Cedar Mesa Citadel ruins in Bears Ears National Monument.
Cedar Mesa Citadel ruins in Bears Ears National Monument.

Patagonia Launches Campaign to Defend Bears Ears from Utah Politicians

The company is urging thousands of Utah voters to call the state's governor in support of the new monument

Cedar Mesa Citadel ruins in Bears Ears National Monument.

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Patagonia isn’t done in its fight with Utah politicians. The company led the charge to leverage the economic impact of the Outdoor Retailer trade show, which has long been held in Salt Lake City, to try to change the stance of Utah politicians towards public lands in general, and the newly-designated Bears Ears National Monument in particular. That effort failed, and the organizers of the trade show are pulling up stakes in Utah after this summer.

But OR's departure doesn't mean that Patagonia is ready to leave Utah politicians alone. This morning they are launching a campaign to flood Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office with comments in favor of Bears Ears National Monument. The company is using Phone2Action, a site that allows organizations to connect supporters with elected officials. The company will use Facebook and Twitter to share a Phone2Action link which will supply followers with a brief set of talking points and then patch their phone call directly into the governor’s office. Patagonia hopes to generate thousands of calls from Utah citizens with the effort. (Though it also hopes non-Utahns will voice their support as well.)

It’s not just Bears Ears that’s in jeopardy from Utah politicians, notes Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. On Friday, February 17, just days after speaking with representatives from the Outdoor Industry Association in an attempt to keep OR in Utah, Governor Herbert signed a resolution that urges President Trump to shrink the boundaries of 20-year old Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. “It's not surprising that he would double down by trying to lift longstanding protections on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument,” says Marcario. “It sure is disappointing, and not just for the outdoor companies driving an enormous economy in Utah based on protected public lands, but for the 122,000 Utahns whose jobs largely depend on the very places Herbert denigrates.”

Patagonia has been involved with the effort to establish Bears Ears National Monument for four years—in no small part because it includes the popular Indian Creek climbing area. They have donated more than $750,000 to groups working for monument designation, says Patagonia spokesperson Corley Kenna, including the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition and Friends of Cedar Mesa. It even produced a 2015 film, “Defined by the Line,” as part of the effort.

“We’ve seen that the best way to get the attention of politicians is to show up to their meetings in person, or to call them directly,” says Kenna. “That’s why this platform drives phone calls rather than emails.”