The Trump Administration’s latest move could place national monuments in jeopardy—and brands, including Patagonia and REI, are fighting back to protect lands that are key to the outdoor industry.
On Tuesday, President Trump issued two proclamations that would reduce the protected areas of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. According to Trump, reducing the borders of both national monuments would support The Antiquities Act, a law signed in 1906 that requires lands that are part of national monuments to be confined to the smallest areas, so historic and scientific objects of interest can be protected efficiently.
While President Trump explained that modifying these landmarks would open land up to citizens and American businesses, Patagonia and REI are arguing that this decision would instead deplete both national monuments, prevent people from using public lands for recreational activities and harm the prosperity of the U.S. outdoor industry.
“Americans have overwhelmingly spoken out against the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attempt to shut down our national monuments. The Administration’s unlawful actions betray our shared responsibility to protect iconic places for future generations and represent the largest elimination of protected land in American history,” Patagonia CEO and president Rose Marcario said. “We’ve fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we’ll continue that fight in the courts.”
[Read more on how brands are advocating for U.S. public lands: Patagonia Threatens to Sue Trump Over Outdoor Monument Plans]
Following the release of both proclamations, Patagonia called the president out for failing to protect both national monuments, putting a splash page on its website and messages across social media claiming: “The President Stole Your Land. In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”
The outdoor retailer is urging the public to take action by supporting organizations that are working to protect the monuments, including the Conservation Lands Foundation and the Grand Canyon Trust, and writing to Trump’s Administration to stop the land reduction. The company said it is currently working with more than 350 businesses, conservation groups and Native American tribes to preserve the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, so future generations can celebrate the history of these public lands and have unrestricted access to them for recreational activities. Next up will be legal action, according to the brand.
REI also disagreed with the move, noting that the decision would deplete the U.S. outdoor industry’s economic growth.
“Just this morning, the industry launched its latest economic impact report, showing the outdoor industry supports 7.6M sustainable American jobs and nearly $900B in consumer spending and $125B in tax revenue. That positive impact extends from our largest cities to the vitality of our rural communities,” REI said in a statement. “In that light, we believe there is a compelling case to maintain the integrity of our existing national monuments.”
Despite Trump’s plans for the monuments, REI said it will continue to work with elected officials and outdoor industry members to protect the accessibility of these public lands.
“Our 16 million members can be assured that we believe – as Teddy Roosevelt said – our public lands should be left stronger and healthier for future generations,” REI added. “That is a significant responsibility for the Secretary of Interior and his department to live up to, and so REI will help provide all the evidence and support needed to prove just how much the outdoor community loves these iconic places and the way of life they make possible.”
Other organizations, including the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), have also expressed concern over Trump’s national monument agenda. On Tuesday, the Outdoor Retail Association said the decision ignores the public’s desire to protect national monuments and reduces the economic potential for the U.S. outdoors industry. According to the OIA, more than three million Americans have contacted the administration to protect public lands, including outdoor recreation company executives that are creating more jobs in rural communities.
In July, the Outdoor Industry Association also announced that Outdoor Retailer, one of the largest outdoor trade shows in the U.S., will move its location to Denver next year. OIA said the move will enable industry members to come together to protect public lands and boost the U.S. outdoor industry’s economy moving forward.
“This decision is part of a long pattern of attacks against public lands and will harm hundreds of local Utah communities and businesses, will stifle millions of dollars in annual economic activity and threatens thousands of jobs in the region, Outdoor Retailer said. “The Outdoor Industry Association will continue to educate the industry and all Americans about President Trump’s assault on our industry and our nation’s public lands, and we will continue to support the members of Congress who defend both and who understand the importance of the outdoor recreation economy to local communities.”
Trump, however, is defending the move wholeheartedly and expressing the benefits expected to come from it.
“These abuses of the Antiquities Act give enormous power to faraway bureaucrats at the expense of the people who actually live here, work here, and make this place their home. With the action I’m taking today, we will not only give back your voice over the use of this land, we will also restore your access and your enjoyment,” Trump said in a statement. “Public lands will once again be for public use because we know that people who are free to use their land and enjoy their land are the people most determined to conserve their land.”
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