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The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to take up two challenges to the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, ensuring that the remote wilderness area along the California-Oregon border will not lose any of its acreage. The challenges were brought by logging interests and several counties in Oregon who claimed that President Barack Obama had improperly designated the land as a monument in 2017, putting special protections in place including a prohibition on logging. The broader question of whether the president’s authority to create national monuments unilaterally under the Antiquities Act should be restricted was also raised, but the Supreme Court decided not to address this issue.

The expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was supported by environmental groups and Earthjustice, who argued that the monument and its new acreage should be protected as the law of the land. The monument was originally created in 2000 to preserve the ecologically valuable juncture of the Siskiyou Mountains and the Cascades, containing a diverse mix of plants and wildlife. The area, now encompassing 114,000 acres, is popular for various outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling. While most of the monument is in Oregon, there are about 5,000 acres in California adjacent to the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area.

Opponents of the monument’s expansion, including the American Forest Resource Council, a trade group representing logging companies, and a coalition of Oregon counties, argued that the designation of the monument couldn’t override federal regulations preserving timber harvests on O&C Lands, originally set aside for building a railroad between San Francisco and Portland. Logging companies stood to lose millions of board feet of timber that could be harvested in the area, while counties on O&C Lands could lose a portion of revenue from timber sales. The challenges against the monument’s expansion were previously denied in two separate appellate court rulings.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to not take up the challenges to the monument’s expansion, Travis Joseph, president of the American Forest Resource Council, expressed disappointment that the court did not provide balance to executive overreach on federal lands through the Antiquities Act. However, supporters of the monument are pleased with the outcome, as the protections for the ecologically valuable area will remain in place. The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument continues to attract visitors for its unique mix of plants and wildlife, offering opportunities for outdoor recreation in a remote and relatively undisturbed wilderness area.

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