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The President Stole Your Land: Patagonia and REI Take a Stand

London, UK
Trump’s move to shrink two US National Monuments provokes ethical brand Patagonia to sue and REI to drum up bipartisan support for public land
The news that US President Donald Trump plans to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah has not gone over well with many Americans. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear brand known for its ethical business practices has shared a stark message on its social media channels, specifically calling out the President and announcing that it will sue the administration.

On Monday, the Whitehouse released a statement saying that both the Bears Ears (established by President Obama) and Grand Staircase-Escalante (created by Bill Clinton would be shrunk significantly. Bear Ears will be slashed from 1.5 million acres to 228,784 acres of land and Grand Staircase-Escalante will be shrunk from 1,880,461 acres to 1,006,341 acres.

The move marks the first time in 50 years that such land protection measures have been undone. Unsurprisingly this hasn’t gone down well with Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario, who sent out the following message:

"Americans have overwhelmingly spoken out against the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attempt to shut down our national monuments. The Administration’s unlawful actions betray our shared responsibility to protect iconic places for future generations and represent the largest elimination of protected land in American history. We’ve fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we’ll continue that fight in the courts."

Pataogonia has been readying itself to sue the President over the issue for some time as the US administration has been reviewing national monuments designated since 1996. Speaking to CNN, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard confirmed his plans to take the President to court.

“It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits. I think it’s a shame that only 4% of American lands are national parks. Costa Rica’s got 10%. Chile will now have way more parks than we have. We need more, not less. This government is evil and I’m not going to sit back and let evil win.”

And Patagonia is not the only group to threaten a lawsuit or begin legal proceedings; a group of five tribes have already filed a suit and so too has a coalition of conservation groups. The plaintiffs are listed as Donald J. Trump, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Brian Steed. 

As well as communicating their intentions through social media and on their website, Patagonia is also hoping to catalyse support and action from the public, with the hashtag #MonumentalMistake.

Meanwhile, fellow outdoors brand REI has also taken to its channels to voice its opposition to the news – though in somewhat less stark tones, opting for a more optimistic ‘We Heart Our Public Lands’ approach. On their website, they have stated that they believe the issue is nonpartisan, that national public land benefits those on both the left and right and that they are pursuing ‘bipartisan support to protect public lands and prevent death by a thousand cuts. REI members can be assured that we will honour our shared passion for our public lands, dedicating time and resources to leaving them healthier for future generations.”

Back in June, Jerry Stritzke, CEO and President of REI wrote an open letter to Ryan Zinke, urging him to take note of the overwhelmingly positive support of public lands and reminding him that the outdoors industry generates $887bn dollars a year - $125bn in tax revenue – a figure he says dwarfs what American consumers spend on petrol, cars or pharmaceuticals. 

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