One CEO’s Battle Plan For Protecting Our National Parks

“We’re dealing with an administration that hasn’t come out and agreed that climate change is a reality.”

Environmentalists and conservationists across the country erupted in anger earlier this month when Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, signed legislation to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument. Impressively, it was a group of CEOs from some of America's best-known and most-favored outdoor brands who took decisive, meaningful action.

President Obama designated the 2,112 square mile area in southern Utah's San Juan County as protected public land. Herbert is requesting that president Trump remove the protection—something no president has done—and return the land to the state, potentially opening the land up to sale and development. In addition to being home to some of the country’s most breathtaking and beloved pubic lands, Utah has also long served as host home to the Outdoor Retailer trade show, a twice-yearly gathering of retailer, manufacturers, suppliers, and other outdoor industry professionals that brings 40,000 visitors and $45 million to the state annually.

Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, the outdoor gear and clothing company valued at over $600 million, pulled the company out of the Winter Outdoor Retailer show in protest of Utah's legislative disregard for our nation's protected lands. To do anything less, she told GOOD, would be in conflict with the company's commitment to preserving and protecting our environment. Other companies followed suit, and after a tense conference call with Herbert, the Outdoor Retailer trade show announced the decision to permanently move the show out of Utah.

GOOD caught up with Marcario to talk about Bears Ears, the importance of outdoor activity space, and ways to protect the planet under the Trump administration.

Were you surprised by how quickly Governor Herbert moved to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument?

For two decades, (Patagonia) has been working on public lands issues, in terms of public lands protection, and then for the last four years has been working really directly on the Bear’s Ears National Monument. We heard that there was a move to rescind the monument, which we thought was pretty shocking. And so we let our collective voices be heard on that. Our Outdoor Industry Association was very active in communicating with (Utah Governor Herbert’s office) about our concerns about rescinding a national monument and what an unprecedented action that was. Lots of behind-the-scenes conversations ultimately culminated in a phone call with Governor Herbert last week, with the CEO of REI, myself, and the CEO of (The) North Face and the head of the OIA. Unfortunately, Governor Herbert did not give us any indication that he was willing to rescind the resolution to rescind the monument. And we learned last Friday that he signed another resolution to rescind the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is a national monument dedicated in 1996. I would characterize this as an all-out assault on public lands. Anyone who has been involved in conservation and outdoor recreation and who cares about public lands staying in public hands should care about this issue quite a lot.

How dangerous is it to have protected lands like this land in the hands of the state?

It’s hard to wrap your mind around, honestly. It’s always about selling the land off to the highest bidder, you know, that kind of mentality. That’s extremely concerning in this case, because they’re talking about extremely reducing the size of these monuments. Patagonia launched a call-to-action, so that people can reach out to the governor’s office and let him know how they feel about this issue. You look at the economic impact of having a national monument, and in most cases––and certainly with Grand Staircase, it’s been around for a long time––it’s done nothing but improve property values, increase job creation, increase the overall wage rate in that county. So I really don’t understand the argument, other than wanting to, like I said, sell the land off to some kind of extractive industry, or sell it off to the highest bidder. I don’t really understand why the legislature is doing this. I don’t know how many Utahns are really behind it, either. I hope there is a lot of public backlash. People should be really concerned about this. It’s not a business imperative for us us to keep these places protected; it’s a moral imperative. You’d think that would resonate with Utahns. I’m pretty disappointed in Utah’s legislators right now. It’s sad.

What else is at risk with this legislation?

This is a very troubling precedent. The idea that national monuments, national parks, could be at risk, and that public lands could come out of public hands, should be of grave concern to anyone who lives near these lands and recreates near these lands. And also to everyone in America who wants to protect wilderness. The outdoor recreation industry is 6 million American jobs, 650 billion in economic contributions to the economy, growing every year, even in the recessionary time that we had in 2008. This is a healthy industry, and to see an assault on these public lands, by state legislators––it’s really troubling.

What is the best way for citizens to help in this fight?

I think every American who cares about protecting wilderness––the last little bits of wilderness that we have, really––should be really concerned about these issues, and should be contacting their local officials and getting involved at the grassroots level to protect these places. … Everyone needs to get involved locally, on the issues of clean air, water, and soil in their neighborhoods, because that’s probably the most direct influence that you have. And showing up to council meetings, and showing up to your elected officials’ town hall meetings, express concern over legislation––these are the most important things that you can do. And also, businesses play a roll. Even if regulations are relaxed, businesses should be taking the high road and doing great things for people and the planet.

What about people for whom environmental protection is not a big concern? How do we motivate those people to become engaged?

All of the press attention that this story has received has been incredibly meaningful, in terms of helping people to understand what the issues are. Being in the conservation movement for decades now, it’s usually not a good thing when federal land ends up with the state. The states tend to sell off the land and keep it from being wild and from being wilderness that can be enjoyed. So I think that’s the overall message. And for the industry to come together … Let’s just say, it’s not very often that I’m on the phone with those CEOs and we’re all focused on one issue and we’re all in agreement.

How do you feel about the appointment of Scott Pruitt to head of the Environmental Protection Agency?

It’s incredibly concerning that Scott Pruitt would be appointed to the EPA, when he spent most of his life suing against regulations. And at a time when what we really need is a forward-thinking EPA that’s focused on clean energy and an innovative energy economy, and then they’re signing into law that you can pollute a stream again. It should be a huge concern to anyone who cares about clean air, water, and soil that we have someone in that role that obviously has sided with big, corporate fossil fuel interests. We’re incredibly concerned about that.

Are we going to face more battles like this going forward?

I don’t think we really know what’s to come. We’re going to take each issue as it comes, and I think Utah is a perfect example of that. When we see an assault on public lands, we’re going to go for it, as an industry. When we see a deregulation that’s going to hurt water, air, and soil, we’re going to go for it, to the extent that we can. It’s going to be tough. We’re dealing with an administration that hasn’t come out and agreed that climate change is a reality and isn’t agreeing with 99 percent of the scientists. I don’t know when America stopped believing in science. Science is real! It’s a little bit disturbing that we have people in the administration that have a hard time saying that. What I’m encouraged by is that there are a lot of CEOs now that are progressive thinkers, that understand that our energy economy needs to change, that are making bold changes, and I think those will be the brands and the companies that will win in the long term, because those are the companies that people will want to buy products from. They’re the companies that are creating the solutions, and not contributing more to the problems and the pollution. For (Patagonia), caring for the planet isn’t in conflict with running a successful business.

via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less