The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, located in southwestern Oregon, protects approximately 66,000 acres of forest and grasslands at the junction of the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mountains. The CSNM includes almost 25,000 acres designated as the Soda Mountain Wilderness.
Recent News – September 2017
On Sept. 17, the Washington Post published a leaked copy of the text of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s “Final Report Summarizing Findings of the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act.” This was provided to the White House on August 24, but has never been released to the public. The report was shockingly sloppy and filled with factual errors; for example, stating that “Motorized transportation was prohibited in the original CSNM designation,” which would come as a surprise to anyone driving on Soda Mountain Road, Little Hyatt Road, or, for that matter, the Green- springs Highway. Regarding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the report recommended:
“The Proclamation should be amended, through the use of appropriate authority, including the lawful exercise of the President’s discretion granted by the Act, to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, repair, and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights.
The boundary should be revised through the use of appropriate authority, including lawful exercise of the President’s discretion granted by the Act, in order to reduce impacts on private lands and remove O&C Lands to allow sustained-yield timber production under BLM’s governing Resource Management Plans until revised regional management plan achieves susainable timber yield;
The management plan should be revised to continue to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, repair, and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights.
The DOI should work with Congress to secure funding for adequate infrastructure and management needs to protect objects effectively.”
There were no details as to what the monument boundary reductions or management plan revisions would be. But there is no doubt that they would drastically harm the unique biodiversity that the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was established to protect.
Here is the American Bird Conservancy’s statement on the issue, with input from RVAS: Plan to Shrink National Monument Threatens Habitat for Spotted Owl
The Interior Department review of National Monument designations has led to a recommendation that would reduce protection of endangered species’ habitat. One of the targeted monuments is
the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon and California, the only monument created specifically to conserve biodiversity, including habitat for the federally listed Northern Spotted Owl. The monument also provides important habitat connectivity for the species by protecting a mountain ridge that connects populations in the Coast and Cascade ranges.
“The Northern Spotted Owl is one of the big losers in this decision,” said Steve Holmer, Vice Presi- dent of Policy for American Bird Conservancy. “Reducing protection of the owl’s habitat in Oregon and California is a sure way to reduce the population of this threatened species.”
The charismatic Great Gray Owl and many other species could also lose important habitat if the size of the monument is reduced. “The monument area, especially the expansion areas around Howard Prairie Lake and Grizzly Peak, is famous among West Coast birders as perhaps the easiest place to see this species,” said Pepper Trail, Conservation Chair of the Rogue Valley Audubon Society and a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society. “Mountain meadow habitats around Hyatt and Howard Prairie Lakes used by Great Grey Owls for hunting are also important nesting areas for Sandhill Cranes and the sharply declining Oregon Vesper Sparrow.”
Trail noted that the monument expansion to the east, along a ridge known as Surveyor Mountain, is important habitat for higher-elevation birds that may be threatened by climate change in the region, including Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch, and Gray Jay. The lower-elevation expansion areas to the west and south protect oak savannah and chaparral birds. Oak savannah is critically declining in the region. The expansion areas are home to the slender-billed subspecies of White-breasted Nut- hatch, healthy nesting populations of Western Meadowlark and Savannah Sparrow, and important wintering habitat for Lewis’s Woodpeckers, among other species.
“The expanded monument not only provides vitally important additional nesting and wintering habitat for a variety of vulnerable bird species, but greatly strengthens the monument’s ecological connections in all four directions,” Trail said. “Such strong connections are essential to allow birds and all other organisms to respond successfully to climate change, and the monument was established precisely because of its critical location at the crossroads of multiple ecoregions. To reduce the monument would harm the ecological value it was established to protect.”
In addition to putting birds and other wildlife at risk, eliminating protected areas on National Monuments and other public lands threatens to undermine a sustainable economic engine. According to Headwaters Economics, the community of Jackson County, Ore. — which borders the Cascade- Siskiyou National Monument — has experienced strong economic growth since the monument’s designation. Jobs grew by 14 percent, real personal income grew by 30 percent, and the population grew by 16 percent.
“This review threatens to diminish one of our country’s greatest treasures: our natural heritage,” said ABC’s Holmer. “These special places belong to all of us and should be preserved for future generations of Americans. We urge the President to stand behind the American people and reject these harmful recommendations.”
Jan. 12, 2017
President Obama proclaims expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument On Jan. 12, President Obama exercised his authority under the Antiquities Act to expand the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by almost 48,000 acres of public land. This expansion, based on the recommendations of scientists including Conservation Co- Chair Pepper Trail, incorporates Grizzly Peak, areas north and west of Hyatt Lake and east of Howard Prairie, and the BLM land managed as part of California’s Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area north of Irongate Reservoir.
Further information, and a link to a map of the expanded Monument can be found here.
Please contact the Medford offices of Senator Merkley at 541-608-9102 and Senator Wyden at 541-858-5122 to thank them for their support, which was critical to this successful effort, long a conservation priority of the Rogue Valley Audubon Society.