Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Environmental groups to defend monument expansion

Environmental groups have filed petitions to allow them to defend last month’s expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in federal court, saying they can’t rely on the federal agencies nor the Trump administration to defend their interests in keeping the expansion intact. The motions request to allow the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and other groups to intervene and legally argue against two lawsuits seeking to scuttle the 47,624-acre expansion of the monument signed by President Barack Obama in his last week in office. The suits challenge Obama’s use of the federal Antiquities Act to expand the monument into about 40,000 acres of federal O&C Act lands originally set aside by Congress for sustained timber production as managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It includes a 1940 internal government review that concluded the Antiquities Act cannot be used to take O&C lands out of timber production. The environmental groups’ motions say their long history of advocating for monument lands may not be adequately protected in court because of the federal government’s “frequent reluctance” to protect O&C lands, “particularly following changes in political administration.” “We’re just eager to see the monument expansion hold firm,” said Dave Willis, executive director of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council. “It was smaller than scientists recommended. To lose all or any of it would be unfortunate for the plants and animals that depend upon it, as well as present and future generations.”...more

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