Obama’s late land taking riles Oregon

By American Forest Research Council,

AFRC Responds to Controversial Cascade Siskiyou National Monument Expansion

AFRC President, Travis Joseph, issued the following statement after the Obama Administration’s controversial decision to administratively increase the size of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon, despite major local opposition (list below):

“Let’s be clear. This decision was not about conservation. It was not about collaboration or public involvement. It was not about doing the right thing for the next generation. This top-down, last-minute decision was about serving special interests over the objections of hard-working Oregonians who have cared for these lands for generations.”

“If the expansion was about conservation, the administration would have prioritized science-based, proactive management to address the greatest threats to these public lands: climate change, catastrophic wildfire, disease, bug infestation, and drought. Instead, this designation all but guarantees these dangerous threats will become reality.”

“If the expansion was about collaboration or public involvement, the administration would have worked with the Oregon Delegation to craft bipartisan, bicameral legislation and vetted the proposal through Congress. At a minimum, the administration could have studied the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the designation and disclosed that information to the public. Instead, it chose the least transparent and least accountable option: a Lame Duck designation in the final days of an eight year presidency.

“If this expansion was about doing the right thing for the next generation, the administration would have worked to ensure the designation balanced conservation priorities with the economic and social needs of the surrounding communities, which suffer from chronic unemployment and poverty. Instead, the expansion explicitly prohibits long-term sustainable forest management, risking the livelihoods of Southern Oregon workers and undermining the local manufacturing base.

“To add insult to injury, there are serious concerns about the legality of this action. Nearly 80 years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Interior Department found that lands reserved for timber production under the O&C Act cannot legally be withdrawn by the President under the Antiquities Act. We look forward to hearing an explanation from the administration on its decision to ignore legal precedent dating back to the New Deal.

“This could have been a shining example of how to bring diverse interests together to support common goals: healthy public lands, a robust local economy, and a brighter future for Oregonians. Instead, this designation will unnecessarily divide Oregonians and further undermine the public’s trust in government. That’s an unfortunate and painful legacy for this administration to leave in Southern Oregon.”

In an October 13, 2016 letter sent to Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, AFRC outlined its concerns about the proposed expansion and the legal precedent of using the Antiquities Act to administratively withdraw productive timberlands from the statutory mandate of the O&C Act of 1937. The same letter was sent to Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor and Oregon Governor Kate Brown. No response was ever received.

Opposition includes elected officials representing hundreds of thousands of Oregonians:
Oregon Senator Herman Baertschiger Jr., Senate District 2
Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett, Senate District 28
Oregon Representative Mike McLane, House District 55
Oregon Representative Carl Wilson, House District 3
Oregon Representative Gail Whitsett, House District 56
Oregon Representative Sal Esquivel, House District 6
Oregon Representative Duane Stark, House District 4
Association of O&C Counties
Klamath County Board of Commissioners
Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors
Jackson County Board of Commissioners

Opposition also includes:
Medford/Jackson Chamber of Commerce
Healthy Forests Healthy Communities
Congressman Rob Bishop (UT), Chairman of U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources
Congressman Greg Walden (OR), Chairman of U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Congressman Tom McClintock (CA), Chairman of U.S. House Subcommittee on Public Lands
Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA), Member of U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources

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