Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fired back at companies selling outdoor recreation gear that criticized the administration’s decision to shrink two Utah national monuments, restoring traditional land uses to the region.
Zinke said the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante designation constituted a “blatant misuse of power.” Zinke also attacked “companies that make their products other places, on foreign shores.”
“Public land is for public use and not special interests,” Zinke told Fox News on Tuesday.
Sec’y Zinke: Utah land grab was ‘blatant misuse of power’ https://t.co/HVdrieywlw
— Mike Bastasch (@MikeBastasch) December 5, 2017
Outdoor gear company Patagonia and retailer REI criticized Trump’s shrinking of the Utah monuments by more than 2 million acres.
Patagonia turned their website into an outlet for advocacy, featuring the message “the President stole your land” with a link for visitors to “take action.” Their “action” page also asks visitors if they’d like to sign up for marketing emails.
REI also criticized Trump’s decree under the Antiquities Act. Former REI CEO Sally Jewell criticized the decision as well — Jewell also served as Interior Secretary for former President Barack Obama.
Pres. Trump’s expected actions today will make him the most anti-conservation, president in our history. He will be challenged by tribes and thoughtful citizens that recognize that some places are too special to develop. https://t.co/92XNaAQ3H2
— Sally Jewell (@sallyjewell) December 4, 2017
Obama created the Bears Ears monument in 2016 with support from environmentalists and officials from five Native American tribes. Utah Republicans and Native Americans actually living in San Juan County opposed the monument, fearing it would erode their access to the land.
Former President Bill Clinton designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante in the 1990s, but that monument was still opposed by Utah Republicans and locals in the region. Utah officials praised Trump’s decision.
Trump’s announcement was part of a larger policy shift in how the Antiquities Act is enforced. The administration not only changed the borders of two Utah monuments, they also changed land management plans.
Trump ordered Zinke to review national monument designations since the 1990s, and recommend if any changes should be made. That report is due to be made public in the coming days.
Environmentalists and tribal officials quickly filed suit against the Trump administration’s decision. One Utah environmentalist called Trump’s announcement a “a rape and pillage approach” to conservation.
It’s a “real tragedy, to tear up this place that is rich with dinosaur bones, cultural antiquities and is a sportsman’s paradise. That’s not the best use of the land,” Peter Metcalf, the founder of an outdoor equipment line and activist, told The Washington Post.
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