ASHLAND, OR – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley hosted a public meeting at Southern Oregon University to gather input from the public on the potential expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. At Senator Merkley’s request, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor attended the meeting to hear from local residents as the U.S. Department of the Interior considers its final recommendations to President Obama regarding creation and expansion of national monuments during his term.
Local elected leaders and representatives of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and regional tribes spoke about the expanded monument proposal, as well as more than 100 members of the public over a three and a half hour period.
“As President Obama considers whether to expand the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument, it is essential that his team hears directly from community members. I am pleased that so many citizens came today and presented a wide set of perspectives on the pros and cons of expanding the monument. Their testimony will help the administration both decide whether to expand the monument and how to shape the monument to address local feedback.”
“The Cascade-Siskiyou area, where three mountain ranges converge creating a unique and spectacular landscape seen nowhere else in the world, merits the attention that the community gave it today,” Merkley continued. “I hope the Administration uses this input to develop a plan worthy of this special place.”
“Thanks to Senator Merkley for his leadership in convening today’s meeting, and to Deputy Secretary Connor for coming to our community to hear from us directly,” said Ashland Mayor John Stromberg. “Gathering public input and working together is key to making the goal of preserving Southern Oregon’s biodiverse natural beauty for future generations a reality. I applaud Senator Merkley for making sure that local voices were heard in this big decision and look forward to continuing to work with him to provide a much-deserved boost to our economy.”
“Having the chance to weigh in directly with the federal officials who help manage our lands is huge for our work to ensure that we can continue protecting our environment in a way that works for Southern Oregon,” said Talent Mayor Darby Stricker. “By expanding this National Monument, we can not only help mitigate the effects of climate change, but also benefit our local tourism and recreation industry that serves as an integral part of our economy. I hope the Interior Department will take our community’s feedback to heart and work in the coming months to deliver these benefits to Southern Oregon.”
At Friday’s meeting, members of the community learned more about the potential expansion of the monument and were able to voice their opinions.