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Oregonians to Zinke at Cascade-Siskiyou: Keep Monument 'As Is'

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is recognized globally for its biological diversity. (Bureau of Land Management/Flickr)
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is recognized globally for its biological diversity. (Bureau of Land Management/Flickr)
July 17, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Over the weekend, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, one of about two dozen national monuments whose status and borders his agency are reviewing.

Zinke met with stakeholders in the region, including state Rep. Pam Marsh of Ashland.

Marsh, a Democrat, says she wants Zinke to keep three things in mind when considering the monument's status.

First, it's the only national monument designated to protect an area's rich biological diversity. Second, she says, it has a lot of local support. And last is the economic piece.

"We really see this as being a part of our economic future here in southern Oregon,” Marsh explains. “We are a region that's been dependent on resource extraction in the past. For many reasons, timber's gone away, and we're building a new, strong economy that's based in large part on tourism."

In a letter to Zinke last week, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum threatened to sue the Trump administration if it attempts to shrink the monument's size or revoke its status.

President Barack Obama expanded Cascade-Siskiyou by nearly 50,000 acres before leaving office.

The Interior Department decision is expected in late August.

Cascade-Siskiyou's monument status gives it higher priority for management and protection from resource extraction.

Jack Williams, a senior scientist with Trout Unlimited, says that's especially important for a region recognized around the world for its unique variety of animals and plants.

"It's kind of a biological crossroads between a number of different eco-regional units, such as the Cascades and the Siskiyous, and the Great Basin areas," he states.

Marsh adds this monument shouldn't be seen as a litmus test for timber policy in Oregon, saying that's a policy to be debated on the thousands of acres that exist outside the monument.

"This monument is really about the unique features that it presents to the landscape, and the importance here of really maintaining the extraordinary biological diversity that's on the ground," she stresses.

italics Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR