Patagonia is not just your source for high-quality yuppy puffy jackets and baseball caps that show off outdoorsiness. It's also a force of nature. Now, it's going after America's largest unnatural disaster, Donald Trump.
The Ventura, California-based clothing company is suing the reality-TV star over his decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, full of stunning natural beauty and ancient Indian ruins. The president wants to revive the ancient practice of mining and logging in these beautiful spaces, so America can become a leader in the economies of tomorrow, provided tomorrow is 1876.
In giant font, Patagonia's website says it simply: "The President Stole Your Land." It calls the move "illegal" and a "mistake" and the largest elimination of protected land in American history. (Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Patagonia's charge of stealing was "nefarious, false and a lie.")
Their lawsuit is one of many challenging the administration's decision to shrivel the monuments by more than 50 percent. The monuments were protected by Obama late in his presidency. The suits will argue that a president only has the power to protect public land, not to unprotect it. Once it's protected, it's protected. Otherwise, what's the point?
Patagonia — along with several other companies, including REI and North Face — have already made drastic moves to try and protect Bears Ears / Grand Staircase. When the Republican party of Utah said they wanted to drill and mine and log the area, the companies moved the Outdoor Retailer show out of Salt Lake. It's a twice-yearly trade show that brought $45 million to Salt Lake each year. They plan to move it to Denver, because Colorado's governor likes nature more, and is supporting protecting Bears Ears / Grand Staircase.
Patagonia has "declared war on the ruling party of the United States," Outside Magazine has written. Patagonia, REI and North Face sent "a hell of a message," said Montana senator Jon Tester.
Outdoors companies might be the most effective warriors against Trumpian desecration of the natural world. They have the money to file lawsuits and see them through. They have a customer base willing to pay more for gear from companies that fight for nature. And they're getting tougher. “We have to be as relentless as the NRA," Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario told Outside. The NRA is the National Rifle Association, a group of gun companies and gun owners that have stopped almost all gun control laws from passing for decades. "We cannot give up an inch of protected land on our watch. Not an inch."
For those of us who spend 80 percent of our waking hours staring at a screen — which is most of us — nature doesn't sound important. But humans are nature, not that different from trees and mushrooms and rabbits. A cactus or a flower is as good at telling you who you are as a selfie.
The reduction of Bears Ears / Grand Staircase by Trump makes one wonder, once again: What is it Donald Trump loves about America? Not our ideals, which include openness and compassion for the struggling. Not our people, which include Mexicans and Muslims. And apparently not our land, which includes trees and tumbleweed and coyotes of Bears Ears / Grand Staircase. Does he just like America's coal and hot women? Slovenia has that. Russia has that. Russia has a lot of that.