Interior secretary ponders fate of Nat’l Monument in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — After touring the “unique” Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon and speaking to ranchers, loggers and environmentalists, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke must next make a recommendation on whether it should be abolished or resized.

It’s going to require a lot of study, Zinke indicated, given that the monument was created — and expanded by former President Barack Obama— to protect biodiversity in an area where three mountain ranges converge, creating diverse habitats for species that would normally be living apart.

“Beautiful country, no doubt,” Zinke said at a news conference Saturday next to a lake rimmed by evergreens. “There’s areas that are being harvested, and harvested well. On the trail I saw horseback, and the resident artisan and the people that are incredibly passionate about this monument.”

Zinke was ordered by President Donald Trump to review 27 national monuments and report by Aug. 24. Since June 12, Zinke has recommended that the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be downsized, and that no changes be made to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho and the Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington.

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“This site is unique among the 27 sites I’m reviewing,” Zinke said after hiking in the monument in southern Oregon, which laps over into Northern California.

He said he wants to find out how the boundaries of the 112,000-acre (45,730-hectare) monument were made, explaining that it relates to the language of the Antiquities Act of 1906. It authorized a president to declare land controlled by the federal government a monument but limits the size “to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

Zinke said he also wants to protect local traditions and “make sure the monument doesn’t have unintended consequences.”

He pointed out that…

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