March 6, 2014

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — The Conservation Fund has transferred 930 acres of former Hancock Timber Resource Group lands, including a stretch of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for protection as part of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (CSNM). 

Located at the intersection of the Cascade Range, Siskiyou Mountains and Klamath Mountains, the area has been called the “Galapagos of North America” because of its wide range of plant and wildlife species, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. The U.S. Congress provided funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s premier conservation program, enacted in 1965. The Monument offers public recreation opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, hunting and winter sports.

Protection of these critical lands, along with key parcels the BLM purchased in 2012, completes over half of a multi-phase effort by the BLM and The Conservation Fund to protect one of the largest remaining private landholdings within the Monument boundary—approximately 6,570 acres—owned by Hancock Timber Resource Group. Approximately 2,890 acres of priority Hancock Timber lands remain available for sale, and future support from the LWCF could help BLM acquire these properties for conservation, which enhances habitat connectivity for wildlife and expands public recreational access.

Thanks to the dedicated support of U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, the U.S. Congress approved funding in Fiscal Year 2012 for the purchase through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal land protection program that receives funds from the development of federally-owned offshore oil and gas resources. No taxpayer dollars are used to support the LWCF, which has been protecting forests, natural resources, state and local parks and recreation areas since 1965.

“Today’s land transfer means that the project to increase public lands at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument—which is truly one of Oregon’s special places—is more than halfway complete,” said Senator Wyden. “Conserving this land within the Monument means more opportunities for hikers, hunters, and the rest of Southern Oregon’s robust recreation economy. I’m going to continue to fight for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which makes this kind of valuable project possible.”

“The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is one of America’s most treasured ecological places, and this land transfer will help conserve this area for future generations,” said Senator Merkley. “This will help provide protected habitat for many native plants and animals, and also provide new recreation opportunities for Southern Oregon.  Preserving this important area reminds us of how critically important it is to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund which was essential for this to happen.”

 “This collective effort will allow the BLM to eliminate much of the fragmentation within the monument, enabling better stewardship and landscape-level protection of at-risk lands,” said Evan Smith, Senior Vice President of Conservation Ventures at The Conservation Fund. “We are grateful for the support of Senators Wyden and Merkley to take a huge step forward in completing the Monument and securing this one-of-a-kind place.”

“We are very pleased with the progress being made to place these important conservation lands at Cascade-Siskiyou into public ownership,” said David Kimbrough, Manager, Hancock Timber Resource Group.  ”With our Sensitive Lands program and through our strong partnership with The Conservation Fund and the Bureau of Land Management, we are more than halfway there, and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that the rest of the sensitive lands in this biologically-rich landscape are conserved forever.”

“Partnerships with organizations such as The Conservation Fund are vital to the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s work to fully protect the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail,” said Ian Nelson, Regional Representative with the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA). “In addition, PCTA’s strong working relationship with the BLM in Southern Oregon has helped to make acquisition of lands that include sections of the Pacific Crest Trail a high priority.”

The Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument strongly endorsed the purchase of 930 acres from the Hancock Timber Resource Group lands.  Terry Dickey, Chair of the Friends added: “The purchase of these private parcels within the Monument has had the highest priority of support by the Friends. This was a ‘must’ action item.  Once the purchase of these private lands is final, the outdoor experiences of exploring and discovering diverse wildlife habitat and scenic vistas will be protected for future generations.”

Established in 2000 with the sole purpose of preserving the area’s extraordinary biodiversity, CSNM now spans more than 61,700 acres in southern Oregon.  Encompassing a diverse array of landscapes, from the high, dry deserts of the Great Basin to the wet, lower-elevation forests of the Pacific Coast, the CSNM region supports critical habitat for 3,500 plant and animal species.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states to protect more than 7.5 million acres of land since 1985.