Merkley, Wyden Weigh In On Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Review

Merkley, Wyden Weigh In On Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Review

“We urge you to maintain in all respects both the original designation from 2000 and the recent expansion in January 2017,” Senators write.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today weighed in on the Trump Administration’s “review” of Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument,  urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to maintain protections for this unique area as the Administration takes unprecedented steps to undermine protections for America’s national monuments.

“Since its establishment in 2000, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument has protected some of the most biodiverse public land in the United States,” the Senators wrote in their comment letter. “It is an ecological crossroads in an area of unique geology, biology, climate, and iconic American landscapes – the place where the volcanoes of the Cascade Range, plants and animals of the Basin and Range Province, and the world-renowned biodiversity of the Klamath-Siskiyou mountain block come together.”

In recent years, a growing number of scientists became concerned that the original monument boundaries left a patchwork of vital habitats and watersheds unprotected. In order to fully protect the biodiversity that makes the monument so special, they concluded that the boundary of the monument should be expanded to protect it for future generations. This led to the expansion of the monument by President Barack Obama in January 2017.

In their letter, the Senators also highlighted the robust public process that led to the recent expansion of the monument. The process included four public meetings in Southern Oregon and Northern California, and a written comment process that allowed detailed feedback to be passed along to the Interior Department and White House for consideration. This local feedback helped shape the final boundaries of the monument expansion, with changes made from the initial discussion draft to minimize impacts on existing grazing and timber operations.

During the written comment period, the Senators received a total of 5,488 comments, all of which were shared with the Department of Interior and the White House. Of those comments, 4,313 commenters supported monument expansion and 1,175 were opposed.

“We urge you to maintain in all respects both the original designation from 2000 and the recent expansion in January 2017,” the Senators wrote, adding, “We hope that you will consider the diverse public support and the public input process that led to expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument as you review national monument designations.”

The full text of the letter follows below.

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Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write in support of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and we urge you to maintain in all respects both the original designation from 2000 and the recent expansion in January 2017.

Since its establishment in 2000, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument has protected some of the most biodiverse public land in the United States. It is an ecological crossroads in an area of unique geology, biology, climate, and iconic American landscapes – the place where the volcanoes of the Cascade Range, plants and animals of the Basin and Range Province, and the world-renowned biodiversity of the Klamath-Siskiyou mountain block come together.

However, the original designation left a patchwork of vital habitat and watersheds unprotected. In order to adequately preserve the region’s ecological integrity, a growing number of scientists concluded the boundary of the national monument should be expanded to better protect the area’s ecological function as an important Pacific Northwest biological connectivity corridor and the remarkable variety of species that depend on the area’s continued ecological integrity.  

As we highlighted in our letter to you on May 8, 2017, the decision to expand the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was the result of a robust public process that included four public meetings and a subsequent public comment period to ensure all citizens and stakeholders had an opportunity to submit more detailed written recommendations.

For your reference, we have attached our previous letter outlining in detail the public process that led to the expansion of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

We hope that you will consider the diverse public support and the public input process that led to expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument as you review national monument designations. It is also important that you consult with the State of Oregon, local governments and federally recognized tribes as well as the Oregon Congressional delegation.