What others say: Courts will have final say on national monument

  • By The Medford (Oregon) Mail Tribune editorial
  • Wednesday, September 6, 2017 9:31am
  • Opinion

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has sent to President Donald Trump his recommendations on the future of 27 national monuments, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, but the details of those recommendations remain a mystery.

Neither the Interior Department nor the White House has seen fit to release to the public the recommendations regarding the public land protected by those monuments.

Thanks to reporting by The Washington Post, citing sources who have seen Zinke’s recommendations, we know that the Interior secretary is recommending reductions in the Cascade-Siskiyou in Southern Oregon and Northern California and at least two others — Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah. We don’t know how extensive those reductions might be.

President Bill Clinton established the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to protect the unique biodiversity found where three mountain ranges intersect. Early this year, President Barack Obama expanded the monument boundaries in response to concerns from scientists that the original boundaries were not large enough to preserve the connectivity between species habitats.

What Trump will do with the recommendations also remains unknown. What is certain is that any action to shrink monuments will be challenged and ultimately decided in the courts.

Presidents have the power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create national monuments. In a limited number of cases, none of them in recent years, presidents have altered the boundaries of existing monuments, but none of those actions were challenged in court. Congress clearly has the power to change public land uses and alter monuments, but legal experts disagree on whether a president has the power to undo a designation implemented by a predecessor.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum already has said the state will challenge any attempt to reduce the Cascade-Siskiyou monument. Supporters of the Utah monuments are likely to challenge any changes to those as well.

The Cascade-Siskiyou already faces a court challenge to the expansion decreed by President Obama in January.

Timber industry representatives and Oregon counties that historically have received a share of timber revenue from former Oregon &California railroad lands have sued, claiming the Antiquities Act cannot supersede the O&C Act, in which Congress ordered that O&C lands managed for timber production.

Both the original monument and the expansion include some O&C land.

The monument enjoys widespread support from Oregon’s two U.S. senators, the governor and many state residents. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden and local county commissioners opposed its creation and expansion, and ranchers, hunters and timber industry supporters argue the monument limits public use of the land.

Opponents have said the monument was expanded without adequate public involvement. But Zinke’s refusal to release his recommendations prevents the public from evaluating them.

If Zinke believes the monument designation didn’t serve the public interest, he should be willing to have a public discussion about that. And he and President Trump should prepare for a lengthy court battle, because that is where the future of the monument ultimately will be decided.

— The Medford Mail Tribune,

Aug. 27

More in Opinion

This July 16, 2019, file photo shows the Capitol Dome in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Opinion: The Respect for Marriage Act represents a balanced approach

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported a “fairness for all” approach

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview to be the APFC’s new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true

t
Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”