National Monument at risk for Reduction

By Jon Reinhart Staff Writer

The view from Hobart’s Bluff: part of the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and up to nine other national monuments may soon be reduced in size. This information comes via a leaked memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to President Trump.

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expanded this past January by 48,00 acres as one of President Obama’s last acts in office. In April, President Trump called for the borders of any national monument over 100,000 acres to be under review. This included the Cascade-Siskiyou National monument with a total size of 112,000 acres.

Butterfly found on Hobart’s Bluff

The Trump Administration assigned Secretary Zinke to evaluate the borders of up to 26 land and ocean monuments with the oldest being from 1996. His evaluation concluded that up to 10 national monuments were needed to shrink in size in order to allow for “traditional” land uses to be pursued. These land uses include logging, mining, hunting, fishing, and grazing. The proposal to reduce the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument highlighted the increase of timber production in the area. 

“It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects,” said Zinke in the memo. “Arbitrary or likely politically motivated or boundaries could not be supported by science or reasons of resource management.” The memo also stated that the Antiquities Act has been used, “18 times by [past] presidents to reduce the size of 16 monuments”.

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was created because the land provided unique habitats for biodiversity. The monument is home to 200 species of birds, the small population of the Oregon Spotted Frog which recently moved from the endangered species list to the threatened species list, and an unspecified amount of flora and fauna—some still undiscovered.

Southern Oregon University biology professor Dr. Michael Parker said, “The monument was proclaimed because it’s a place where there’s exceptional biodiversity— the coming together of different bioregions, different physiographic regions, different climatic conditions, different aspect and slope, and geographic and geologic diversity.” He continued, “This allows species to co-occur that don’t ordinarily co-occur. The idea that there is a place in the world that has 135 species of butterflies is just magical!”

Wild flowers in bloom on Hobart’s Bluff overlooking the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument

The now 17 year old Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was originally erupted in the summer of 2000 by President Bill Clinton. The creation of the monument came as a proclamation under the Antiquities Act.  

Before the the recent expansion of the monument, there was discussion between landowners and scientists in the Southern Oregon area. The public meeting regarding the expansion was held in October of last year on the Southern Oregon University campus. Senator Jeff Merkley moderated a discussion based forum where the public could voice their opinions on a possible expansion.

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