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Changes to National Monument Could Negatively Impact Local Economies

September 11, 2017

Media Contact

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden

Jackson, WY

—SHIFT to focus on economic argument for public land conservation—

Jackson, WY (September 11) – On Friday, August 29, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted his recommendations to President Trump on the fate of 27 national monuments.

According to The Washington Post, those recommendations include reducing the size of at least three national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

To the organizers of The Center for Jackson Hole’s upcoming SHIFT Festival, taking place this November in Jackson, Wyo., that could be bad for business.

“We’ve been talking to business owners in communities adjacent to national monuments in Maine, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Montana and other states,” said Christian Beckwith, SHIFT’s Director. “The designations are the economic engines of their communities.”

“They fear changes in national monument boundaries could have a negative impact on their bottom lines.”

Research indicates they have a right to be worried. Headwaters Economics has studied the local economies surrounding 17 national monuments in the western United States and found that all of them showed either continued or improved growth in key economic indicators such as population, employment, personal income, and per-capita income.

The perspectives of business owners and community leaders from Grand Staircase-Escalante, Katahdin Woods and Waters and Bears Ears national monuments, among others, will be showcased at SHIFT on November 2, in a panel that focuses on The Designation Effect: How the economies of national monument gateway communities around the country have been impacted by the designations.

National monuments are one of the highlights at the year’s SHIFT Festival, which explores “The Business Case for Public Lands.” Over three days at the start of November, leaders from outdoor recreation, cultural relevancy, conservation and land-management communities will convene to discuss the ways investments in outdoor recreation and the conservation of public lands contribute to economic growth in America.

The opening night of this year’s SHIFT will feature Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, with keynotes by Jonah Yellowman, Eric Descheenie and Cynthia Wilson, the tribal leaders who helped create it.

Bears Ears is a rugged landscape of 1.3 million acres with more than 100,000 archaeological sites, and a sacred place where more than thirteen Tribes trace their lineage. Proposed by The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, the monument is unique in that it is co-managed by Tribes and Federal agencies, integrating stewardship and knowledge with western land management practice.

Yellowman, Descheenie and Wilson are part of Utah Diné Bikéyah, a 2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection for its role in the designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument in 2016. 

On SHIFT’s closing night, Lucas St. Clair will keynote a presentation on Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. St. Clair is the President of Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., a 2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection for its role in the creation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

During his twelve-year effort to establish Katahdin Woods and Waters, St. Clair met with locals over kitchen tables and on forest trails to gain support for the public land. The successful designation of the Monument in 2016 was largely due to his ability to strategically combine access, rural economics and outdoor recreation in his argument for its establishment.

Throughout the duration of the three-day Festival, SHIFT’s popular working sessions will provide a unique opportunity to business leaders to learn how others are successfully harnessing industry voices to advance public land issues. There will also be workshops that will equip attendees with new insights and actionable strategies on how outdoor recreation can reinvigorate local economies.

“Public lands and outdoor recreation are important to the American economy,” noted Beckwith. “According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs each year.”

“We are alarmed at the current administration’s threats to these economic drivers, as well as to the preservation and protection of our public lands,” said Beckwith. “President Trump needs to harness the power and reach of the outdoor recreation and public lands economy, not hinder it.

That’s the point of this year’s SHIFT, according to Beckwith. “The benefits of outdoor recreation and the conservation of public lands are critical to our economy,” he said. “As long as public land designations remain vulnerable, we’ll need to fight to protect our investments.”

“It is up to us—the advocates for public land—to unite around the facts. Any loss of public land is a loss to all Americans.”

For more information, tickets, travel and accommodation details, and a complete 2017 SHIFT Festival schedule, please visit

SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow) is an annual festival that explores issues at the intersection of conservation, outdoor recreation and cultural relevancy. It is a project of The Center for Jackson Hole, whose mission is to strengthen the coalition of interests devoted to our public lands. Join the SHIFT movement! Sign up for our community at, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.