Salem, Ore. – Following the Trump administration’s announcement that a national monument covering approximately 100,000 acres of federal land in southern Oregon and northern California is up for review, Democrat Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are pushing back.
The two Oregon politicians wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke where they point out what they call “extensive local support” and the “intensive public process” that led up to the Obama administration’s expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
On April 26, 2017, President Donald Trump ordered the Interior Department to review monuments to determine whether they meet several requirements, including whether the lands are “appropriately classified under the Act as ‘historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest.”
The order also identifies monuments that may have been created without adequate local public input.
Senators Wyden and Merkley wrote in a letter to Secretary Zinke that there was “extensive public input process that led to meaningful changes in response to concerns raised” in regards to the most recent monument expansion.
The senators outlined a process that included public meetings and a written comment period where they say they received a total of 5,488 comments, with only 1,175 of those received opposed to the Obama administration’s expansion.
In addition to the comment period, the senators said meetings were held in the communities of Ashland, Klamath Falls, Medford and Yreka.
They said the support was “evenly divided between support for and opposition to the expansion” at all meetings except the one in Ashland, where 83 citizens testified in favor and 36 in opposition.
The two senators ended their letter with the following paragraph:
“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. We also request that you consult with members of the Oregon Congressional delegation, the State of Oregon and federally recognized local tribes before making any decisions about the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.”