Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has assembled a new outdoor recreation advisory panel dominated by top executives from the industry.
The 15-member "Made in America" Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee will advise Sec. Zinke on issues surrounding public lands. They include officials that represent fishing, shooting sports, motorized vehicles and hospitality as well as national park concessionaires.
"The Made in America Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee is made up of the private sector's best and brightest to tackle some of our biggest public lands infrastructure and access challenges," Zinke announced Monday.
"The committee's collective experience as entrepreneurs and business leaders provide (sic) unique insight that is often lost in the federal government."
The Washington Post reported that Zinke did not appoint committee nominees offered by the Outdoor Industry Association, which advocates for activities such as mountain climbing, hiking and kayaking. The association has criticized President Trump's decision last year to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.
The only member who does not come from the outdoor recreation industry is Linda Craighead, the assistant secretary of parks and tourism at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. But as the Post observed, her LinkedIn profile indicates she is pro-business; in her current job she has "implemented key business strategies to transition the state park system from dependence on state funding to a self-sufficient business model while enhancing the natural, cultural, recreational and educational aspects of the parks."
The panel includes three people whom department officials flagged as potentially having a conflict of interest on the matter, according to documents obtained by the Post.
The Post reported:
During the recent selection process for the Made in America panel, Interior staffers color-coded [Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition and counselor for the National Park Hospitality Association], along with those of Bruce Fears, president of Aramark Leisure, and Jeremy Jacobs Jr., co-chief executive of Delaware North, for having potential conflicts of interest. The document places Crandall in the category of "individuals who advocate for and represent the interests of NPS concessioners" and Fears and Jacobs as "current concessioners with the NPS."
Both Aramark and Delaware North rank among the Park Service's biggest concessionaires: Aramark has a $2 billion contract to operate concessions at Yosemite National Park, while Delaware North runs concessions at Shenandoah, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
This is not the first time Zinke has created an advisory panel filled with business representatives. Most members of the Royalty Policy Committee come from the oil, gas and mining industries. The new International Wildlife Conservation Council is mainly comprised of trophy hunters and individuals with ties to President Trump's oldest son, who is an avid hunter.
Why Trump’s New Trophy Hunting Council Is a Disaster https://t.co/nea5KgbSaD @WWF @Defenders @MercyForAnimals— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1521223128.0
By Scott Miller
Outdoor Retailer has a new home for its three annual trade shows: Colorado, a state that really gets the value of our wild lands.
The Outdoor Industry Association announced in February that it was pulling its trade shows out of Utah, where they'd been located for 20 years, because the state's elected officials were undermining the future of America's public lands. The hosts decided they would not reward Utah with thousands of visitors and an economic impact of up to $110 million a year after the state actively undermined Utah's public lands and recreation economy that the outdoor industry relies on.
Major businesses that take part in the shows, including Patagonia and Black Diamond, did not want to continue to pour money into a state that did not see the value of protecting its stunning conservation and recreation areas. It's not surprising that Outdoor Retailer had become disillusioned with the efforts of Utah officials. Both state and national level politicians, including Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop have aggressively attacked public lands in the state—especially the Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.
The Outdoor Industry Loves Utah ... But Does Utah Love the Outdoor Industry? https://t.co/JLpDXkleeW— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@Robert F. Kennedy Jr)1484164997.0
Utah's leadership has pressed President Trump to reverse the national monument designation, favoring opening lands for industrialization like mining instead. They have also been leading the charge for the reversal of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah and others across the country.
In response, the Trump administration has included Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in its review of 27 national monuments designated by the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations. The monument that may be facing the biggest threat is Utah's Bears Ears. In an unprecedented move, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke already has announced he intends to recommend revoking protections for large portions of the monument.
After setting out to find a new location in a state that supports protecting public lands, Outdoor Retailer didn't have to look far. In clear contrast to Utah, leaders in neighboring Colorado value and stand up for their public lands.
The Colorado delegation, including Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, has defended Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which is now under review by Trump. So has Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado also has advocated for keeping the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears intact, too, recognizing that the national public lands there contain fragile and irreplaceable resources that are important to all Americans.
Utah could learn a thing or two from Colorado.
For one, Colorado recognizes the economic value of conservation. The state has a massive outdoor recreation economy, with $28 billion in consumer spending in the industry annually. Outdoor Retailer will bring the money and attention it draws to Colorado instead, starting with its winter show in January 2018.
But more than that, leadership here recognizes the intrinsic value of public lands for the identity of the state.
"If you look at what this means, that's a huge benefit, but that's not what deserves to be mentioned," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper when the deal was announced Thursday. "State parks, wildlife areas. All this stuff comes as an accumulative attraction. It is part of the defining characteristic of Colorado."
"What we're saying today is that we're in this for the long term. We're going to continue to try and talk about the importance of outdoor recreation in Colorado. Henry David Thoreau once said all good things are wild and free. We believe that in Colorado," Hickenlooper said.
Outdoor Industry Association Executive Director Amy Roberts was spot on when she said that "Colorado's elected officials have shown significant leadership in promoting policies that ensure the outdoor recreation economy continues to thrive."
Colorado is home to more than 23 million acres of public lands. These lands are highly valued, especially by the 71 percent of Coloradans who participate in outdoor recreation each year, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
These public lands, which include four national parks, eight national monuments and millions of acres of high quality Forest Service and BLM lands, also bring in millions of tourists every year. People from around the world spend money throughout Colorado in order to travel to, stay in and experience our incredible scenery. Whether that includes a snow-capped 14er, a meandering mountain trout stream, or an ancient cliff dwelling in our high desert lands, the quality of these outstanding outdoor experiences is not accidental. Preserving our best wild places takes forethought and determination--as well as resistance to the urge to sell our lands out to a quick buck.
This major move by businesses shows that despite the Trump administration's threat to our wild, if we stand together, we can send a strong message like the one these outdoor retailers have sent to politicians in Utah.
It's reassuring to see the outdoor industry stand its ground by moving its multi-million dollar shows to Colorado. You, too, can take a stand to protect our public lands. Until July 10, you can speak out in support of the national monuments that are under attack.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.