Public land is what makes America great – a letter to our Senators

This letter was written to Colorado senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet by Polar Bottle Company President Judy Amabile and Marketing Manager Addie Bash

Dear Senator,

We are writing you on behalf of the 37 Coloradans, and their families, employed at Polar Bottle in Boulder, Colorado.

Our company has been manufacturing insulated water bottles since 1994. Nearly all of our products are entirely Made in America, with parts sourced from small, family-owned US suppliers — most of whom we’ve worked closely with for decades.

The president focused much of his campaign, and the first year of his presidency, on the importance of supporting US manufacturers like Polar Bottle. For us, that means protecting the places where our customers use our products, namely our nation’s public biking and hiking trails. When public land is threatened, it jeopardizes our company’s future, as well as others in the $887 billion outdoor industry.

Dramatically reducing the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, effectively removes millions of acres of land where our customers can use our products.  Make no doubt about it, moves like this will have an economic impact — if not today than in years to come.

And more importantly, removing protection from this land opens it up for development by special interests — all but ensuring the permanent destruction of unspoiled wilderness, and in the case of national monuments the sacred historical artifacts preserved within them.

This is not a far-off threat. The Kaiparowits Plateau of Grand Staircase-Escalante has vast coal deposits. There is already talk of mining those reserves — a move that would permanently destroy this pristine landscape.

Allowing this sort of development is short-sighted and self-serving for the current administration. This land belongs to every American, not the few that would profit from developing these natural resources.

Last April, Ryan Zinke addressed the Outdoor Industry Association’s Capitol Summit in Washington DC. Leaders in the industry, including our company president, applauded Secretary Zinke’s assertion that he was a champion of preserving public lands. However, that same day, the president signed an executive order to review the protection of more than two dozen national monuments across the country.

Apparently, Secretary Zinke’s commitment to preserving public land is limited to his own backyard. He is currently seeking to create three new monuments in his home state of Montana, while simultaneously advocating to cut land in a total of four other monuments across the country. In addition to Utah’s sites, it was announced this week that Zinke has called for further reduction of public lands in Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou.

It’s too bad that the president made his announcement to reduce Utah’s national monuments in the state’s capital. He might have reconsidered if he’d visited some of the state’s cherished wilderness spaces, and seen the economic vitality that they produce.

Some people only have the opportunity to experience the outdoors at golf courses and city parks. However, seeing unaltered wild places creates the deeper connection that you need to truly understand the value in protecting them.

Seeing these places is a right afforded to all Americans, and hundreds of millions of us flock to national parks and monuments every year. The current parks and monuments are filled to capacity. Americans want more beautiful places to go to, not less.

Public lands are our legacy. They are what make America great.