Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Senators have proposed an expansion to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument that is overwhelmingly opposed by Oregon’s ranchers that make their full-time living off their ranches.
Designated June 9th, 2000 by President Bill Clinton, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was described as a “home to a spectacular variety of rare and beautiful species of plants and animals” in Proclamation 7318. Through the additional expansion of this monument, not only will southern Oregon cattle ranchers be affected, but so will bird-watching enthusiasts and avid hikers, as the gates will be closed to the rest of the world. The loss of cattle grazing down the native grasses, as a result of no public land grazing permits issued, will result in increased wildfire fodder in an already dry, hot, and wildfire prone area. An unpredictable and well-fueled wildfire in this area could quickly lead to private, non-monument lands.
Within the current 66,000 acres that is the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, 19,000 of these acres are privately owned by timber and cattle-related businesses. The proposed expansion includes an additional 34,095 acres more of private property. Enthusiasts for the monument expansion claim that those who own private lands within the monument designation will not be affected by the designation and can carry on as they did before.
This is where they are wrong.
Past history has shown that those with private timber and grazing lands within a monument designation will quickly be pressured to sell to the federal government through a variety of manipulative tactics. If roads are not immediately cut off, they eventually become unusable due to limited infrastructure improvements and loss of basic maintenance. Many of these private land owners find the only way that they will be able to keep their land is through the assistance of a law firm to fight their ongoing battles for their land; a leisure most do not financially have. The end result is the sale of their private land to the Federal Government.
The loss of these private lands is even greater than the loss of generations of family-owned ranches or forest lands. The shift of privately-owned lands to government-owned lands in Jackson County results in a loss of taxable income injuring the local economy.
What does the doubling of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument really mean?
It means a loss of grazing lands, timber production, jobs, and an injured economy. It will hurt the local ranchers that have been managing these grounds for generations, private landowners and the general public. Thomas White, the Secretary for the Jackson County Stockmen’s Association, says he “hope[s] others will join in opposing the expansion of the monument and keep the land open for all to access.”
White states that “the expansion of the monument would likely result in the involuntary retirement of at least four additional grazing allotments… Allotments that some of these ranchers have maintained for generations and rely on for their summer grazing.”
Jerome Rosa, the Executive Director for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, tells us that there is something we can do to fight this proposal and “greatly encourages all ranchers in the affected areas to join the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and attend a hearing” on Friday, October 14th, at 2:00 pm at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon.
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