Special Features and Perspectives
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is best characterized by its outstanding biological diversity. A tremendous variety of plants and animals make homes amidst the towering forests, sunlit groves, wildflower-strewn meadows, and steep canyons. The Monument is also a bird haven, with more than 200 species identified, including the Northern Spotted Owl, the Great Gray Owl, the Peregrine Falcon and the Willow Flycatcher.
Environmentally harmful roads and jeep trails, cattle grazing, logging, and lack of funds to acquire privately owned land within the Monument boundaries from willing sellers. See "Protecting the Monument," below.
A Monument to Biodiversity
The convergence of southwestern Oregon's Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountain ranges in the 53,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument creates a landscape of exceptional geologic complexity and a gateway to one of the great reservoirs of biodiversity in North America. The Monument's rich forests shelter the threatened Northern Spotted Owl, its pristine streams flow with trout found nowhere else, and its lush wildflower meadows are alive with a diversity of butterflies nearly unsurpassed in the United States.
The Monument is an ecological meeting of the north, south, east and west. For example, species typically found east of the Cascades--such as pygmy nuthatches and kangaroo rats--share habitat with western species such as rough-skinned newts and northern spotted owls. The southwestern portion of the Monument is comprised of the eastern end of the Siskiyou Mountains which are unusual for their east-west orientation. The Siskiyous bring together plants and animals from the high deserts of the Great Basin with species from the wet forests of the Pacific Coast.
For the visitor, the Monument affords great possibilities--from fishing in Jenny Creek, to backcountry camping in the solitude of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Study Area, or exploring some of the Monument's unique geologic formations, like Pilot Rock, the basaltic remnant of volcano.
Human History in the Monument
Native peoples have lived in the Cascade-Siskiyou area for thousands of years. Archeological digs have uncovered nearly 100 dwelling and root gathering sites, as well as spiritual sites. Ancient ruins are typically in areas where open meadows and game, such as deer and elk, still exist. The Monument also contains remnants of more recent pioneer era history, like old mining cabins and part of the historic Oregon/California Trail, and cairns, blazed trees and cast-off ox shoes.
Protecting the Monument
There are approximately 32,000 acres of private land interspersed with the 53,000 acres of Monument lands, creating a checkerboard pattern of private and public lands--the result of a 19th century system of Congressional land grants to stimulate settlement, and subsequent railroad easement rights. Private lands within this boundary are not included in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Acquiring some of those key lands from willing sellers is a priority for both the BLM and conservationists, to minimize logging, grazing, and development within the most sensitive areas. However, the BLM lacks funding to acquire critical lands, that timber companies are very willing to sell.
The Presidential Proclamation that created the Monument in 2000 allows grazing to continue in the Monument, and disputes between cattle ranchers and visitors, hunters, and conservationists are a challenge. Visitors and hunters are upset by the widespread impacts of cattle, including trampled native grasses and creeks contaminated with waste from cattle in riparian areas. One hunter described the hillsides as "tore up like a rototiller" by cattle. Note 1
Note 1 Travis Wright as quoted by Damian Mann, "Is monument going to waste?" Southern Oregon Mail Tribune, August 17, 2003.