On August 17, 2017, leaders of more than 350 outdoor businesses, including REI Co-op CEO and President Jerry Stritzke, submitted the following to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke regarding the review of 27 national monuments.
Dear Secretary Zinke:
We are leaders of more than 350 businesses operating and employing Americans across the United States. We represent the outdoor industry, which has emerged as one of the nation’s largest economic drivers over recent decades and continues to grow year over year. We are entrepreneurs, innovators, manufacturers and Main Street businesses. As employers, we support 7.6 million good, American jobs in a variety of professions and in communities both rural and urban -- jobs that are rooted in a love for our public lands and waters.
You have asked for comment on 27 national monuments created since 1996. We share your view that the monument-making process, and the Antiquities Act in particular, “…has preserved some of our finest treasures. And the Antiquities Act overall has been nothing short of an American success.” Past Presidents who protected these places should be proud of their investments in the outdoor culture of this country – a uniquely American value – and celebrated for their contributions to the public’s enjoyment of our outdoor spaces.
We are concerned with your June 10th interim report calling for revisions to the Bears Ears National Monument. Your recommendation to reduce and potentially break up the monument and the protection it provides into sub-divisions would, we believe, violate the goal of the Antiquities Act. Any such resizing would potentially leave unprotected the recreational assets -- the outdoor places that families across America love.
Our customers use public lands as infrastructure for activities ranging from hiking to hunting and camping to off-roading. As we announced with you in April, collectively, the outdoor sector contributes $887 billion annually to the economy and generates $125 billion in state, local and federal taxes. The bulk of this economic activity and our jobs are tied to iconic outdoor places and experiences. These places and experiences can’t be exported or commoditized. They are a national competitive advantage. We ask you to not erode that potential but create certainty for our businesses and for the communities that often need it most.
As many of us noted before, it’s an American right to roam in our public lands. The people of the United States, today and tomorrow, share equally in the ownership of our public lands and these monuments. This powerful idea transcends party lines. It sets our country apart from the rest of the world. As business leaders, we simply ask that your final report remain true to the Teddy Roosevelt values we share with you -- to maintain the national treasures Presidents of both parties have protected, to defend the integrity of the monument-making process and to assure these majestic places remain accessible for all Americans, sustaining healthy communities and a healthy economy.