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Patagonia vs. Trump

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The outdoor industry continues to fight for federally protected lands.

People sit on the capital building’s stone steps holding signs saying “Protect Wild Utah” and “Utah Stands With Bears Ears.”
People protesting cuts to federally protected lands at Utah’s State Capital building on Saturday.
Photo: Michael Nigro/Getty Images

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Yesterday, President Trump announced his decision to drastically cut the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, two areas of land in Utah that were classified as national monuments during Presidents Obama and Clinton’s tenures, respectively, and therefore protected from development. The same day, Patagonia updated its homepage with this message, written in stark white on black: “The President Stole Your Land.”

While Patagonia’s wording has picked up criticism for ignoring the seizure of lands from indigenous people, environmental organizations and Native American groups alike are opposing Trump’s mandate, since these lands are home to sacred and historical sites as well as wildlife habitats. Patagonia, along with REI and The North Face, is one of hundreds of outdoors retailers that urged politicians to protect the country’s national monuments during a review process that began in April at Trump’s behest.

At the time, these brands rallied their customers to submit comments to the Interior Department, and now that Trump has officially reduced the monuments’ size, opening up much of Bears Ears to mining and drilling, they’re asking their communities to fight back by donating to organizations dedicated to protecting public lands and by posting about it on Instagram.

More directly, Patagonia may be looking to sue the Trump administration.

Hans Cole, the company’s director of environmental campaigns and advocacy, told Racked in September that Patagonia would take legal action if public lands were deprived of their national monument status, and according to AdAge, it’s moving forward with that plan. (Patagonia hasn’t yet responded to our request for comment.) It’s not the only group aiming to take Trump and other government officials to court: The New York Times reported on Monday that eight groups, including the Wilderness Society and Great Old Broads for Wilderness, had jointly filed suit to protect Grand Staircase.

The outcome of these suits could have major consequences. To let the Times explain it: “The decision to reduce Bears Ears is expected to set off a legal battle that could alter the course of American land conservation, putting dozens of other monuments at risk and possibly opening millions of preserved public acres to oil and gas extraction, mining, logging, and other commercial activities.”

Expect to see a lot more in this space from outdoor companies in the months to come.