National Monument: Save Sáttítla – Medicine Lake Highlands

Medicine Lake Highlands
Photo: Bob Wick
National Monument: Save Sáttítla – Medicine Lake Highlands
Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center

Sáttítla, also known as the Medicine Lake Highlands, is a magnificent varied landscape encompassing clear lakes, lava flows, mountains of glass-like obsidian, white pumice, dark boulders, lava tubes, and ice caves. For at least 10,000 years Sáttítla has been a place of traditional spiritual culture to the Pit River and Modoc Nations as well as to more distant tribes. It is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, which has designated a 113-square-mile Native American Traditional Cultural District.

The well-being of the Highlands ecosystem and aquifers is essential to California’s climate stability, water supply, and its tourist economy. The Medicine Lake Recreation Area currently receives over 40,000 visitors per year who come from urban centers and all over the world to enjoy hiking, fishing, swimming, camping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and the outstanding vistas of this mysterious landscape. Since 1996, there has been a struggle against industrialization by the geothermal industry. The proposed 480 megawatts of geothermal extraction would utilize huge quantities of water, fragmenting this largely wild landscape, with impacts from hydraulic fracturing, acid leaching, 24-hour drilling, air and light pollution.

In 1997, Pit River Tribal members asked MSBEC to become involved in the campaign for long-term protection of Sáttítla. There is now a growing coalition of organizations involved in the effort to protect the landscape through national monument designation. MSBEC will continue to create opportunities for Tribal representatives and supporters to engage in the campaign. They will also engage civic groups, organize a public listening session with Tribal representatives, host a video presentation for local community members, and lead an eco-tour and a community event to engage leaders and community members. MSBEC continues to provide continuity, in-depth knowledge, and a long relationship of trust with Tribal and legal partners.