The Obama administration’s top lands official applauded the outdoor recreation industry’s work Wednesday to protect public lands in Utah and nationwide.
In her first public statements since leaving office, former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spoke to industry officials and their allies in the conservation community at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in downtown Salt Lake City. She encouraged their growing political activism -- especially in defending the Bears Ears National Monument created by Obama under the Antiquities Act in December.
“Now we understand more about this [Trump] administration,” said Jewell. “And I think it’s fair to say we have very real threats facing the public lands we all love so much.”
Jewell attacked the new administration’s plans to shrink Bears Ears in southeastern Utah from 1.35 million acres. She said doing so would be illegal. And it would contradict what millions of Americans say they want for the extraordinary landscape.
“President Trump is putting himself on the wrong side of history,” she said. “If he acts to revoke national monuments, he will go down as one of the anti-conservation presidents in the history of this nation.”
Jewell made the remarks at the outdoor industry’s final trade show here. The convention is quitting Utah after two decades -- largely because the state’s Republican political leaders asked the Trump administration to rescind Bears Ears and they’re pushing for state control of federal lands.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) told the group the two-thirds GOP majority in his state’s Legislature has good reason to support public lands.
“It underscores that whether you are Democrat or Republican, a Libertarian or a vegetarian, the Outdoor recreation economy is important to every person throughout the West and throughout the United States,” he said.
The Colorado-based Outdoor Industry Association released new data on Wednesday showing the industry has an annual economic impact of $12.3 billion and nearly $4 billion in wages in Utah.