A very big feud is brewing between the Outdoor Industry and the state of Utah, if not much of the rest of the country. And rightfully so. Thanks to the state’s notoriously anti-public lands conservation attitude, Outdoor Retailer announced yesterday they were actively looking for a new home in 2018 and now Patagonia says they are pulling out of the show altogether while it remains in Utah.
On Friday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument — this is the 1.3 billion acre national monument that Obama created right before leaving office. Bears Ears connects a huge protected corridor that links several monuments that ultimately bring you to the Grand Canyon. The land is also considered sacred to Native American tribes.
In an article last week, NPR also identified Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Natural Resources, as one of Bears Ears biggest critics. Bishop wants the Trump administration to act by executive order, and either shrink Bears Ears or nullify it altogether as the national monument designation generally means new development — like oil and gas drilling, expansion of cattle grazing — is off limits. Only the existing leases that are grandfathered in can be developed.
Today, Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia released this statement, “Utah has made it clear that their elected officials do not support public lands conservation nor do they value the economic benefits – $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs – that the outdoor recreation industry brings to their state. Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah and we are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.“
Last month, Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard penned an op-ed, The Outdoor Industry Loves Utah; Does Utah Love the Outdoor Industry? in which he stated, “If Gov. Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home. Gov. Herbert should direct his Attorney General to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument. He should stop his efforts to transfer public lands to the state, which would spell disaster for Utah’s economy. He should show the outdoor industry he wants our business – and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands. We love Utah, but Patagonia’s choice to return for future shows will depend on the Governor’s actions. I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation.”
I am super proud of our industry for taking a stand against the desecration of our public lands. With everything from drilling in national parks to dismantling them all together is on the table with this new administration, it appears we are going to have a long fight on our hands. But fight we will.