than 25,000 vendors and buyers to the Salt Palace Convention Center.

It was during an Outdoor Retailer Winter Market that Gov. Gary Herbert announced his Outdoor Recreation Vision for Utah. Mackey says since then, he feels as if Utah has turned a corner – and sees the importance of supporting the recreation economy.

"There's a lot of facets to the outdoor industry,” he adds. “And I think the governor and I think a lot of the policymakers in Utah have come around to recognize that it's about recreation, it's about quality of life, it's about industry – it's about all of those."

The Stand Up campaign is co-sponsored by Save the Colorado and American Rivers. Information about it is online at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - UT