On December 4, President Trump ordered the largest reduction of two national monuments in Utah. Hours later, businesses and Native American leaders raised their voices against it.
Bears Ears National Monument will shrink to about 15% of its original size – from 1.3 million acres to 228,000 under Trump’s order. Grand Staircase-Escalante, the second national monument in contention, will be reduced to half its current size – 1.9 million acres to 1 million. The 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows Presidents to designate lands for protection and preservation of natural and cultural monuments, does not state if Presidents can reduce federally protected lands. Many historical Native American and archaeological sites will no longer be under federal protection under these new boundaries.
“The decision to reduce the size of the monument is being made with no tribal consultation,” President Begaye of the Navajo Nation said in a written statement. The reduction of these monuments opens Native American sites to private and commercial investors such as logging and mining.
Patagonia, REI and other outdoor retailers have spoken out against Trump’s decision. Socially-responsible corporation Patagonia will “fight in the courts” over this decision. REI announced that they would continue to support public lands, while North Face began a campaign to donate $100,000 to an education center for Bears Ears. Additionally, Arc’teryx announced their intention to donate the net proceeds from November 28th’s post-Thanksgiving eCommerce sales in the US to the Conservation Alliance and $30,000 to the Public Lands Defense Fund. The Public Lands Defense Fund is challenging Trump’s legal ability to roll back federal lands.
The push back from outdoor retailers demonstrates that businesses will not tolerate Trump’s overreach of power. Bears Ears and Grand Stairs-Escalante National Monuments will not be reduced without a thorough legal battle from business leaders and Native American tribes.