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Make Your Voice Heard in Redistricting!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021
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California is redrawing its federal and state legislative maps (including losing one congressional seat!). That means that your legislative district might change. 

While environmental and climate justice advocates have been building a policy agenda for years, we currently do not have the political power in California to act on these solutions at the rate and scale required. The 2021 redistricting process is a unique moment to make key structural change: not only for the next legislative session, but for this final decade leading to the 2030 climate deadline.

California’s Constitution requires that redistricting preserve “communities of interest”—those economic or cultural ties that bind communities together—to the maximum extent possible. Northwest California is one of those communities of interest. Our coastal-moderated ecosystems share the same ecological history, which in turn has shaped the culture and economy of the area. The threats facing Northwest California are also similar, whether from sea level rise, drought, or climate change. Our environment and economy are best served by keeping Northwest California together. 

The redistricting process begins by soliciting input from the public about what forms their community of interest. Unique public comments are very important to the process. There are two ways you can participate!

Participate in a Communities of Interest Public Hearing!

The Citizen Redistricting Commission is holding virtual meetings based on “zones.” Your address is in Zone A. The Citizen Redistricting Commission is hosting a special meeting for our zone on July 1 from 12-8pm, to solicit input. Go to https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org/meetings to see the meeting agenda and to register to speak! Each speaker will get up to 3 minutes.

Need talking points? Check out below for more information!

Draw Your Own Map!

Don’t want to sit through a public meeting? Can’t make July 1st? No problem! Submit your testimony online, by email or by mail.

The Citizen Redistricting Commission has set up a cool website where you can draw your community of interest. Go to DrawMyCACommunity.org and follow the helpful tutorials. (Having trouble? Email [email protected] and we can help you through it!)

You can also provide input to the Commission by emailing: [email protected] (CC us at [email protected] too!) or by snail mail: California Citizens Redistricting Commission, 721 Capitol Mall, Suite 260, Sacramento, CA 95814. You can even call in your comments to (916) 323-0323.

Need Help with What to Say?

At a loss over what to say? That’s understandable. We are here to help. The Commission needs to know four key things from you about your community. Here are some thoughts to help guide your testimony. 

Where is your community located?

State where you are from and that you are speaking to preserve Northwest California’s community of interest.

What are the economic, social, and/or cultural interests that bind your community together?

There are many ties that link our communities together in Northwest California. Here are a few we at EPIC have thought of. Feel free to use any of these examples or add your own:

  • Our coastal-moderated forests, particularly the redwoods, form an ecological community that provide a shared economic history and a shared cultural history. Likewise, climate change presents unique challenges for this region (sea level rise, reduced summer fog and increasing temperatures). The importance of the redwoods to our cultural identity is mirrored in the names of our community institutions, Redwood Community Action Agency to the Redwood Rural Health Center to College of the Redwoods.
  • Our region shares similar land-based agricultural interests, from wineries stretching North from Sonoma through Humboldt, to cannabis. Climate change is going to affect agriculture in our region, from warmer temperatures to less precipitation. We are better able to mitigate and adapt together
  • Our wild salmon fisheries found in the coastal streams and rivers of Northwest California, though a shadow of their former runs, are still vitaly important to our area and help to form a shared cultural interest. From tribal fishermen to recreational anglers, we share a love of our wild salmon and the region is invested in taking concrete steps to bring our salmon back. We are best able to advocate for salmon through preserving this community of interest. 
  • Although Northwest California is often very rural, we are noticeably different from much of rural California. Environmental protection, love of public lands, and concern about climate change are values shared in Northwest California. 

Why should your community should be kept together for fair and effective representation?

Because our economies and cultures are shaped by our shared natural environment, our interests are best served when we are represented together. Whether it is addressing sea level rise or the threat of a warming climate on our economies, the environmental challenges of the present and future will affect coastal communities in a similar way.

What nearby areas does your community want to or not want to be grouped with? 

Northwest California share a common economy and culture; by contrast, we are less similarly aligned with our fellow residents to the East. These areas are more culturally conservative and their economies are still more tied to extractive economies, making them a poor “fit” with our area.


An Update From The Campaign To Save Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021
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As summer heats up, so does the campaign to save Jackson Demonstration State Forest (Jackson). As you may know, Jackson is a 50,000 acre, state-owned, coast redwood forest where CAL FIRE ‘demonstrates’ logging for private timber companies. Environmental activists, outdoor recreationists, and the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians have allied together to save Jackson. We believe that California should be using its state-owned forest lands like Jackson to sequester carbon, enhance biodiversity, encourage outdoor recreation, and preserve Native American cultural heritage.

This past week, forest defenders successfully paused operations on the “Caspar 500” Timber Harvest Plan (THP) which CAL FIRE approved in May of last year. The area has been the site of continuous tree-sits since April 9th in order to protect a 240” circumference redwood tree which CAL FIRE had marked for harvest. After substantial community outrage, CAL FIRE relented and unmarked the tree and some of its neighbors, but the forest defenders want to save the forest, not just a few trees. Last week, Anderson Logging, the company responsible for executing the Caspar 500 THP, ordered their fellers to continue cutting trees in extremely close proximity to the activists. The community was shocked to learn that CAL FIRE was allowing its contractors to conduct logging operations that clearly endangered the public. Then, on June 22nd, CAL FIRE announced that it was pausing the Caspar 500 THP. This is an amazing victory for the forest defense movement, but our campaign is just beginning.

Elsewhere in Jackson, public comments submitted by EPIC have delayed approval of two timber harvest plans that would have logged older second growth coast redwoods. The comments, which EPIC submitted alongside local environmental organizations, detailed numerous instances where CAL FIRE had erred in conducting their environmental review of the THPs. For instance, CAL FIRE denied that climate change was man-made stating “exactly how and to what extent human activity plays a role in global climate change appears to be unknown.” CAL FIRE also failed to conduct adequate northern spotted owl and plant surveys. Not to mention one of the plans is located adjacent to Mendocino Woodlands State Park and the THP failed to adequately consider impacts to recreationists and campers. The two plans were submitted in April and were expected to be approved later that month but so far CAL FIRE has declined to do so.

At the same time, EPIC is leading the fight to convince the State of California that saving Jackson is essential to meeting its Climate and 30×30 goals. If California is serious about going carbon neutral and preserving 30% of our lands by 2030, saving Jackson is essential to meeting those goals. As a coast redwood forest, Jackson has the capacity to sequester more carbon than any other forest type on earth. And in terms of meeting the 30×30 goals of 1) preserving biodiversity, 2) sequestering carbon, and 3) creating opportunities for outdoor recreation, Jackson is one of the most promising lands in the entire state. EPIC and our allies have attended numerous public hearings and met with State and Federal representatives to urge our political leaders to endorse preserving Jackson. Keep a lookout for more ways to support our campaign to transform Jackson!


EPIC & Allies File Notice of Intent to Sue Forest Service For Failure In Trespass Cannabis Grows

Monday, June 21st, 2021
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Trespass grow site in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Photo by US Forest Service.

EPIC and allies including Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Northcoast Environmental Center, filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S.Forest Service for failing to clean up hazardous waste associated with trespass cannabis grows on Forest Service lands in California.

At the heart of the lawsuit is a novel legal question: Is the federal government obligated to remove hazardous waste on its property? By deliberately leaving hazardous waste in the forest, often without warning or marking, conservation groups assert that the Forest Service is putting the public and the environment at risk.

Trespass cannabis cultivation is routine on public lands in California and the Forest Service—the largest landowner in the state—busts dozens of grow sites per year. While trash and other solid waste is often removed from grow sites after law enforcement, deadly pesticides, including some that are banned for use in the United States, are routinely left at the former grow site because of the cost and complexity of removal. This presents a legacy problem for humans and the environment.

“Our public lands should not be warehouses for toxic chemicals,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center and the author of the notice letter. “The Forest Service has an obligation under the law to deal with hazardous waste left on their lands. Their failure to do so harms the environment and puts human lives at risk.”

Hazardous waste discovered yet left in the forest include carbofuran, warfarin, zinc phosphide, strychnine, methomyl, carbaryl, and aluminum phosphide. The risk to humans is acute. Take carbofuran for example. Carbofuran, a potent neurotoxic insecticide, is so hazardous that it can kill an adult human with “just a drop” —1/16th of a teaspoon—and is “one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides ever produced.” Carbofuran is found at approximately 32-34% of trespass grow sites in California. Often found in unmarked containers, like chemical sprayers and Gatorade bottles, simply picking up a bottle of carbofuran without gloves exposes a person to the poison. Carbofuran is so dangerous that as of 2009, there are no legally permitted uses for carbofuran. The risk is also not abstract, as law enforcement officers have been injured by pesticide exposure at trespass grow sites.

“Access to our National Forests is a minefield for campers, hikers and wildlife with extremely hazardous toxic chemicals left dumped and leaking downstream who knows how far,” said Patty Clary of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics. “With its huge footprint in California, the Forest Service is completely remiss and cannot be allowed to ignore the ongoing poisoning of our land and water caused by unfettered criminal marijuana grows as if this horrendous problem doesn’t exist.”

Hazardous waste also continues to make its way into the environment. Recent research shows that pesticide residue is commonly found in the blood endangered species, such as the northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher, so much so that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recognized toxicants associated with trespass cannabis production as a threat to these species.

By filing the notice of intent to sue, conservation organizations hope to forestall actual litigation by forcefully encouraging the Forest Service to budget and plan for the full remediation of all known grow sites on their lands in the state.

Conservation groups are represented by William Verick of the Klamath Environmental Law Center.

See the full Notice of Intent here.


ACTION ALERT: Save Richardson Grove For Future Generations!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
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For more than a decade, EPIC and allies have fought the proposed Caltrans project in Richardson Grove. The Grove was designated as a heritage park and protected in the California State Park system, and is one of the state’s oldest and most popular state parks. Richardson Grove sits alongside the wild and scenic Eel River, and is a place that is of incredible value to a multitude of people from around the region, the state, the country, and the world. Richardson Grove is the gateway to Northern California’s redwoods, and it shelters one of the last protected stands of accessible old-growth redwood trees in the world.

Will you speak up today for these iconic trees?

The proposed highway-widening project would cut into and pave over root systems of thousand-year-old trees, potentially causing dieback of the canopy and possible loss of parts of the grove of irreplaceable redwoods. All this would be done just to force oversized trucks up and down the coast. And it’s unnecessary, because other cost-effective and environmentally sound transportation solutions exist.

Under this new administration, we have another chance to stop the project and explore alternatives. We can’t do it without the support and participation of the community. Take action today and let our representatives know that Richardson Grove is not up for experiment!

Tell U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Caltrans and your legislators to save the redwoods of Richardson Grove for future generations and the climate.

Take Action Today!


Enviros Score Victory on Fish Farm: County & Company Agree More Analysis Necessary

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
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Image from LostCoastOutpost

EPIC, together with our allies at Humboldt Baykeeper, the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities, 350 Humboldt, Humboldt Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and the Northcoast Environmental Center, recently won a surprise victory in what seem like an arcane procedural matter concerning the proposed Nordic Aquafarm facility on Humboldt Bay: Nordic has agreed to do a full environmental impact report and not just a initial statement/mitigated negative declaration. Confused? You should be! This gets into the weeds of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) but the difference is important and it is a victory worth celebrating. (This was a collaborative victory and EPIC thanks our friends with whom we shared a joint comment letter.)

The proposal by Nordic—to install a large land-based recirculating aquaculture system to grow Atlantic salmon—is subject to CEQA’s mandate that the county study and mitigate any potentially significant environmental impacts. The company and the county made clear that they did not believe that the project would result in any such impacts, so the decision was made to do an “mitigated negative declaration”—meaning that, if mitigation measures were employed, then there would be no significant impacts. Our coalition disagreed with this decision for two reasons. 

First and most importantly, we believe that there are potentially significant impacts from the project. The project would require a LOT of energy (moving and cooling water is resource-intensive) and based on the existing “carbon intensity” of power from California’s grid—the amount of greenhouse gases released per unit of energy—we believe that this would result in significant release of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Second, we believe that given the novelty of the project—there is no other like it in the United States—we need to go through a more conservative and cautious approach, which demands more environmental analysis, public participation, and consideration of alternatives. That’s precisely the benefit of doing a full environmental impact report versus just a mitigated negative declaration.

Here’s where things went weird: Humboldt County and Nordic Aquafarms agreed with us—or at least agreed that doing a full environmental impact report was a better process. It is rare to have one’s concerns heard and appreciated in this manner. Kudos to Planning Director John Ford and to Nordic for listening to our concerns. 

EPIC has not taken a position on the larger proposed project. There are certainly going to be impacts to the environment, but the project also could result in a cleaner Humboldt Bay, as project construction would result in the cleanup of the old pulp mill site and we anticipate a future advocate for maintaining clean water in Humboldt Bay and the Mad River in Nordic—after all, they have a financial interest in water quality given they are going to pull water from both for their fish farm.


Lumber Prices Are Product Of COVID, Not Environmental Protections

Monday, June 14th, 2021
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The High Cost of Lumber, Explained

If you have been to the lumberyard recently, you likely came away with sticker shock. Lumber prices are up dramatically— from 67% this year to 340% last year. And, of course, environmentalists and endangered species are getting blamed. (We have seen a marked rise in rude emails to EPIC, which is one of the casualties of this job.) To set the record straight, let’s be clear that it was market failures—not environmental protections—at fault for the jump in prices. 

At the start of the pandemic, anticipating hard times ahead, timber companies sought to offload their back stock of milled lumber. With potentially turbulent times ahead and a projected recession, becoming liquid was perhaps prudent. At the same time, mills closed their doors or cut shifts, either because of COVID-related closures or because they wanted to keep costs down in an economically anxious period. This led to a supply problem that may not have even reached its zenith. 

Instead of a slowdown, sales soared. Stimulus checks and postponed spending on vacations and travel—together with the ability of modern office workers to work from home—meant that some people in the economy had more money than before. Folks stuck at home got home improvement fever. Millennials too are finally primed to pursue home ownership, which has resulted in a hot housing market, putting pressure on lumber supply to meet the demand for new housing. So, with increasing demand and a weak supply, the conditions were primed for a price explosion.

At the moment, we don’t have a timber problem; we have a lumber problem. Drive past the log decks at local timber mills and you can see thousands of acres of forest, hacked down and laid horizontal, waiting to be milled. There’s plenty of wood to be milled and timber companies are doing their best to capitalize on the moment. Sawmills are ramping back up production. Wood futures markets—yes, that’s a thing—anticipate an eventual decline in prices but we may see exaggerated lumber pricing for quite some time. So perhaps don’t expect this bubble to burst; it will most likely deflate.

There is an environmental cost to this timber boom too. After a pretty blasé decade after the Great Recession, the timber industry appears to be roaring back. Small forest landowners who have foregone logging, waiting for prices to pick up, are looking to log. Same too for the big boys, the large industrial timberland owners. Timber harvest plans and other permitted logging is up; the limiting factor seemingly being the labor necessary to cut, deck, and deliver the trees to mills. Like all of the “rushes” before it, the frenzy to get-rich-quick risks environmental damage. The same deck that the homeowner wants is also the forest that the owl needs. If the societal cost of logging was factored into the price of timber, we would likely also see an increase in price. Alas. 


Join Us For A Summer Ivy Pull On July 15th!

Monday, June 14th, 2021
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The Event: We had such a great time during our Earth Day Ivy Pull in partnership with the No Ivy League, that we have decided to make Ivy Pulls a new quarterly event for EPIC! We will continue our previous work to remove invasive ivy from the ground and trees along the junction of Stagecoach Road and Anderson Road in Trinidad, CA. English ivy climbs the native trees and eventually causes them to die, removing important coastal erosion buffers. By removing the ivy, we will help to maintain the diverse coastal forests that we know and love.

When: Thursday, July 15th, from 1:00-4:00 PM

What to bring: Please wear sturdy boots, and bring gloves, water, a mask, a snack, and either clippers or other ivy removal weapons of choice. Loppers are only useful on occasion, and we will have a couple of those on site. Folding pruning saws are handy on holly trunks. Bright tape or spray paint on your tools can help to locate them if dropped in heavily infested areas. Some people like to sit directly on the ground, so they bring a cushion, mat, or 5-gallon bucket to sit on near a stump or tree. Folks who are allergic to bees may want to bring their Epipen or Benadryl, as ground-dwelling bees do appear from time to time during the summer.

Where to meet: Meet near the junction of Stagecoach Road and Anderson Road. Park to the south of the Anderson Road intersection. Either side has areas of wide shoulders. We will enter the forest at the gate on the west side, where a wide path goes into the forest.

The areas selected for treatment are reasonably clear of downed branches/trunks and thorny berry stalks, and are gently sloping. There should be plenty of room to “distance” between the two areas. Keep in mind that the closest public restrooms are either at the Trinidad State Beach picnic area near town, or in town between the tennis court and City Hall.

All ages welcome, masks required.  Dress for the weather!


Take Action: Call For An Immediate Halt To Logging In Occupied JDSF!

Thursday, June 10th, 2021
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Logging commenced yesterday on the highly contested timber harvest plan called Caspar 500 in Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) where a tree sit in an almost two-hundred-year-old redwood known as the “Mama Tree” has captured the public’s attention since April. Trees are being felled despite people being present in the forest in the same location in an effort to protect the trees.

Early yesterday morning, tree sitter Alder reported hearing chainsaws and heavy thuds as big trees were being cut at a “fast and furious” rate in multiple locations. Alder immediately notified Cal Fire State Forests Program Director, Kevin Conway, as well as contractor, Anderson Logging, of people’s presence on the ground in vicinity. Many community members, trail hikers and bikers have flocked to the woods in a last ditch attempt to keep standing the trees they love.

Concerned community members called on Kevin Conway, Cal Fire State Forests Program Director, to immediately halt logging operations while people are in the woods. Previous negotiations for dialogue broke down recently when Cal Fire refused to agree to halt logging while talks were initiated.

While the Mama and Papa trees have focused public attention on JDSF, activists emphasize that they are “not the only trees in the forest” and that it is the entire forest in the context of climate change, cultural and tribal protections and current environmental and economic issues affecting Mendocino County and the world.

The Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest in JDSF is calling for a moratorium on logging until a new Environmental Impact Report for the JDSF Management Plan is completed, stating: “The old report, drafted 2007, is woefully out of date”.

Please join us in urging Cal Fire State Forests Program Director, Kevin Conway, to halt logging operations immediately so negotiations can continue and until proper dialogue has been reached. An easy to fill out template letter can be found at the link below! Sign today!


Action Alert: Ask the Natural Resources Agency to Conserve Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021
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Good news from our campaign in Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF)! For the past several weeks, local activists have been tree-sitting in the “Mamma Tree” a 200 year old redwood measuring 77” diameter at breast height (dbh) in order to prevent CAL FIRE from cutting it down. The tree was marked as part of the “Caspar 500” THP which CAL FIRE argues is necessary in order to perform research and promote a healthy forest. EPIC and many other groups called out CAL FIRE for the hypocrisy of arguing that cutting down some of the largest trees in the forest would improve its health.

Caught in their lie, CAL FIRE has begrudgingly unmarked the Mamma Tree as well as some of its older neighbors. The grove, which is easily accessible from a popular trail, will survive this round of CAL FIRE timber harvesting. But make no mistake, the fight continues. The fact that these large, old trees were ever marked at all exemplifies CAL FIRE’s ongoing mismanagement in JDSF. With the looming climate crisis and biodiversity crisis, California cannot afford to continue chopping down its future.

EPIC is continuing our work to change the management of JDSF for the better. For instance, we are going above CAL FIRE’s head to argue to the Natural Resources Agency that California should conserve JDSF as part of Governor Newsom’s recently announced goal of conserving 30% of California lands by 2030. EPIC believes that if Governor Newsom is serious about this goal, he must conserve JDSF.

JDSF is an attractive option for conservation for several reasons. First, JDSF is already state owned land, which means no acquisition is required to move almost 50,000 acres into the “conserved” column . Moreover, JDSF is already beloved by local residents and tourists alike as a place for outdoor recreation. In addition, because the dominant species on JDSF is coastal redwood, preserving this forest will have uniquely beneficial carbon sequestration impacts. Coast redwood trees sequester carbon quicker and for a longer period of time than almost any other species on earth. On top of that, because JDSF is home to the endangered northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, the biodiversity benefits of a forest reserve would be quite large. Finally, JDSF houses culturally significant sites and biological resources for the Northern Pomo and Coast Yuki peoples that are threatened by ongoing timber harvesting. Preserving JDSF would also help preserve their cultural heritage.

The Natural Resources Agency is accepting comments on the following question as they prepare their report on which lands should be conserved:

“What land and coastal habitats, including urban and community green spaces, should California classify as having significant opportunity to contribute to our goals of achieving carbon neutrality and building climate resilience? Do some landscapes inherently have greater potential than others? Of these landscapes, which have the longest-term sequestration benefits?”

Send a personalized email to the Natural Resources Agency at [email protected] with the subject line “Expanding Climate Action Through Nature-Based Solutions” let them know that you believe JDSF should be classified as one of the best lands in the State for contributing to our carbon sequestration goals.

Comments are open until June 15th. Use your own words to explain to the Natural Resources Agency why they should be calling for the conservation of JDSF.


Lawsuit Launched to Reverse Trump Administration Denial of Endangered Species Protection to West Coast Fishers

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021
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Rare Forest Carnivores Are Threatened by Logging, Fire, Poisoning 

EPIC, Center for Biological Diversity, and Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center filed a formal notice today of their intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its denial of Endangered Species Act protection to the majority of fishers on the West Coast.

Relatives of minks and otters, West Coast fishers once roamed forests from British Columbia to Southern California. Fishers throughout the West Coast range continue to face threats from intense logging, increased fire related to climate change and the use of toxic rodenticides by marijuana growers, which has caused a decline in their populations.

The Service’s May 2020 decision to deny the animals protection reversed previous determinations that West Coast fishers, from northern Washington to the southern Sierra, deserved protection as threatened.

“The Trump administration’s denial of protection to West Coast fishers disregarded the Service’s own findings and completely ignores key science on these amazing and elusive carnivores,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If the fisher’s going to survive and recover in this warming world, it needs Endangered Species Act protection now.”

The groups first petitioned for endangered species protection for West Coast fishers in 2000, leading to a 2004 determination by the Service that the fisher should be listed as threatened throughout its West Coast range.

Rather than provide that protection, however, the Service delayed it, arguing that it was precluded by listings of other species. The agency reaffirmed the fisher’s imperiled status in annual reviews through 2016, when it abruptly reversed course and denied protection.

After the groups successfully challenged that decision, the Service in 2020 granted protections to fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada, but nowhere else.

“The fisher has had to endure 20 years of political games, as the Service has repeatedly violated the law to placate the timber industry,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of EPIC. “It is sad that we are forced, once again, to go to court because the Service refuses to abide by its mandate.”

“The combination of widespread poisonings and extensive loss of habitat have fishers at death’s door,” said George Sexton, conservation director for the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center. “We refuse to see this iconic species disappear forever on our watch.”

Read the Notice of Intent here.


Three MAJOR Updates from the Defense of Richardson Grove

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
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The struggle to save the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park continues and we have three exciting updates to share with you.

First, EPIC is back in federal court on Richardson Grove with a motion for summary judgment on unresolved claims. As always, our attorneys did a fantastic job. Although we had a temporary setback at the Ninth Circuit in December, it was only that: temporary. We are excited to plunge ahead and put forward our claims. You can read the excellent briefing here.

Second, the coalition of groups that oppose Richardson Grove continues to grow. In December 2020, the Save the Redwoods League announced its opposition to the project. In a press release, the League stated cutting and paving over the fragile roots of old-growth redwoods was “it is not the right thing to do in this special place” and “that the League urges the agency to seek other, less-impactful options” to the project. The League also provided their scientific expertise. The League has also supported EPIC’s legal work, with the League’s Director of Restoration providing a declaration about the threats posed by climate change to redwoods. It is a great and illuminating piece and we encourage you to read it. Thanks to Save the Redwoods League for their support. We are also excited about our growing relationship with the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council and are proud to help amplify their concerns with the Richardson Grove Project. 

Third, EPIC and our allies have invited Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin to visit Richardson Grove and discuss our concerns with the project. Director Omishakin is said to have brought a new energy and direction to the agency, as he was brought in from out of state and has a well-known interest in “active transportation” (i.e. human-powered transportation, like biking or walking). Read our letter to Director Omishakin here.


Action Alert: Say No To Toxic Herbicides

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
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Take Action! The Mendocino National Forest is proposing to spray toxic chemicals on over 1,500 acres just north of Clear Lake. The North Shore project in the 2018 Ranch Fire area also includes 500 acres of post-fire logging and 1,080 acres of planting. A majority of herbicide use would be for killing all vegetation around planted trees, which is entirely unnecessary for sapling survival. Over 400 acres includes application for non-native invasive plant species, which could be treated by multiple non-toxic alternatives.

The poisonous chemicals contained in herbicides are harmful to people, wildlife, and the environment. Even when herbicide is carefully applied, there is a potential for harm to native species through off-target drift, surface runoff, or leaching. Imazapyr, one of the herbicides proposed for use is well documented to harm amphibians and fish when it contaminates watercourses. Imazapyr has been recorded to exude out of the roots of treated plants into the surrounding soil, thus impacting surrounding plant communities. Fluazifop, has been found to stimulate pathogens in the soil while inhibiting bacteria with plant growth promoting abilities. Triclopyr BEE is also proposed. Triclopyr poses a greater risk to humans and wildlife, and has a higher chance of entering waterways than Glyphosate. Another concern is their persistence in the environment. Aminopyralid, has been well documented to have an abnormally long half-life for an herbicide with samples having a half-life lasting over 500 days. Developed in 2005 by Dow AgroSciences, aminopyralids long-term effects remain unknown.

Further, the Forest Service argues that it needs to use herbicides in order to make up for the spread of invasive species it causes while undergoing the project. First the agency fails to control invasives before they spread. Then, through fire suppression actions, seeds are knowingly distributed all over. Now it proposes to trample through the forest with logging equipment, disturbing the soil and promoting further infestation. So, the Forest Service is pushing herbicides in order to combat a problem, which it created and proposes to worsen.

Alternative 4 is the No Spray option in the Environmental Assessment. Please urge the Mendocino National Forest to consider and use non-toxic alternatives!


Join Us: 2nd Annual Paddle Out For Justice On June 6th!

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
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Please join us for the 2nd Annual Paddle Out for Justice organized by a group of Humboldt surfers and community members on Sunday, June 6, 2021. This event aims to make visible the injustices faced by Black, Indigenous, and peoples of color in our communities and nation, to honor the memories of those killed at the hands of police, and to raise money for six amazing local organizations:

– Black Humboldt

– Centro del Pueblo

– Eureka NAACP

– Humboldt Asian Pacific Islanders (HAPI) for Solidarity

– Native Women’s Collective

– Two Feathers Native American Family Services.

All are welcome! Sunday, June 6, 2021. Arrive at 9am for a 9:30 start.

BLM Breakwater, South of the Coast Guard Station, Twaya’t – North Jetty – Samoa, Ca.

There will be several speakers, followed by a paddle out ceremony in the bay. Bring your own food, water, sun protection, watercraft, wetsuit. Flowers will be provided!

Check out this article about the 1st Annual Paddle Out from last year in the North Coast Journal.

 More info on Instagram @paddleoutforjustice or the Facebook Event Page here.

Want to support these efforts and organizations? Check out the GoFundMe or the online auction, which features an amazing array of local items and two hand-painted surfboards!

Online Auction: www.32auctions.com/paddleoutforjustice2021

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/paddle-out-for-justice…

We hope to raise at least $5500 to donate to these organizations and cover minor event costs. Thank you for showing up and for your generosity!


The Duty To Protect Our Redwood Relatives

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021
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My name is Crista Ray and I am a Sinkyone descendant. I am a member of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians and represent my Tribe on the board of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council (Sinkyone Council). The Sinkyone Council is a Tribal non-profit consortium comprised of ten federally recognized Northern California Indian Tribes with cultural connections to the lands and waters of traditional Sinkyone and neighboring Tribal territories. Richardson Grove comprises an important area of Sinkyone traditional territory, and is a Sinkyone cultural heritage area of immense significance to Tribes and Tribal Peoples of the region.

Today, Richardson Grove continues to hold great cultural significance as an important place of prayer, ceremony and cultural lifeways. This is in part because Richardson Grove is one of only a few remaining ancient redwood groves, a critical part of the surviving 2% old-growth redwood still standing. Gááhs-tcho (coast redwood tree in Sinkyone language, also referred to as Na-Gááh-tcho) is a special relative whom Indigenous Peoples are taught to never harm. Tribal leaders throughout the redwood region often have spoken of the duty to honor and protect the Gááhs-tcho, and warned about the consequences of harming them. The Sinkyone, along with many other Indigenous Peoples, relate to Gááhs-tcho as communities of sacred beings who provide protection, abundance and balance for the world. If the Grove is harmed, then so are the Sinkyone People and this world.

That is why we are opposed to Caltrans’ so-called “Richardson Grove Improvement Project”. While Caltrans insists that no old-growth Gááhs-tcho would be removed if the project were implemented, the project’s plans require severing significant numbers of large old-growth tree roots, paving them over with concrete, and removing many neighboring trees. This is unacceptable and would permanently harm these trees and Tribal cultural heritage.

Anyone who has ever walked through an old-growth Gááhs-tcho grove knows the grandeur of these incredible beings. But, something you don’t get to fully appreciate when walking above ground is their incredible root systems. Unlike many other trees, Gááhs-tcho roots are relatively shallow, usually only about 6-12 feet deep. How does the tallest tree on earth stay upright with such shallow roots?

Instead of burrowing down, Gááhs-tcho roots spread out over a large area. As they do, they intertwine with their neighbors and form an interlocking root system that holds up the individual trees. This strategy is what prevents Gááhs-tcho from falling over during the many strong windstorms and earthquakes they experience over their incredibly long lives. So, cutting a significant number of large old-growth Gááhs-tcho roots, particularly old-growth Gááhs-tcho whose root system have developed over centuries or even millennia, will endanger the entire Grove by weakening its support structure. Even if the Grove survives the immediate effects of the cuttings, Caltrans will have forever weakened the resiliency of the Grove.

Photo by Murray Cooper.

There is another reason why cutting significant numbers of Gááhs-tcho roots is a threat to the health of the entire Grove. Western science has recently duplicated what Indigenous Peoples have known since time immemorial, that every tree in a forest is linked, even trees of different species. A complex symbiotic relationship between the root systems of trees and fungi, known to scientists as a mycorrhizal network, allows trees to share a vast store of knowledge and understanding—as well as support, love and nutrients—with one another. Scientists have documented trees sharing carbon, water, nitrogen and other nutrients via this underground network. Researchers have even documented chemical alarm signals being shared from tree to tree that warn of drought or beetle infestation.

Trees are not inanimate objects, indifferent to the world around them. They are part of a community that depends upon its members in order to survive and thrive. For decades, foresters who traditionally viewed every tree as an individual have dismissed or rejected this research because of its implications. As such, researchers are still learning much about how mycorrhizal networks operate in Gááhs-tcho forests. Given the scientific community’s lack of understanding on this issue and the sacred and irreplaceable nature of old-growth Gááhs-tcho, Caltrans has a duty not to damage their root systems.

Written by Crista Ray and shared with her permission .


Action Alert: Tell Humboldt County to Fully Review and Mitigate Fish Factory

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021
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Computer-generated illustration shows how proposed project would look on the Samoa Peninsula. Image courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms.

Comments are due May 24 on the County’s review of the environmental impacts of Nordic AquaFarms’ proposed land-based fish factory. The project would involve redeveloping nearly 36 acres at the former pulp mill in Samoa to produce 73 million pounds of fish per year. Twelve million gallons of treated wastewater would be released into the ocean daily, 1.5-miles from shore. Most of that water would come from Humboldt Bay, with up to 3 million gallons/day coming from the Mad River through existing pipelines.

Humboldt Baykeeper, Surfrider Foundation, EPIC, the Northcoast Environmental Center, the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities and 350 Humboldt are teaming up to review and comment on the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration.

We need your help. Join us in calling on the County to prepare an Environmental Impact Report for the project and to incorporate more mitigation measures to reduce potential harm to ocean wildlife. Below are some talking points to help!

  • Environmental Impact Review is necessary. The project, one of the largest in recent memory, requires an environmental impact report. This kind of environmental analysis better allows for public participation in the decision making process and is likely to help reduce environmental impacts through better study. Included in this EIR should be a consideration of all components of the project, including water intake, which had been deferred to a separate, future review.
  • Additional mitigation measures to help reduce impacts. Additional mitigation measures for the project are reasonable and necessary.
    • Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The project would require 21.5 MW—about 15% of the energy produced by the PG&E plant at King Salmon. A portion of this will be offset by solar panels, but we are calling on Nordic to formally commit to using 100% renewable energy.
    • Impacts on marine life from feed sources. Commercial fish feed contains meal and oil made from small fish like herring. Known as “forage fish,” they are a critical food source for wild fish and marine mammals. We want assurances that these forage fish will be harvested sustainably and that Nordic will try to reduce animal protein in their feedstock to the maximum extent feasible.
    • Impacts from new truck and car trips. The project will generate 95 additional truck trips per week, and 150 employees will commute to and from the site—all on roads with no active transportation infrastructure. We’re asking for Nordic to provide better bike and pedestrian facilities for Highway 255 and New Navy Base Road, a vanpool for employees at shift changes, and an adaptive management plan requiring adoption of zero emission trucks and other vehicles as they become commercially available.
  • Monitoring and adaptive management necessary to compensate for uncertainty of impacts. Nordic AquaFarms believes that the effluent released from the project will not result in any adverse effects to the environment. This may be true, but given the newness of the technology and the complexity of predicting impacts from new nutrient discharge, we believe that this project would be improved by monitoring and disclosure of actual effluent discharge and incorporation of objective adaptive management provisions if environmental impacts are worse than anticipated. Monitoring and adaptive management is a common feature in projects where uncertainty or controversy exists.

Submit your comments by May 24 to [email protected].

A County Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 3 at 6pm.

We’ll be submitting substantive comments, but your voice is important!


Local Climate Scientist Pens Letter Explaining CAL FIRE’s Mismanagement of JDSF

Monday, May 17th, 2021
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Trees marked for logging in Jackson Demonstration State Forest. Photo by Matt Simmons.

John P. O’Brien, PhD (JP to his friends) loves Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF). The forest is practically in his backyard so he regularly gets to enjoy taking long hikes and mountain bike rides through its impressive stands of predominantly coastal redwood forest. So, when he heard that CAL FIRE intended to conduct a series of timber harvest plans in some of his favorite places in the forest, JP was disappointed.

However, disappointment soon grew to alarm when he realized that CAL FIRE’s management of the forest was also harming the climate. You see, JP is a climate scientist. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Climate Analysis Section of the Climate and Global Dynamics Division and a research affiliate with the CASCADE research group in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. So, he brings a unique perspective when it comes to talking about why our forests matter. I recently interviewed JP on an episode of the KMUD Environment show.

“The most important thing is that redwood forests can sequester more carbon than any other type of forest in the world” JP told me when describing the importance of JDSF. What makes redwoods so important is that they both sequester an incredible amount of carbon annually and store it for their incredibly long lifetimes.

I also asked JP about some common misconceptions about managing our forests for carbon storage. One that he dismissed out of hand is the common industry talking point that carbon stored in lumber products (chairs, homes, etc) is part of the solution to fighting climate change. “Ultimately it comes down to 80% of the carbon in a standing tree is lost to the atmosphere; only about 20% makes it into a wood product that has an average lifetime of about 40-70 years.” In fact, timber harvesting itself is the largest emitter of CO2 of any natural or human-caused forest disturbance type.

JP has a vision for the future of JDSF. He sees a carbon and biodiversity reserve that will help combat two of the greatest environmental threats of our time: the climate crisis and the sixth mass extinction. At the same time that JDSF is a fantastic potential carbon reserve, it is also an excellent biodiversity hotspot that hosts many of the forest species EPIC exists to defend. JP has also identified JDSF as necessary to the State’s 30×30 goals because it is already state owned land that has high carbon and biodiversity potential. In JP’s words, “If the State is serious about 30×30 it represents really low hanging fruit”.

JP has written a position letter outlining his position in greater detail. He is hopeful that it will help convince policymakers to change the management of JDSF to be part of the climate solution instead of part of the problem.


The InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council Calls For A Halt To Richardson Grove Project

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
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On May 7th, 2021 the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council (Sinkyone Council) and the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) sent a letter requesting that Caltrans halt the Richardson Grove Improvement Project (the project). The letter, which you can read here, outlines the cultural significance of Richardson Grove and the old-growth redwood trees to the Sinkyone People and other Tribes of the region.

To the Sinkyone People, Gááhs-tcho (Redwood Tree) is a special relative whom they were taught to never harm. “As Indigenous Peoples, our responsibility is to respect and care for places like the Grove because of their inherent sacredness and importance within the larger Gááhs-tcho temperate rainforest of this region and beyond. The Grove is an irreplaceable part of the cultural landscape and identity of the Sinkyone People,” asserts Mary Norris who is Chairwoman at the Cahto Tribe of Laytonville Rancheria, the Tribal community situated closest to the Grove today.

The Sinkyone Council’s commitment to defending nature and supporting revitalization of Tribal traditional lifeways and relationships with cultural landscapes and seascapes is guided by the long continuum of Tribal presence in places like the Grove. The Council has a long track record of demanding state and federal agency compliance with cultural protection laws. Agencies have legal requirements to protect Tribal cultural heritage and values, and to prevent harmful impacts to Tribes’ cultural properties and ways of life, including cultural places. This principle is underscored by Sinkyone Council Chairwoman Priscilla Hunter, who asserts “Caltrans has a duty to honor and uphold protection for cultural places such as the Grove.”

Richardson Grove is one of only a few remaining ancient redwood groves, a critical part of the surviving 2% old-growth redwood still standing. Tribal members maintain cultural relationship with the Grove as an important place for the continuation of traditional ways of life, as Sinkyone ancestors for millennia did. For these and other reasons, it is vitally important that the Grove be accorded sufficient protections that in turn will ensure Indigenous Sinkyone cultural heritage and lifeways are respected and protected.

EPIC has long opposed the project because of its negative impacts to old-growth redwoods and our belief that alternative solutions are available. We are proud to stand alongside the Sinkyone Council in continuing to call for this project to be abandoned.


Leaked Memo Shows Trump Administration Knew Slashing Spotted Owl Habitat Would Cause Extinction

Thursday, May 6th, 2021
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On the same day as the Trump administration announced the elimination of 3.4 million acres of critical habitat for the northern spotted owl, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s top owl expert formally objected to the decision in a document recently unearthed as part of ongoing litigation. The Jan. 15 memorandum, written by Oregon State Office Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dr. Paul Henson, found that “it is reasonable to conclude that [the reduction in critical habitat] will result in the extinction of the [northern spotted owl].” The Henson memo references other documents, as yet unreleased, indicating this was not the first warning of the dire consequences of the proposed rule. On Dec. 9, 2020, Dr. Henson likewise warned, “Most scientists (myself included) would conclude that such an outcome will, therefore, result in the eventual extinction of the listed subspecies.” 

“We suspected that political favors, not science, guided the last-minute rulemaking change by the Trump administration,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). “Now we know that it was made clear to the Trump administration that its planned cuts to northern spotted owl critical habitat would result in the owl’s extinction. They knew but didn’t care.”

“We now know what we suspected all along, which is that the Trump administration actively disregarded the best available science when making wildlife and land management decisions,” said Susan Jane Brown, attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. “Seeing in writing that callous disregard for the continued existence of this iconic species is sobering, to say the least, and revolting at worst. This is a clear example, and unfortunately not the first, of the prior administration giving out gifts to political allies rather than following the law. Thankfully, experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stood up for the northern spotted owl, and WELC and our clients are in court to ensure that the best available science rules the day.”

The Henson memo was written in response to a separate memo, signed by then-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith, which outlined the legal and scientific justifications for the reduction in critical habitat. The Jan. 7, 2021 memorandum was reportedly not provided to Dr. Henson until the day before the formal rulemaking, making a more timely objection impossible. 

This is not the first time that political appointees have personally inserted themselves into controversial decisions. In 2007, Julie MacDonald, then deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior, was found to have manipulated decisions and agency science to benefit the Bush administration’s political agenda. The Interior Department under Interior Secs. Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt have also been subject to a number of high-profile ethics scandals. Given this history, after the Jan. 15 critical habitat rule, eight Western lawmakers requested a formal investigation as to whether any government official improperly “inserted themselves into the scientific process in order to achieve preferred policy outcomes….”

The Biden administration has paused implementation of the Trump-era critical habitat rule until December, signaling its intent to formally reverse or revise the rule. Meanwhile, the timber industry has already filed suit against the delayed implementation and Congressional Republicans are lining up behind the timber industry, urging the immediate implementation of the Trump rule.

General background:

Timber harvesting in the Northwest has resulted in a widespread loss of spotted owl habitat across its range, which was a main reason for listing the species in 1990. Owls depend on habitat provided by the dense canopy of mature and old-growth forests; unfortunately, those forests are still a target for logging throughout the bird’s historic range. The northern spotted owl is already functionally extinct in its northernmost range, with only one recognized breeding pair left in British Columbia. 

In response to a court order, in 1990 the Service listed the northern spotted owl as threatened, citing low and declining populations, limited and declining habitat, competition from barred owls, and other factors in the bird’s plight. Even after its listing, northern spotted owl populations have declined by 70%, and the rate of decline has increased. 

In response to a petition filed by the Environmental Protection Information Center, in December 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that “uplisting” the owl from “threatened” to “endangered” was “warranted but precluded by higher priority actions.”

Materials For Reference:


Action Alert: 30X30 Survey

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021
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Governor Gavin Newsom recently pledged to conserve 30% of California by 2030. The goal is based on a scientific consensus that conserving that much land is necessary to prevent a catastrophic loss of biodiversity and climate change. And now, the government wants to hear from the public about how best to go about doing that. So, he created this survey that any Californian can fill out and let him know how best to accomplish that goal.

We here at EPIC believe that preserving our state’s forests is the best way to achieve this ambitious target. The reason is that our forests are essential for carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and as places of outdoor recreation. We’re particularly excited about transforming working timberlands into carbon reserves that can become part of the climate change solution instead of part of the problem.

One such place where Newsom could easily make an impact is Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF). JDSF is already owned by the State of California but it’s currently operated by the government as a commercial timberland. With a simple change in legislation or regulation, JDSF could be transformed into a carbon reserve designated for biodiversity conservation and outdoor recreation. And because JDSF is full of coast redwood trees, which sequester carbon at an amazing rate, it would become one of the best tools in our arsenal for fighting climate change.

Let Governor Newsom know your priorities when it comes to meeting our state’s 30×30 goals.

https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/32eb293a21ae434cadc603ff43729eb7


Climate Change and the Coast Redwood 

Monday, May 3rd, 2021
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We all know that climate change is having and will continue to have a dramatic impact on our planet. But knowing exactly what that impact will be can be a tricky business. Our planet’s weather patterns are the result of a delicate balance of a multitude of factors. And so, tracking how increasing global temperatures will impact specific regions takes a lot of scientific inquiry. Even more complicated is understanding what climate change’s impact on specific species will be. That being said, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about what we know about climate change’s impact on one of the most iconic species on the planet and the species most heavily associated with the North Coast of California – the Coast redwood.

The Coast redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens) is the tallest species of tree on earth and one of the longest living. Despite their impressive size and age, coast redwoods only naturally occur in a 50km wide belt along the coast of Northern California and extreme Southern Oregon. The reason is that they depend on a unique set of conditions that exist in that range in order to thrive. Some scientists believe that because of climate change, those conditions could change and that the range of Coast redwood could shrink even further in the future.

Coast redwoods depend on two main ingredients in order to grow to their incredible sizes, lots of moisture and lots of sun. Farther north than where they are currently located (Oregon and above) there’s plenty of water but not enough sunlight. Farther south (Mid and Southern California), there’s plenty of sunlight but not enough water. Only in the perfect Goldilocks zone of the redwood region do the right conditions exist to produce these magnificent trees.

The secret is our summer coastal fog. Our region’s dependable summer fog allows Coast redwoods to retain enough moisture during the dry summer months to keep from drying out, while simultaneously still allowing enough sunlight through. The fog prevents the redwoods from unnecessarily losing water due to transpiration while simultaneously providing water in the form of fog drip. Fascinatingly, Coast redwoods (along with many other plant species native to our region) are uniquely adapted to absorb water directly from fog through their leaves. This dependence on fog is why Coast redwoods don’t extend farther inland. Fog doesn’t travel that far from the coast.

That’s why it’s so concerning that researchers believe that climate change could reduce the total amount of fog that occurs along our coast. Very basically, our coastal summer fog is caused by low lying, relatively warm, moist air flowing east over the very cold Pacific Ocean. As the air flows over the cold ocean, it cools and the moisture in the air condenses. Then, when the air gets close to land, warm air flowing west from inland California flows over the moist air flowing east and squeezes the moist air even more until eventually it forms a low lying fog.

Recent research has analyzed the impact of climate change on air currents over California and the result is troubling. In the future, fog will shift northwards, penetrate less far inland, and occur less frequently. This research is supported by an analysis of the frequency of fog over the past one hundred years. The researchers analyzed the number of days per year that there were fog warnings at north coast airports such as the Arcata-Eureka Airport. The result was that there has been a 33% reduction in the amount of fog since the early 20th century. Another study projecting the change of fog into the future concluded that under a middle-of-the-road climate scenario for California, there would be no suitable habitat for Coast redwoods south of the San Francisco Bay by the year 2030. And that, as the earth continues to warm, that contraction will extend further north all the way into Southern Humboldt County, particularly affecting more inland coastal redwoods which will no longer be blanketed in fog in the summer.

The news is not all bad. Some research has indicated that coast redwoods located particularly close to alternative sources of water, such as streams, may be able to continue to exist after the fog disappears. But overall, this prediction is incredibly troubling. So, the next time you attend a climate march, decide to take public transit instead of your car, or eat a salad instead of a cheeseburger, remember that you’re helping to preserve some of the oldest, tallest trees on the planet.