Professional mountaineer and TNF athlete Conrad Anker speaks at the “This Land is Our Land” march in Salt Lake City, during the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
Thank you Salt Lake, thank you Utah for hosting our tribe for the past 22 years. As a graduate of the U, up on the hill, and being part of Utah, it is always a homecoming to attend the trade show. From afternoons spent in Ferguson Canyon, to morning runs up City Creek, this fine city offers the ideal balance between work and play.
Balance is, after all, what we seek in life. Too much work and you get grumpy. Too much play and one becomes indolent. This principle is what brought the 26th president Teddy Roosevelt to camp under a tree with guiding conservationist John Muir in 1903. While they came from different ends of the political spectrum, they realized that the natural heritage of our nation was too precious to be without guidance. This nature experience, some 114 years ago, was the beginning of the National Park Service and our understanding of the value wild nature.
Roosevelt went onto create 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, 55 national bird sanctuaries and 150 national forests. To say that TR had an impact on the American west is an understatement. Much of what we live for and stand for today is because of this man’s interpretation of generation fairness. We must leave something for future generations.
Part of TR’s legacy was the Antiquities Act of 1906. This law gives the president authority to designate monuments for cultural, natural and scientific features. 16 presidents have used this to create 157 monuments. From Devils Tower, the first National Monument, to the Statue of Liberty, we have made sure this part of our collective heritage, both natural and cultural is protected.
With President Trump’s directive to review the 26 most recent monuments, we have a direct assault on the lands we all own. Watching over this is Secretary Zinke of Montana. Secretary Zinke, you state you are a fan of Teddy Roosevelt and public lands. If this is the case please use your time at the Department of the Interior to leave our wild and cultural monuments as they are. You are a man of honor. Your background as a SEAL and the time in the backcountry has steeped you in this. You give a person your word, whether it’s a belay or dedication to public land, and you stick to it. Your promise to MT voters, and I’m one of them, was built on public lands. By honoring your word to MT voters, which brought you to Inferior, you will be honoring Teddy Roosevelt.
I have no idea what Roosevelt would make of the current situation. Yet a part of my imagination has him encouraging you, Secretary Zinke to spend a few nights in the wild of the Bears Ears here in Southern Utah with tribal elders and understand why this monument is significant. It’s bipartisanship, and it is what makes our democracy work.
Roosevelt embodied the ethos of being outdoors and doing more with less with his quote:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Please Honor Roosevelt.
Author: Conrad Anker