Outdoor recreation companies have thrown their support behind a proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. In a letter, the Conservation Alliance urges the Obama Administration to embrace a proposal by Native Americans to conserve 1.9 million acres.
“The main reason we and our member companies got involved in this is the rich outdoor recreation opportunities on the Bears Ears landscape,” says John Stirling, the group’s executive director.
Outdoor recreation has a $646 billion impact on the nation’s economy and $12 billion on Utah’s, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Stirling says a monument recognizes that value by preserving a world-class landscape for climbers, hikers, hunters, river runners and archaeology buffs.
“People travel from all over the world to climb Indian Creek, to run the San Juan River,” he says. “These are singular recreation opportunities.”
The Conservation Alliance was part of the Utah lands initiative process that protects some of the Bears Ears area, but the group opposes the legislation that came out of it.
Peter Metcalf, founder of the Holladay-based Black Diamond outdoor gear company, says the lands initiative favors outdated, extractive industries -- not the meaningful protection Bears Ears deserves.
“Legislators involved in this continue to show a complete disregard for the mechanics and economics of the outdoor industry, what drives the Utah economy.”
Members of Utah’s congressional delegation plan to move the lands bill after the election, but the Obama administration doesn’t need Congress’ support to create a monument.