A coalition including conservation groups, outdoor retailer Patagonia and Navajo nonprofit Utah Dine Bikeyah filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Wednesday over its sharp reductions to the Bears Ears National Monument. It's the fourth lawsuit to be filed since the cuts were announced Monday.
"President Trump has literally dismembered our sacred Bars Ears monument that five Tribes have worked tirelessly for many years to protect in order to preserve our culture and way of life," said Mary Benally of Utah Dine Bikeyah in a statement.
The suit was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. The co-plaintiffs include Friends of Cedar Mesa, Archaeology Southwest, Conservation Lands Foundation , Access Fund, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Litigation has ramped up since President Trump's proclamations shedding a collective 2 million acres from both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.
Hans Cole is Patagonia’s director of environmental advocacy. He says their latest action is part of the company’s 40-year history of protecting wild landscapes.
“We got involved in this because our community loves this place," says Cole. "You know, climbers, who [enjoy] the world-renowned climbing at Indian Creek, to just our employees and customers who have been out there to visit and hike and camp. We think this place should have been protected 50 years ago.”
Cole also criticized Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He says Zinke’s claim of being a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt is contradicted by his actions.
“Eliminating protections for the largest swath of land ever in our nation’s history, that doesn’t strike me as something Teddy Roosevelt would do and it just doesn’t ring true.”
Zinke and Patagonia representatives have exchanged harsh words this week over the decision. In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Zinke accused the company of lying and making false statements.
Patagonia temporarily changed its website’s landing page after Monday’s announcement to a black screen with the words ‘The President Stole Your Land.’
Cole says Patagonia and other outdoor advocates, tribes and environmental groups are gearing up for what will likely be a long court battle.