On Friday, August 29, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted his recommendations to President Trump on the fate of 27 national monuments.
According to The Washington Post, those recommendations include reducing the size of at least three national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
That could be bad for business.
We’ve been talking to business owners in communities adjacent to national monuments in Maine, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Montana and other states, and the designations are the economic engines of their communities. They fear changes in national monument boundaries could have a negative impact on their bottom lines.
Research indicates they have a right to be worried. Headwaters Economics has studied the local economies surrounding 17 national monuments in the western United States and found that all of them showed either continued or improved growth in key economic indicators such as population, employment, personal income, and per-capita income.
Public lands and outdoor recreation are important to the American economy. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs each year.
We are alarmed at the current administration’s threats to these economic drivers, as well as to the preservation and protection of our public lands. President Trump needs to harness the power and reach of the outdoor recreation and public lands economy, not hinder it.
That’s the point of this year’s SHIFT. The benefits of outdoor recreation and the conservation of public lands are critical to our economy. SHIFT aims to provide the tools and power of collective voice to advance our case and gain more support for public land. Because as long as public land designations remain vulnerable, we’ll need to fight, strong and together, to protect our investments.
It is up to us—the advocates for public land—to unite around the facts. Any loss of public land is a loss to all Americans.
Since our national monuments are particularly at risk under the current administration, they will be a highlight at this year’s SHIFT Festival.
On the opening night of SHIFT, we are honored to present a special feature on Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, “Bears Ears: 10,000 Years of Public Land”, with keynotes by Jonah Yellowman, Eric Descheenie and Cynthia Wilson, the tribal leaders who helped create it.
Bears Ears is a rugged landscape of 1.3 million acres with more than 100,000 archaeological sites, and a sacred place where more than thirteen Tribes trace their lineage. Proposed by The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, the monument is unique in that it is co-managed by Tribes and Federal agencies, integrating stewardship and knowledge with western land management practice.
Yellowman, Descheenie and Wilson are part of Utah Diné Bikéyah, a 2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection for its role in the designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument in 2016.
And on SHIFT’s closing night, it is also our honor to have Lucas St. Clair keynote a presentation on Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. St. Clair is the President of Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., a 2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection for its role in the creation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
During his twelve-year effort to establish Katahdin Woods and Waters, St. Clair met with locals over kitchen tables and on forest trails to gain support for the public land. The successful designation of the Monument in 2016 was largely due to his ability to strategically combine access, rural economics and outdoor recreation in his argument for its establishment.
Also, the perspectives of business owners and community leaders from Grand Staircase-Escalante, Katahdin Woods and Waters and Bears Ears national monuments, among others, will be showcased at SHIFT on November 2, in a panel that focuses on The Designation Effect: How the economies of national monument gateway communities around the country have been impacted by the designations.
Throughout the duration of the three-day Festival, SHIFT’s popular working sessions will provide a unique opportunity to business leaders to learn how others are successfully harnessing industry voices to advance public land issues. There will also be workshops that will equip attendees with new insights and actionable strategies on how outdoor recreation can reinvigorate local economies.
Please join us. If there was ever a time to fight for public lands, it is now.