The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is recommending reducing southern Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, according to the Washington Post.
The boundary shift comes after a Trump administration review of more than 20 national monuments across the West.
The Post also reports at least two others in addition to Cascade-Siskiyou have been pegged for reduction: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. Further details about the nature of the reductions were not immediately available.
The Interior Department sent notice to the White House Thursday outlining recommended changes to national monuments across the country created or altered since 1996 under the Antiquities Act.
An Interior Department statement defends President Trump’s decision to review the status of national monuments. It outlines a methodology for the review that includes gathering information about each monument, getting input from local stakeholders and looking at current policies on public access by private citizens and industry alike.
In the statement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the recommendations “provide a much needed change for the local communities who border and rely on these lands for hunting and fishing, economic development, traditional uses, and recreation.”
Zinke toured Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in July and spent most of his time with ranchers, timber interests and motorized recreation representatives – all monument opponents.
The secretary met with scientists, local advocates and environmentalists as well.
“The Antiquities Act allows presidents to protect public land. End of story. And now they’re trying to undo the story,” said Dave Willis of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council.
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was established 17 years ago and then expanded earlier this year by an outgoing President Barack Obama. It’s considered an area of remarkable biodiversity — a place where three mountain ranges meet.
The Trump administration will now have to decide how to act on the Interior Department’s recommendations.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has threatened to sue the administration if it tries to “revoke or reduce” the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
“If it is true that the administration is going de-designate part of the Cascade-Siskiyou as a national monument, let me be as clear as I can be: As I wrote to the Secretary in July, neither the President nor Secretary Zinke has the power to unilaterally revoke or reduce a monument of this nature,” she said in an email statement Thursday. “We stand ready to take appropriate legal action.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has jumped into the fray as well, saying his office is ready to “help our neighbors in defending their national monuments.”
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was established 17 years ago and then expanded earlier this year by an outgoing President Barack Obama. It’s considered an area of remarkable biodiversity — a place where three mountain ranges meet.
The American Forest Resources Council filed suit against the federal government earlier this year after outgoing President Barack Obama nearly doubled the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
Council president Travis Joseph says that federal land had already been designated for timber production by Congress, so much will depend on what’s in those undisclosed recommendations from the Interior Department.
“And then it’s up to the president to decide whether or not to follow through on the recommendation,” he said. “If that recommendation reduces the land base or pulls out certain lands, we’ll have to look at our lawsuit and figure out whether that addresses our concerns.”
A judge has put AFRC's lawsuit on hold until 30 days after the Interior Department recommendations are issued.
On another legal front, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has threatened to sue the administration if it tries to “revoke or reduce” the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.