Patagonia has joined in with a broad coalition of Native American, conservation and historic preservation organizations, scientists and outdoor recreationists to sue the Trump administration, aiming to strike down what they claim is the president’s “extreme overreach of authority” in revoking the Bears Ears National Monument.
The coalition said Trump’s proclamation is contrary to law, ignores overwhelming public support for the original monument designation, and dishonors Native American heritage and culture.
The plaintiffs—Patagonia Works, Utah Diné Bikéyah, Friends of Cedar Mesa, Archaeology Southwest, Conservation Lands Foundation, Access Fund, the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology and the National Trust for Historic Preservation—filed the complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The coalition noted that 16 presidents have used the Antiquities Act, created by President Theodore Roosevelt, to designate 157 national monuments since 1906 to preserve “our unique and treasured places from destruction.”
Last week, Trump issued two proclamations that would reduce the protected areas of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. According to Trump, reducing the borders of both national monuments would support The Antiquities Act, a law signed in 1906 that requires lands that are part of national monuments to be confined to the smallest areas, so historic and scientific objects of interest can be protected efficiently.
Patagonia immediately put a splash page on its website and messages across social media claiming: “The President Stole Your Land. In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”
[Read more about Patagonia and Trump: Patagonia, REI Slam Trump for Downsizing National Monument Protected Lands]
“Trump’s proclamation is the first time any president has attempted to abolish a monument established by a previous president and amounts to the largest elimination of protected areas in American history,” the coalition said Tuesday. “By revoking national monument status for 85 percent of the area protected by the Bears Ears National Monument, President Trump has removed legal protections for many well-known and widely-revered historic, scientific, and cultural areas.”
The group said Trump made the decision without visiting Bears Ears or meeting with tribal leaders. Despite his claim that his decision represents the will of the people, the decision only advances the interests of a few, at the expense of many, the coalition alleges, claiming that the administration received over 3 million public comments this summer and more than 98 percent of those comments favored keeping the Bears Ears National Monument intact.
Rose Marcario, president and chief executive officer of Patagonia, said, “Americans have overwhelmingly spoken out against the Trump administration’s unprecedented attempt to shut down our national monuments. The administration’s unlawful actions betray our shared responsibility to protect iconic places for future generations and represent the largest elimination of protected land in American history. We’ve fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we’ll continue that fight in the courts.”
Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said, “Bears Ears National Monument tells the story of human civilization in North America thousands of years before the arrival of the first Europeans, and our nation cannot afford to have this sacred place opened to looting, vandalism or destructive oil and gas development. Shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument is a direct assault on the Antiquities Act, one of America’s bedrock conservation and preservation laws that has helped to ensure the protection of many irreplaceable cultural landscapes across the United States. This unprecedented action does not represent the will of the American people, and is, in fact, destructive to all we hold dear as a nation. We look forward to defending Bears Ears, the Antiquities Act, and America’s unparalleled system of public lands.”