President Biden is reportedly set to announce the restoration of environmental protections to three major national monuments that former President Trump had significantly reduced. This includes reinstating and slightly expanding the original 1.3 million-acre boundaries of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and restoring the state’s original 1.8 million-acre boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland tweeted on Friday about the importance of public lands protections on a visit to Bears Ears.
As Secretary of the @Interior, it is my job to protect our public lands and waters to ensure that they are there for future generations. My first trip as Secretary was to Utah to visit Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante. (1/3) https://t.co/EBLaI3lhPB
— Secretary Deb Haaland (@SecDebHaaland) October 8, 2021
President Obama originally designated the area as a national monument in 2016, only to have it stripped back significantly under President Trump in 2017.
Outdoor brand Patagonia has been working with local indigenous and environmental groups to advocate for protecting Bears Ears since 2013, supplying local groups with environmental grants, donations to local communities, and regular use of company communication channels to amplify its strong outdoor business voice in Utah to call for protection. The first piece of its public campaign was the 2015 short film “Defined by the Line” about climber and activist Josh Ewing and his work around protecting Bears Ears.
After Trump’s election, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution challenging Obama’s designation for the area and called on President Trump to rescind the national monument status from Bears Ears. That move sparked Patagonia and the largest outdoor-recreation companies in the U.S. to pull their official trade show out of Salt Lake City, the trade show’s home for the last 20 years, in protest. Soon after, Patagonia worked with Google to create a series of 10 360-degree films to raise awareness of the cultural and recreational significance of Bears Ears through immersive stories from Native American tribal leaders and outdoor athletes.
Later in 2017, the company created its first-ever TV spot to run on television and radio in then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s home state of Montana to remind him that he once said, “Our greatest treasures are public lands.” The company also bought TV and radio ad time in Utah and Nevada, where Bears Ears, Grand Staircase Escalante, Gold Butte, and Basin and Range National Monuments were under threat.
In December 2017, the Trump administration said the reason it had shrunk the national monuments was to transfer use rights back to the state of Utah and that oil and gas drilling was not the priority. Patagonia had launched an awareness campaign, declaring “The President Stole Your Land.” Now the brand is adding to that accusation, posting on its website and social channels, “The President Stole Your Land and You Were Lied To.”
— Patagonia (@patagonia) December 4, 2017
The company joined other groups to sue Trump, Zinke, the secretary of agriculture, the director of the Bureau of Land Management and the chief of the Forest Service, saying that the Antiquities Act of 1906 gave presidents the power to create national monuments, but not the power to reduce them.
After learning that Biden would restore the protections of Bears Ears, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert issued a statement saying, “We want to thank the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition for their leadership and thank all of our friends in the Indigenous and environmental communities who have worked to protect Bears Ears National Monument. We also want to thank the Biden administration, especially Secretary Haaland, for their work to restore protections for more than a million acres of sacred land. We have a shared responsibility to conserve these important cultural landscapes for future generations.”