The Outdoor Apparel Industry Is Fighting for Public Lands
REI and Patagonia are using their platforms to speak out for national monuments.
Patagonia Inc. had never run a television advertisement in its nearly 45-year history — until last month, when the Ventura, California, outdoor clothing company decided to spend nearly $700,000 on a TV and radio campaign in three Western states. Yet surprisingly, when the ads hit the airwaves in late August they had nothing to do with its popular fleece jackets, puffy vests, or waterproof duffel bags.
Instead, the 60-second commercials feature Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard fly-fishing on Wyoming’s Snake River, while warning that public lands have “never been more threatened than right now,” thanks to “a few self-serving politicians who want to sell them off and make money.” The ads urge viewers in Utah, Nevada, and Montana to tell U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinkenot to sell or shrink any of America’s national monuments.
For more than a century, U.S. presidents have used national monument status, authorized under the 1906 Antiquities Act, to protect areas of unique historic, scenic, or scientific interest from mining, logging, and other development. The current list of 157 monuments includes such iconic sites as George Washington’s birthplace, the Statue of Liberty, giant sequoia groves in California, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Yet critics contend that some recently designated sites are too big, too burdensome on nearby communities, and undeserving of national monument status.