Expand Cascades Siskiyou Monument?
No — Obama legacy quest to be at Klamath's
Nearing the end of his two terms, it is apparent that
Barrack Obama’s signature initiatives are failing.
Affordable Care Act is an insolvent disaster. His energy
policies are incoherent, ineffectual and ridiculously
majority of the population appear to fear his confused and
dangerous immigration programs. His economic strategies have
resulted in the slowest economic recovery witnessed in more
than half a century. Inflation-adjusted American household
income is significantly less than when Obama took office in
is now desperately in search for some form of legacy. Using
the Antiquities Act as his tool, he appears to be focused on
building that legacy on the backs of Oregonians. He appears
to be trying to see how much of the state of Oregon he can
declare as national monuments by presidential fiat.
intent is to create three Oregon National Monuments. The
combined areas of his proposed Owyhee, Crater Lake and
Cascade-Siskiyou National monuments encompass more than four
percent of the entire landmass of the state.
federal government already owns nearly 53 percent of Oregon.
His proposed monuments would lock up an area equivalent to
two-thirds of the entire land mass of Klamath County. They
would include nearly 8˝ percent of all the Oregon land that
is currently owned by the federal government.
latest effort is a 53,000-acre expansion of the
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Jackson and Klamath
counties. Ninety-six percent of that 53,000-acre expansion
is actually O&C forest lands under the ownership of the
Bureau of Land Management. Nearly 30 square miles of that
productive forestland is located in Klamath County.
Monument designation will eliminate about five million board
feet of annual timber harvest from those O&C lands just in
Klamath County. It will also prohibit livestock grazing on
83 square miles of multiple use public land. Equally
important, monument designation will greatly restrict public
access to yet another 53,000 acres of lands that are, in
fact, owned by the people.
month, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., held a public hearing
in Ashland regarding the proposed monument. He apparently
gave supporters time to produce signs and colored T-shirts
with printed logos. Merkley generally failed to notify
potential opponents until the last few days.
who were apparently notified late included several local
state senators and representatives, the county commissions
of the three affected counties, the BLM that manages the O&C
lands, and the cattlemen who currently hold grazing permits
within the proposed monument.
short notice, county commissioners from Klamath, Jackson and
Siskiyou Counties testified in categorical opposition. The
Association of O&C Counties wrote a letter in adamant
opposition. Cattlemen and foresters, who depend on the
federally mandated multiple use of the land, testified in
Rep. Gail Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, and I also submitted a
letter of opposition into the record. We were among the
Southern Oregon legislators who signed off on a joint letter
of opposition to the monument expansion proposal.
Another better publicized public hearing was held at the
Klamath County Government Center on Nov. 1. The hearing was
very well-attended, with the crowd filling two rooms and
spilling out into the hallways. People representing both
sides of the issue were provided a forum to express their
positions. The preponderance of the crowd was reported to be
in strong opposition.
Nevertheless, Sens. Merkley and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., appear to
be 100 percent complicit in actively promoting Obama’s
last-ditch “legacy” efforts. They seem to be actively
advocating for the monument designation, regardless of the
potential severe economic impacts on rural Oregonians.
opinion, their support amounts to advocating for the
exclusion of forest harvest, forest management, wildfire
control, livestock grazing and public access, all at the
expense of our rural economies.
contact these senators and tell them how existing county
budgetary struggles are due largely to already existing
harmful federal policies that lock up the land and prohibit
its productive use. Ask them how and why they could possibly
support such a proposal that will further harm the rural
Oregon counties that continue to struggle to fund basic
Doug Whitsett of Klamath
County is the State Senator for Senate District 18, which
includes Klamath, Lake and Crook counties and parts of
Jackson and Deschutes counties. He first won the Senate Seat
in 2004, is finishing his third term and did not run for
re-election. This edited version of the commentary appeared
earlier in the Coos Bay World and is being re-printed with
(in the Herald and News)
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