Photo: The sign at Giant Sequoia National Monument, one of the monuments under review. Creative Commons/Famartin
Executives from more than 350 outdoor businesses representing the $887 billion recreation economy have jointly submitted a letter to United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke asking him to protect national monuments and public lands that are critical infrastructure for their businesses and used by their customers for activities ranging from hiking to hunting and camping to off-roading.
The letter comes days before the August 24 deadline President Trump set for Zinke to review 27 national monuments and make recommendations on whether each’s status is warranted. The Secretary, who was to visit all of the concerned sites, has only visited eight and is currently on vacation in the Mediterranian. He is said to have made his mind up on other monuments, having canceled meetings with stakeholders. The Department of the Interior has been widely criticised under the Trump administration for catering to ranching and energy interests instead of concerning itself with preservation. Preservation advocates say that Zinke’s final recommendations could open up national monuments for private development. Zinke’s personal schedule is reported to include meetings with oil and gas companies and lobbying firms.
The letter is an unprecedented display of unity among a diverse set of business executives in the outdoor gear, apparel, footwear, equipment, retail, and services industries. It calls on Secretary Zinke to maintain the national treasures that past presidents of both parties have protected, to defend the integrity of the monument-making process and to provide certainty that these places remain accessible for all Americans—sustaining healthy communities, a healthy economy, and good-paying, American jobs.
“Hundreds of entrepreneurial businesses from communities all across America have appealed to Secretary Zinke to maintain protections for our national monuments. It’s an unmistakable signal from a vibrant industry that keeps Americans happier and healthier and employs millions,” said Jerry Stritzke, CEO of REI. “REI and our 16 million members are proud defenders of the American right to roam our public lands. We urge the secretary to listen to his instincts and do the right thing in his recommendation next week.”
“Protection of our public lands allows U.S. outdoor businesses to thrive and provide the foundation for millions of jobs across our industry,” said Arne Arens, president of The North Face. “The experiences we all have in these monuments, parks and other public lands simply cannot be exported or commoditized. We want these monument designations protected for generations.”
The health of the outdoor industry and outdoor pursuits could face uncertainty if Secretary Zinke recommends removing or altering existing national monuments. This potential action and the risks associated with it compelled these companies to stand together to protect access to public lands and waters and maintain the outdoor industry’s economic strength.
These 350-plus businesses are diverse in size and location, ranging from Main Street retailers to Fortune 500 companies. Signatories include Adidas Outdoors, Burton, L.L.Bean, Orvis, The North Face, REI, and YETI, all of which represent the $887 billion outdoor industry that supports 7.6 million American jobs and that relies on iconic outdoor places and experiences that our national monuments and public lands provide. If national monuments are removed or altered under Secretary Zinke’s recommendations, these businesses could face significant impacts in jobs in the immediate and long-term future, and a new precedent will be set for future presidents to revisit past national monument declarations, potentially impacting rural and urban communities.