Obama's expansion of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument protects biodiversity

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was the first monument whose protection was motivated specifically by the need to preserve biodiversity. 

Credit: Bob Wick (BLM), flickr.

Using the Antiquities Act, President Obama expands Oregon monument to help preserve a complex array of lands, waters and wildlife.

After years of advocacy  from scientists, Wilderness Society members and others, President Obama is expanding Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to protect plants and animal habitat and a crucial watershed of the Pacific Northwest. The announcement was made the same day as the expansion of California Coastal National Monument.

“These national monument expansions are an investment in our environment and an acknowledgement that healthy communities need access to nature and outdoor activity. Our shared lands and waters sustain the remarkable quality of life and economy of the West," said Dan Smuts, senior director for the Pacific region office of The Wilderness Society.

President Obama expanded the monument using the Antiquities Act, a law signed in 1906 that allows presidents to permanently protect cultural and natural sites from manmade damages. The same day, he announced expansion of the California Coastal National Monument, putting a fitting stamp on an administration that has protected more American lands and waters than any other.  

Cascade-Siskiyou is "an ecological wonder." 

At the nexus of the Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountain ranges in southern Oregon lies a stretch of wildlands that President Bill Clinton once called "an ecological wonder." Indeed, the existing Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, designated by the latter using the Antiquities Act, was the first monument whose protection was motivated specifically by the need to preserve biodiversity. Within its boundaries lie several distinct types of terrain, ranging from grassland to mixed conifer and white fir forests, harboring elk, black bears and a dizzying array of birds.   

Credit: BLM, flickr.

But thanks to the effects of climate change, plants and animals that call these ranges home will have a harder time finding the resources they need to survive. Connecting and expanding protection for this area should help alleviate this. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden previously proposed that the monument be expanded with tracts to the northeast, northwest and immediately south of the monument, dipping slightly below the state line into California. President Obama's proclamation makes good on that goal. 

Speak up: Make sure our leaders preserve the Antiquities Act

The expansion will encompass the entire Cascade-Siskiyou region, help fill in a patchwork of various federal jurisdictions and bridge the gap between Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service land, preserving connected natural corridors so that wildlife can migrate to find the right food and other resources to survive in an era of climate change.   

Previously proposed expanded boundaries of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.  

In October 2016, Sen. Merkley held a public meeting with Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor to hear from community members about the proposed national monument expansion.  Afterword Sen. Merkley  called on Oregonians to submit comments about how they wanted the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument area protected. Wilderness Society supporters' input helped to broaden conservation measures for one of the most remarkable places in the U.S.  

Cascade-Siskiyou preserves a small but complex landscape  

More than one-third of the existing Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is protected as federal wilderness, a stretch where Oregon's eastern desert joins with fir woodland, wildflower-sprayed meadows and rocky canyons. Wildlife in the area includes elk, bobcats, river otters and about 200 different bird species. It's no wonder this was seen as an ideal place to designate a national monument in the year 2000.  

Credit: Bob Wick (BLM).

Of course, there are plenty of fantastic outdoor experiences, too. Highlights include Pilot Rock, the basalt stub of an ancient volcano that is popular among technical rock-climbers; 19 miles of the hallowed Pacific Crest Trail ready for hikers of all experience levels; hunting and angling; and, in the winter, cross-country skiing and other seasonal sports.   

Expanding the monument to protect the Cascade-Siskiyou region more completely will help wildlife thrive and preserve outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. We salute President Obama for using the Antiquities Act to protect this national treasure for future generations, and ask that you help us protect the law so it can save the next wild wonder too.