Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., wants the public’s views on expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
A 2000 presidential proclamation formed the existing approximately 62,000-acre monument in Southern Oregon, southeast of Ashland. It covers Bureau of Land Management land where the Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountain ranges converge. Oregon Sens. Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Democrats, have asked the U.S. Department of Interior to expand the monument’s borders.
Most of the approximately 50,000-acre expansion would involve BLM lands, according to a letter early this month from Merkley and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to the U.S. Department of the Interior. About 5,000 acres of BLM land in California could also be included.
The letter noted that the monument has protected biologically diverse public land, with unique geology, biology, climate and American landscapes. The monument also benefits nearby towns and the local economy by boosting recreation and tourism, the letter said.
But more pressure on nearby public lands and increasing effects of climate change have made the monument’s original boundaries inadequate to protect native species and habitats, the letter said. A monument designation protects historic landmarks, natural features or areas of historic or scientific interest.
The individual sites get their own management plan and conditions, but generally, a monument designation on BLM land can block activities like new mining work or new roads, power lines or pipelines.
A public meeting took place this month in Ashland on the topic and another will take place Thursday with the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in Medford. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has opposed the proposed expansion, raising concerns that the move would limit grazing and harm the local region.
Merkley seeks comments on the proposal by Nov. 20, to share with the president. To comment, visit www.merkley.senate.gov/contact or send comments to Merkley at 10 South Bartlett St., suite 201, Medford, OR 97501.