Conservation groups are lobbying President Obama during his final weeks in the White House to expand the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon.
The 66,000-acre monument at the California-Oregon border was created by President Bill Clinton in 2000 under the Antiquities Act. Proponents of a larger monument want Obama to use the act to expand the protected area before he leaves office.
Pam Marsh, an Ashland City Councilor who owns a resort within the monument’s boundaries, told OPB’s Think Out Loud that it’s good for region’s economy.
“The monument simply provides a stronger management of the extraordinary biodiversity that we experience in the forest around us,” she said. “As business owners it gives us a way to really talk about that forest and explain the really extraordinary qualities of it to the visitors who come to our area.”
Critics of a larger Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument say it would hurt the region’s economy with limits on logging and grazing.
Tom Mallams, a member of the Klamath County Board of Commissioners, told Think Out Loud that he opposes any expansion of the monument.
“Tourism jobs are not family wage jobs. Timber jobs are family wage jobs. Ag jobs are very often family wage jobs also. All the counties in the area and the citizens need these economic development opportunities,” he said.
Mallams said he’d consider an expansion of the monument in Jackson and Klamath Counties “an overreach” of the federal government.
Obama’s last day in office is Jan. 20.