Patagonia Makes Things Political With Outdoor Retailer Show In Utah

We don’t often step out of skateboarding specifically and certainly do not want to suggest we are getting political or taking a stance here in any way or as a regular thing. That said, we have recently read a letter from Yvonne Chouinard of Patagonia that we found interesting. Patagonia has is well known for their commitment to the environment. As a leader in gear for the Outdoor Industry, many of us skaters use their products in their skate life as we often enjoy camping, the outdoors, and the wilderness for our trips. Some of the best roads we have ever enjoyed were deep in the mountains and ended with a camp fire and sleeping under the stars.

Today Patagonia has made things directly political, not us, and is pulling out of the a major trade show in Utah, Outdoor Retailer, citing concerns over the protection of natural environments. This kind of move seems to be happening all over and everyone from the average citizen to even the City of Seattle seems to be taking a stand with their money and looking to put it where there mouth is directly and back the kind of ‘business’ and ‘politics’ that meet their values more directly. The company is doing so in response to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s move to revoke the Bears Ears National Monument last week.

According to the press release, “Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution on Friday urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, making it clear that he and other Utah elected officials do not support public lands conservation nor do they value the economic benefits – $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs – that the outdoor recreation industry brings to their state. Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah and we are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.“ – Rose Marcario, President and CEO, Patagonia, Inc.

Bears Ears National Monument currently protects 1.3 million acres of land that surround a pair of buttes and borders Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon national Recreation Area in southeastern Utah. Much of the land is considered sacred by Native American Tribes. More here from NPR

I’m not telling you what’s right or wrong here. I don’t have the experience or the answers to be telling anyone my opinion is greater then theirs. But I do think you should read the letter from Yvonne and Patagonia, understand why they are pulling their dollars from the event in Utah and think about what matters to you and how you spend your hard earned money.

Bears Ears National Monument — the reason why Patagonia is backing out. Josh Ewing photo.

Here’s the letter:

“The Outdoor Industry Loves Utah; Does Utah Love the Outdoor Industry?

Every year, millions of people visit public lands in Utah to climb, hike, ski, hunt and a heck of a lot more. I’ve skied, climbed and fished the wild streams of wild Utah for years. The American people own these lands—and Utah reaps the rewards. Every year, outdoor recreation in Utah drives $12 billion in consumer spending and supports 122,000 jobs across the state. Sure, we use these lands for energy and grazing and other things too. But access to the outdoors is the reason why so many of my friends consider Utah the ultimate place to live.

It’s also why the outdoor industry loves Utah. Every January and August, Patagonia and hundreds of other companies spend gobs of money to show our latest products at the Outdoor Retailer show. The whole thing is a cash cow for Salt Lake City. You’d think politicians in Utah would bend over backwards to make us feel welcome. But instead Governor Gary Herbert and his buddies have spent years denigrating our public lands, the backbone of our business, and trying to sell them off to the highest bidder. He’s created a hostile environment that puts our industry at risk.

The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry, yet the Governor has spent most of his time in office trying to rip taxpayer-owned lands out from under us and hand them over to drilling and mining companies. And just a few days ago, the state announced plans to sue the federal government to reverse the recent protection of Bears Ears, a site containing thousands of years of Native American archeological treasures and craggy red rocks beloved by climbers from all over the world. Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation.

I say enough is enough. If Governor Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home. Governor Herbert should direct his Attorney General to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument. He should stop his efforts to transfer public lands to the state, which would spell disaster for Utah’s economy. He should show the outdoor industry he wants our business—and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands.

We love Utah, but Patagonia’s choice to return for future shows will depend on the Governor’s actions. I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation.

#ProtectBearsEars, #Utah”

Bold move by a big brand. Regardless of what you believe to be fact or truth or alternative, it’s a bold move. We know some brands from the Skate Industry that will be at Outdoor Retailer. I wonder how this will impact others and what might come next for Outdoor Retailer and Utah as a result.