ASHLAND — Dave Willis continues to try to win support for the year-old expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument one pair of hiking boots at a time.
Willis and his Soda Mountain Wilderness Council have crafted this year’s version of their annual free public hike series to highlight some of the hidden attributes of the 113,008-acre monument’s newest additions, some of which are targets for removal from monument designation by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
“We want to help the public see what the expanded monument is on the ground, not just in the headlines, not just in print,” Willis says.
“We want people to have a relationship with it by being there,” he says.
The 10-hike series starts this weekend, with forays planned into the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in the monument’s new lands in California on Saturday and a cross-county hike Sunday in the Sampson Creek Preserve.
Sunday’s hike and one planned on Memorial Day in the Grizzly Peak Preserve are “shuttle hikes” in which participants are driven to the apex elevation of the hike and work their way downhill in a one-way trek that is very difficult for people to replicate, Willis says.
“We’re giving people some experiences they can’t normally get on their own,” Willis says.
As always, the hikes are free and space is limited, so hikers must preregister for all but the June 9 hike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start times and meeting locations will be given to those who register.
The hike series runs from easy hikes such as Saturday’s event to very difficult ones like a June 9 scramble down the Jenny Creek Canyon to Jenny Creek Falls and back.
Each hike has at least one experienced and professional naturalist to highlight the ecological wonder and biological crossroads lauded in President Barak Obama’s proclamation in expanding the monument just before leaving office in January 2017.
The monument is one of 21 eyed by the Trump administration for possible reduction in a still-unreleased report from Zinke.
The expansion also is the target of three federal lawsuits that challenge the legality of the expansion.
Arguments include challenging whether the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was improperly expanded into O&C Act lands, based on a 1940 internal Interior Department review that concluded O&C Act lands cannot be rolled into monument status, though that review has not been fully challenged in court.
The council has filed to argue in federal court on behalf of the government’s defense of that status.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.