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Spotlight on Cascade Siskiyou

Note: this is part of a series of blogs detailing the Antiquities Act and national monuments that matter to hunters and anglers. Come back and visit in the coming days to learn more about your public lands and how national monuments conserve our hunting and fishing heritage. And while you’re at it, tell Congress don’t mess with monuments.

Sometimes you can’t get enough of a good thing.

Cascade Siskiyou National Monument was originally established in 2000, encompassing about 52,000 acres of pristine habitat in western Oregon. The area is home to an array of biologically diverse plants, rare plants, old growth forests and animal species – a scientist’s paradise.

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For anglers, it was home to a very unique type of Redband trout. While redbands are unique in that they persist in some of the harshest conditions in the West, this population located in Jenny Creek are especially so after being isolated for millennia.

But the original boundaries did not go far enough to protect the resources which take care of such unique species.

In 2016, President Obama expanded the monument to include another 56,000 acres, and important designation because it protected the features which protected such species. The expansion would included important waters such as Johnson Creek, a primary headwater tributary, additional portions of mainstem Jenny Creek, and Jenny Creek Falls, which is the geological feature in California that has provided for isolation of the redband trout and other native fishes within the drainage.

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Also of note, the original act and the subsequent expansion maintained uses such as hunting and fishing, keeping them open to the public.

Without the Antiquities Act such an area would likely never see protection. And while some in Congress are working to dismantle the Act, places like Cascade Siskiyou National Monument gain even more importance as climates warm. Species like redband trout are canaries in the coal mine – the signal of bigger challenges to come.

Jack Williams, senior scientist for Trout Unlimited says the recent expansion of the monument gives us some “breathing room” to meet those future challenges.

“We’re seeing warmer temperatures, less snowpack, and lower stream flows. By protecting these watersheds and some of the lands that help keep these watersheds healthy, we can give these unique populations of trout a fighting chance.”