REI Responds to Administration’s Decision on Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

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Today, the President announced his plan to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah—Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. This is the largest rollback of protected lands in American history. The decision also undermines the integrity of the Antiquities Act, which 16 presidents from both parties have used to designate and protect national monuments over the last 111 years.

This decision follows the Administration’s hasty, four-month review (from April to August) of 27 national monuments designated during the last two decades. As part of the monuments review, more than 2.8 million Americans submitted comments, with over 99 percent in favor of protecting them. Those voices have fallen on deaf ears.

At REI, we are unwavering in our nonpartisan commitment to public lands—to protecting this nation’s spectacular natural places—the mountains, deserts, prairies, waters and forests that tens of millions of Americans from all backgrounds cherish and enjoy annually. The nation’s outdoors have benefited from longstanding support on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.

Today’s decision hurts the people who love these places. Americans enjoy our public lands in every part of the country, irrespective of politics. Not only have hikers, cyclists, climbers and hunters enjoyed national monuments, but economies have been built around them through outfitters, guides and retailers. The $887 billion outdoor recreation economy employs over 7.6 million people in good, sustainable jobs.

Interior Secretary Zinke once said, “Part of being a good steward [of public lands] is being a good neighbor and listening to the American people who we represent.” We believe this applies to all Americans, not a special few. The people of the United States share equally in the ownership of our national public lands. This connection and sense of common ownership is something that sets this country apart from the rest of the world.

REI will not retreat from our strong belief that there is common ground in the outdoors. We will continue to pursue bipartisan support to protect public lands and prevent death by a thousand cuts. REI members can be assured that we will honor our shared passion for our public lands, dedicating time and resources to leaving them healthier for future generations.

Write to your elected officials and voice your support for public lands.

Join us in solidarity by changing your social profile pics to the We ❤ Our Public Lands photo below.  (On mobile, click and hold down on the photo for options. Select to save the photo. On desktop, right-click for options and select "Save image as..." )

We Heart Our Public Lands

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  • Global Action Sport

    I agree Trump is down sizing more than he should but many presidents have also abused Antiquities act. Also many native american tribes like the policy and it would boost local economy in other ways.

  • The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. I guess that’s not enough for REI? It’s hardly death by 1000 cuts here. I just wish they’d give the full picture in this post. I’m curious what percentage of land REI thinks the Fed gov should own.

    • Ruben

      28% OWNED. Only about 4% is in the National Parks system. Huge difference!

      • Rascally Rabid

        And the national park system is different than the National monument system. Or did you even know that? Do you even know the difference on how a park is designated and how a monument is designated? I didn’t think so.

    • Kara Crotty

      It will look fantastic when they start fracking and drilling on it…

    • shwebell

      The federal government is the government OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, AND FOR THE PEOPLE, and NOT Trump’s special interest cronies in mining and oil & gas industry. This is OUR LAND!

  • Erin Pierce-Magdalik

    Hey REI, would you consider hosting a nonpartisan action night for outdoor lovers to voice their support of public lands?

    • REI

      We love that idea! We will see what we can do.

  • Bill

    Once again, the Trump administration sides with the 1% in a decision against the vast majority of the American people. Actually, just 0.8% of the 2.8 million comments supported this action. Secretary Zinke made the comment “…listening to the American people who we represent.” back in May, and 6 months later we learn which people he listens to.

    • Romi

      Federally owned lands aren’t all protected wild places – not even close! 20 million acres are military installations and training grounds. 193 million acres belong to the Department of Agriculture, and are used for timber harvesting, fisheries, wildlife management and recreation. 248 million acres is under the ‘sustained yield mandate’, which includes economic activities like energy development, recreation, public grazing, and research. The public monuments, parks, and protected areas that are being chipped away currently add up to about 169 million acres. That’s 169 million acres of breathtaking beauty, of biodiversity, of recreation and tourist potential, of peace and quiet. That’s 7.4% of the US land mass being preserved as culturally important and/or wilderness. 7.4% of God’s own country.

      • Rascally Rabid

        “federally owned lands”
        Those lands belong to the citizens of the United States, NOT the federal government.

        • violets_are_blue

          We R the government, goofball! Didn’t u take a civics class in jr. high? I did. Remember… government of…for…and BY the people.

  • Hector Galbraith

    Thank you, REI for taking this stance against what I think will be a continuing looting of public lands for the benefit of the few. As a long-time (50+ years) climber I am proud of what REI and Patagonia is doing over this. I wish that others would join them.

    • Ryan

      “For the benefit of the few…” You mean the people who live there, want to graze the horses there, whose lives and livelihoods depend on the land? Yeah, it’s totally fair for the millions of people in California and New York to steal the land from those people… Utah would never have joined the Union if they had known the federal government would abuse it’s power so badly. That’s the point of the limited federal government, to protect the rights of the few even in the face of the majority. Pure democracy is just as evil as an autocracy. So stop it

    • Jen Gadbow

      Thank you, Hector – I’m with you. At first, I was horrified by these comments. Then, I read them again and saw that the majority were written from folks from Utah who are (judgement here, based on data) likely land owners and who, even more likely, voted for Trump. Right. so, to these people, I ask this: what do you think will happen now? You just get get your land “back?” Yep. Anyway, thank you, REI.

  • fran allen

    What changes with the decision? Is it a matter of restricted use or not? Why were local people of Utah against the expansion of the national monuments? Would like clarity before weighing in, always nice to know both sides.

  • Buford

    Thanks, REI!

  • CP Watkins

    Please stay out of politics. REI is a great store with great people. But please don’t turn into another place where we have to take sides. We’ve lost the NFL and Starbucks. Let us enjoy great gear and enjoy the outdoors. Trust people to take a stand themselves. In this specific case there are real, heartfelt positions on both sides. Please don’t place a commercial store in a political corner.

    • Steve Boron

      right on

      • batpox

        Right on.

    • Chris Whitten

      I don’t want another store thats in a political corner either, but that is not what this is about. This is a call to action, for us to get involved and speak our minds about protecting our public lands.

    • Global Action Sport

      Smartest person here

    • Harold Dodds

      Heaven forbid someone stand up and take a stand for the good of ALL Americans , or maybe you are just to ignorant to understand whats good and not

  • Ski Bunny

    OK REI, thanks for the PSA…. but what are you actually going to DO about it. Real action please.

  • Ski Bunny

    how many of my comments are you going to delete?

    • REI

      Ski Bunny–

      We must manually approve comments, that’s why it takes some time to see your comments here. We apologize for the delay. Please comment. Your opinions matter to us.

    • Chris

      My comment I made in favor of handing land to Utah to manage was also not allowed.

    • Chris

      My comment I made in favor of handing land to Utah to manage was also not allowed.

  • Ski Bunny

    it appears that you are not going to allow any comments.

    • REI

      Please comment away! We are listening.

  • JD

    I’m a utahan and an REI member. Very disappointed to see the skewed information here. It certainly doesn’t encourage me to shop at REI.
    1. The antiquities Act is to be used for the smallest possible amount of land to protect places of national interest. Obama and Clinton both overstepped in their designation. That is what was an abuse of the act.
    2. The local native tribe that uses the nearby land has been opposed to the designation. They know the U.S. government has a history of taking the land away from them and a monument restricts their ability to access the land sacred to them. It also increases the likelihood of becoming a national park and restricting their use even more.
    3. By designating the monument millions of people will now visit the area and this is what is more likely to cause overuse and damage to the land.
    4. The land is still federally owned and has protections, this isn’t giving up public lands – though it should be. The Federal government owns almost the entire State of Utah. This hampers the ability for the state to raise funds for schools through property taxes, etc.

    • FTG

      JD, Agree with you completely. REI’s reaction to the president’s action is typical environmental hysteria. If they don’t get everything they want, they act like spoiled children. It’s the reason I quit the Sierra Club decades ago and am quitting REI today.

  • Chris Parker

    I’m so tired of big corporations trying to forced a dishonest political ideology on us; hence why I’m no longer a customer of yours. First, the federal government isn’t supposed to own land to begin with. Second, it has take far more land from the people of Utah than the feds ever should have. Trump is simply giving it back to the people of that state. There’s an entirely different side to this that’s being completely ignored by the corporate agenda of far too many big brands.

  • Harry L Rembe

    I also love our public lands. What I do not agree with is the move to restrict a larger segment of citizens, those who do not or CAN NOT hike in, from enjoying them. That is precisely what was done and is done every time a vast remote area of PUBLIC lands are re-designated as a monument. With this latest order the monument areas are still intact within the larger area which allows more people access to enjoy them. What was done in Utah under former Pres Obama was no different than what has been taking place all over the US southwest going back to the sen al cranston days 30+ years ago. Large land grabs by the federal gov’t backed by small self serving groups that do not care how many other citizens are cut out and left out of the “public lands.” That is exactly what took place with the selfish self serving support of the sierra club when tens of millions of acres in S. California, Arizona and Nevada were closed to recreation. Today some of those same acres sit under vast inefficient solar panel farms. Allow the federal government to close our lands to the larger group today and tomorrow the rest of you will not be able to stop these areas becoming inefficient wind farms

  • violets_are_blue

    Thx REI! Together we will win the day!

  • Joseph Browne

    “The $887 billion outdoor recreation economy employs over 7.6 million people in good, sustainable jobs.”
    Um in China. Hey CoOp start making a greater percentage of our sales American made products please.

    • Rascally Rabid

      WOW, what an excellent point, Joseph.

  • jentzschman

    Good move. U claim to want to protect these beautiful places by denying access to them. I support Pres. Trumps administration on this.

    • Chris Whitten

      How is this denying access to them. It’s talking about keeping them natural vs being developed. I too like modern conveniences, but I don’t want to see condos and fast food places in the middle of my hike.

  • John Apel

    This is kind of stance by REI is one the main reasons I’ve been coop member since 1974.

  • Jon Williams

    I appreciate REI supporting protection of our public lands. No public land, no places to have fun.

  • Steve Murphy

    Well said. We need to think and act for the long term good, not the short term gain.

  • Justine

    Dear REI, Please do more. You are the largest outdoor retailer. You could have a lot more influence than just asking us to put a social media sign. Corporations made a difference in North Carolina with their bathroom bill by threatening to take their business elsewhere. You could be that powerful a voice.

  • Jason Krug

    Thank you for your stance. I am a long time member of REI. I believe in your company and I frequently support REI through purchases. I hope that you will support your stance with financial contributions to take Trumps decision to court

  • Chris

    The antiques act was overused. It isn’t public land. It’s operated/owned by federal level. Nothing is different for the hiker. Utah owns more of its land. It won’t disappear.

  • Morgan

    I agree with the President’s actions and REI’s point of view. The Federal govt. doesn’t need to own the land and the Antiquities Act was abused by the taking of land. The language is clear, feds should own as little as possible. Let’s focus our energy on the states to manage these lands right. Access is good. Preservation is good. But I don’t want commercial development. That’s my belief.

  • Leif Kirchoff

    What REI fails to understand is that this public land is still public. REI – please cancel my membership.

    • REI

      Hi Leif,

      Unfortunately we cannot cancel your membership for you unless you accidentally bought two or felt coerced into buying (and that must be within 10 days). We value your voice and your opinions, and hope you will continue to speak up in these difficult conversations. We are listening.

      • Leif Kirchoff

        You will cancel my membership. You will cease and desist all further email and mail correspondence. Failure to do so will result in civil harassment litigation. Don’t try me. I will follow up with appropriate legal correspondence next week to your registered agent.

      • Rascally Rabid

        Unfortunate, we are prisoners of REI. I suppose you will tell the politicians something like, “REI representing our ??? membership wants you to know where we stand on this issue.” Even though many members DO NOT agree with REI.
        SET THE PEOPLE FREE, LET THEM CANCEL THEIR MEMBERSHIP.

  • P. S. Brannan

    Well, I’m done with REI. It’s not about whether I like the president or not, I don’t. It’s about hysterical left-wing environmentalists ignoring facts, calling names, and bullying everyone else. I guess 30 years of shopping at REI was enough. Guessing I can find fleece somewhere else.

    • Ken Jones

      Agree. REI member since 1965, but I’m done with the knee-jerk social justice crap that REI and other left-wing organizations like Patagonia want to pollute their businesses with. I won’t buy from any business that thinks brainwashing their customers to promote their “progressive” ideology is appropriate. It is not.

      • Don Clayton Roxby

        I’m with you. The hysterical and utterly misleading e-mails I received from Patagonia about this topic put me over the edge. I’m done with them permanently. I’ve been buying their clothes for years but no more. If REI cannot respect the fact that some of their customers might have differing opinions that deserve respect they will be next.

  • Nia Vestal

    I’m confused by many of the posts on this thread that discuss a company’s directive to be silent. We live in a capitalistic system; everything we buy is a political statement. When we buy things whether it is from REI or McDonalds it is a statement about the values we have in this world- whether the value is that we support the idea of an outdoor gear cooperative or the ability to have access to cheap food. Each dollar we spend is a reflection of who we are and what we support. If this is news to you: Welcome to America. Corporations have had a tenacious upper hand for some time. You vote with your debit card, with your cash, with your stocks and with your credit card. Vote somewhere else. Problem solved. I support REI 100%.

  • Nancie Connolly

    Thank you REI for advocating for the preservation of the incredible natural resources of the US.

  • Ann Heaslett

    Thank you, REI, for standing up for all of us in protecting Bears Ears National Monument and the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. What Interior Secretary Zinke and President Trump are doing amounts to looting from the American public. They are selling off resources that we cannot replace. Thank you for all you are doing and know that I support your business and regularly shop with you.

    • Don Clayton Roxby

      “Selling off resources”? The land was federal public land before. and it’s federal public land now. Your assertions are silly and utterly false.

    • Rascally Rabid

      WOW, Ann, you’re so informed that you don’t even know the monument is, Grand Staircase Escalante.

  • Ryan

    Why wouldn’t 99% of America want the Government to steal the land from the State and locals on their behalf?

  • Steve Boron

    Misleading— the States have right far greater than the Federal Government – The States know best how to protect these lands to stop folks like Harry Reid and crew from only allowing “special” groups use them.
    The state can create jobs and greater access to these lands , more so than a bureaucrat.

  • Caporeg33

    Are these lands no longer public? I’m no historian, but it seems Bear Ears was just fine before it was given Monument status two years ago. How is this all-of-the-sudden a huge problem?

  • FTG

    I have been a backpacker since the 1960s, and do not agree with REI’s environmental hysteria on this issue. The state of Utah knows what is best for its citizens far better than REI. Corporations like REI and Patagonia, and environmental non-profits like the Sierra Club, put their narrow interests above those of the people who live near the mountains and who derive their livelihood from ranching, forestry and mining. Visitors from SF, LA and NY spend a week there and go back to their urban ivory towers where they pontificate on the wilderness and the unsophisticated rubes in flyover country. It’s getting tiresome to hear their rants, so I’m ending my 50 year association with REI and will not buy another piece of Patagonia gear, ever.

  • Ronald Dahl Dute

    Thank you, REI, for joining the discussion. While many commentators, and people in general, will be against a business taking a political stance, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that businesses can freely engage in politically oriented speech.

    The land that Presidents Clinton and Obama designated were already under federal jurisdiction in the Forest Service (USDA) and Bureau of Land Management (DOI). The monument designations, while large, preserved existing leases in coal, oil and gas extraction as well as traditional uses such as hunting, fishing, etc that existed prior to the monuments. Also, they preserved the right of the public (I mean people, not businesses) to utilize the existing roads for access into the monument. This includes the 2WD, 4WD, and OHV only roads for those with disabilities to access the National Monuments.

    The lands that Utah (the state) controls were granted when they achieved statehood in 1896. It is their duty to use it as the state’s constitution spells out, typically through funding. As an individual from Texas, I am disappointed in my access to public lands (both state and federal) as most of the state is in private control, which is what happens when the land is handed over to the states for use.

    As for the consideration of the local populace, we must consider that they are, in the areas surrounding BENM and GSENM typically engaged in agriculture. They use, through BLM and USDA permits, the lands for grazing and water (rights). Also, there is the belief that if these lands are opened for resource extraction, this will bring in jobs. This is likely not the case as there are more economic places for oil (Permian, Bakken, Gulf of Mexico), Gas (Haynesville, Marcellus, Canada), and coal (appalachians and Wyoming) that have existing infrastructure and work forces and are generally more productive. It is also critical that the last oil/gas well was drilled 25 years ago in the BENM region. The people who would work there would be ferried in and out on the corporate jet similar to the Oil Sands in Alberta.

    The government is likely most interested in the uranium that is there; however, we can acquire this through other countries and places that are already being mined.

  • Chris

    Where’s my comment?

    • REI

      HI Chris. We manually approve all comments, and we were out playing in the woods. Your comment is posted now!

  • Chris

    Utah land belongs to Utah. Smart people know the antiques act was used to scoop up land and have it controlled by muckymucks.

  • FTG

    I posted my comment against REI position 6 hours ago. Why hasn’t it posted? Maybe because I am canceling my REI membership that I have had since 1969?

    • REI

      Hi FTG. We manually approve all comments, and we were out playing in outside! We are sorry to hear you are canceling your membership.

  • batpox

    REI’s kneejerk reaction is uneducated and one-sided. The land-grab was done by the Obama admin without public input. This admin at least did that. I say let the local (state) governments decide, instead of Washington. And Mr. CEO Stritzke; I belong to REI, I love the outdoors, I agree with the present admin on this. You didn’t ask me or other members before making this political statement, and I think you should keep your personal politics to yourself. I think I’ll buy from Amazon from now on.

  • Outdoor lover

    Dear REI, Perhaps you should not mislead the public into thinking that Federal government owned lands are “protected”. We own forested land in Montana and wanted it protected from logging. We had considered donating the land to the government, but upon further research concluded that keeping our land would PREVENT logging and would keep it natural. The government leases it’s land to logging companies. Perhaps in the future the Federal Government could lease some of it’s Utah land (dirt cheap) to oil energy companies. Is this the kind of public land that you LOVE? Is hiking through PUBLIC deforested land and oil wells REI’s version of an ideal day in the great outdoors? If so, let’s see some photoshoots! There is plenty of public land (that you love) out there which would be ideal shoot locations to showcase the government’s land use. Models hopping from tree stump to tree stump– what’s not to love?? How about models enjoying granola while listening to oil pumps?
    Furthermore, the states should decide which land they should reserve for parks. Let the citizens of Utah make this decision for themselves. Or do the bureaucrats in Washington and REI do not think they are capable of making conservation decisions?

  • Downhill Brian

    I have not used all my REI dividends yet. I’d like to use them toward legal expenses to sue the government to stop the downsizing of our pubic lands. So hey REI let’s put our money in defense of the outdoors we love. Let’s get the drive started.

  • Don Clayton Roxby

    It was all federal public land before; It’s all federal public land now. The only question here is one of access and designation. REI’s overwrought response to this issue and the implicit dismissal of alternate viewpoints has me wondering if I will soon be ending my 25 year run as your customer.

    There are legitimate dissenting viewpoints on this issue, and the arguments to rollback some of the abuses of the Antiquities Act have merit. The Antiquities Act was clearly never intended to be used in the manner in which it has been by former presidents, and I fully support the changes made.

  • D Holmes

    Oh, you don’t have the guts to post my comments….figures!

  • shwebell
  • shwebell

    Five local tribes came together last year to form the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal
    Coalition to push for the monument’s creation and act as a voice to
    advise the federal government in management of it. The four other tribes
    are the Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, Pueblo of Zuni and Ute Indian Tribe.

  • YoNeighbor

    Not only has the Bears Ears and Grand Escalante been a boon for tourism, Utah made out handsomely on prior Federal land exchanges, but took a pass on the Obama administrations’ offer.
    So, yes, what Patagonia claims, that our land has been stolen, may essentially
    be correct, if it was part of the land swap and 50M payment that was part of the monument.

    http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=4835113&itype=CMSID

  • Bearsbrother

    I’m all in favor of impeaching Trump!
    I’m also all ears on protecting our public lands!

  • Allan Tiller

    While I appreciate and share REI’s wish to protect as much beautiful open spaces as possible, I have to agree with Trump on this, not because I don’t want these spaces to be protected from development but because the massive monument designations appear to have been an abuse of the Antiquities Act. That’s my main problem with my friends on the “progressive” left: such a strong sense of moral correctness that they are willing to use or concede to any means to achieve their objectives, including presidential, court, or bureaucratic decree, without having to get into the mudpit of democracy where they may not get everything they want. If we want to enhance the protection of these lands, let’s take it to Congress, not by abusing the Antiquities Act.

  • Gimme a break from politics

    Gee thanks, REI. I can’t even avoid politics when I’m shopping now. President Clinton basically stole this land from the State of Utah to benifit one of his donors. President Trump is righting that wrong. Why is all of the “Federally Protected” land in the Southwest? Grab someone else’s land. It’s a pity that REI is part of a divisive culture. I’m done with your overpriced wares.

  • Spencer

    It’s a shame. I love REI but I will no longer purchase anything from them. I don’t support any company that isn’t pro-America. President Trump’s isn’t taking the land away from Americans, he’s giving it back to them. He’s letting them decide what they want to do with their land.

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