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Siskiyou Crest National Monument
 
Guest Opinion, Pioneer Press September 2, 2009

By Grace Bennet, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 4
 
This summer there has been much discussion about the proposed Siskiyou Crest National Monument to be established in Oregon from Interstate 5 west to past the Oregon Caves; in California from Interstate 5 to south of Happy Camp using the Klamath River as the southern boundary.   This is a very special range of mountains as they run in an east-west configuration. 

The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center in Ashland, Oregon is working hard to make this National Monument happen. A group of young people went on a 9-day hike through this area using the Pacific Crest Trail.  They filmed wonderful water, beautiful flowers, wildlife, glades, and meadows and experienced the grandeur of this area.  It is wonderful to hike, find a rock to sit on, watch the wildlife, and hear nothing but the sounds of the forest.  It renews the soul. Everyone should be able to experience this, not just those that can hike great distances or ride horses.

This area is public and private land.  From the Seiad Valley east to Interstate 5 it is checker-boarded with both.  Public land is administered by a number of Federal agencies: the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and many more.  These agencies manage this land for the benefit of the people because this is our land. The people who live here use this land for everything from hunting, wood cutting, off highway riding, or just a pleasant afternoon drive for an older couple remembering when they could hike and camp and who still enjoy the experience of the outdoors.
 
Private land is just that:  it is owned by private individuals.  They can use it for farming, ranching, timber harvest or any others uses they see fit.  Of course, in our present world they have to comply with many regulations and requirements before performing these activities.
 
These are the people that supply our food and work the land so that we can all enjoy the benefits and fruits of their labor.

The following was excerpted from a report by Ric Costales, Natural Resource Policy Specialist for Siskiyou County:

"Since passage of the Antiquities Act under which National Monuments are created, numerous land designations within the federal domain have been adopted which more specifically address appropriate protections for the environmental resources in a manner that best accommodates all of the other considerations of land management.  For example, Wilderness, Roadless, Late Successional Reserve, Riparian Reserve, Wild River, and Back Country Area are all designations requiring exceptional protection, but do allow varying degrees of management and use suitable to the landscape to which they have been assigned.

"Such designations are far better management tools in this day and age particularly when adaptive strategies are necessary to reintroduce wildfire to the ecosystem without the catastrophic loss of vast acreages in sensitive watersheds.  As well, these designations better accommodate complex private property components within the adjoining federal lands proposed for Monument status. For example, the following chart illustrates this point relative to the Klamath National Forest part of the proposed Siskiyou Crest National Monument:

Mgt. Area Acres in Proposed Monuments
Special Mgt. RNA, SIA, Cultural                    2,031.35
Wilderness, BVNG                                        49,504.87
Special Habitat, LSR                                  100,118.85
Special Habitat T$E Species                        1,066.62
Managed Wildlife Area                                   4,933.58
Backcountry Area                                          32.677.73
Riparian Area                                                32,677.73
Retention VQO                                                5,340.97
Scenic River                                                       191.53
Recreational River                                               90.30
Total acres                                                  205,412.36

"It can be seen that the vast majority of the proposed Monument in California (80%) is already sufficiently protected for environmental quality. For the greater part, this approach allows sufficient flexibility to respond to critical management challenges.

"National Monuments do not support adaptive management practices, particularly with regard to public safety issues associated with wildfire and forest health. Any National Monument proposal clearly needs to meet the needs of ALL people, not just a small coterie of special and very limited interests."   

My question to you is do we need more protection on these lands?  No one has asked the citizens of Siskiyou County how we feel about this new proposed National Monument.  This area would be like the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument with restricted uses and access for you, the people.  Many, if not most, of the current roads would be closed.  A few of these now provide an evacuation route in case of emergencies along the Klamath River.

I want to hear from you because this is your land! When you write to me, make a copy of your letter and forward it to your representatives, County, State and Federal and to President Obama.  We all need to know how you feel. Siskiyou County  Supervisor District 4, Grace Bennett , P. O. Box 750, Yreka, CA 96097.
 
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