The sun sets over Valley of the Gods in Bears Ears National Monument seen from the Moki Dugway June 11, 2017 north of Mexican Hat, UT.
Katherine Frey—The Washington Post/Getty Images
By Rose Marcario
December 6, 2017
IDEAS

Marcario is CEO of Patagonia.


President Donald Trump’s Dec. 4 proclamation robs the American people of their public lands heritage. The President and a handful of politicians would like you to believe that they are doing what is best by rescinding 85% of Bears Ears National Monument and nearly half of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Nothing could be further from the truth. This action is unprecedented and widely unpopular. It is also illegal, and Patagonia will be challenging his decision in court.

By eliminating so much of Bears Ears National Monument, the President is putting over a million acres of land at risk for permanent destruction, and we aren’t going to just stand by. Protecting public lands is a core tenet of our mission and vitally important to our industry, and we feel we need to do everything in our power to protect this special place.

People often look at this as a states’ rights issue. We acknowledge that people who live closest to these lands often want what is best for them, like the Native American tribes near Bears Ears who are filing suit alongside us. We must also acknowledge that history shows when states control public-trust land, 70% is sold off — and then often used for oil drilling, mining and other industrial activities. This also means that hunters, fishers, outdoorsmen and families like yours can no longer enjoy them.

While our complaint contains the specific legal arguments we’re making in challenging the President’s illegal actions, some very basic principles explain why we’re joining this lawsuit:

To enforce the law. The Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution — Article IV, section 3, clause 2 — vests Congress with the power to manage federal lands. Through the Antiquities Act of 1906, Congress delegated a limited amount of power to the President — specifically, the authority to create national monuments protecting certain federal land. But it did not give the President the power to undo a prior president’s monument designations. It kept that power for itself.

To carry out our purpose as a benefit corporation. Patagonia became a California benefit corporation in 2012, in order to legally enshrine our longstanding environmental and social values into the foundation of our business. Our articles of incorporation require that we confront urgent environmental threats by investing our resources as a growing business into environmental nonprofits.

To stand with our grassroots partners. Since 1985, Patagonia has supported hundreds of grassroots organizations in all 50 states fighting to protect public lands at the community level. As a company, we have donated more than $80 million to these groups. Beginning in 2013, we joined tribal leaders and grassroots allies to advocate for the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, and have worked together to defend it from the President’s threats.

To defend our business. Patagonia’s business relies directly on public lands, like Indian Creek in Bears Ears, which hosts world-class climbing. Powered by national monuments, national parks and other special public lands that draw millions of visitors a year, outdoor recreation is America’s fourth-largest industry — driving $887 billion in annual consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

For more than a century, presidents of both political parties have upheld their solemn responsibility as stewards of America’s public lands by protecting our most special wild places. In every corner of the country and across the political spectrum, the American people resoundingly support this tradition. This is not about politics; it’s about protecting the places we love and keeping the great promise of this country for our children and grandchildren.

We won’t let President Trump tear down our heritage and sell it to the highest bidder. We’re proud to keep fighting with everything we’ve got.

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