Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (Oregon).
Credit: BLM, flickr.
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 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.
But thanks to the effects of climate change, development and other stresses, 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 can help alleviate these stressors. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have proposed that the monument be expanded by about 50,000 acres, including tracts to the northeast, northwest and immediately south of the monument, dipping slightly below the state line into California.
The proposed expansion would 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 corridors so that wildlife can migrate to find the right food and other resources to survive in an era of climate change.
"The proposed expansion to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument makes a tremendous amount of sense when considering the protection of water as well as wildlife and rare plants," said Matt Keller, national monuments campaign director for The Wilderness Society. "Given that this monument is intended to protect the area's rich biodiversity and clean water, following scientist recommended boundaries that more closely follow watershed boundaries is the way to go."
In October, Sen. Merkley held a public meeting with Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor to gauge support for the monument expansion, and now he is calling on Oregonians to submit comments about how they want the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument area protected. This is your chance to help broaden conservation efforts 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.
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.
It's time to expand protections for Cascade-Siskiyou
Expanding the monument to protect the Cascade-Siskiyou region more completely would help wildlife thrive and preserve outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. We encourage President Obama to use the Antiquities Act to protect this national treasure for future generations.