The Inertia Mountain Contributing Editor
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When news broke about the current administration’s plans to roll back huge swaths of designated land in both Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments a number of outdoor influencers and companies took to social media to virtually protest the announcement.

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This wasn’t a surprise for industry insiders or really anyone who’s been paying attention, as a number of these brands, including industry titans Patagonia, REI, and North Face have long used their platforms for social and political awareness. However, like most initiatives in the day and age of social media, many commenters in the social media world exercised the same old argument against these brands like–and I’m paraphrasing–“stick to climbing” or “stay out of politics,” over and over again.

While I can understand that some people use the outdoors and outdoor sports to get away from the constant barrage of political polarization and vitriol, the idea that consumers or participants would expect companies with so much on the line to “stay out of it” is absurd. It’s like telling Rolling Stone to “stick to music” even though the magazine has long covered culture and politics.

The responsibility of understanding the political and social history of these companies does not fall on the company, it falls on the consumer. Patagonia, in particular, has been involved in shaping environmental policy for well over 30 years. It’s part of their deep-rooted ethos and it’s not really that brand’s responsibility to pander to uninformed consumers. If you don’t want to buy a Patagonia jacket because they spearhead environmental policies, fine, that’s your choice, but don’t come to the table demanding a company not engage because you couldn’t be bothered to understand the company’s mission.

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Furthermore, for people to expect outdoor and adventure sports brands to not engage in political issues, especially when those issues have to do with global climate and restrictions to public lands, is dumbfounding. The success of the outdoor industry is dependent on both climate and access, so for consumers, regardless of political affiliation, to expect companies like Patagonia to not respond would be like expecting Ford not to respond negatively if the Trump Administration decided to reduce public road access by 45 percent.

Influencers have also been actively working on climate initiatives. Some of the climbing, snowboarding, and skiing worlds’ biggest names have flown to Washington D.C. to work with policymakers in shaping U.S. climate policy. Like the brands who support them, these athletes livelihood is dependent on finding sustainable climate solutions, to expect them not to have a voice when issues of access arise is again, absurd.

 

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Patagonia has announced that it will sue the Trump Administration if it moves forward with reducing the size of Bears Ears National Monument. Whether or not you agree with the Trump Administration’s move, the one thing you should firmly understand is that outdoor companies (or influencers that work with them) aren’t going to back down from their resolve to protect public land access, even if it is in direct odds with your personal ideology. Patagonia is a privately-owned company with an activist founder rumored to be worth a billion dollars.

If there’s any company that’s going to fight the current administration’s land grab, it’s going to be companies like Patagonia. And with the resources and know-how at their disposal, they might just win. Just understand that if they do, it was all part of a brand history. Not some random initiative pulled out of left field to satisfy this year’s marketing strategy. These companies are in this fight for the right reasons and none of them seem to care if you’re on board.

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