Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Expanded

Looking towards Mt. Shasta from Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument  Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

Looking towards Mt. Shasta from Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

After four local public hearings and thousands of letters to elected officials, support for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument has been heard! On Thursday, January 12, 2016, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to expand the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon.

As President Obama wrote in the monument proclamation, “Expanding the monument... will create a Cascade-Siskiyou landscape that provides vital habitat connectivity, watershed protection, and landscape-scale resilience for the area’s critically important natural resources.”

President Obama’s action grants a layer of protection to the spectacular public lands near the Oregon California border. Recognized as one of the most significant biological crossroads in North America, protection of the Cascade-Siskiyou helps ensure a future for plants, animals, and local communities far beyond the monument boundaries.

In 2000, President Clinton created the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the only U.S. national monument designated for protection of biological diversity. It is a place where ecosystems collide, and is home to species found in the Great Basin, Sierra Nevada, Siskiyous, and Cascades Mountains. Expansion of the boundaries creates more complete protection of watersheds and wildlife corridors, and buffers against effects of climate change.

The most distinguished landmark in the monument is Pilot Rock, but the expansion adds areas to the south, including Horseshoe Ranch and lower Jenny Creek in California. To the west are the Rogue Valley foothills, rolling slopes of rare and threatened oak savanna habitat draped across the Cascade Mountain Range.

To the north, the expansion includes impressive stands of old growth fir forest at Little Hyatt Lake, Moon Prairie, and Hoxie Creek along with upper Jenny Creek and the highly visited Grizzly Peak. To the east is Surveyor Mountain and the stunning Tunnel Creek wetlands. Together, the expansion represents 48,000 acres of our public land, which is a tiny fraction of 1% of the over 60,000,000 acres of both private and public land that make up the State of Oregon. It has been called a biodiversity bargain.

The proclamation came after hearings where the Department of Interior, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), as well as local elected officials received testimony. While county officials opposed the expansion, the public input into Senator Merkley’s office was 3 to 1 in favor. The mayors of Ashland and Talent, the two closest towns to the monument offered their support, along with Chambers of Commerce, state representatives, the Governor of Oregon, and many others. Support for expansion also came from dozens of people that live adjacent to the monument.

As this newsletter goes to print, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument’s future hangs in the balance. A congress that is hostile to the environment and an unpredictable president are likely to put special places like this one on the chopping block. We need everyone that cares about this monument to speak out on behalf of protecting what we love: clean water, ancient forests, and public land access for all citizens.

While we all work to protect the planet from human-induced climate change, the ex- panded monument prepares future generations for the coming climate changes. Scientists suggested a much bigger expansion to help plants and animals move across the landscape to withstand the coming changes. While the politically pared down expansion is not what was scientifically recommended, it is a huge step in the right direction. Thank you to our elected leaders.

Who we work with – The Soda Mountain Wilderness Council has tirelessly advocated for this victory and is the key organization working for conservation of the Cascade-Siskiyou. KS Wild also worked with the Rogue Valley Audubon Society, The Wilderness Society, The Conservation Lands Foundation, and the Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. 

We are defending the monument! As we go to print, the timber industry has sued in court to strip protections of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Extractive industries are going after our public lands, but KS Wild and partners have intervened on behalf of protecting the Cascade-Siskiyou.