On the eve of the giant Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, which gets under way at 9 a.m. today, January 25, and runs through January 28 at the Colorado Convention Center, retail powerhouse Patagonia joined with several advocacy groups to turn the McNichols Building in Civic Center Park and the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Lakewood into canvases of environmental protest by way of light projections that attacked the shrinking of two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by the administration of President Donald Trump.
The timing of the demonstration was apt. After all, Denver wouldn't be hosting the Outdoor Retailer Show, which was previously based in Salt Lake City, if it weren't for dissatisfaction with Utah's public-lands policies. Here's how Amy Roberts, executive director of the Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association, the title sponsor of the show, explained the situation to us for a February 2017 post.
"The show's been in Utah for a long time," Roberts told us, "and over that period, we've had disagreements with the state's leadership — somewhat with the governor [Gary Herbert], but more with Congressman Rob Bishop — around public policy that's really been focused on federal-land transfer. And right now, the flashpoint is around state takeover — whether the state should take over federal lands and Utah's efforts to get President Trump to issue an executive order rescinding the Bears Ears National Monument," which the Obama administration authorized in 2016.
In January 2017, "the Utah legislature passed a resolution asking for the president to rescind Bears Ears," Roberts went on. "It doesn't have any legal impact; only the president can choose to do that. But it's a finger in the eye to our industry, which is really dependent on public lands."
The following August, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the removal of more than two million acres from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. But by then, the Outdoor Retailer Show had already made plans to merge with the SIA Snow Show and relocate to Denver, much to the delight of Patagonia, which had previously lobbied for such a move in a blog post titled "Does Utah Love the Outdoor Industry?" An excerpt reads:
The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry, yet the Governor has spent most of his time in office trying to rip taxpayer-owned lands out from under us and hand them over to drilling and mining companies. And just a few days ago, the state announced plans to sue the federal government to reverse the recent protection of Bears Ears, a site containing thousands of years of Native American archeological treasures and craggy red rocks beloved by climbers from all over the world. Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry — and their own state economy — depend on access to public lands for recreation.
I say enough is enough. If Governor Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home.
On the evening of January 24, Patagonia, in conjunction with the Conservation Lands Foundation, the Wilderness Society and Center for American Progress, used the aforementioned projections to spotlight its positions. Images included the hashtags #MonumentsForAll, #StandWithBearsEars and #SaveGrandStaircase as well as a countdown clock timed to 9 a.m. Eastern on February 2, when Trump's Bureau of Land Management is scheduled to start allowing companies to mine and drill the now-unprotected lands, which are considered sacred by assorted Native American tribes.
A Patagonia news release adds: "As Utah’s national monuments face imminent harm in a matter of days, there are additional public lands and waters in the Trump Administration’s crosshairs — from allowing logging in Maine’s Katahdin Woods & Waters to commercial fishing in the Pacific Remote Islands. Yesterday’s action aims to raise awareness not only of the attacks on national monuments in Utah, but on all the public lands across the country that belong to all Americans."
Here are additional photos of the projections on the McNichols Building during the Night Zero kickoff bash on January 24:
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