Patagonia's Response To The National Parks Cuts Is Provocative And Powerful

"We need more, not less."

On December 4, President Trump formally signed a pair of presidential proclamations that drastically reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — that had been created under former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, respectively.

According to CNN, the Trump administration slashed Bears Ears National Monument by more than 80 percent, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by roughly 45 percent, fundamentally reshaping the land that was previously protected because its history and vast cultural and natural resources.

Instead of existing as vast expanses of land, the two national monuments will now be split into several smaller sections so drilling, mining, and fracking can commence in the sections of the monuments that are no longer federally protected. The spokesperson for Interior confirmed to CNN that Bears Ears will be shrunk from 1.35 million acres to 228,337 acres and be split into two separate monument sections, while Grand Staircase-Escalante will be split into three sections and shrunk from 1.9 million acres to approximately 1 million acres.



In response to this decimation of territory — the largest elimination of protected land in American history — outdoor clothing company Patagonia shared a powerful call to action on the homepage of their website on Monday and encouraged advocacy on behalf of the threatened monuments. Under a heading that read "The President Stole Your Land," the company offered background information on President Trump's controversial proclamations and a list of groups that need support as they continue to fight to protect public lands.

The environmentally-friendly website takeover also includes some intel on why Patagonia chose to speak up — "Climbers, hikers, hunters and anglers all agree that public lands are a critical part of our national heritage and these lands belong not just to us, but to future generations" — as well as some pertinent information about the consequences of this change.

Though the current administration argues the now unprotected land will generate jobs for drillers, miners, frackers, and the like, Patagonia counters that, according to Headwaters Economics, "shutting down a national monument, or any major portion of a national monument, could have a devastating impact on local economies and the multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation economy that America's public lands and waterways support." The site also notes the outdoor recreation industry far outpaces the jobs and spending generated by the oil and gas industry.

Patagonia also points out, via The Wilderness Society, that contrary to popular belief an overwhelming majority of U.S. public lands are actually open to oil and gas leasing and development. According to the organization, only 10 percent are protected for recreation, conservation, and wildlife. In other words, we need to make the case for more protected land, not less.

Another key reason to protect public lands is that they frequently were, or still are, home to Native Americans. Bears Ears, for example, has served as a home to generations of Native Americans who stated they weren't even consulted before the current administration decided to cut up the land.

Navajo elder Mark Maryboy, who said Bears Ears is akin to a religious holy site for Native Americans, told CNN, "They didn't want to work with us. In fact, one of the county commissioners told me 'You guys lost the war so you have no business talking about the land planning process.'"

Though this was a big win for the current administration, The Salt Lake Tribune reports five American Indian tribes have already sued the president in a bid to challenge his executive action. "They declared war on us today," Shaun Chapoose, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee, told the publication. "If they think we're not prepared to protect it, they're kidding themselves."

As it turns out, Patagonia founder and CEO Yvon Chouinard also has plans to sue. "It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits," he explained to CNN. "I think it's a shame that only four percent of American lands are national parks. Costa Rica's got ten percent. Chile will now have way more parks than we have. We need more, not less. This government is evil and I'm not going to sit back and let evil win."

Cover image via Shutterstock / Krista Hardin.

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