Monumental end to grazing near Soda Mountain
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Created by presidential proclamation in June 2000,
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument is described as "an
ecological wonder with biological diversity unmatched
in the Cascade Range." Boundaries enclose over 92,000
acres, over 40,000 of those acres in private
ownership, and 52,000 acres of federal land under U.S.
Bureau of Land Management supervision.
Anchored on the south by the California-Oregon border,
the monument includes some lands west of the I-5
freeway at Siskiyou Summit and extends 13 miles east.
It extends 13 miles north of the state line and
includes private lands which most local residents
refer to as "The Greensprings."
Federal legislation sets stage for buyout of ranchers’
EAGLE POINT, Ore. - Bob Miller and Mike Dauenhauer sounded
tired as they reported Jan. 17 to the Jackson County
Stockmen's Association annual meeting. Both ranchers have a
decade wrapped up in watching their public grazing leases come
to an end.
"It looks like this issue is coming to a resolution - one way
or another," said Miller, the association public lands
chairman, as he began his report.
Dauenhauer, the association's outgoing president, said in an
interview, "If it had been (just) me, I would have given up
three years ago."
Both men are second-generation ranchers running cattle on the
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument east of Ashland, Ore.
A clause in S22, the omnibus natural resources bill, provides
for voluntary surrender of grazing permits within the
8-year-old monument. It passed the U.S. Senate 73-21 on Jan.
15 with no amendments and no debate.
House approval of the lengthy bill is expected.
Thirty years ago, local environmentalists began a campaign to
create a wilderness anchored by Soda Mountain, the highest
point in what turned out to be the monument.
A June 2000, proclamation by then-President Bill Clinton
created the monument, and the 22,000-acre Soda Mountain
Wilderness is part of the same 2009 omnibus bill that
authorizes shutting down grazing.
Dauenhauer said environmentalists have placed money in escrow
"ready to pay if the bill becomes law" and five ranchers have
filed with the escrow agent letters surrendering their
permits. John Gerritsma, manager of the monument and the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management Ashland area, said two other leases
- both small and near the edge of the monument boundaries -
could be considered if owners wish to join the deal.
When the stockmen first asked for a buyout, they sought $300
for each animal unit month authorized by their leases. Last
year, the BLM backed out of seeking a federal buyout, leaving
the cattlemen with either accepting a lesser amount from the
environmentalists or canceling the deal. Parties haven't
talked final amounts, but Miller said it is "less than 20
percent of what we hoped for; nobody will be buying new
ranches with this. We won't have enough money to stay in
The five leases pledged to the deal have 2,761 AUMs total.
The National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, a coalition of
environmental groups, took the lead in getting private
donations for the buyout.
"It's been a long and interesting journey. ... It has actually
been 30 years if you look at the trends" toward passage of
legislation, said Miller. His late father came to the Cascade
Siskiyou country at age 7. Livestock grazing among the trees
began before federal forest management of what was then public
Miller said he has utmost respect for the persistent and
well-financed environmentalists who championed the monument
and wilderness area.
"I'll tell you, you've got to know your adversaries, to get to
know the dedication and the firepower these people have. ...I
have an admiration for them," he said.
He said on the stockmen's side, "misunderstanding and greed"
threatened to derail the process more than once. After
fighting the monument concept, only to see it become fact in
the closing days of the Clinton administration and be
sustained in 2001 by the Bush administration, Miller and
others quietly began talks with Andy Kerr, an Ashland resident
and for a time leader of the National Public Lands Grazing
They got support for a negotiated buyout from state and
national cattlemen and Oregon's governor. Draft buyout
legislation was first submitted in 2006 but failed to get
traction in Congress.
Gerritsma, who became BLM area manager four years ago, signed
off on the monument master plan six months ago.
A companion study of grazing impact ordered when the monument
was created came out shortly afterward. To no one's surprise,
it concluded that livestock grazing influences vegetation.
"You've got to remember," he said in a brief speech to the
stockmen, "that 'statistically significant' does not always
lead to biological significance. The (presidential)
proclamation is to protect the ecology of the monument. We've
had to do a lot of digging to figure out what that means."
Retired BLM specialist Charlie Boyer, now an Eagle Point
rancher, faulted BLM for not having a plan to restore grazing
if the agency later discovers monument ecology changes without
"I can guarantee you that if cattle are removed, those
conditions (at the time the proclamation was issued) won't be
there 30 years from now, or even 10 years from now," said
Freelance writer Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. E-mail: