Wednesday, March 27, 2024

National monument on California-Oregon border will remain intact after surviving legal challenge


ASHLAND, Oregon (AP) — The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, a remote expanse of wilderness along the California-Oregon border, will not lose any of its acreage after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up two challenges to its expansion.

Logging interests and several counties in Oregon had asked the high court to strike down a 2017 addition to the monument. Their lawsuit claimed President Barack Obama improperly made the designation because Congress had previously set aside the land for timber harvests, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. By gaining monument status, the area won special protections, including a prohibition on logging.

The challenges to the expansion raised the additional, and broader, question of whether the president’s authority to create national monuments unilaterally under the Antiquities Act should be restricted, the Chronicle said. Critics of the 1906 law, who have commonly opposed bids for new designations, have argued it gives too much power to the executive branch. The Supreme Court decided not to address the issue.

“The monument and its expansion, it’s now the law of the land,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney for Earthjustice, which represented groups supporting the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. 

 ...At stake for logging companies with the monument designation was millions of board feet of timber that could be harvested there. The counties on O&C Lands stood to lose a cut of the revenue from timber sales.

“We’re disappointed the Supreme Court did not take this historic opportunity to provide balance to growing executive overreach on federal lands through the Antiquities Act, and legal clarity for our forests, communities and the people who steward them,” said Travis Joseph, president of the American Forest Resource Council, in a statement.  LINK

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