The protection of national monuments again mobilized several leading stakeholders in the U.S. outdoor industry last month, after the Trump administration signed an order to review the status of more than two dozen national monuments.
The order relates to national monuments of at least 100,000 acres that were designated from the start of 1996, by former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, giving them special federal protection. The Trump administration suggested that the order could help to return control of the land to the states. It prompted dismayed reactions from companies such as Patagonia, The North Face and REI.
The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) said in a statement that it was concerned about the order. The association particularly contradicted the notion that the designation of national monuments has led to a loss of jobs and wages in surrounding communities. Amy Roberts, executive director of the OIA, said that it believes the facts demonstrate the opposite story. Earlier this year OIA issued an open letter stating that it strongly opposes any proposal that devalues or compromises the integrity of national public lands. Reaffirming the American right to roam in the country's public lands, the letter said it expressed the view of more than 200 leaders of large and small businesses in the outdoor industry. Its key claim is that public lands should remain in public hands.
The stance of Utah's state governor, Gary Herbert, with regard to the Bears Ears Monument played a central part in the decision by several leading exhibitors at Outdoor Retailer, such as Patagonia and Arc'teryx, not to take part in this year's edition of the summer market. Although the contract to hold the fair in Salt Lake City runs until the summer of 2018, the search is on for an alternative location. The Bears Ears Monument was designated by Obama late last year but Herbert stuck by a decision endorsed by Utah's legislature to ask the Trump administration to undo the designation. The ensuing discussion was described as a catalyst for the industry's renewed efforts to protect public lands.
Outdoor Retailer, the OIA, Outdoor Alliance and the Conservation Alliance have announced that they will jointly hold a march to the Utah State Capitol to celebrate public lands on the second day of Outdoor Retailer, on July 27. The march was described as a way to provide attendees with a platform to underline their support for federal public lands. Roberts said in a statement that participants aim to make it clear that America's national treasures require investment and effective management, and that they must remain accessible for all Americans. Speakers will include Utah tribal leaders, outdoor industry leaders, athletes and policy makers.
While the organizers of Outdoor Retailer have yet to decide on a new location, Salt Lake City reportedly issued an unsolicited bid to host the fair again. An official told local media that political winds could change, therefore the city ought to be prepared. The bid reportedly contains commitments from the Salt Palace Convention Center, hotel groups and other stakeholders, and it indicates that at least 20 other cities are bidding for Outdoor Retailer.