Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrapped up his weekend tour of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon on Sunday. Among others, he met with a pro-monument group of conservationists, landowners and local elected officials, and with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
Zinke’s visit is part of a review ordered by President Trump, to evaluate 27 national monuments declared or expanded by previous presidents since 1996. Zinke hiked trails and met with a range of stakeholder groups, including ranchers, timber interests and snowmobilers.
Brown spoke to reporters after her meeting with Zinke on Sunday. "I urged him and the federal administration to not backtrack on the monument and to not turn their backs on progress that we have already made," Brown said.
Dave Willis heads the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council. He was among the group of monument supporters — including Ashland Mayor John Stromberg and local Oregon Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, — who met with Zinke on Sunday. Zinke gave the group a respectful hearing, Willis says, but "I think the major drawback is that the secretary spent most of his time this weekend with monument opponents."
Willis especially feels the scientists in the group — who were on the research panel that recommended expanding the monument — didn’t have time to make their case. Based on that research, President Barack Obama nearly doubled the size of the monument just before leaving office in January.
Zinke will deliver his recommendations to President Trump by Aug. 24 on how – or whether – to modify Cascade-Siskiyou and the other national monuments. He’s already announced he’s suggesting no changes for the Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington and the Craters of the Moon Monument in Idaho.