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The President Stole Your Land (But Not Your PR)

Published on January 11, 2018, at 10:32 a.m.
by Hope Runyan.

Monday, Dec. 4, 2017: The president of the United States slashes the size of two national monuments in Utah by almost two million acres.

Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument were designated by previous presidents as protected land using the Antiquities Act of 1906, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. The act gave future presidents the authority to give legal protection to cultural and natural resources in the United States. On Dec. 4, President Donald Trump reversed that law to diminish the protected land.

This was the largest reduction of federal land in the nation’s history.

And while conservation groups, environmentalists and Native American tribes have voiced their resounding objections to this action, outdoor-industry retail giant Patagonia used its platform to showcase its own opinions.

Just hours after the president’s announcement, Patagonia posted a message to its home page. With an all-black background and large white letters, the company wrote, “The President Stole Your Land.”

Movement for core values

In this move, Patagonia gave its publics a reassuring nod that, yes, the company is committed to protecting its industry. An industry that — shockingly — needs the outdoors to exist. The outdoor retailer is widely known for its environmental efforts, including donating 100 percent of its 2016 Black Friday profits, which totaled to $10 million, to environmental organizations and its campaign to protect Bears Ears National Monument in 2016.

Now, Patagonia represents a new age during which companies and organizations are now speaking up not only for themselves and their employees, but also for their customers. REI and The North Face also joined Patagonia in taking a stand for the land that created the outdoor industry. Together, the companies generated a social media pushback storm.

The North Face announced its donation of $100,000 to develop a Bears Ears Education Center and encouraged its customers to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign to create it. REI asked its Twitter followers to change their profile pictures to an image saying, “We heart our public lands.” The co-op tweeted, “We just lost millions of acres of protected land. But we remain united as a community. Join us in solidarity by changing your profile pic to this photo. #UnitedOutside.”

What happens now
With Patagonia joining the list of groups taking legal action against the president, concerned publics are tasked with the question of what to do next. In answer, Patagonia has expanded its website. Site visitors can now view a virtual map of currently threatened public land, read a list of ways to take action, and dive into the history of Bears Ears National monument and the importance of it through an interactive portion of the website specifically dedicated to the now former monument.

This fight is far from over, and Patagonia isn’t treading lightly. It’s likely that the company will call upon its customers to take action again. After the ripple effect that Patagonia has created over Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, I’m excited to see what happens next.

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