Earlier this week, President Trump signed proclamations to drastically shrink Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. If enacted (legal challenges have already been issued), the move will strip federal protections from about two million acres of public land—an area almost twice the size of Delaware. It will be the largest rollback of federal land protections in U.S. history.
The proclamations were not a surprise. They’re just the latest salvo in an ongoing battle over Utah’s public lands, which pits conservationists, tribal groups, and the outdoor industry against a conservative movement that views sprawling monuments as products of government overreach.
It’s the same controversy that caused the outdoor industry to move the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show (and its $110 million economic impact) to Denver from its longtime home in Salt Lake City earlier this year.
If you follow industry players on social media, you’ve no doubt already seen some of the backlash. Major brands like REI, The North Face, and Black Diamond have all issued public statements opposing the rollback, and many have urged their followers to write directly to the administration.
Patagonia took it a step farther, and blacked out its entire home page to make a simple, unequivocal statement:
Obama’s monument unmadE
If they are enacted, Trump’s pronouncements will have the most substantial impact on Bears Ears National Monument: a 1.3 million-acre tract in Southeastern Utah. Established by President Obama during his final days in office, that monument has been a source of considerable controversy.
Bears Ears was established largely at the behest of a coalition of Native American tribes, who hoped stricter regulations would protect their ancestral homelands from development and looting. Ranchers and Republican leaders fiercely opposed its designation, and have generally described it as a federal land grab.
Trump’s rollback will remove 85% of Bears Ears, reducing it to two islands of protected land totaling 202,000 acres. As detailed in a map produced by The Access Fund, that would leave considerable climbing, hiking, and canyoneering resources outside the monument.