Oregon girds for lawsuit if Trump shrinks national monument
Posted August 25
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon's attorney general said Friday she is ready to take legal action if the Trump administration tries to shrink a national monument in this Pacific Northwest state.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and other political leaders were seeking a copy of a draft report Friday on 27 national monuments that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gave to President Donald Trump this week, the governor's press secretary, Bryan Hockaday, said in a telephone interview. So far, no copy has been made available, he said.
Among the 27 monuments created by past U.S. presidents that were under review is the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which covers 112,000 acres (45,730 hectares) of mountains, forests and rivers along Oregon's border with California. In the last days of his administration, then President Barack Obama added about 48,000 acres (19,425 hectares) to the monument to protect its biodiversity.
Late Thursday, Brown said she's deeply concerned about the monument's future and that she suspects "Oregon's public lands are in the crosshairs of the federal administration."
"In the face of new threats to Oregon's public lands and our natural resources, I call on Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to consider all legal options necessary to defend our Oregon values, and to be ready to challenge any overreach of executive power," Brown said.
Rosenblum said neither Trump nor Zinke has the power to unilaterally revoke or reduce the monument.
"It is a truly special part of Oregon, and one that I will continue to fight for. We stand ready to take appropriate legal action," she said in a statement.
Zinke has said that none of the monuments he's examined will be rescinded, though he said he'll push for boundary changes on a handful.
On a visit to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in July, Zinke expressed doubts that much scientific study went behind the drawing of its boundaries. He stressed that the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes a president to create a monument, limits their size "to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected."
"Nobody knows how exactly the boundaries were made," Zinke said. "Going back, were the boundaries made on the basis of science, best guess? And so those are the things I'm reviewing."
But in a report published in 2011, a group of scientists said many of the region's key species relied on habitats that were outside the monument's boundaries as they existed then, where they faced threats from logging, grazing and development, the digital magazine Undark reported in January. The smaller monument also didn't provide continuous protection across elevation gradients, which is important for species migration, especially amid global warming, said the scientists, who supported the expansion.
Created by President Bill Clinton in 2000, Cascade-Siskiyou is the first monument set aside solely for the preservation of biodiversity.
It is situated where the Klamath, Siskiyou, and Cascade mountain ranges converge, creating a unique mixing of diverse habitats that are home to species that co-exist there but would normally live in separate ecoregions. Species that live there include pygmy nuthatches, kangaroo rats, rough-skinned newts and northern spotted owls, according to a monument pamphlet.
Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky