SCOTUS takes Cascade-Siskiyou case to conference March 22

17 MARCH 2024 | CASCADE-SISKIYOU NATIONAL MONUMENT -- The American Forest Resources Council has been successful in petitioning the Supreme Court to entertaining a case that could have implications on the future of Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The trade group is appealing two lower court decisions that confirmed President Obama's 2017 expansion of the monument was within his legal authority.  

Siskiyou Mountain Club volunteers on the PCT, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

The AFRC is joined by Cliff Bentz and other house representatives as well as several trade groups, including the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The appeal is being fought by a coalition of environmental groups including the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and Oregon Wild. They are represented by the organization Earthjustice, according to documents from the court. 

View of Mt. Shasta from the Lone Pilot Trail, a road-to-trail conversion opposed by environmentalists in planning documents

It's unusual for the Supreme Court to take up cases that have been knocked down by two lower courts, and the case could have widespread implications on whether or not the President has authority to use the Antiquities Act when such actions come into conflict with existing legislation. In this case that legislation is O&C Act that mandates those lands to be managed for forest production that contributes to the economic stability of local communities. 

2015 volunteers work on the Pilot Rock Trail

If AFRC is successful, it could ultimately result in a "shrinking" of the national monument that stretches 114,000-acres, and includes areas renowned for biodiversity and ecological values. It would not have any bearing on the Soda Mountain Wilderness designated by Congress in 2009. 

Giant ponderosa pine on the Lone Pilot Trail

The expansion was supported by local city councils and chambers of commerce, but opposed by commissioners in both Klamath and Jackson counties, and when developing management plans for the monument, environmental groups fought development of recreational assets like campgrounds, trail building, and road-to-trail conversions. 

An equestrian enjoys the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

"If you want people to love the places near where they live, you can't take the keys. You need to open the door," says the Club's executive director Gabriel Howe, an Ashland resident.

He says he loves visiting the monument and is glad the area is protected from heavy-handed resource development. "I'll never understand the ideological assault from some conservationists against campgrounds, trailheads, and the other places from which people fall in love with their public lands." 

Volunteer Lisa Stutey bucks a pine from the Lone Pilot Trail

Local environmental group Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center did not respond to a request for comment on the issue. Check out the full docket and review documents in the case here

When in regular session, the court hears arguments on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Friday those cases go to a conference behind closed doors where the justices share their thoughts in order of seniority before casting votes. Read more about the procedures here

Back to blog