WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in response to an unprecedented Executive Order mandating a “review” of national monuments designated since 1996, Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Governor Kate Brown, and a diverse group of local stakeholders including tribes, sportsmen and businesses highlighted the benefits of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and urged the Trump Administration to protect the full monument for future generations.
Following a local, scientist-led campaign to expand the monument and an extensive public process, President Barack Obama expanded the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in January. The initial monument was designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000. The Trump Administration has indicated that the president may attempt to shrink or undo national monuments — an act that would be unprecedented in American history, and that has unclear legal authority under the Antiquities Act.
“National monuments are American treasures that belong to the people. Only Congress has the power to undo a monument, and the president should back off of this legally dubious attack on our American tradition of public lands that are open to all,” said Merkley. “While the president may try to claim that national monuments and economic growth are in conflict, the reality is the opposite. In Oregon, we’ve seen that national monuments like Cascade-Siskiyou have helped boost local economies while giving the flexibility for many traditional land uses, like grazing, to continue. The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument provides critical protection to an amazing ecosystem found nowhere else in the world, and will serve Oregonians well for decades to come.”
“This short-sighted executive order flies in the face of a century-old bipartisan tradition that’s ensured generations of Americans can enjoy natural treasures like the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument,” Wyden said. “I was proud to work with Senator Merkley to expand the original monument to protect these wild lands Oregonians cherish. I will fight the administration’s misguided effort that threatens hard-won gains to preserve Oregon’s special places and the remarkable recreation opportunities and jobs they support.”
“The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument represents some of the most iconic public lands in Oregon,” said Governor Brown. “We’ve worked hard for decades in Oregon to preserve the natural wonders and diverse habitats of our public lands, and ensure they remain in public hands. These lands support countless businesses and communities across the state, as well as a thriving outdoor industry that contributes to the Oregon economy. As Oregonians, we will continue fighting to protect our public lands for the benefit of future generations.”
Extensive public input was considered in the 2017 expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. In October, Merkley hosted a public meeting in Southern Oregon with the Deputy Secretary of the Interior for the Obama Administration to gather local input. Hundreds of Oregonians, including local elected leaders and representatives of local tribes, attended the meeting, and more than 100 individuals testified. Jackson and Klamath counties held additional meetings to gather public input, and provided that input to President Obama. Senator Merkley’s office also collected written input from thousands of Oregonians for more than a month following the public meeting, and submitted those written comments to the president. During the written comment process, Senator Merkley’s office received 4,313 comments supporting the expanded monument and 1,175 comments in opposition. This extensive local input helped inform President Obama’s decision, and the boundaries of the monument expansion were tailored to address specific local concerns.
“By expanding the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, we not only help to mitigate the effects of climate change, but also benefit our recreation and tourism industry which serves as a substantial part of our economy,” said Talent Mayor Darby Stricker.
“The Ashland City Council passed a resolution in support of expanding the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument to underscore the broad local support for our local public lands and to enhance the Monument’s economic contribution to our community,” said Ashland Mayor John Stromberg. “Preserving Southern Oregon’s biodiverse natural beauty for future generations is a critical contribution of the Monument expansion. Ashland’s local business leaders, elected officials and the majority of our local citizens value and treasure our expanded National Monument.”
“The Klamath Tribes continue to support the original designation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the recent expansion,” said Don Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribal Council. “Our people have significant historic and current ties to this area. The Monument provides vital protections for diverse ecological values of this unique and important area as well protections for our traditional, religious, and cultural uses.”
“The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a biological treasure, including a unique form of redband trout found only in Jenny Creek. Recent expansion of the Monument was critical to protect Jenny Creek and its watershed. This expansion will pay dividends for Oregon and American sport fishermen for countless years to come,” said Dr. Jack Williams, Senior Scientist for Trout Unlimited.
“Without the Antiquities Act and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument that was created seventeen years ago under the authority of this act, I would not have a thriving business. My kids would have less bright futures. My community would be less vibrant,” said Diarmuid MaGuire, owner of the Green Springs Inn. “I own a destination establishment, including a restaurant and lodging, on the Green Springs in the Southern Cascades not far from Ashland, Oregon. Since the establishment of the Monument, I have built nine vacation rental cabins on 150 acres of former Boise timberland. Together with the unique, protected ecosystems that surround us, the cabins attract visitors from the I-5 corridor, from San Diego through Victoria, BC, as well as Europe and Asia. My business grows every year. The expanded Monument is a resource of immeasurable value to me, my rural neighbors and the many guests whom we welcome each year.”
Many of America’s most beloved national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Olympic National Parks, began as national monuments established under the Antiquities Act. In the bipartisan, 111-year history of the Antiquities Act, the creation or expansion of a national monument has never been undone through executive action.