Letter by REI Staff : December 4th 2017
Today, the President announced his plan to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah—Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. This is the largest rollback of protected lands in American history. The decision also undermines the integrity of the Antiquities Act, which 16 presidents from both parties have used to designate and protect national monuments over the last 111 years.
This decision follows the Administration’s hasty, four-month review (from April to August) of 27 national monuments designated during the last two decades. As part of the monuments review, more than 2.8 million Americans submitted comments, with over 99 percent in favor of protecting them. Those voices have fallen on deaf ears.
At REI, we are unwavering in our nonpartisan commitment to public lands—to protecting this nation’s spectacular natural places—the mountains, deserts, prairies, waters and forests that tens of millions of Americans from all backgrounds cherish and enjoy annually. The nation’s outdoors have benefited from longstanding support on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.
Today’s decision hurts the people who love these places. Americans enjoy our public lands in every part of the country, irrespective of politics. Not only have hikers, cyclists, climbers and hunters enjoyed national monuments, but economies have been built around them through outfitters, guides and retailers. The $887 billion outdoor recreation economy employs over 7.6 million people in good, sustainable jobs.
Interior Secretary Zinke once said, “Part of being a good steward [of public lands] is being a good neighbor and listening to the American people who we represent.” We believe this applies to all Americans, not a special few. The people of the United States share equally in the ownership of our national public lands. This connection and sense of common ownership is something that sets this country apart from the rest of the world.
REI will not retreat from our strong belief that there is common ground in the outdoors. We will continue to pursue bipartisan support to protect public lands and prevent death by a thousand cuts. REI members can be assured that we will honor our shared passion for our public lands, dedicating time and resources to leaving them healthier for future generations.
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