For Immediate Release
Multnomah County Pulls Out of Cascade-Siskiyou Monument Lawsuit
Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, Multnomah County
Dave Willis, Soda Mountain Wilderness Council
email@example.com, 541-482-8660 or 482-0526
Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild
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Today, public lands advocates cheered the decision by the Multnomah County Commission to withdraw its membership from the Association of O&C Counties (AoCC). According to a letter released by the County Chair, county officials were not consulted before being included in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn protections for portions of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southwest Oregon, including areas protected by former President Barack Obama.
In a statement, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said, “Public lands are what makes Oregon a special place to live. I will stand up to any roll back of protections for the natural wonders in our state, and I won’t have the County affiliated with an organization that contradicts our values.”
The Monument has been opposed in court by the AoCC, along with logging groups who have worked closely with the AoCC to weaken environmental laws. The Cascade-Siskiyou, along with Bears Ears and Grand-Escalante National Monuments, has been targeted by the Trump administration’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as part of an effort to weaken public land protections and increase clearcutting, oil and gas drilling, mining, grazing, and other destructive activities. In 2017, Zinke submitted a report riddled with errors, including several falsehoods about the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, to justify rolling back public lands protections.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer cheered the decision in a letter to the County. “My constituents and I have strongly supported the establishment and expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which protects some of Oregon’s most treasured natural wonders and has benefited tourism and the outdoor economy in the state. The recent expansion of this monument came after broad stakeholder engagement and robust public process, and was supported by local communities, local governments, tribes, business leaders, scientists, conservation interests, and others, as well as members of the state legislature and federal delegation.”
For decades, the Association of O&C Counties has been using taxpayer resources to lobby for looser environmental laws on Western Oregon forests, increased clearcutting, and transferring America’s public lands out of national ownership. Similar efforts have met with fierce criticism by conversation and recreation groups. Notably, Utah political leaders’ opposition to public lands conservation and support for public lands transfers to the state led to the massive Outdoor Retailer trade show relocating from Salt Lake City to Denver, Colorado.
Patagonia, one of the companies that led the Outdoor Retailer exodus from Utah and has been vocal in its support of National Monuments, also praised the decision. “We applaud the County’s decision to support the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and for recognizing that the monument provides exceptional economic and recreational benefits for local communities,” wrote Meghan Wolf, Patagonia Environmental Coordinator. “We thank those who are working to protect the state’s public lands and for recognizing the vital ecological and economic benefits that public lands protections bring.”
The Cascade-Siskiyou, first established by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and then expanded by President Barack Obama in 2017, is the only monument established to protect remarkable levels of biodiversity.
"The Cascade-Siskiyou is America's only National Monument created specifically to protect biodiversity," said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director with the Audubon Society of Portland. "it is a national treasure that should be protected and passed on to future generations, not clearcut and degraded. On behalf of our 16,000 members, I want to thank the Multnomah County Commission for their decision to oppose this anti-environmental lawsuit and the organization that filed it."
“Oregonians overwhelmingly recognize that our public lands are treasures that should be protected,” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director of Oregon Wild. “The AoCC should take the hint that Multnomah County has just given them, and not only drop this ridiculous lawsuit but also all of their other efforts to undermine conservation, promote clearcutting, or advocate for the transfer of America’s public lands.”