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Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument litigation could resume

In this July 16, 2017 photo, protesters show their support for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument at the Medford Bureau of Land Management office in Medford, Ore. (Jamie Lusch / Associated Press)
In this July 16, 2017 photo, protesters show their support for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument at the Medford Bureau of Land Management office in Medford, Ore. (Jamie Lusch / Associated Press)
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregonians are waiting to find out what the Trump administration will do with the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument after news that two national monuments in Utah will be scaled back.

Oregon’s national monument is on the same Trump administration short list for boundary modifications as the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, but what modifications are planned for it are still unclear. The list also includes Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada.

The Obama administration nearly doubled the size of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to protect biological diversity, expanding it from 66,000 acres to 113,000 acres. The lands in southwest Oregon have long been at the center of a political struggle among loggers, off-road enthusiasts and environmentalists.

The expansion was immediately challenged by groups who argued it was illegal because the new boundaries included lands devoted to logging under federal statute.

Eighteen Oregon counties whose boundaries encompass these lands receive a share of those logging receipts and have fought to secure the money as timber dwindles.

Those lawsuits are now on hold until Jan. 15 as the plaintiffs – the Association of O&C Counties and the American Forest Resource Council – wait to see what the Trump administration will do.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke toured Cascade-Siskiyou this summer as part of a far-reaching review of recently designated monuments across the country.

Dave Willis with the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council told Oregon Public Broadcasting on Tuesday that his organization is prepared to take legal action to protect Cascade-Siskiyou “if and when” the White House acts. Environmental groups have already filed a lawsuit challenging the monument reductions in Utah.

Trump characterized the changes to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as “restoring the rights of this land” to citizens. Past presidents have abused powers granted under the Antiquities Act to establish national monuments that are much larger than necessary, Trump said.

Grand Staircase-Escalante and Cascade-Siskiyou national monuments were both established by President Bill Clinton. Gold Butte and Bears Ears were designated by Obama.

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