On June 6, 2017, REI Co-op CEO Jerry Stritzke submitted the following to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke regarding the review of 27 national monuments. The Hill published an op-ed based on Jerry Stritzke’s letter to Secretary Zinke on June 8.
Dear Secretary Zinke,
The people of the United States share equally in the ownership of our national public lands. We are united by a deep love for our parks, forests, mountains, prairies, deserts and waterways. This connection, and sense of ownership, is something that sets this country apart from the rest of the world. Public lands keep America healthy, vibrant and connected to our outdoor passions. They’re also the grounding force for our outdoor recreation economy, providing over 7 million sustainable jobs.
I believe you share this view of public lands. And in a few short days, your recommendation to the president will determine their future.
One month ago, you asked the American public to share thoughts about our national monuments—places that presidents from both parties have protected for more than 100 years, thanks to the vision of Teddy Roosevelt.
Your invitation has succeeded in unleashing an unprecedented groundswell of love for our public lands. Hundreds of thousands have written comments. Even more have joined the conversation through social media. Our employees have appealed to you en masse to protect the foundation of their livelihoods.
Thank you for giving citizens a chance to raise their collective voice. From rural towns to urban centers, the clear, overwhelming majority of American people want our public lands protected. Through REI’s own awareness-raising, more than 10,000 people—including members and employees—have submitted comments supporting public lands and national monuments, and want them untouched. Teddy Roosevelt and those who have followed his inspiration would be proud.
This support cannot be ignored.
For economic, environmental, recreational and historical reasons, people everywhere want their children to have the same experiences and opportunity they have enjoyed. The Department of the Interior now has a rock-solid case for building on and investing in our national public lands infrastructure even further. You have license to end this discussion about preserving monuments. To move the conversation into ways we can fund the enormous backlog in maintenance, manage wildfires and enable more Americans to access these amazing places.
I write as the chief executive of REI and someone who works every day with outdoor businesses large and small, rural and urban. This industry employs millions of Americans and generates $887 billion in consumer spending every year, a figure that dwarfs what consumers spend on gasoline, cars or pharmaceuticals. It provides nearly $125 billion in tax revenue.
I’m asking you to follow your heart and your head. Listen to the people who love the outdoors. Tread in the footsteps of the leaders who created our national public lands. Leaders that both you and I admire. Builders with vision and determination, inspired to make America a country where everyone can pursue their outdoor passions, where the many and often immeasurable benefits of public lands are not enjoyed by the few, but by the many.
Please join us in our united efforts to leave our public lands stronger, for generations to come.
President & Chief Executive Officer