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Patagonia Threatens Litigation Over National Monument Review

Patagonia has threatened to sue the Trump Administration over its recent call for a national monument review.

According to The Hill, in a statement, the company argued the administration, “as stewards of America’s federal public lands,” must work to protect them. “Unfortunately, it seems clear they intend to do the opposite,” the company statement read. From The Hill:

“A president does not have the authority to rescind a National Monument. An attempt to change the boundaries ignores the review process of cultural and historical characteristics and the public input,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement. “We’re watching the Trump administration’s actions very closely and preparing to take every step necessary, including legal action, to defend our most treasured public landscapes from coast to coast.”

[…]

Patagonia said it would “fight with everyone” it has to in order to preserve the Obama administration’s designation of tribal lands to form Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

“We take this as a sign that Trump and his team prefer to cater to fossil fuel interests and state land grabs for unsustainable development, rather than preserve a vital part of our nation’s heritage for future generations by protecting federal lands owned by every citizen,” the Patagonia statement read.

Patagonia has used its position as a premier outdoor retailer to stump for national monuments before. Indeed, the company was one of the driving forces, along with the Outdoor Industry Association, to pull the Outdoor Retailer show from Salt Lake City, in defiance of Governor Gary Herbert’s public lands stance. No doubt, this latest turn of events will only cement Patagonia’s support for public lands.

Earlier this week, we reported the Trump Administration would order a review of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments, prompting alarm from environmentalists, conservationists, and sportsmen/outdoor advocacy groups. Now, according to the Missoulian, that review will actually encompass any monument larger than 100,000 acres established since 1996—24 in total:

While the order, issued Tuesday, does not strip any monument’s designation, Zinke said in his statement that it would redirect the Interior Department to manage federal lands “in accordance to traditional ‘multiple-use’ philosophy.”

“In the Trump Administration, we listen and then we act,” Zinke said in the email. “For years, the people of Utah and other rural communities have voiced concern and opposition to some monument designations. But too often in recent history, exiting presidents make designations despite those concerns. And the acreage is increasing.”

Zinke specifically mentioned Clinton’s 1996 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and President Barack Obama’s 2016 Bears Ears National Monument as examples of “overreach.” The order also affects Montana’s 377,346-acre Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument established by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

“There’s more to this decision than meets the eye,” Missoula-based Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Conservation Director John Gale said in an email. “Neither sportsmen nor other public lands users would stand in the way of an objective attempt to ensure the integrity of recent monument designations. Yet the administration’s announcement could create unintended consequences that jeopardize important fish and wildlife habitat on public lands and invite unproductive dialogues that distract us from enhancing management of our public lands and waters.”

Indiana University environmental law professor Robert Fischman noted that the Antiquities Act gives a president the power to designate a national monument, but stands silent on disestablishment. So while Trump can order reviews of borders and management, he said only Congress has authority to erase a monument.

“I think what is happening here is that President Trump wants to make a big show of ordering a review (for which he needs no executive order) to appease opponents of monuments and parks,” Fischman wrote in an email. “Then, he can do nothing but make some suggestions to Congress. Revoking monument designations would undermine much of Trump’s popular support.

[…]

The Bozeman-based Headwaters Economics research organization in 2014 studied the economic performance of 17 national monuments larger than 10,000 acres in 11 Western states created since 1982. It found local communities at all 17 locations maintained or grew in population, employment, personal income and per-capita income. It found no evidence that designating those monuments prevented economic growth.

The study included Grand Staircase Escalante and Upper Missouri Breaks, but was done before Bear’s Ears.

Earlier this year, Headwaters Economics published a similar report that showed strong correlation between economic growth in rural counties with “share of protected federal lands in the top 25th percentile.”

Montana Wilderness Association Conservation Director John Todd sounded the alarm as well, saying, “it’s clear that [President Trump] and his allies in Congress want to cripple, if not destroy, the Antiquities Act, an essential pillar of our public lands legacy.”

Keeping with federal land news, in the middle of all this, according to the Missoulian, a long-cherished bit of wilderness legislation has been reintroduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, an oft-reintroduced bill (indeed, it was reintroduced as recently as June 2016), would designate 23 million acres of federal roadless lands in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington as wilderness. The new bill, cosponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

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