In his final days in office, President Obama invoked the Antiquities Act to expand Southern Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by nearly 50,000 acres. The region is considered a bio-diversity hotspot in the West.
Supporters of the expansion fear the current review will be used by the Trump administration to reverse course.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum threaten to sue if that happens.
“As you review the vibrant landscape within the Cascade-Siskiyou region, I know that you and the President will share our desire to preserve it for future generations, she wrote. “However, if the President attempts instead to revoke or reduce the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, we stand ready to take appropriate legal action.”
State attorney Paul Garrahan said the Trump administration would be exceeding its executive-branch powers if tries to undo Obama’s action.
“The Antiquities Act does not include authority for the President to reduce or reverse a decision to designate a national monument,” said Garrahan, who is in charge of the Natural Resources Section at the Oregon Department of Justice.
Two timber companies filed a lawsuit earlier this year to block the expansion. That suit is on hold pending the result of the current federal review.
This week, the Interior Department recommended that the administration keep Washington’s Hanford Reach National Monument and Idaho’s Craters of the Moon intact.
It’s unclear if those decisions will have any bearing on the outcome of the Cascade-Siskiyou review. It’s also unclear what the Interior Department is using to make its recommendations, says Oregon State Representative Pam Marsh, whose district include the Monument.
“I don’t really understand what the criteria is that they’re looking at this point,” she said. “And is it the same criteria across all monuments?”
Reports have surfaced that Zinke will be visiting Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument this weekend to meet with stakeholders. The Interior Department would not confirm those reports.
Jefferson Public Radio’s Liam Moriarty contributed to this report.