Eileen Park and KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- An advocacy group in Montana is calling on republican representatives Greg Walden of Oregon and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington to protect public lands in the Pacific Northwest after President Donald Trump signed proclamations on Dec. 4 to shrink 2 national monuments in Utah.
Western Values Project, located in Whitefish, Montana, spent $1 million toward advertising efforts, which are airing in Oregon and Washington. The messages say Walden and Hererra-Beutler could hold a deciding vote in the public lands debate.
"When we say protected, we really mean protected and it needs to be permanent," Western Value Project executive director Chris Saeger. "It can't be something that shifts with the political whims."
Ben Gaskins, an assistant professor of political science at Lewis and Clark College said the goal of the ads is to get congress to "step up."
"What these ads are trying to do is get congress to step up and to maybe pass some sort of legislation that would limit the ability of Trump in this case, to unilaterally shrink the size of federal monuments," Gaskins said.
In response to the ads, Herrera Beutler and Greg Walden say they'll support public lands and don't support anything that would gut protections for monuments.
"I'm a strong supporter of public lands and will not support any effort that wipes 2 million acres off the map," Walden said in a Twitter video.
I am a strong supporter of America's public lands, & will not support any effort that wipes 2 million acres of protected public lands off the map in any case. Learn more about my position here: https://t.co/YnA7Y8LD8m pic.twitter.com/FnVPzXQktT— Rep. Greg Walden (@repgregwalden) December 14, 2017
Herrera Beutler provided the following statement:
I have always worked to protect Southwest Washington's public lands and I would oppose in the strongest terms any attempt to, as the ad campaign states, 'gut protections for monuments and parks' here in Washington. In fact, every action I've taken is to better manage and increase the public's access to their land, whether that's fighting for funding for public trails, standing with sportsmen when precious hunting areas were threatened, or helping broker a deal to improve the Pacific Crest Trail that would also leave Skamania County's beleaguered taxable land base whole."
Oregon's Cascade Siskiyou National Monument is also being looked over by the Trump Administration but plans for that monument are less clear.
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