Supervisors oppose Siskiyou Crest monument
“Now therefore, be it further resolved that the proposal for a National Monument north of the Klamath River in Siskiyou County, known as the Siskiyou Crest National Monument, is opposed by the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors,” the resolution continues.
Natural resource policy specialist Ric Costales explained that several proposals to create national monuments in the county have been made over the years usually without consulting or even notifying the local county government.
“Currently, there is a proposal being advanced to create a 600,000-acre national monument along the crest of the Siskiyou Mountains, with the southern border extending to the Klamath River,” said Costales.
“As a result of the serious negative impact this latest national monument proposal will have on land management of the affected lands and adjoining private property, Supervisor [Marcia] Armstrong has requested a formal resolution to establish county policy with regard to national monuments,” he added.
The lone dissenting vote was by Supervisor Ed Valenzuela of district 2.
The concept of the Siskiyou Crest National Monument is being promoted by the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, of Ashland, Ore. The national monument would straddle the California-Oregon border with about 300,000 acres in each state.
The Wildlands Center refers to the area as “An Ark for Biodiversity.”
According to a Web site for the Siskiyou Crest National Monument proposal, “This key area for biodiversity and regional connectivity contains ancient forests, high elevation meadows, spectacular peaks, and outstanding botanical and butterfly diversity. It provides drinking water for many downstream communities, including the city of Ashland.”
“Public lands timber sales threaten the biological integrity of the area. These sales and projects like the proposed Ski Ashland expansion would create wildlife migration barriers, simplify forest structure and exacerbate severe fire risk,” according to the Wildlands Center.
The group also lists other dangers to the area, such as road building, cattle grazing and off-road vehicle use.
The supervisors’ resolution made the following points before arriving at its conclusions:
• Sixty-two percent of the county’s 2.5 million acres is federal land.
• Substantial portions of these federal lands are already set aside as wilderness, roadless areas, late successional reserves and other special designations for exceptional protection of the environment.
• Historic communities and private property are intertwined and checker-boarded throughout the county, including along the Klamath River corridor.
• Wildfires have been increasing in severity over the past several decades; in 2008 wildfires raged across 200,000 acres of federal land in the county.
• All the communities in the county have been identified as “Urban Wildland Interface Communities” that are at high risk from wildfire.
• Siskiyou County and the communities of the Klamath River corridor in particular have been severely impacted by a declining availability of timber resources for harvest and use.
• Areas such as the Klamath River corridor are rich in natural resources, which have been used historically for grazing, timber harvest, mining, recreation and a host of other uses.
• The vitality of local communities, the economic health of the county and the public safety of local residents depend upon continued access, active resource management, aggressive fuels reduction, continued historic private use and economic development of these natural resources.
• The county has a responsibility to its citizens to ensure that federal land management acknowledges and respects the private rights and interests affected by federal decisions.
• Numerous federal statutes require coordination between federal agencies and local governments.
• Siskiyou County has adopted sections of its county code mandating coordination between agencies and the county.
• The county board of supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution formally asserting legal standing for purposes of coordinating with federal and state agencies.
• National monuments give short shrift to this important relationship.
• National monuments do not promote the interests of local economies, public safety, private property ownership and the protection of local custom and culture.
• National monuments do not readily allow active adaptive management in response to arising environmental issues affecting wildlife, landscapes or human communities.
“The role that Siskiyou County needs to play in developing national monument proposals is at the beginning,” Costales said, “not half-way down the road or at the end. The supervisors made it clear with this vote.”