National Monuments Benefit the Outdoor Recreation Economy

For KEEN, it all started back in July 2015 when we fired up a bright yellow 1976 GMC RV and started on a journey dubbed Live Monumental, to protect the places we play and to ensure that five incredible landscapes (Birthplace of Rivers, Boulder White-Clouds, Gold Butte, Mojave Trails, Owyhee Canyonlands) remain the way they are today, for all future generations to enjoy, forever.

To date, the Live Monumental campaign efforts resulted in Boulder White-Clouds designated as Wilderness and Mojave Trails and Gold Butte preserved as National Monuments. These places are important to so many for countless reasons, such as the rich history and ecology of Mojave Trails, sacred and ancestral homelands for Native Americans at Gold Butte, and outdoor engagement and recreation for all. These landscapes are vital to our Nation’s identity, culture, recreation, and economy.

Unfortunately, all our hard work is now under threat. Today, the president signed an executive order directing Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review all national monument designations larger than 100,000 acres from the past 21 years to determine whether their boundaries are consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act.

The Antiquities Act, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, gives the president the authority to safeguard federal lands and cultural and historical sites for all Americans to enjoy.  President Donald Trump’s action has the potential to undermine one of the Nation’s most important conservation tools.

Presidents have designated 150 national monuments since 1906. Some of those monuments have since become National Parks, including Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Zion, and Glacier Bay. National monument designations made since 1996 include Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears in Utah, San Gabriel Mountains in California, and Gold Butte in Nevada. The president’s executive order does not immediately reduce or rescind any national monument, but does order a review of all monuments designated between January 1, 1996 and the end of 2016.

In announcing the forthcoming review of national monuments, Secretary Zinke said that he will make a recommendation on the boundaries of Mojave Trails National Monument and Gold Butte National Monument within 120 days. The outdoor industry came together in 2016 to advocate for Gold Butte and Mojave Trails designations.

“The Mojave Trails and Gold Butte landscapes are exactly the kind of place the Antiquities Act intended to protect. It is rich in cultural history, archaeological sites, and recreation opportunities,” says Casey Sheahan, president of KEEN. “We’re confident that any credible review of these designations will confirm the boundaries are more than justified.”

“We worked closely with Conservation Alliance member companies to demonstrate our support for protecting new national monuments during the Obama presidency,” Sheahan explains.  “These monuments preserve important recreation amenities that benefit all Americans, and this unprecedented move may threaten those amenities.”

“Protected public lands, including national monuments, are important economic drivers, particularly in rural Western communities that attract new residents and visitors drawn to outdoor recreation opportunities,” says John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “Outdoor recreation is a huge economic engine, and national monuments fuel that engine.”

A 2017 study by the Outdoor Industry Association showed that outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually, and supports 7.6 million jobs in the U.S.

“Any serious review of these monuments will conclude that these are special lands and waters, beloved by millions of Americans for their cultural, recreation, and habitat values,” Sterling adds. “Because Obama’s monuments were informed by public meetings and robust stakeholder outreach, any review should similarly involve significant public input.”

KEEN opposes any effort to change the boundaries of existing national monuments through executive action. National monuments designated since 1996 protect landscapes with important recreation, cultural and habitat values. KEEN encourages everyone who loves to recreate in the outdoors and who cherishes protecting the places we play to call Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at (202) 208-6416.