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Timber Industry Loses Again

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The Northwest timber industry cannot move past 1993. The spotted owl issue did not break the industry–there are still tons and tons of trees logged, but with fewer people because the industry is so automated now. But what the owl and ancient forest campaigns did do was bring the culture wars into rural Oregon and Washington in a visceral way. To stop them from logging wasn’t just an economic question, it was an existential one. How can we be the descendants of our brave Oregon Trail ancestors if we can’t engage in our preferred producerism?

On the issue of National Monuments, most of the attention on the right-wing backlash has been in Utah, where the exteremist sect of pioneer Mormons who live in southeastern Utah and hate the tribes has brought massive resistance, inclduing Trump decimating those monuments and Biden simply bringing them back. But of all the massive national monument expansion in the nation over the last three decades, the second most controversial has been the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon, which protects some significant old growth forests. The timber industry and the rural people of southern Oregon have loathed this from day one and really wanted Trump to get rid of it. That didn’t happen, somewhat surprisingly to me. President Obama had expanded the monument shortly before he left office. Anti-environmental interests tried using the courts to get rid of that. But the DC Circuit recently told them to go jump off a Douglas fir.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed the legality of an expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument made by President Obama in 2017, reversing a lower court decision that threw the Monument’s boundaries into doubt.

This federal court ruling joins a victorious ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in April that also declared the monument expansion lawful.

“This lawsuit attempted to rob Oregonians and all Americans of a biological treasure that deserves permanent protection,” said Kristen Boyles, attorney with Earthjustice. “Appeals courts in D.C. and Seattle have now upheld Monument expansion, rejecting every single one of the timber industry’s arguments.”

The Monument was first designated in 2000 under the Antiquities Act as an ecological wonder known for its incredible diversity of species. The court decision today again confirms protection of these special federal lands and is a major victory for the Monument and the spectacular variety of plants, fish, and wildlife that depend on the Monument’s ecological integrity.

In upholding the Monument expansion and its protections, the appellate court in D.C. found that, “The goal of the O&C Act, then, was to ‘provide conservation and scientific management for this vast Federal property…’ and the Monument’s expansion is itself consistent with sustained yield forestry.”

“The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a great gift to present and future generations,” said Dave Willis, Soda Mountain Wilderness Council chair and long-time Monument advocate. “We’re very glad this unanimous Court saw fit to not let logging companies take any of this gift away.”

This wouldn’t happen in Greater Idaho!

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