Friday, January 13, 2017

Ranchers dread effects of Obama's Cascade-Siskiyou monument expansion

by Mateusz Perkowski

Cattle groups reacted with dread at the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon and California, which they fear will gradually eradicate ranching in the area. The Obama administration announced Jan. 12 the monument will be increased by about 49,000 acres, up about 80 percent from its current size of 62,000 acres. While the federal government touted the decision as improving “vital habitat connectivity, watershed protection, and landscape-scale resilience for the area’s unique biological values,” cattle groups fear it marks the beginning of the end of ranching in the expanded monument. “They start out OK, but pretty soon the restrictions start coming in,” said Bob Skinner, an Oregon rancher and vice president of the Public Lands Council, which represents grazing interests. Ranchers with grazing allotments aren’t allowed to properly maintain fences, water structures and other range improvements, diminishing the land’s suitability for grazing, Skinner said. That dynamic has already been seen on the original portion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which many ranchers have left since its designation in 2000, he said. “You can’t bother anything, you have to leave it in a natural state,” Skinner said. As private ranch properties are sold or passed down to new generations, the federal government does not have to honor grazing agreements on adjacent public land, said Jerome Rosa, executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association...more

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