Counties sue to overturn monument expansion /
Monument lawsuit filed
Herald and News by Stephen Floyd 2/17/17
Two lumber companies sue over monument
The Association of O&C Counties (AOCC) has sued the federal
government to overturn a presidential proclamation that
expanded the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
Filed Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C., the suit
claims former President Barack Obama did not have the
authority to include roughly 48,000 acres of designated
timberland in the expansion, which affected land in Klamath
and Jackson counties in Oregon, and Siskiyou County in
The group wants the Jan. 12 proclamation to be vacated and
declared in violation of the O&C Lands Act of 1937, which
sets minimum harvesting and revenue-sharing standards for
2.1 million acres of timberland throughout Oregon.
“These lands provide critical revenue for vital county
services and we must do everything possible to keep these
lands productive,” said AOCC President and Douglas County
Commissioner Tim Freeman.
Among other claims, the group is prepared to argue Obama was
advised by the Department of Interior prior to the
proclamation that the president did not have the authority
to designate the O&C timberlands in a national monument.
Polk County Commissioner Craig Polk said this gives AOCC “a
strong case to challenge this expansion” and was a
“violation of the rule of law.”
Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris, who serves
on the board of directors, said she was “particularly
concerned” about the potential economic impact of monument
expansion not just because of lost timber dollars but also
the loss of local Bureau of Land Management jobs, as the BLM
office in Klamath Falls may close due to monument expansion.
“Many of these members of our community are reportedly
likely to lose their jobs because of this expansion,” said
Minty Morris, who estimated more than 40 full-time staff
could be laid off.
As of Thursday, the case was assigned to Judge Richard Leon
and future court dates had yet to be set.
The group is also suing BLM regarding a proposed resource
management plan that would fulfill roughly one quarter of
the minimum harvesting standards for O&C lands. The group
filed the lawsuit Aug. 5, 2016, and is seeking to have the
proposed plan vacated and declared in violation of the O&C
Lands Act. As of Thursday BLM had yet to file an answer to
the group’s complaint
lumber companies filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the
legality of President Barack Obama’s expansion of the
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument during his last days in
Co. and a related company, Murphy Timber Investments LLC,
filed the complaint in federal court in Medford against
President Donald Trump, acting U.S. Secretary of the
Interior Kevin Haugard, the Department of the Interior and
the Bureau of Land Management. The new administration could
choose not to defend the lawsuit.
monument expansion is already having an immediate impact,”
said Murphy Co. President John Murphy. “The Griffen Moon
Timber Sale within the expansion area that was scheduled to
be sold this summer has now been withdrawn without any
replacement timber sale. The sale would have generated in
excess of $500,000 for Jackson County.”
lawsuit says the timber sale involved thinning operations
and would have generated 4 million board feet.
said more than 80 percent of the federal land included in
the expansion area is dedicated to timber production through
the O&C Lands Act.
1937 act requires forests to be managed for sustained yield
to ensure a permanent timber supply, watershed protection,
recreation and economic stability for local communities and
industries, according to the BLM.
act also requires the federal government to share logging
revenues with counties.
January, Obama used the federal Antiquities Act to add
47,624 acres of public land — 42,349 acres in Oregon and
5,275 acres in California — to the 66,000-acre monument east
“Permanent removal of over 40,000 acres of O&C Lands from
the timberland base managed by BLM will harm Murphy Company
by reducing the supply of timber sold annually by BLM, which
jeopardizes plaintiff’s log supply and the jobs of over 400
employees at its four Oregon manufacturing plants,” the
Co. has a veneer plant in White City, a softwood plywood
plant in Rogue River, a laminated veneer lumber facility in
Sutherlin and a hardwood plywood plant in Eugene.
Timber Investments argues the monument expansion will reduce
the value of 2,101 acres of timberland it owns within the
boundary, plus another 1,869 acres adjacent to the boundary.
area has a checkerboard of private and public ownership,
with monument regulations applying to the public land inside
Timber Investments says it will lose the access it needs to
efficiently manage its timberland because the BLM will
decommission or abandon roads.
company also alleges reduced thinning operations on public
land in the monument will increase the risk of catastrophic
wildfire spreading to privately owned land.
companies are asking the federal court to vacate the
presidential proclamation expanding the monument when it
comes to the O&C lands. They want the government to manage
that land for sustained yield.
the legal strategy involved, the lawsuit says expansion
under the 1906 Antiquities Act clashes with the 1937 O&C
Act’s requirements for sustained timber yield on designated
lawsuit also draws on a 1940 legal opinion given to
President Franklin Roosevelt when he was considering an
Oregon Caves National Monument expansion. The opinion said
he could not include O&C lands, since Congress clearly set
those aside for sustained timber yield with revenue sharing.
Roosevelt followed the legal advice and didn’t expand that
monument, according to Murphy Co.
2014, Obama expanded the protected area of the 480-acre
Oregon Caves National Monument with the addition of a
4,070-acre preserve. The 4,070 acres had been managed by the
U.S. Forest Service and was transferred to the National Park
opinion about the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National
Monument is divided, with the Jackson County Board of
Commissioners critical of the expansion and the Ashland and
Talent city councils in favor.
Supporters believe the expansion further protects the area’s
rich biological diversity and water resources, while
opponents fear cutbacks on logging, cattle grazing and road
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