Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Update: Patagonia, Utah Dine Bikeyah Seek To Block Cuts To Bears Ears National Monument

Howard Berkes / NPR

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.”

Screen shot of recent Patagonia home page.

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.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.