Protecting Public Lands with your Voice and your Gear Choice
By Maggie Heumann, Artemis co-founder
I am an angler, hunter, hiker and buyer for a mom and pop “hook and bullet” retail operation, and, as such, the public land that surrounds me is an integral component of every aspect of my life. As all of the election hullabaloo was bombarding us last year, the outdoor industry was paying attention. And when public lands and monuments came under attack, we mobilized.
When we embark on an outdoor adventure – whether it be camping, hunting, biking or climbing- we all want the best gear, right? What the outdoor industry is saying now, is that we do care about creating and producing top of the line gear, but with a higher purpose.
As a buyer, I look at all a brand has to offer, outside of the actual product, before I make a decision. Are you a member of 1% for the Planet? Where is your product made and under what conditions and standards? Does a portion of your profits go to any particular cause? Can these causes be utilized at a local level? These are all questions that I find myself asking these days.
The gold standard of this type of activist-driven business model is Patagonia. By going out on a limb and taking a stand (not to say other brands weren’t ruffling feathers-it just takes a big boy sometimes to make people pay attention) Patagonia inspired the rest of the industry to follow suit when Bears Ears was threatened. When the company pulled out of the Outdoor Retailer show and cost the state of Utah over 40 million dollars in lost revenues, they made their position heard, loud and clear.
On July 27th, attendees at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Utah, (sans Patagonia) joined forces and marched to the state capitol to let the Utah state government know how we feel about Utah’s public lands and places such as Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. Members of surrounding communities, the Ute tribe and several prominent figures in the outdoor industry lent their voices to the crowd of over 3000.
Silence and chills swept over the crowd when Shaun Chapoose, Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee member and founding member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, spoke of the Native American cultural heritage preserved in the newly-minted monument. He explained how this land was never the United States’ to take from the Native Americans in the same way that our founding fathers willed it to us for future generations to enjoy. It is not even our land, it belongs to our children and their children. Without these lands being set aside, and with human population rapidly increasing, all would be developed and our relationship with Mother Earth would be lost.
An overwhelming 97% of Americans that commented on the monument review that was ordered in April, wrote a favorable response to keeping the monuments as they are.
Public lands are not just places we recreate. These are places of incredible cultural significance. Places where we can hunt to feed our families. Places where we can meditate to feed our souls. Places where age, sex, race, and religion don’t matter, but reverence is understood. No matter what the use, these places are important to us all for a plethora of reasons. It is equally important that we let our voices be known on management issues and other challenges that will constantly threaten our public lands. This is a battle that will likely never end. Getting involved at the local level is a great way to start. Three words continue to come to mind: just show up. Go to your local meetings, find out what you can do to help. Any action is better than none.
This passion for our shared public lands is what I adore about the outdoor community. It is not just about stuff. It’s about caring deeply, speaking up and taking action for change when merited. Likely, we each have a slightly different agenda when it comes to utilizing our great nation’s public lands, but when they become threatened, we can collectively respond and help promote positive outcomes. Next time you go to purchase gear for your fishing or hunting, or any type of outdoor adventure, keep in mind that what you choose to buy, and the dollars you spend, may be used to further the causes that so many of us are committed to.