April 16, 2005

Medford Mail Tribune

Kulongoski urges Siskiyou protections in BLM proposal
A natural resource policy director cites concerns about grazing and management of older forests and forest health

By Paul Fattig

Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to include more protection and restoration goals in its final Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument management plan.

In a long letter dated April 13 to BLM state director Elaine Marquis-Brong, Michael Carrier, the governor's natural resource policy director, said the governor supports the plan's approach but believes more is needed to meet goals outlined in the monument's creation.

"We are very pleased with the management goals of the proposed plan," Carrier wrote. "Yet, we have specific concerns about management of older forests and forest health, the extensive nature of the road system and commercial livestock grazing."

The 52,940-acre monument is in the BLM's Medford District in the mountainous region immediately east of Ashland where the Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou ranges converge.

When it came to the contentious grazing issue, the letter notes the 2001 proclamation that created the monument clearly states protection of biological diversity is the primary purpose for its creation.

Moreover, the proclamation further states that grazing should be stopped if it is shown to be incompatible with monument goals and that a grazing study is needed, the letter added.

"The (final plan) moves too aggressively toward preservation of grazing without the benefit of the final results of the livestock grazing impacts study and a likely buyout of the grazing leases," according to the letter.

The latter refers to an announcement late last year by local ranchers with grazing allotments in the monument that they support a federal buyout of existing grazing leases. A buyout for a fair price has been supported by the Jackson County Stockmen's Association, the Oregon Cattlemen's Association and the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

"We recommend that you not move ahead with the 'decision tree' for grazing management until those two issues are resolved," the letter stated.