Commissioners set town hall on monument expansion
by Stephen Floyd, Herald and
Klamath County Commissioners have scheduled a town hall meeting
for Tuesday, Nov. 1 to take public comment on the expansion of
the Cascade–Siskiyou National Monument.
Scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 1 in the commissioners’ boardroom, the
meeting will allow local residents to speak on the record about
the proposed expansion, which could affect up 19,000 acres of
Commissioner Tom Mallams said the meeting will be similar to a
hearing held in Ashland Oct. 14 and will allow residents who
were not aware of or able to attend the meeting a chance to
Mallams said many opponents of the expansion learned about the
hearing at the last minute or after the fact and deserve a
chance to engage their federal representatives.
“I think it’s a very big disservice to the citizens to Southern
Oregon to have a meeting such as that with the other side — with
supporters having obvious, so so obvious, lead time over
everybody else who did not have it,” he said.
Mallams had asked Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who helped
organized the hearing, if he would hold a similar meeting in
Klamath Falls. But a Merkley spokesperson said Oct. 18 the
likelihood of this was uncertain and encouraged residents to
submit comments in writing instead.
Mallams said he took this reply as an admission there will be no
hearing and said it was up to county officials to put a meeting
together. He pointed to Jackson County, who is holding their own
town hall meeting Thursday in Medford, and said Klamath County
should do the same.
“I think it’s very appropriate to have another meeting here in
Klamath because it is going to affect us,” said Mallams.
Of the 66,500 acres Merkley and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden have
proposed adding to the monument, roughly 19,000 acres is in
Klamath County. The vast majority of the Klamath County land is
set aside under the Oregon and California Lands Act (OCLA) for
timber harvesting and adding it to the monument would lead to
decreased timber revenues for Klamath County.
Mallams said this is one concern held by residents who oppose
monument expansion, as well as the potential closure of the
local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office. Mallams said, if
so much public land becomes part of the monument, BLM employees
will have little left to supervise and the office could
potentially close down or suffer significant layoffs.
Commissioner Jim Bellet added the proposed expansion of the
monument is likely a violation of OCLA, as the act defines which
lands are set aside, harvesting requirements and revenue shared
with local governments. He said, without a change to OCLA,
monument expansion may not hold up in court.
“It’s illegal to do this and I think that we need to push on
that side of the agenda,” he said.
“That’s a contract, they can’t break that,” he contained.
Mallams said the time to intervene in monument expansion is
limited as he is concerned President Barack Obama intends to use
to the Antiquities Act of 1906 to unilaterally approve
expansion. Mallams estimated it may be a matter of weeks before
a decision is made and opportunities for public input should be
The Nov. 1 meeting will be open to all residents who wish to
speak on the matter and comments will be recorded and sent to
federal representatives, though the meeting itself will not be
an official hearing.
If You Go
County Commissioners town hall on the proposed expansion of the
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1
boardroom in the Klamath County Government Center, 305 Main St.
Monument expansion sets local hearing
Opinions sought on proposal to double size of Cascade-Siskiyou
“I want everyone to have the opportunity to speak their mind. We
were left out in Klamath County, we want to make sure all
interested parties have a chance to speak."
–Tom Mallams, Klamath County
2000, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument preserves an
area of approximately 66,000 acres in Southern Oregon.
A new proposal
presented by Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley in
August may soon double the monument’s scale, potentially
affecting timber harvests, watersheds and grazing allotments
in the region.
To gauge public
opinion on the matter, Klamath County commissioners will
host a townhall hearing at the Government Center Building in
Klamath Falls on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.
County hearing comes in the wake of recent hearings in
Ashland and Medford regarding the proposed monument
The decision to
hold a local hearing is the result of claims the public
wasn’t properly informed, or that the public was selectively
informed about the hearing to garner more favor towards its
everyone to have the opportunity to speak their mind,” said
Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams. “We were left out
in Klamath County, we want to make sure all interested
parties have a chance to speak.
pushback at the time the monument was first made, but
nothing like there is now. We have seen the results of what
has happened there since it was placed in monument status,”
concerns such as forest management practices ceasing that
will add to potential fire fuels, elimination or reduction
of grazing allotments, water rights issues and timber
harvest reductions that could all have negative impacts on
drastically limit timber harvesting, around six million
board feet per year,” added Mallams. “That equates to a lot
of timber that goes into local mills that will no longer be
available. They depend on the local timber because it’s a
viable, they will have to travel further to get timber,
which makes it more expensive, which means fewer jobs here.”
the monument expansion support the move to further protect
regional habitats and watersheds. Wyden, Merkley and other
supporters hope that Department of the Interior Secretary
Sally Jewell will recommend that President Barack Obama
utilize executive branch powers established in the
Antiquities Act to approve the expansion in the same manner
that President Bill Clinton first established the site in
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