Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hearing on monuments includes O&C Counties group

From a news release:
The Association of O&C Counties (AOCC) presented testimony to a congressional panel on the expansion of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument (CSNM). The House Natural Resources Committee's Federal Lands Subcommittee held a hearing on May 2 to discuss national monuments designated without significant local input or support, or that included excessively large or restricted areas of land.

AOCC informed the subcommittee that President Obama's expansion of the monument offered no opportunity for the public to speak on the proposed expansion of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument until October 2016. By then, the association says it was clear the administration was already committed to granting the request of environmental groups to expand the national monument. In addition to AOCC, both Jackson and Klamath Counties opposed the national monument's expansion within their boundaries as did hundreds of private individuals and groups.

Further, Douglas County Commissioner and AOCC president Tim Freeman says the expansion is illegal because it prohibits timber production on 17,000 acres of Western Oregon O&C lands that were in the harvestable land base under current BLM plans, and prohibits harvesting on an additional 18,500 acres of timber land that were eligible harvesting under future plans. All O&C timberlands are intended by Congress to be managed to benefit counties that host these federal lands. For that reason, AOCC is pursuing litigation in a federal District Court over the expansion.

"Local concerns were ignored. Worse yet, the law was ignored. Commercial timber harvesting is specifically forbidden within the CSNM, a prohibition that is directly contrary to the mandate of Congress for management of O&C lands," Freeman said.

The O&C Act requires the Bureau of Land Management to produce timber under the principles of sustained yield forestry. Counties depend on the 50 percent of revenues they receive from O&C timber harvests to pay for essential public services of all kinds, from public safety to public health programs and libraries. When O&C lands are withdrawn from sustained yield management, there is a direct financial loss to county governments and a loss of services to local citizens.

"The O&C Counties are already reeling from two decades of federal mismanagement if the O&C lands and a reduction of almost 90 percent in revenues from shared timber harvest receipts. Counties struggle to provide even minimally acceptable levels of public services. It can only be described as indifference or even arrogance to add to these woes by Presidental actions taken under the Antiquities Act," Freeman says.
Here is our recent centerpiece story on the controversy surrounding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion.

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