ashland.news
February 21, 2024

KS Wild Side: Planning for future of our national monument

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
A view of Pilot Rock, the landmark columnar rock within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Oregon State Archives photo
January 13, 2024

The BLM is taking steps to revise how it oversees the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument; there will be opportunities for citizen input

By Haleigh Martin

Located at the junction of the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountain ranges is an outstanding ecological wonderland known as the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Like other national monuments across the country, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (CSNM or Monument) is a nationally recognized treasure protected for the special public land values it offers. With meadows, streams, old-growth conifer stands, rocky outcroppings, miles of trails including the Pacific Crest Trail, and acres of roadless wildlands, the Monument is an incredibly important piece of the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion.

Part of what makes the CSNM so special is that it was the first national monument established specifically for the biodiversity it provides. Within the 114,000 protected acres, you’ll find an impressive range of biological, geological, aquatic and historic resources that support an extraordinary variety of rare and endemic plants and over 300 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that depend on the ecological integrity of the Monument to survive.

Members of the public arranged for protests in support of the Monument’s expansion during numerous attempted legal appeals.

History

The 66,000-acre CSNM was established by President Bill Clinton in 2000 by way of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which allows presidents to safeguard landmarks of historic or scientific interest by designating them as national monuments. In 2017, President Barack Obama utilized the same authority to nearly double the amount of protected land by designating an additional 48,000 acres, growing the Monument to a total of 114,000 acres. This expansion increased protections for sensitive species, including the northern spotted owl and pacific fisher.

Once established, monument lands may be withdrawn from new commercial and mineral development to protect the designated resources. In the last 23 years, the CSNM has been a topic of controversy among conservationists and the timber industry. Since its expansion in 2017, the expansion of the Monument has been taken to both state and federal courts numerous times. Despite this, the outcome has remained the same: The Monument establishment is lawful.

CSNM management gets an update

The CSNM is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and, over the last 23 years, has been under a mosaic of management plans which has created disjointed management. In October 2022, it was decided that a new Resource Management Plan would be developed to encompass all 114,000 acres of protected public land under one plan to provide management consistency with three goals at hand: determine appropriate uses for the public lands, provide a strategy to manage and protect the resources at hand, and establish systems to monitor and evaluate the health of resources and effectiveness of management practices over time.

The great gray owl is the tallest owl in North America and, locally, resides in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Creative Commons photo

After a series of public scoping meetings in 2023 to provide information on the Monument’s resources and the management plan process, the BLM received 198 letters from public noting their concerns for updating the Monument’s management plan with regard to water, climate change, logging, rangeland management, OHV use, fish, fire, logging, vegetation and wildlife. The BLM compiled a report that provides a summary of the comments received during the scoping period and lays out the issues that the BLM will explore and resolve through the planning effort.

Next steps

The BLM will publish a draft environmental impact statement this spring. This will be the next opportunity for public review and comment in the planning process. You can stay engaged with this process and be among the first to know about upcoming opportunities to provide your input on the CSNM’s new management plan by staying connected with KS Wild.

Want to learn more about the biodiversity of the Monument?

Join us for part one of our Winter Speaker Series as we host special guest speaker and well known birder, Harry Fuller, to tell the stories of the great gray owl, one of the CSNM’s most mystical creatures. This event will be held virtually and is free for all to attend. Learn more about this webinar series and sign up to get access to this experience at kswild.org/events.

KS Wild Side appears every month and features a staff member from KS Wild, a regional conservation organization based in Ashland. Haleigh Martin works as the communications manager for KS Wild and Rogue Riverkeeper. For more information, go to kswild.org.

Jim

Jim

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