Patagonia founder replies to invitation to testify on National Monument removal

After being invited to testify before Congress, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has responded, questioning the invitation's rationale and the legality of the largest revocation of protected land in US history.

Cottonwood Wash, an area that will be drilled, which was formerly part of Utah's Bears Ears National Monument - Josh Ewing for Patagonia

Last week Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah) wrote Chouinard a letter inviting him to DC to testify before his House Committee on Natural Resources. Bishop's letter comes after the Trump Administration issued an order earlier this month revoking protection of 2 million acres of public land that was previously designated as National Monument land in Utah.

In his reply to Bishop, Chouinard scathingly wrote that "it is clear that the House Committee," like much of the current government is "shackled to the special interests of oil, gas, and mining and will seek to sell off our public lands at every turn and continue to weaken and denigrate Theodore Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act."

The Antiquities Act is a 100-yea-old federal law written to protect and preserve America's public lands for future generations.

Chouinard also challenged the timing of the invitation to testify in DC, pointing out that the order has already been issued so his testimony is not actually going to have any impact.

Chouinard continues, "The American people made it clear in public comments that they want to keep the monuments intact, but they were ignored by Secretary Zinke, your committee, and the administration."

Patagonia has joined a coalition of Native American tribes and special interest groups suing the Trump Administration for what they argue is a violation of the Antiquities Act. The lawsuit also points out the social policy implications of the revocation of protection, noting that 98 percent of the 3 million comments on social media on the topic disagreed with Trump's decision to remove protection of the lands.

Chouinard concluded his letter to Bishop saying, "We have little hope that you are working in good faith with this invitation. Our positions are clear and public, and we encourage you to read them."

The outdoor industry is an $887 billion consumer industry. The majority of climbers, hikers, paddlers, anglers and hunters use America's public lands for their recreation.

In addition to the loss of recreation opportunities, the industry on the whole stands to take a hit as the government continues to revoke protection of federal lands historically used for public recreation in place of natural resource extraction.

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