Patagonia has an ominous message for anyone visiting its website:
“The President Stole Your Land.”
The outdoor recreation company splashed that accusation on its homepage after President Donald Trump slashed the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments in Utah. The message, contrasted in all white against a black backdrop, was an urgent warning of what the company sees as executive overreach.
“In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments,” the message continued. “This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”
Patagonia was joined by outdoor supply store REI in using their retail website to protest the President’s decision to reduce the size of the two monuments by a combined nearly 2 million acres. REI, taking a slightly less aggressive stance, promised to continue its efforts to protect important American lands
“Despite the loss of millions of acres of protected lands this week REI will continue to advocate for the places we all love,” the company wrote on its website
The two companies becoming involved in the debate in a battle for the wild west being waged by the outdoor recreation industry in general, which has been pushing back on plans to exploit the lands for cattle grazing, development, and fossil fuel production.
But Mr Trump’s decision to reduce the size of two of America’s national monuments wasn’t only met with public appeals from retailers. Almost as soon as the reduction was announced, a deluge of lawsuits were filed on behalf of many involved in that fight — including one by a coalition of 10 conservation groups, and one by a coalition of five Native American Tribes.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke hit out at Patagonia on Tuesday. “I think it is shameful and appalling that they would blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers,” he said.
“No land, not one square inch, has been transferred or sold,” Mr Zinke added..
But the move to open up public lands to those types of uses that interest developers was supported by prominent politicians in the area. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who represents the state that holds the monuments, applauded the decision. Mr Hatch has frequently said that the monuments in the area were unnecessarily vast.
Mr Trump, for his part, justified his decision by returning to an old favorite: Washington overreach.
I’ve reduced the size of the monuments “because some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They’re wrong,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Zinke has now recommended a number of other charges. He said the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument straddling the border of Oregon and California and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada were both too big for the purpose of protecting important historical sites and should be reduced in size. He also said that Mr Trump should consider changing the boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments in the Pacific Ocean.
Mr Zinke also recommended changes in the management of 10 other monuments to allow for more grazing, timber, fishing, road access and other uses.