Monday, December 05, 2016

National monument fight comes to Cascade-Siskiyou in southern Oregon

Southern Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou is an unlikely place to fight over a national monument. It is, after all, already a national monument. But since ecologists recommended a massive 65,000-acre expansion - in effect doubling the size of the federal monument - Cascade-Siskiyou has quietly become an important battleground in the nationwide debate over federal lands. Environmentalists and scientists say further protection is necessary to protect a vulnerable ecosystem from development and climate change. Local ranchers and loggers contend that the land is rich with natural resources necessary to keep their local economies afloat. Both sides vehemently disagree with how the land should be managed. Sound familiar? It should. The battle is more than a century old in the Pacific Northwest, even older than the 1906 Antiquities Act that gave sitting presidents the power to declare national monuments in the first place. President Barack Obama has already declared more monuments than any other president, and as his final term in office winds down, many anxiously await any further designations. There are dozens of potential monument sites across the country, but all indicators give the Cascade-Siskiyou expansion a better shot than most: It has support from both Oregon senators, attention from the U.S. Department of the Interior and is far less of a political grenade than, say, Bears Ears or the Owyhee Canyonlands, which have drawn intense scrutiny nationwide. It would be a huge win for environmentalists in the Pacific Northwest, but the ranchers and loggers - whose livelihoods stand to be most affected - don't see it that way...more

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