If your holiday-gifting list includes a tent for Mom and Dad, a sleeping bag for your significant other, and a pair of hiking boots for your outdoor-enthusiast BFF, you may find yourself perusing the website of sporting goods and outerwear supplier Patagonia. But once there, you’ll notice a slightly different home page than usual. Instead of mountains and instructions for free shipping, splashed across a completely black background is this message, in giant white font: “The President Stole Your Land.”
Patagonia is taking a strong political stance against President Donald Trump’s “illegal move,” as the site reads, to downsize public land in America. “The president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments,” the home page explains. “This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”
Some background: On Monday, President Trump signed executive orders to open up areas of protected lands in Utah to mineral extraction. By doing so, Bears Ears National Monument will lose up to 1.15 million acres of land, while Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be replaced with three smaller monuments (Grand Staircase, Escalante Canyon, and Kaiparowits, Outside reports). This has sparked outrage not just for outdoor retailers, but also for outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists.
“Today’s decision hurts the people who love these places. Americans enjoy our public lands in every part of the country, irrespective of politics,” REI’s staff wrote in a joint statement posted to the site.
According to Patagonia, there is clear, overwhelming public support for protecting these lands. “Over 2.7 million public comments poured in during the Department of the Interior’s 60-day comment period—a record-breaking response,” the site explains. “More than 98 percent of those comments expressed support for maintaining or expanding national monuments.”
REI—and many others—maintain this shouldn’t be a political fight. “The nation’s outdoors have benefited from longstanding support on both the left and the right of the political spectrum,” REI staff wrote in a in joint statement posted on its website. “Today’s decision hurts the people who love these places. Americans enjoy our public lands in every part of the country, irrespective of politics.”
And while, of course, restricting access to public lands could negatively impact the business these companies do (the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy employs more than 7.6 million people, according to REI), it also hurts the local economies surrounding the public lands, according to Patagonia.
“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,” Patagonia’s website states. And, indeed, camping and spending time in the great outdoors is a growing trend, particularly among young women who are taking to the trails in serious numbers.
Want to get involved? The Kickstarter effort to help educate public lands visitors has already raised nearly $150,000—not including The North Face’s $100,000 pledge.
Since spending time outdoors is important for so many reasons, like even keeping you a happy camper, let’s hope healthy brands keep fighting the good fight.
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