Last night at the opening of the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Show in Denver, Colorado, Patagonia was joined by The Wilderness Society, The Center for American Progress and The Conservation Lands Foundation in protest of Donald Trump's massive rollback of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. The groups demonstrated their opposition to Trump's shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, the largest elimination of protected land in American history, by projecting a massive 60-day countdown clock on the facade the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Lakewood and at Denver's McNichols Civic Center.
In the face of overwhelming public support for the preservation of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante—both inside and outside of Utah—on December 4, 2017, Trump signed a presidential proclamation reducing the size of Bears Ears by 1,150,860 acres (over an 85% reduction), with the justification that those lands were "unnecessary for the care and management of the objects to be protected within the monument." Though critics of Trump's actions have consistently cited opening of the lands within Bears Ears to mining and drilling as the administration's impetus for the review and subsequent reduction of Bears Ears and other monuments, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and other officials have repeatedly said that mining or drilling interests played no role in their recommendations.
The 60 Day Clock
Despite Zinke's pledge that the decision to repeal monument protections on the lands within Bears Ears had absolutely nothing to do with opening them to mining and drilling, Trump's proclamation prominently included a provision that, 60 days after the proclamation's signing, allows for "disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and location, entry, and patent under the mining laws." Or, in other words, allows private companies to begin staking mining and drilling claims on all of the 1,150,860 acres Trump removed from monument protections.
The 60 day countdown to the end to monument protections on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments ends on February 2 at 9am EST, a mere 8 days from now.
“As the Outdoor Retailer show makes a new home in Colorado, we can’t forget the unprecedented attacks on public lands that forced the show to move from Utah in the first place,” said Lisa Pike Sheehy, VP of Environmental Activism, Patagonia. “In less than two weeks, the extractive industry will gain privileged access to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, while Native American nations, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyday Americans could see these lands made off limits. Tonight is about raising awareness of the imminent threat not only to these two national monuments but to public lands everywhere if we don’t make our voices heard.”
In a release, Patagonia highlighted other public lands and waters in the Trump Administration’s "crosshairs" and thus facing threats such as logging in Maine’s Katahdin Woods & Waters and commercial fishing in the Pacific Remote Islands.
Outdoor Retailer in Denver
Last night's kick-off of Outdoor Retailer, commonly referred to as "OR", marks the debut of the $45-million dollar economic event in Denver, after over two decades of OR in Utah. After continued protests from consumers and brands, most notably Patagonia and Black Diamond, Outdoor Retailer announced last year that it was leaving the state of Utah due to the aggressive anti-public lands stance of Utah's congressional delegation and state leadership. A twice yearly event, OR had been an important economic driver for Utah businesses for over 20 years.
Steve replied on Permalink
Questio about Bear's Ears: does anybody know if prior to the 12/28/16 monment declaration, the area had been open to staking claims? And if so, were there historically a lot of claims made, that would give us an indication of the actual interest in future claims?
Also, in 8 days would it possible for conservation groups to stake claims for a small fee, and thereby lock up control of the land?
Bill Keshlear replied on Permalink
From the Utah Department of Natural Resources:
"According to studies completed by the Utah Geological Survey, the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) as originally designated does not hold significant energy development potential. The vast majority of energy potential resides outside the monument boundary.
"While there is minimal resource development potential for uranium and potash, there is currently no activity within the boundary. Additionally, there are no coal or wind resources in the area and all the oil and gas wells within the boundary are plugged and abandoned. There are no producing or shut-in wells within the boundary.
"Below is further information about the energy potential of the BENM area:
"There have been 287 oil and gas wells drilled in the BENM boundary. All wells have been plugged and abandoned. Of those drilled wells, only nine produced oil and six produced gas. ... There has been no production from these wells since 1992. Only the two highest producing wells produced into the 1990s; all others pre-date 1985."
Richard replied on Permalink
Hopefully now, we can turn Bears Ears into New New York City!