Gov. Ted Kulongoski is
urging the federal government to stop trying to
maintain cattle grazing on the Cascade-Siskiyou
National Monument, when it was created to protect
A letter from the governor's office to the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management criticizes the latest
version of the management plan the agency is
drawing up, arguing that it is trying to get
around the language that established the monument
and that calls for eliminating livestock grazing
if it is shown to harm the native plants and
Proclamation makes it very clear that protection
of biological diversity is the primary purpose for
creating the Monument," Mike Carrier, natural
resources policy director for Kulongoski, wrote in
the April 13 letter to Elaine Marquis-Brong, state
director of BLM in Oregon.
"Any secondary use, including pre-existing uses,
must show compatibility with the primary purpose.
In the matter of grazing, the BLM will have
difficulty meeting this stated purpose even with
its planned approach."
The letter urged BLM to hold off making any
decisions until it completes a study of grazing
impacts on rare plants and the wildlife that the
monument was created to protect before moving
forward on the plan. The plan is expected to gain
final approval sometime this fall.
"We'll take the comments seriously," said Jerry
Magee, environmental protection specialist for
BLM's state office in Portland.
The governor's office also questioned the sense of
continuing with a grazing study that has cost $1
million to date, when there is strong support
among ranchers in the area and local and statewide
stockmen's groups for a federal buyout to end
"It is my opinion that the BLM plan isn't really
consistent with the spirit of the proclamation,"
said Lance Clark, a natural resources policy
adviser to the governor. "Just from a lay reading
of the proclamation it sounds like it is very much
an either-or —find out if the grazing is
compatible with protecting the biological
diversity of the monument, and if it is not, end
Howard Hunter, assistant manager of the monument
for BLM, said the agency was "doing what we think
is appropriate" from their reading of the
proclamation creating the monument. That includes
following "existing laws and regulations," to
perform a full environmental impact statement to
examine all sides of the issues.
"The proclamation said to do a study," said
Hunter. "We determined the proclamation meant not
just looking at the existing literature, but a
site-specific study. So we designed a study." And
as the study progressed, interested parties kept
asking for it to address more issues, he said.
The monument was created in 2000 by President
Clinton from 53,000 acres of BLM lands in
southwestern Oregon near Ashland to protect the
broad mix of plants and animals where the Cascade
Range intersects with the Siskiyou Mountains.
While cattle grazing was allowed to continue, BLM
was instructed to conduct a study to see whether
grazing was harming the biological resources the
monument was created to protect.
The dozen ranchers who graze on the monument pay a
total of less than $5,000 a month to graze as many
as 2,714 cows with their calves.
Seeing that grazing has no future on the
monument, all but one of the ranchers has voiced
support for a federal buyout, said Andy Kerr, an
environmental consultant involved in negotiations.
No agreement has been reached yet in talks on how
much ranchers would want to be paid to quit
grazing on the monument and neighboring lands.
Once an agreement is reached, legislation would be
sought in Congress.
The letter also suggested that BLM was treating
the monument like any other lands where grazing
takes place, rather than a place where the primary
purpose is the protection of native species.