AFRC and AOCC Comment on U.S. Supreme Court’s Denial of Petition for Writ of Certiorari on O&C Lands Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review the Obama-era expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2016 Resource Management Plans for Western Oregon O&C lands.  The case posed legal questions of national interest around Executive Branch overreach and the use of the Antiquities Act to nullify Congressional intent on federal lands.  Notably, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said they would grant the American Forest Resource Council (AFRC)-Association of O&C Counties’ (AOCC) joint petition for certiorari but did not write an opinion dissenting.

“We’re disappointed the Supreme Court did not take this historic opportunity to provide balance to growing Executive overreach on federal lands through the Antiquities Act, and legal clarity for our forests, communities, and the people who steward them,” said AFRC President Travis Joseph.

“Today, the Supreme Court denied a request to review our case involving the 2016 Resource Management plan for the BLM O&C lands, and the inclusion of approximately 40,000 acres of O&C land in the expansion of Cascade-Siskiyou Monument in 2017. While disappointing, this decision was not a surprise. We knew getting our case before the Supreme Court would be very difficult. The Association of O&C Counties has historically prioritized maintaining the O&C lands for sustained yield management as mandated by the 1937 O&C Act.  Diminishing the number of acres available for management impacts the employment, the economy, and the overall stability of all the O&C Counties in Oregon. The Association will continue to work closely with the BLM state office on the future management of the O&C lands,” said AOCC Executive Director Doug Robertson.

The Supreme Court’s denial comes right after AFRC urged the Pacific Northwest’s Congressional Delegation to take action to address challenges to the region’s forest and wood products sector. The letter noted that Western Oregon has experienced the closure or curtailment of three wood products mills since the beginning of the year, and additional closures and curtailments in the Pacific Northwest are likely to occur.  The common thread is a diminishing timber supply to the region’s wood products manufacturers, including from O&C lands managed by the BLM. Three BLM Districts within the working circle of the three recently closed mills have seen a 43 percent reduction in timber harvest volume from 2021 to 2024.

“The status quo in Western Oregon is unacceptable and unsustainable for our forests and communities,” Joseph said.  “The Oregon Congressional Delegation is now in the hot seat: will they provide meaningful solutions for our forests, workers, and at-risk communities?  Or will this ongoing social, environmental, economic, and political conflict in Western Oregon continue for the foreseeable future?  We remain undeterred and committed to practical, bipartisan outcomes for a better future.”