Well, it’s down to the wire and wasn’t sure it would come together on such short notice but finally have some times nailed down for interviews and chats with media and industry titans at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.
Tweetup for Modern Day Monkeywrencher set at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market
Salt Lake City, UT â€“ The nationâ€™s newest poster child for civil disobedience will come face to face with the industry that may be best positioned to appreciate his environmental activism when Tim DeChristopher makes the rounds at this weekâ€™s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
DeChristopherâ€™s goal in attending the show is to raise awareness and maybe a few dollars to support a campaign he singlehandedly spearheaded to save the backdrop to two of Utahâ€™s most famous national parks from oil and gas drilling operations. His efforts already have been applauded by the likes of movie star and environmentalist Robert Redford, the Yes Men, and Ken Sleight, aka Seldom Seen Smith, in Edward Abbeyâ€™s most famous work of environmental fiction, â€œThe Monkey Wrench Gang.â€ DeChristopher has appeared on Democracy Now, CBS Evening News and been written about in major newspapers throughout the US and across the oceans from Great Britain to New Zealand.
DeChristopher will meet with top management from some of the leading manufacturers of human -powered outdoor gear whoâ€™ve expressed interest in and affinity with his cause. Heâ€™ll also conduct media interviews with the likes of Backpacker magazine as well as a radio interview for Wisconsin Public Radioâ€™s syndicated â€œTo the Best of Our Knowledgeâ€ and other regional and national outdoor enthusiast publications. A â€œTweetup for Timâ€ is schedule at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Backcountry Village (Booth #35106) in the Salt Palace. The Tweetup, an offline meeting publicized largely via social media microblogging site Twitter, will be a chance for outdoor industry enthusiasts to meet Tim, donate to his cause and listen in on the Backpacker interview.
DeChristopher became the Monkey Wrench Gangâ€™s newest de facto inductee when he bid against oil and gas industry veterans during a US Bureau of Land Mangement lease auction in Moab, Utah last month. Though DeChristopher had neither the means, nor any intention of paying for them, he won leases totaling $1.7 million for 22,500 acres of Utah red rock desert near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Many of the parcels were being contested by environmental groups since they in an area that contain the nation’s greatest density of ancient rock art and other cultural resources. Over this past weekend, a federal judge approved a temporary restraining order on the auction, signaling some chance the environmental groupsâ€™ claims may prevail.
A web site raising money for DeChristopherâ€™s leases has brought in $45,000, but the BLM has not yet decided whether to accept the downpayment. Funds raised will also be used to defray legal costs, as DeChristopher is also facing possible fraud charges in federal court which, if the case goes to trial and heâ€™s convicted, could include prison time.
This yearâ€™s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market has attracted more than 800 exhibitors representing manufacturers of tents, backpacks, clothing, hardware, Nordic gear and all the accessories folks need to maximize their enjoyment and safety in the outdoors. The trade show, which is not open to the public, runs Jan. 22 â€“ 25.
View this 2 minute overview of the DeChristopher story on CBS Evening News.
Details are still in the works but I’m letting all my fellow passionate outdoor enthusiasts who will be attending the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City know that during the show, they’ll be able to meet and support Tim DeChristopher and his daring effort to stand up to the government to protect scenic landscapes around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks from oil and gas development.
I was struck by the story of Tim DeChristopher from the moment I first learned about his creative act of civil disobedience during a controversial BLM oil and gas lease auction on Dec. 19 in Utah. I started blogging and twittering to draw attention to Tim’s valor and then drive other sympathizers to his main news, info and donation collection website http://www.Bidder70.org which went live around the New Year. Along the way, I learned Tim is the son of a friend of mine here in Salida, CO.
So it was killing me to be in the air today of all days since today was the deadline for Tim and his supporters to present the BLM with a check for $45,000, basically the mandated downpayment on the $1.7 million Tim won by bid for oil and gas rights to 22,500 acres primarily around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Bids won before oil and gas industry auction veterans became suspicious of the new kid on the block whose bidding was driving the price of the parcels up. The auction was stopped. Tim was ejected and is still uncertain whether and on what grounds the feds may press charges against him. See, Tim’s an economics student at the University of Utah and, like most college kids, didn’t have the personal economic viability to actually pay for any of the bids he won.
Anyway, Â I was psyched to open up my inbox tonight to learn that the first hurdle has been cleared. According to Tim, thousands of people donated $10, $20 or whatever they could in otherwise gloomy economic times and collectively raised the necessary $45,000. But Tim’s story is far from over. Despite the specter of public relations suicide if they reject it, the feds are still mulling over whether they will accept Tim’s downpayment. And if they do, it will be no mean feat to raise the remaining $1.25 million needed to complete the lease purchase. It alsoÂ still remains to be seen if the feds will find the will and the legal means to press charges against Tim, which, if he’s convicted, carry the threat of prison time.
I’m not alone in my support of Tim.Â The list of media who have interviewed him or covered updates on the story grows daily along with appearance requests. Tim also enjoys the support of folks like these:
Actor Robert Redford, who is also owner of Sundance Resort in Utah, founder of the Sundance Film Festival held each January in Utah and a friend of the environment and Native American rights.
Ken Sleight, friend of the late, outspoken environmental author and essayist Edward AbbeyÂ and the man upon whom Seldom Seen Smith in Abbey’s “The Monkey Wrench Gang” is loosely based.
Patrick Shea, the former head of the BLM during the Clinton Administration. Shea, a prominent Utah lawyer, educator and businessman is a Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Oxford and Harvard. He’s leading Tim’s legal defense team.
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Ross “Rocky” AndersonÂ who, while in office championed – among other progressive ideas – green initiatives, a more vibrant city center and hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games as well as being an outspoken critic of the current Bush administration. Anderson is a full-time environmental activist.
Hopefully some of these folks will be able to join Tim when he comes to the Salt Palace to share his story with the outdoor industry. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and the details flowing on this blog and via Twitter and other social media outlets so stay tuned for more info and I hope you’ll join me in welcoming and supporting Tim and his cause.
For a comprehensive roundup of news and information about Tim and his courageous act, visit http://www.Bidder70.org (A reference to the number on the bidding paddle Tim was issued at the BLM auction.)
A web site has been set up to collect donations for a legal defense fund as well as to raise money to buy the parcels Tim Christopher bid on at the controversial BLM oil/gas lease sale in Utah shortly before Christmas (and Bush’s exit from office.)
There’s a great info packed website that makes it easy to hop aboard and help this worthy cause. If you’re a mountain biker, hiker, climber, backpacker, off road enthusiast, nature lover, desert lover, flora and fauna lover, national park lover, environmentalist, painter, poet, photographer, river lover, geology lover, naturist or naturalist, sucker for a stunning sunset, lover – or love the thought of – quiet and wild places, support an American’s right to peaceful (and in this case creative) civil disobedienceÂ . . . I urge you to get involved and donate whatever you can. At this writing Tim was just shy of $15,000 on his way to raising the $45,000 needed as downpayment on the lease parcels he bid and won, all of which are near Arches or Canyonlands National Parks outside Moab, UT. To keep the BLM at bay, Tim has to raise the full $45K before the Jan. 9 BLM mandated deadline. At about $2.50 per acre a mere $10 contribution “buys” 4 acres of prime real estate in Utah’s red rock canyon country, keeping it safe from being sullied by unsightly oil and gas equipment and the roads and vehicles needed to mine it.
Whether you contribute or not, if you haven’t been there yet, be sure to move southwest Utah up on your list of must-see destinations. It’llÂ help you understand better what all the hubbub is about.
Thank you Tim DeChristopher for your courageous act of civil disobedience at the recent BLM oil and gas lease auction in Utah. According to Businessweek, DeChristopher snapped up 22,500 acres of parcels between Arches and Canyonlands national parks that he doesn’t plan to develop or even pay for. He also drove up prices on other bids by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The parcels, which he secured for a mere $1.7 million were among those disputed by environmental groups trying to block their sale since the parcels are found on some of southern Utah’s most scenic wild lands. I share DeChristopher shock that one of the parcels he successfully bid on sold for $2.25 per acre. “That’s shocking — that we can sacrifice our public lands for as little as $2.25 an acre,” the University of Utah student was quoted as saying. A recent check of land prices on Moab area real estate web sites shows private folks value the land at much higher prices – anywhere from $77,000 for one-quarter acre of land on the north side of town, west side of US 191 which equates to $308,000 per acre. to an 80 acre parcel near the Moab exit on I-70 asking $420,000, a relative steal at $52,500 per acre. Meanwhile, the feds are deciding what to do with DeChristopher, environmental groups are trying to figure out what they may do in his defense or response, the courts are already involved and even actor Robert Redford has spoken out about the travesty of leasing some of these sensitive lands. I hope lobbyists from conservation groups to the outdoor industry are joining forces to help broker a sane future for these silent, scenic, precious public lands that DeChristopher was speaking out for each time he raised bid paddle #70.