âIt was like a fuse to a Molotov cocktail,â said Christian Beckwith, the founder of Shift, an annual outdoor conference in Jackson, Wyo., which will focus on the case for advocacy during its next incarnation in November.
Numerous monuments are under review, but in response to Patagoniaâs publicity efforts, attention has been focused on Bears Ears, a 1.35 million-acre tract in Utah that includes hundreds of Native American cultural artifacts and Navajo tribal lands as well as a popular climbing area known as Indian Creek. It was declared a national monument by President Obama in December.
The Utah governor and the majority of the stateâs congressional delegation called the move an example of federal overreach, and have been lobbying to have at least part of the land returned to state control, an effort that caught President Trumpâs attention. In June, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted an interim report suggesting he would recommend shrinking the borders of the monument, though he has not yet said to what extent. (A recommendation is due in late August.)
The review is being framed as a federal vs. state issue. âThe land was federal land before the monument designation and if the boundaries of the monument are modified, the land would still be public land, managed by the agency that previously managed it,â Heather Swift, press secretary for the Department of the Interior, wrote in an email. Nonetheless, lifting the monument status would open the land up to other possible uses. To Patagonia and similar businesses, this poses an existential threat to the thing they hold most âsacred,â in the words of its chief executive, Rose Marcario, with the potential for the land to be leased or sold for mineral and fracking exploitation.
After the order was issued, âI called Jerry and Arne,â said Ms. Marcario, referring to Jerry Stritzke and Arne Arens, the chief executives of REI and North Face, respectively,…