Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s visit to Utah this week highlights the potentially severe repercussions to America’s small business owners from President Trump’s recent executive order calling for the review of America’s national monuments designated since 1996. The order puts more than 50 monuments at risk if they are larger than 100,000 acres or the administrations deems “public outreach” was inadequate before the designations were made using the Antiquities Act.
“Mom-and-Pop” businesses have grown and thrived in the surrounding communities since the creation of monuments like Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Chimney Rock and Browns Canyon in Colorado, Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. But many are now worried their businesses will be in jeopardy if a decision is made by the Trump Administration to shrink or rescind protections for Utah’s monuments—like Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. That precedent could jeopardize other monuments. [See local voices quotes below.]
“This Administration is playing political games with some of America’s hardest working people and biggest contributors to the $887 billion-dollar recreation economy in this country,” said Matt Keller, senior director of conservation with The Wilderness Society. “These mom and pop shops are making Main Streets strong and driving growth of rural communities. Yet Trump is trying every trick in the book to give gifts to his friends in the extractive industry, selling out our natural and cultural wonders for short term profit.”
“If Trump is interested in making America great, he’ll cease his assault on the very fabric of that greatness: the astounding places that beckon Americans outside, and the small independent businesses that spur tourism spending and job growth in every corner of our country,” added Keller.
There are over 150 monuments that protect America’s cultural, historical, and natural heritage for future generations. Notably, no president has attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation, even where some public disagreement over the designation existed.
Legal scholars agree: No president has the legal authority to eliminate or significantly alter a national park or national monument.
The Outdoor Industry Association released new data on the booming recreation economy recently, reporting that revenue from outdoor pursuits on public lands like hiking, camping, hunting/fishing, bike riding, motorized sports and wildlife watching generates more than 7 million homegrown jobs in the United States and $887 billion in consumer spending nationally. The revenue generated by the outdoor industry is more than the oil, gas and automotive industries combined.
Studies by Headwaters Economics out of Bozeman, Montana, show that regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth or improvement in employment and personal income. Also, rural counties in the West containing more federal lands had healthier economies, on average, than their peers with less protected lands, Headwaters found.
Last week, more than 450 organizations representing millions of members across the country sent a letter to President Donald Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in opposition to any effort to remove or decrease protections for any national monuments.
In the 2017 Conservation in the West poll conducted by Colorado College, 80% of western voters supported keeping protections for existing monuments in place while only 13% of western voters supported removing protections for existing monuments.
Small Business Owners from around the Country Speak Out on Trump’s Monument Executive Order
To contact small business owners, please call or email Kate Mackay, Wildlands Communications Director: 602-571-2603; firstname.lastname@example.org
“Trump’s order will cast a dark shadow of uncertainty over business investment in Northern Maine. I own a destination resort near Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine, which was designated as a monument by President Obama last August. Since then, because of the interest in the new monument, I’ve seen an 80 percent increase in our May-June reservations over last year, which is unlike anything this business has seen over the last 20 years. The monument has provided some much-needed economic diversity and hope for our region, which has been hurt by the loss of two paper mills, the chief employers. The monument was thoroughly discussed and debated here over five years, and it now enjoys support from the vast majority of residents here.”
Owner, New England Outdoor Center
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine
“This executive order is an attack on my community’s economic future. Visitors come from across our country and the world to marvel at our colorful sandstone cliffs cascading across Utah’s largest network of slot canyons. These visitors are key to the success of local businesses. Our story in Escalante is just one of many examples of communities across our nation benefiting economically from national monuments and the protection of public lands.”
Vice President of the Boulder-Escalante Chamber of Commerce
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
“In Montana, our national monuments not only have a track record of protecting public lands for hunting and fishing but also helping to grow local economies. A 2014 study from Headwaters Economics here in Bozeman shows the economies of Blaine, Choteau, Fergus and Phillips counties grow after the 2001 designation of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Given his experience as a fifth-generation Montanan, we encourage Secretary Zinke to heed Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation legacy and leave these protections intact for all who come after us.”
Executive Director of Business for Montana’s Outdoors
Big Sky, Montana
“Rio Grande del Norte is really an all-inclusive monument for us. Not only do my family and the dozen guides we employ at our fly fishing shop make a living in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, but we hunt there for food and gather firewood to heat our homes in winter. Since the national monument was designated, we’ve expanded our business to meet increasing demand from clients who come to visit the area and experience firsthand the wild, natural beauty and cultural heritage at the heart of the Land of Enchantment. The notion of repealing or reducing protections for this universally popular monument — or any public lands in New Mexico — poses a grave threat to both our economy and our way of life.”
Owner, Taos Fly Shop
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico
“Along with my mother, I own and operate a small boutique in the California desert. We were so excited when the Sand to Snow National Monument was designated last year, because it’s practically in our back yard. People come from all over the world to enjoy the unique beauty here, to see wildlife and ancient Native American petroglyphs, to hike and camp in a wild, open place. Our new national monument protects these precious resources, and because so many small businesses around here depend on tourism, it also protects our local economy. I can’t imagine why political leaders would attack Sand to Snow or any of America’s national monuments. They are a source of pride and an important economic driver for our communities.”
Co-Owner, Glossy Boutique
Sand to Snow National Monument, California
“As someone who has worked amidst Southwestern national monuments all my life, I can attest to the long-term economic and social benefits they provide. My career as a photographer began in the late ‘90s, when several of the national monuments on Trump’s hit list were protected. Since then I’ve made countless visits to photograph these fascinating landscapes, including Grand Staircase-Escalante, Vermilion Cliffs, and our newest monument, Bears Ears. Over the years, the positive impact on local economies has been impossible to miss: new businesses have sprung up all around them. I know that without national monuments, my own business simply wouldn’t exist.”
Owner, Elias Butler Photography
“Protected public lands here in the Four Corners, like our national monuments, provide the infrastructure for the outdoor recreation economy and help guarantee that my clients have a high-quality experience climbing our world class desert sandstone. When President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke threaten to remove this infrastructure, they threaten my business and livelihood, as well as the quality of life for all of us who call this region home. I call on them both to back off and leave Colorado and Utah’s national monuments alone.
Owner, San Juan Mountain Guides
Ouray and Durango, Colorado
“Many of our local businesses are having positive experiences because of the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDP). In addition to creating the OMDP Coffee Blend, the OMDP Bread Pudding, and the OMDP cocktail, our annual Monuments to Main Street Month in September incorporates the many festivals and events in the region while highlighting the opportunities in the Monument. As a result, our region has seen a 102% increase in visitation since the designation and by reducing or removing our monument status, the advances we have made in creating economic benefits from our public lands would be destructive to our community.”
CEO and President, Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico
“The lifeblood of a business like ours is access to our lands. The recreation economy is one of the largest job engines in the country. There is no legal basis for overturning a monument designation under the Antiquities Act. Bears Ears National Monument, in particular, was established only after thousands of hours of local public engagement, contrary to recent reports. We expect the administration to respect the law of the land.”
CEO of Outdoor Research