In a press release sent out this morning, Patagonia announced it will not be participating in Outdoor Retailer, one of the biggest trade shows in the country held twice a year in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company is doing so in response to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's move to revoke the Bears Ears National Monument last week. (The Bears Ears National Monument was established by former President Barack Obama in the last few days of his presidency.)
According to the press release, “Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution on Friday urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, making it clear that he and other Utah elected officials do not support public lands conservation nor do they value the economic benefits - $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs – that the outdoor recreation industry brings to their state. Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah and we are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.“ – Rose Marcario, President and CEO, Patagonia, Inc.
This is a big and bold move from the company, but not a surprising one given the current situation in Utah regarding public lands, and Patagonia's staunch commitment to conserve and protect the planet and its resources.
Bears Ears National Monument — the reason why Patagonia is backing out. Josh Ewing photo.
Bears Ears National Monument currently protects 1.3 million acres of land that surround a pair of buttes and borders Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon national Recreation Area in southeastern Utah. Much of the land is considered sacred by Native American Tribes.
According to NPR, Utah representative Rob Bishop, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, also wants to either shrink or rescind the monument all together, saying that it is the wrong size and does not take into account the various uses of the land. Others opposed to Bears Ears are concerned about the lack of state involvement regarding Obama's decision to protect the land. (If you are looking for a longer read, this story from The Atlantic dives deep into both sides.)
In mid-January, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote an op-ed titled, “The Outdoor Industry Loves Utah; Does Utah Love the Outdoor Industry?” in which he said that if Herbert doesn't need them, they will find a “more welcoming home”.
From the Op-Ed:
“Gov. Herbert should direct his Attorney General to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument. He should stop his efforts to transfer public lands to the state, which would spell disaster for Utah’s economy. He should show the outdoor industry he wants our business – and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands. We love Utah, but Patagonia’s choice to return for future shows will depend on the Governor’s actions. I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation.”
Read Chouinard's full essay here.
It will be interesting to see if other outdoor industry leaders follow suit.