Posts Tagged ‘EPIC’

Gray Wolf Told to Wait

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt its April 16th, 2014 meeting in Ventura, California, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to delay its decision whether or not to list Gray Wolves as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) for an additional 90-days in order to further consider evidence and testimony.

Recent legislation modifying the California Fish and Game Code allows the Commission to delay its decision-making for 90-days if it is necessary for the Commissioners to further consider its decision.

The Commission will hear further testimony and accept additional comments on the Gray Wolf listing decision at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on June 4th, in Fortuna, California. The Commission will schedule a special hearing date for July, prior to the expiration of the 90-day deadline, to make a final decision whether or not to list the wolf under CESA.

EPIC, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and others filed a petition to list the Gray Wolf as “endangered” under CESA in 2012. In February 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued its Status Report for the Gray Wolf, recommending that the Commission not list the species under CESA, citing a lack of scientific certainty. Comments from EPIC and others have challenged the Department’s findings and have encouraged the Commission to list the wolf as “endangered’ under CESA.

Listing of the Gray Wolf under CESA is essential to the survival and recovery of the species in California. With a lack of state protections, and the looming potential of de-listing the wolf at the federal level clearly drives home the urgent need to protect Gray Wolves under CESA.

The Commission has indefinitely extended its public comment period regarding the Gray Wolf CESA listing. Please consider supporting the listing of the wolf under CESA by sending letters to the Commission at: [email protected].


Growing Green Workshop Interview with Dave Feral of Mad River Alliance

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Dave FeralThis interview with Dave Feral of Mad River Alliance gives an overview of the Green Growers Workshop, which will be held at the Arcata Theatre Lounge on Saturday, April 26 from 11am-5pm. The workshop is designed to provide farmers with the tools necessary to use best management practices in a time when our scarce water resources must be utilized in the most sustainable manner possible because the health of our watersheds and communities depend on it.

What was the impetus for the Mad River Alliance working to organize this workshop?

Mad River Alliance organized the Growing Green in 2014 Best Management Practices Workshop because cumulative negative impacts of human land use occurs in almost every watershed across the North Coast including the Mad River.  These negative impacts are not necessary, and with the use of best management practices and adaptive management, we believe the majority of these negative impacts can be reduced or eliminated.

Important land management topics covered in the workshop are: water conservation, erosion control & road management, pest control without poison, soil and amendments, legal compliance, and how to take action to reduce potential threats to watershed health.

What are the specific stresses to the Mad River watershed that you are most hoping can be alleviated by the workshop? 

The three main stressors affecting the Mad River watershed are: excess sediment, high water temperatures, and limited tributary connectivity due to reduced flows. Other stressors that may contribute to watershed degradation include: use of pesticides, rodenticides, herbicides, excess fertilizers, and other chemical amendments.

The Mad River is a 500 square mile watershed listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as sediment impaired. A current sediment source analysis show that over 60% of that sediment comes from roads.  The Mad River watershed has over 2,000 miles of gravel road, much of which, due to lack of funding, neglect, or little oversight, has been poorly planned and under-managed, causing un-natural rates of erosion, which further aggravates our presently sediment impaired river. As Tom Leroy of Pacific Watershed Associates explains: “There are two property site locations where erosion occurs most frequently but can be controlled with proper planning, construction, and maintenance: (1) roads and skid trails, (2) landings and building pads.”  Tom will be sharing his expertise at the Growing Green in 2014 workshop on April 26th.

The Mad River was also listed by the EPA as temperature impaired in 2006.  The mainstem Mad River receives its year round water supply from 40 tributaries, and also receives augmented summer water flows from Matthews Dam at Ruth Lake, 84 miles upstream of the river mouth.  Though it may be beneficial to have water released from the dam, the dam water slowly heats up due to hot inland air temperatures. It is essential for water temperatures to be maintained below 68 degrees Fahrenheit or it becomes difficult for salmonids and other aquatic wildlife to survive.  Some of the factors that affect water temperature of the mainstem Mad River include: amount of riparian canopy cover, ambient air temperature, cool water infiltration and tributary flow.  The water session of the Growing Green in 2014 workshop is designed to help landowners learn the actions necessary to keep our river flowing cool!

Recent human development in the mid and upper sections of the Mad River watershed seem to have compromised the historic flow conditions for many tributaries.  It is estimated that the flows from tributaries of the Mad are reduced by up to 25% and many small creeks that once flowed in the summer are now dry or reduced to just a trickle during the dry season due to water diversions and landscape changes.

Permaculture expert Dan Mar explains: Water is an infinite resource that regulates atmospheric temperatures, shapes the Earth’s surface, passes through every living creature, transports nutrients, and creates spectacular visual displays. However, within constructed environments and land-use practices water has become a utility which makes it a finite resource. An integrated design approach reduces overall project cost, reduces maintenance, increases yields, and protects environmental integrity.”  Dan will share his a 4-tier approach to designing an integrated water system for rural growing environments that reduces the need for stream or river diversions.

Conventional Rodent Control is another potential threat to Mad River and other watersheds across the North Coast. As one of our speakers Brad Job points out: Many pesticides do not readily break down when released into the environment and tend to bio-concentrate or bio-magnify in predatory fish and animals. The most contentious pesticide lately is brodifacoum, which is the active ingredient in most common brands of rodenticide. Brodifacoum was clearly tied to excess mortality of Pacific fishers by Dr. Mourad Gabriel in 2011. Brodifacoum is chemically similar to its commercial predecessor, warfarin, except that it is much more persistent in the environment. These and similar chemicals prevent coagulation of blood and cause exposed animals to hemorrhage internally and die. Due to the persistence of rodenticides, a healthy red-tailed hawk, which can consume over 10,000 rodents in a lifetime, can be killed by consuming one or two rodents poisoned by brodifacoum. Over 25 non-target species have been inadvertently killed by ingesting rodenticides. For this reason, any means of rodent trapping, repelling, or avoidance is preferable to the use of rodenticides.”  Brad Job and Kristin Nevendal will be sharing their expertise on the cumulative negative impacts of conventional rodent and pest control, and inform workshop participants of ways to manage these pests without causing harm to the environment.

Are best management practices a long-term solution, an attempt to make some immediate change, or some mixture of the two?

Some best management practices do show both short and long-term gain, for example:  improvement on a road system can reduce sediment delivery in the first year, and in total road decommissioning entire slopes can re-stabilize to reduce sediment inputs almost entirely. However, some results are variable, and that is why adaptive management and reviews of BMP’s are a crucial component to any best management plan.

Who are the workshop presenters and what kind of material will they cover?

Presenters include:

Hezekiah Allen  HAllenBorn and raised in Southern Humboldt County. He has a deep understanding of the environmental challenges facing the North Coast. He works with several local non-profits as a tireless advocate for the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of our regions forests, water, and fisheries. He recently worked as the Executive Director of the Mattole Restoration Council, an organization in Southern Humboldt County with more than thirty years of experience in community based watershed restoration.  Hezekiah was part of the team that developed the widely distributed best practices guide for Northern California farmers. 

Neal Latt  NLattNeal is an attorney focusing on land use, property law, water rights, marijuana defense and local compliance issues.  Prior to practicing law, he was an organic farmer for fifteen years, producing eighty tons of mixed vegetables a year from atop a ten acre riverbar in Orleans.  He can be reached at Mathews, Kluck, Walsh & Wykle, LLP, 442-3758, across from the Carson Mansion in Old Town, Eureka.

LJobLeonard (Brad) Job, P. E. (CA Lic. #C55699)  Brad received his BS in Environmental Resources Engineering from HSU in 1993. His past occupations include worker on his family’s cotton farm in TX; photographer for the US Navy and the North Coast Journal; student researcher on climate change at Battle – Pacific Northwest Laboratories; and water/earth/mud related engineering for the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Geomatrix Consultants, and the Arcata Public Works Department. For most of the last 12 years he has worked in the BLM Arcata Field Office as a general civil engineer. His current professional interests are surface and subsurface hydrology; water and sediment pollution; and stewardship of public lands, water resources, and wilderness areas.

TLeroyTom Leroy  M.S., P.G., Associate Geologist, Tom specializes in watershed analysis and erosion control, Holocene stratigraphy, and coastal geomorphology. His experience with Quaternary geology and geomorphology studies also includes Seismic hazard assessment, neotectonics, landslide and sediment source inventory, and environmental restoration.

RLindermanDr. Robert Linderman  A retired Research Plant Pathologist and former Research Leader at the USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon.  An Emeritus Courtesy Professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University. He has conducted research on diseases of  nursery and other horticultural crops for over 45 years, emphasizing the epidemiology and control of soilborne fungal plant pathogens, and the biology and application of beneficial microorganisms, especially mycorrhizal fungi and antagonistic and other plant growth-enhancing rhizobacteria. Currently he is Plant Pathologist and Founder/Owner of Plant Health, LLC, His research projects are focused on the development of technology needed to provide microbial/organic products to enhance crop plant growth and health. 

DMarDan Mar  Lives locally with his wife on a quarter acre suburban homestead and is the owner of High Tide Permaculture, a regenerative land-use design company specializing in rainwater catchment, harvesting and mitigation, suburban homesteads and edible forest gardens.  He is a retired high school science teacher and founder of the Cultural and Ecological Stewards Program which works with teachers and administrators to provide middle and high school students with cross-curricular learning opportunities while developing leadership skills through the design, implementation and maintenance of campus-wide systems.  Dan is an instructor for permaculture design courses with Klamath Knot Permaculture as well as workshops throughout the state.

KNevedalKristin Nevedal  Kristin is a co-founder and board chair of the Emerald Growers Association whose mission is to promote the medicinal, environmental, social, and economic benefits of lawfully cultivated sun-grown medical cannabis from California’s Emerald Triangle region by advocating for public policies that foster a healthy, sustainable medical cannabis industry.  A longtime Humboldt County resident and homesteader, she has spent over 15 years specializing in organic no till farming techniques, non-toxic disease and pest management, agricultural compliance, and nursery operations. Kristin’s broad policy and advocacy experience also includes serving as a board member for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM), and Americans for Safe Access’s Patient Focused Certification Program, and the 420 Archives.

 Workshop Presentations


What are you doing to be sure that this important information can be available to folks who can’t make the April 26 workshop? 

The Growing Green in 2014 workshop was inspired by the Northern California Farmers Guide to Best Management Practices, which is available as a free down load here:

There really is no substitute for the physical workshop, especially for people who learn through experience this is a great component that shouldn’t be missed.  We do hope to develop an educational program that can be repeated in the future at other locations.  If your watershed could use a workshop similar to this one we encourage you to contact us at [email protected].

What are your next steps after this workshop for addressing the impacts of the demands on the Mad River of expanding agriculture activities?

More outreach and education to those who may not be on board yet will be an ongoing part of Mad River Alliance’s plan.  We hope to work with landowners for as long as it takes to help them understand why following suggested best practices will help reduce cumulative negative impacts in the watershed.

Knowledge is not really power, as much as it is a responsibility and I have faith that most people want to do the right thing once they are aware of what that is.  As the State of California moves toward legalization, the market and regulation may play a role in determining land practices.  As consumers learn more about the positive side to growing green, they will most likely prefer a product that is watershed friendly, and we will continue to encourage any movement in that direction.

What is your ideal outcome from this effort?

Ideally, for the Mad River watershed, the people, and the planet, the majority of North Coast agriculturalists will adopt these suggested best management practices and over time these workshops will become routine annual updates on the most recent practice improvements. Over time we hope improved management practices will keep our tributaries flowing, our aquatic wildlife populations thriving, and our rivers ecology in balance.

The immediate goal is to use this year as a learning year and build from here, and by 2016 we should have a full educational program that reaches across the state to the array of key players providing them with tools and management practices to live and work in balance with the environment they choose to live and work in.

Any last words about this workshop?

In the end, it comes down to each person choosing what kind of world they want to live in.  Do we choose a world that may require a little bit more physical work and allows room for the widest array of biological diversity possible?  We hope so.  The Growing Green in 2014 Best Management Workshop is our attempt to help those that want to do the best they can to reduce negative impacts to our environment and continue to live and grow in these sensitive, beautiful, life giving watersheds.

MRA growing green 2014-FINAL-print


Is d-Con Our Next DDT?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Photo by Franklin InstituteLast month, the State of California took a step in the right direction by trying to ban over-the-counter sales of dangerous anticoagulant rat poisons that are harming children, killing pets, and devastating wildlife, including endangered species. But within days after California announced the new regulations—which are meant to take effect on July 1—Reckitt Benckiser, the $37.5 billion multi-national corporation that manufactures and sells d-Con, filed a lawsuit against the state.

While the new rules are not strong enough to prevent all poisonings of wildlife and pets—the pest control industry was exempted from the ban—they would take some of the products that are currently poisoning an estimated 10,000 children per year off retail shelves, a bold step which would also greatly reduce the number of pet and wildlife victims.  The impact on wildlife from these poisons cannot be understated. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has over 800 pages of at least 350 incidents of wildlife poisonings (and these are only the animals that have been found and turned in). Biologists believe many animals perish and are never found, meaning that what we are seeing is probably only the tip of the iceberg. WildCare, a wildlife rehab facility in San Rafael, found that over 76 percent of the animals it tested for rat poison in 2013 were contaminated with rat poison. Many wildlife rehab facilities are receiving animals with the symptoms of rodenticide poisoning but cannot afford to test them (each test costs over $100 and most rehab facilities are operating on slim budgets). If the animals do not die immediately from rodenticide exposure, their behavior can suffer, with fatal consequences.

It is not just the groundbreaking new rules in California that the makers of d-Con are fighting. Reckitt Benckiser has been fighting federal regulations too. In 2008, the US EPA gave all rat poison manufacturers three years to make their products safer—including making them tamper-proof for children. All of the poison manufacturers agreed—except for Reckitt Benckiser, which now holds the EPA hostage while it engages in legal maneuvers.

Much as DDT nearly resulted in the extinction of an iconic species like the Bald Eagle, this company’s rat poison products are causing the next “silent spring” for birds of prey such as hawks, barn owls, and the increasingly endangered Northern Spotted Owl (among many others). These poisons are also clearly presenting mortal threats to endangered mammals like the San Joaquin kit fox and the Pacific fisher. There is something seriously wrong when a corporate bully can tie the hands of both federal and state regulatory agencies in bureaucratic legal maneuvers while children are poisoned, pets and wildlife continue to perish, and the food web continues to be contaminated.

This article was co-authored by Lisa Owens-Viani of Raptors are the Solution.

Earth Day Beach Clean-up and Hoedown

Monday, April 7th, 2014

hoe down poster2014-EN ad3-web-revised-01In a cooperative effort Mad River Alliance, North Coast Environmental Center, Friends of the Dunes, Environmental Protection Information Center, Humboldt Baykeeper, Friends of the Eel River, Trees Foundation, Surfrider Foundation and Dell’ Arte International, are gathering for a day of restoration, Earth clean-up, and fun!

Saturday April 19th from 9 am till noon, work to clean-up and restore the earth, later from 3-7pm  put your hoe down to dance and celebrate!

EPIC and the Mad River Alliance are joining forces to clean-up the Mad River. Meet at Stardough’s in (448 Railroad Ave. Bluelake) at 9am.  Bring work gloves, mud boots and some friends! Click here to RSVP.

Later that same day… enjoy the Second Annual Earth Day Hoedown, April 19th from 3-7pm, at the Coastal Nature Center!

 Hoedown Featuring: Striped Pig String Band and Lindsey Battle Band and square dance calling by Nigela Mahal!

Who Will Stand Up for the Northern Spotted Owl?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

9-OwlBanding-FWSIn the remote forests of Northwest California dwells an iconic raptor seemingly from a bygone era. The Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) stealthily inhabits old growth and ‘mature’ forests, preying on wood rats, flying squirrels, and other small mammals in the dead of night with its keen vision and devastating talons.

Once an abundant and prosperous species, the Northern Spotted Owl has been in decline since at least the 1970’s and 80’s, primarily resulting from the logging of its old growth and mature forest habitat on both public and private lands. The Northern Spotted Owl was listed as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in June of 1990, thus becoming the poster-child for the ongoing timber wars in the Pacific Northwest.

In May 1991, Federal Judge William Dwyer ruled in favor of environmentalists who challenged the adequacy of the U.S. Forest Service’s 1986 Forest Management Plan, enjoining 75 percent of the proposed timber sales on public lands in spotted owl critical habitat, and ultimately leading to the development of the Northwest Forest Plan. While the Northwest Forest Plan has somewhat curtailed logging of suitable owl habitat on public lands, habitat loss on these lands is still ongoing, while habitat loss for the owl on private lands continues virtually unabated to the present day.

When the Northern Spotted Owl became a federally-listed species, the State of California’s Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board of Forestry) scrambled to enact Forest Practice Rules that would avoid “take” of the owl as defined under the federal Act on private forestlands in the state. In the beginning, the implementation and enforcement of the Forest Practice Rules by CAL FIRE was augmented by consultation with the then-California Department of Fish and Game (now the California Department of Fish and Wildlife). In 1999, CAL FIRE requested that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) provide “technical assistance” to the Department and private landowners to ensure that implementation of the Forest Practice Rules would not result in “take” of the owl.

The Service provided technical assistance to CAL FIRE and private landowners until 2008. At that time, the Service determined that it did not have the budget to continue providing technical assistance to CAL FIRE and private landowners, and requested that the budget-strapped state pay for the technical assistance program. When the state declined, the Service dropped out of providing technical assistance, and left the entire burden of review, implementation, and enforcement of individual timber harvest plans up to CAL FIRE.

In 2009, the Service provided CAL FIRE with a scathing review of existing Forest Practice Rules and the ability of the Rules to avoid “take” of the owl as defined under the ESA. This document, entitled Regulatory and Scientific Basis for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Guidance for Evaluation of Take for Northern Spotted Owls on Private Timberlands in California’s Northern Interior Region” provided a review of the best available science related to the owl, and detailed the Service’s years of experience with providing technical assistance to CAL FIRE and private landowners. The Service concluded:

…our combined experience with hundreds of THPs indicates that the cumulative effects of repeated entries within many NSO home ranges has reduced habitat quality to a degree causing reduced occupancy rates and frequent site abandonment. In a large proportion of technical assistance letters to CAL FIRE and industrial timberland owners during the past five years, we noted the lack of NSO responses at historic territories, and described habitat conditions considered inadequate to support continued occupancy and reproduction”(emphasis added).

The Service also provided CAL FIRE and private landowners with “take” avoidance guidelines that the agency believed would serve the needs of the owl better than existing Rules. This guidance, however, is only voluntary, and is not codified in existing regulation. Thus, private landowners have the alternative of relying on the existing and inadequate Rules.

Meanwhile, CAL FIRE, an agency with virtually no biological expertise, and virtually no independent biological experts, has been left to navigate the treacherous landscape of ensuring “take” avoidance on its own, knowing that existing Rules are not be adequate, but that the guidance provided by the listing agency is only voluntary. CAL FIRE thus finds itself in the precarious position of needing to determine that “take” has been avoided, while not having the expertise or authority to determine the likelihood of whether or not “take” will occur. What’s more, CAL FIRE has been left without the input of either the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The latter agency has virtually abandoned its review of projects that may affect the Northern Spotted Owl since the late 90’s.

While most private landowners have voluntarily shifted towards compliance with the Service’s “take” avoidance guidelines, some landowners, most notably Sierra Pacific Industries, have stubbornly clung to the old, and largely out-of-date existing Forest Practice Rules. Since the Service transitioned out of providing technical assistance, SPI has continued to clearcut log thousands of acres of suitable NSO habitat without the benefit of independent scientific expertise reviewing its projects.

The latest and best available science on the condition of Northern Spotted Owl populations indicates that the species is reeling from a precipitous decline in recent years, both in California and across the species’ range. In particular, apparent survival and reproductive rates are alarmingly low. Here on the redwood coast, as with elsewhere in the owl’s range, the incursion of the aggressive and invasive barred owl has likely contributed to these declines. In addition, the advent of increased use of rodenticides in egregious cannabis agriculture operations and other rural residential and industrial activities is now documented to be a significant problem for the owl. Meanwhile, habitat loss through timber harvest and fire continue to confound owl conservation and recovery efforts.

The science shows that the Northern Spotted Owl is in increasing peril. The decline of the owl is indicative of over a century of intensive forest management that has depleted our forests and inexorably altered the landscape that the owls once knew.

EPIC Steps Up To Advocate for the Owl

In 2010, EPIC launched its Northern Spotted Owl Self-Defense campaign. This campaign aims to use a multitude of tactics to conserve the owl. These tactics include monitoring, commenting on, and challenging logging projects that may affect the owl on both public and private lands, engaging with the Board of Forestry to improve rules regarding owl protections, and launching a campaign to end the use of “super-toxic” rat poison in cannabis agriculture operations. EPIC has also filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) requesting that it list the owl as either “threatened” or “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), parallel to filing a petition with the Service requesting that it “reclassify” or “up-list” the owl from a “threatened” to an “endangered” species under the federal ESA. Few organizations in the Western United States are as active in working for better protections for the owl than EPIC has been in recent years.

The politics around conservation of the Northern Spotted Owl remain fraught with a reluctance on the part of both the Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to ‘rock the boat’ in terms of enforcing the tenants of the ESA and CESA on private forestlands in California. The Service has thus far failed to provide us with an initial 90-day finding on our petition to “reclassify” or “up-list” the owl, despite the fact that the petition was filed over a year and a half ago. Meanwhile, the Commission, after much delay, voted to accept EPIC’s petition to list the owl under CESA in August 2013, with a one-year CESA “candidacy” period initiated in December 2013. Despite the “candidacy” for the Northern Spotted Owl under CESA, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has informed CAL FIRE that it intends to rely on existing rules and regulations to protect the owl against illegal “take” resulting from timber harvest activities on private lands.

So, who will stand up for the Northern Spotted Owl? With both responsible agencies either unwilling or incapable of reviewing plans for proper implementation and enforcement of CESA and the ESA, and CAL FIRE left virtually on its own to ensure that these laws are enforced, business as usual seems to be the mantra of the day for the timber industry. Meanwhile, the owl, faced with a wide-array of threats to its survival in the wild, hangs on the precipice, a precarious ledge, from which there may be no return.

The health of the Northern Spotted Owl is indicative of the health and condition of our forests, and indeed our watersheds. EPIC will continue its multi-faceted approach to owl protection and conservation, with the goal of seeing larger, older trees on the landscape, an elimination of the use of “super-toxic” rat poisons in our communities, and a return ultimately of more owls in the forest. EPIC aims to protect, conserve, and restore the owl in California and beyond.

Please join our efforts to protect, conserve, and restore the Northern Spotted Owl and our forest landscapes. The plight of the owl is a harbinger of peril for all of us. We must all work together to restore our forests and protect our wildlife.

EPIC in review

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Holm_Fay_date2008-04-09_time16.02.45_IMG_8035 copyMuch of EPIC’s work involves staying up-to-date with local, regional and statewide natural resource management decisions and providing public comments to guide decision making in the interest of the best available science and with conservation in mind.

EPIC staff members have contributed the following comments and letters of support in the local, state and national environmental movements over the last few weeks:

*Letter to support the listing of Gray Wolves under the California Endangered Species Act

*Comments regarding waiver of waste discharge requirements related to timber harvest activities

*Letter urging agencies to end ongoing rollbacks of state and federal environmental protections for the Bay-Delta ecosystem

*Letter seeking to improve transparency and develop ecological performance measures for Timber Harvest Plans

*Letter to support a ban to keep super toxic rat poison out of environmentally sensitive areas

*Letter supporting bill that would free Orca Whales from California Amusement Parks

*Letter to ban fracking in Humboldt County

*Comments on Timber Harvest Plan that would log Spotted Owl Habitat

*Letter urging the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to uphold the California’s Ban on Hound Hunting

Get the Frack Out of California

Thursday, March 27th, 2014


Take Action Now: Support Bill to Ban Fracking in California. Fracking is a technique used to extract natural gas whereby millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and highly toxic chemicals are injected into the earth. This process has been proven to result in massive environmental effects including wasting large quantities of scarce water resources, ground water contamination, air pollution and earth quakes.

Please take action to ban fracking in California by supporting Senate Bill 1132, which will prohibit fracking until the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency convenes a committee to review a scientific study and put specific measures in place to ensure that fracking does not pose a threat to the public health and welfare or to the environmental and economic sustainability of the state.

SB1132 is strong on addressing the environmental justice issues raised by fracking. Residents living close to fracking wells or downstream of fracking wells are exposed to hazardous chemicals. This exposure has been illustrated to cause negative health impacts. As Senator Mitchell points out: “There are a million Angelenos that live within a 5-mile radius of the largest urban oil field in the country…when industrial operations like fracking and acidization disproportionately impact minority communities, environmental justice has been breached and needs to be restored. SB 1132 will do that.”

We are thankful for Senator Leno’s comments that “a moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low.” While the current drought in California has highlighted the issues related to water and fracking, it is our perspective that fracking is never an acceptable use of the state’s water. Water is scarce in California even when we are not in drought conditions.

Please click here to take action. Ask SB 1132 sponsors to strengthen requirements for environmental assessments for fracking and to ensure that adequate time is provided for public participation in the review process.

EPIC is collaborating with a larger coalition of organizations to support SB1132 and has submitted a letter of support to Senator Leno and Senator Mitchell, thanking them for introducing the bill.


Injunction Sought to Halt Unnecessary Caltrans Highway-widening Project in Remote Northwest California

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Photo by Scott HardingCaltrans Ignores Impacts to Smith River Canyon, Coho Salmon

EPIC along with several other conservation groups filed for a preliminary injunction in federal court today to halt construction of a Caltrans highway-widening project that would harm threatened coho salmon runs and undermine public safety along the wild and scenic Smith River Canyon in California’s remote Del Norte County. The project is aimed at widening narrow sections of highways 197 and 199 to provide access for oversized trucks. The conservation groups had challenged Caltrans’ approval of the project in federal and state court last year, for its inadequate review of the environmental impacts.

“Caltrans would have us believe allowing oversize trucks to drive faster through the tight Smith River canyon will make this scenic highway safer, yet it will do the opposite,” said Don Gillespie with Friends of Del Norte. “We are challenging this project to protect motorist safety and defend our treasured Smith River.”

Friends of Del Norte, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) seek to halt construction on the $26 million “197/199 Safe STAA Access Project.” It would increase unsafe heavy and oversized truck use on narrow roadways along the designated “wild and scenic” Smith River Canyon, negatively impacting tourism and local residents. Construction would harm habitat for coho salmon runs that the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) has identified as facing a high risk of extinction and core to the recovery of the species as a whole.

“The Smith River is one of California’s natural wonders as the last major undammed river in the state,” said Gary Graham Hughes, executive director of EPIC. “Our rivers are under incredible stress due to drought – this destructive highway widening project would unnecessarily put the Smith River and its salmon habitat at risk.”

“We will not let Caltrans degrade the pristine and ecologically important Smith River for its ill-advised network of routes for oversized trucks through coastal northwestern California,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This type of major roadwork shouldn’t occur along these narrow, rural roads and critical salmon habitat.”

Caltrans’ approval of the project did not follow the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires a full evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of a project and consideration of viable alternatives. Caltrans’ project approval also violated the Wild and Scenic River Act and the Department of Transportation Act. NMFS is named on the lawsuit for violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to properly analyze whether the project will jeopardize protected coho salmon or their habitat.

Caltrans did not properly evaluate the threat project construction poses to salmon habitat and water quality along the Smith River or safety hazards from increased truck traffic. Caltrans refused to consider alternatives besides widening the highway, adopted unsubstantiated findings about impacts and mitigation measures, and avoided looking at the cumulative impacts of numerous associated Caltrans highway-widening projects in Northern California for oversized truck access. NMFS ignored its own data, including dire warnings concerning the status of coho in the Smith River, and rubber-stamped the project without giving it anything close to a sufficient review.

Highway 199 is a scenic byway along the Smith River Canyon that passes through the Six Rivers National Forest and the Smith River National Recreation Area. It provides access to Redwood national and state parks, one of only two UNESCO World Heritage sites in California. The Smith River is the only undammed river in California, with the longest stretch of designated “wild and scenic” river in the lower 48. A 1989 Caltrans report acknowledged the physical constraints of the narrow, steep and rocky Smith River Canyon and concluded that environmental concerns make Highway 199 “a poor candidate for extensive upgrading.”

Highway 197 is a 7-mile, two-lane country road that runs north to south along the lower Smith River, just northeast of Crescent City. It is a rural-residential route with 72 driveways directly entering onto the road. In order to avoid Jedediah Smith State Park at the western edge of the project, oversized trucks would divert off Highway 199 and travel along Highway 197 to the north of Crescent City to reach Highway 101.

Court challenges to the related Caltrans project through Richardson Grove on Highway 101 in Humboldt County have resulted in rulings determining that Caltrans failed to adequately analyze the potential impacts of highway development on the ancient redwoods protected in Richardson Grove State Park.

A recently released independent review of Caltrans called for sweeping reforms of the agency and cited a “culture of fear” within Caltrans when it comes to deviating from standard policies. The statewide Caltrans Watch coalition has highlighted the agency’s pervasive refusal to consider reasonable alternatives to massive highway projects, shoddy environmental review, lack of transparency, reliance on flawed data and disregard for public input.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Stuart Gross and Sharon Duggan, and the nationally recognized firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.

Motion for Prelimiary Injunction

Click here to view EPIC Press Release

Click here to learn more about EPIC’s work on the Smith River project.

El Radio Fantastique plays the Arcata Playhouse Thursday, April 3

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

11x17-ElRadioFantastique-POSTER-ARCATAEPIC is proud to host El Radio Fantastique at the Arcata Playhouse (1251 9th St.) Thursday, April 3. The Playhouse provides the perfect intimate and theatrical atmosphere for guests to enjoy the wild musical styling of El Radio Fantastique. Come thirsty and hungry. Doors open at 6:30 for specialty cocktails, beer, wine and delicious morsels. Show starts at 8pm. $12-20 sliding scale.

El Radio Fantastique features the beautifully dark songwriting of frontman and multi-instrumentalist Giovanni Di Morente. Di Morente is no stranger to the spotlight. As a member of the pop duo Times Two in the late 1980’s, he and his partner made a fairly standard pact with the Devil. In return for sacrificing their musical standards and artistic control, they scored a top 40 Billboard hit, made an appearance on American Bandstand with Dick Clark, and even were featured in the teenybopper staple magazine Tiger Beat.

El Radio Fantastique represents musical redemption for Di Morente, a way to wash away his musical sins of the past… and he is relishing the opportunity to rise again, this time with his musical integrity fully intact. His influences are as diverse as can be, citing Henry Mancini, Nina Simone, Morgana King, Big Maybelle, Louis Prima, Whispering Jack Smith , Julie London, Jeri Southern, Leiber and Stoller, Burundi music, Sex Pistols, Public Enemy, and The Beatles as being the ones he has most tried to emulate. Other influences include pieces of soundtracks, bits of nursery rhymes, 50’s instrumental lounge, noise, old punk rock, classical pieces, forgotten jazz, marching band, hip hop, gospel, and African pop.“When I write songs,” DiMorente says, “I try to tap into my subconscious while I am awake.” 

The band’s latest album is Waking The Dead. The first single off the album, ‘How Does It Make You Feel?’, was a semi-finalist in The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) whose judges include Tom Waits, Frank Black, and Suzanne Vega.  The album also charted in the Top 10 on the highly influential KALX radio station in Berkeley, CA. As Paul Liberatore of the Marin Independent Journal wrote in his review, “There is no way to capture the energy and excitement of El Radio’s live show on a studio recording, but the arrangements and instrumentation on this album are unfailingly inventive and often surprising. ‘Waking the Dead’ is the kind of showcase CD that could break this band onto the national scene.”El Radio Fantastique’s album Waking The Dead can be purchased on their website or on iTunes.

All proceeds from the evening benefit the continued protection of Northern California’s incredible ecosystems!

El Radio Pic

Take Action to Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in California

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

dead_coyotesTake Action Now: Please join EPIC, and our allies, in calling on the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to prohibit predator killing contests statewide and to develop comprehensive regulations and policies to reform and modernize predator management in California. Killing predators – or any wild animal- as part of a ‘contest’ ‘tournament’ or ‘drive’ is ethically indefensible, ecologically reckless, and contravenes new legislation (AB 2402) that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law requiring the Fish & Game Commission to use “ecosystem based management” and the best available science in the stewardship of California’s wildlife. Such wildlife killing contests have no scientific basis and degrade the reputation of the ethical sportsman of California.

We would like to thank Project Coyote for providing content for this action alert. Here is a link to their petition on

Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for Rare Coastal Plant in Oregon and California

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Silvery Phacelia (Phacelia argentea) Silvery Phacelia Threatened by Off-Road Vehicles and Development

EPIC joined a coalition with seven other organizations to file a petition last week with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for silvery phacelia, a rare plant that grows on a 130-mile stretch of coast from Coos and Curry counties in southern Oregon to Del Norte County in northern California. The flowering plant is at risk of extinction due to off-road vehicles, development and nonnative beach grass. There are fewer than 30 surviving populations of the silver-leaved plant.

“Silvery phacelia is a unique part of the natural heritage of our coast but we could lose it forever if we aren’t careful. Endangered Species Act protection is the best hope for protecting this beautiful plant for future generations,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The range of silvery phacelia extends from just north of Bandon, Ore., south to Crescent City, Calif. It grows on sand dunes where it is at risk of being crushed by off-road vehicles. It is also threatened by development on private lands as well as at Bandon State Natural Area where a proposed land exchange would carve out 280 acres of currently protected land to build a golf course. Another threat is competition from nonnative plants like European beach grass and gorse.

“Protecting silvery phacelia will not only ensure a future for this one plant species, but will also help safeguard our coastal environment for the quiet enjoyment of humans and for other rare species,” said Doug Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator at Oregon Wild.

“Our organization is proud to support this important effort to secure legal protections for a disappearing species whose continued existence is threatened by inappropriate off-road vehicle and development activities,” said EPIC executive director Gary Graham Hughes.

Silvery phacelia is in the Forget-Me-Not family of flowering plants and grows to be 18 inches tall. It has white flowers that are a rich source of nectar and pollen for native bees. The number of bees and variety of bee species in dune vegetation is higher in places where phacelia grows. Its silvery hairs, an adaptation to the harsh coastal environment, keep salt off its leaves, decrease water loss and reflect excess light. The name “Phacelia” is from the Greek “phakelos” meaning cluster, for its lovely clustered flowers; and the Latin “argentea” meaning “silvery,” for the appearance of the leaves. Silvery phacelia blooms from March to September.

The petitioning groups are the Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Friends of Del Norte, Oregon Coast Alliance, the Native Plant Society of Oregon, the California Native Plant Society, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

Silvery phacelia grows on federal public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management including the New River Area of Critical Environmental Concern, Floras Lake, Four Mile Creek, Lost Lake, and Ophir Dunes in Oregon. It is also found on state lands including Lone Ranch State Beach, Bandon State Natural Area, Pistol River State Park, Humbug Mountain State Park, and Cape Blanco State Park in Oregon, and at Tolowa Dunes State Park in California. It also grows on some private lands along the very immediate coast.

Recent Press: Protection Sought for Rare Beach Plant Threatened by Off-Road Vehicles – KCET

Click here to view the complete silvery phacelia petition


Action Alert: Protect Marine Mammals from Navy Sonar and Weapons Testing

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

NOAA_whalecalfTake Action Now! The US Navy has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the impacts associated with a five-year authorization of military testing and training operations off the coast of the Pacific Northwest in an area that stretches from Cape Mendocino all the way north to the Canadian border, including Alaskan waters. The proposed activities are expected to injure, disturb or kill more than a hundred thousand individuals consisting of 29 different marine mammal species, which are supposed to be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Proposed activities would subject marine mammals, fish, sea turtles and other sea life to countless impacts including mid-frequency sonar, which is noise that is billions of times more intense than natural sound. The use of sonar has been directly connected to many instances of beached whales that have died from baro-trauma after military sonar exercises.  Even 300 miles from the source, sonar can be up to 140 decibels, which is 100 times more intense than the level known to alter whale behavior.

Additional testing and training activities that would affect marine mammals include the use of explosives, electromagnetic devices, physical strikes from missiles, underwater detonations and ships, entanglement and ingestion of toxic chemicals and munitions. These activities often result in the disruption of basic behaviors of marine mammals including activities necessary for survival such as migration, surfacing, navigating, hearing, nursing, breeding and feeding.  Many of the species that would be affected are listed as threatened or endangered, making the Navy’s proposed project a direct violation of the Endangered Species Act.

EPIC has participated in the scoping process of this project, attended public meetings, compiled related action alerts and will continue to stand up to the Navy in an effort to stop the unnecessary killing of marine mammals and other marine species. We need your help to show the Navy that people on the North Coast care deeply about ocean life.

There are several things you can do to help:

  • Attend public meetings, including a meeting this Thursday, March 6 at the Red Lion Hotel in Eureka from 5-8pm.
  • Submit comments to the Navy.
  • Share this action with your friends via social media networks.
  • Contribute to our efforts to fund this campaign.

Please click here to take action now.  Tell the US Navy to rescind the proposed training and testing activities and explore other alternatives to train military personnel that do not significantly degrade the environment and put hundreds of thousands of marine animals at risk in the global commons. If you can add a personal touch, your comment will go even further in letting the US Navy know that the public does not approve of the Navy’s destructive training operations.

Public “open house information sessions” will be held at multiple locations along the Pacific Coast, including one in Eureka this Thursday, March 6, at the Red Lion Hotel Redwood Ballroom at 1929 4th Street.  If you live outside of the Humboldt Bay area, you may be able to attend one of the other sessions in your area.  All written and verbal comments delivered during these meetings will be added to the administrative record, so please urge as many as you can to turn out and let the Navy hear your voice.

Click Here to Take Action Now!

Click here to see EPIC’s past efforts to stop the Navy’s unnecessary killing of marine mammals for their testing and training operations.

Public Action has Exposed Caltrans Need for Reform

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

RGRoadnoTruckOriginally published in the Eureka Times-Standard.

Caltrans is seriously out of step with the times, with the needs of the state of California, and with the North Coast community. EPIC has been voicing this criticism of Caltrans since we first rose to the defense of the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove. Now an independent study has come to that same conclusion.

The independent report, the SSTI Assessment and Recommendations, commissioned by Governor Brown and authored by the State Smart Transportation Initiative, was released in January 2014. The study finds that Caltrans is stuck in a car-centric culture, perpetually looking to build bigger, faster highways at a moment in history in which Californians are becoming acutely aware of the true financial and ecological costs of addiction to an outdated transportation model. The study also finds fault with the pattern of inadequate response to community concerns about social and environmental impacts of highway development, as well as a “culture of fear” within the agency.

Three Caltrans projects on California’s North Coast stand as examples of this “stuck-in-the-past” project planning.

The Willits Bypass is draining 90 acres of precious wetlands for a giant interchange made for a four-lane freeway that will do little to relieve local congestion. The argument for the need for the Bypass is based on traffic studies from decades ago. Caltrans implementation of the Bypass has been a circus of permit violations, spiced with the destruction of a cultural site, and clouded by an underfunded and unproven mitigation plan.

The highway “realignment” through Richardson Grove State Park seriously threatens mammoth ancient redwood trees, a fact confirmed by the state court of appeal, which recently ruled that Caltrans failed to adequately analyze the impact of their proposed project on the ancient redwoods. Incredibly, instead of designing alternatives and doing an in-depth environmental review that better reflect the desires of Californians and the environmental realities of our times, Caltrans wastes time and tax-payer money disregarding the intent of the courts by arrogantly steamrolling forward with the project. This “bully” behavior confirms the independent review conclusion that Caltrans is oblivious to the concerns of the public while unabashedly promoting environmentally damaging projects.

A related highway development project planned for Highway 199 in the northwestern-most corner of California poses direct and indirect threats to our redwood parks and the unparalleled salmon habitat of the wild Smith River in Del Norte County. EPIC has taken legal action in state and federal court to defend the Smith from this irresponsible highway development.

Our North Coast community deserves an honest, transparent, and open discussion about the impacts of highway development on our irreplaceable natural treasures, and about the costs and the benefits of this infrastructure development. This discussion must include recognizing the viability of alternatives that will meet needs for goods movement and transportation, as well as protect the rare and sensitive environments that make Northwest California such a special place. The imperative for Caltrans to respond positively to the demands of our community is emphasized by the successful efforts to challenge the agency in court, and by the independent review recommending serious reform of the agency.

Yet, Caltrans has refused to be forthright with residents about the direct impacts of their highway development projects, much less been willing to engage the public in a productive manner when concerns are raised, or even when the courts rule against the agency. In the absence of credible leadership by Caltrans, EPIC has challenged the legality of these projects with the immediate intent of protecting rare and sensitive environments, and with the long-term goal of leveraging successful court action into political momentum that will lead to a serious reform of the agency. A major restructuring of the California Department of Transportation is already under way; the question remains whether the recommendations of the independent review combined with the reality check of the court orders will be sufficient impetus to bring Caltrans out of the past.

There is no question that Caltrans needs significant reform to bring it into step with best practices in the transportation field, with the state of California’s policy expectations, and the true needs of North Coast residents. While the lawsuits are effective for enforcing the law, they do not permanently stop projects, and reform is what will lead to viable transportation solutions for our rural communities. This reform is not only the demand of citizen organizations from around the state; it is the recommendation of one of the nation’s leading authorities on sustainable transportation. The time has arrived to rein in Caltrans.

12th Annual Pisces Party with the No Good Redwood Ramblers

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Friday March 14th, 6pm, at the Beginnings “Octagon” in Briceland.

After more than a decade of annual celebrations, the Pisces Party has become a North Coast Community tradition and a harbinger of the coming spring. The party is an annual fundraiser to honor and support Mendocino resident and North Coast restoration advocate, Richard Gienger. The Pisces Party has become a cornerstone of community efforts to support Richard’s ongoing work to restore the forests and watersheds of the North Coast of California.

No Good Redwood RamblersSince 1977, Richard has been a tireless advocate for community-based forestry, and is well known for his role in protecting Sally Bell Grove, an ancient forest along the Mendocino Coast that would later become part of the Sinkyone Wilderness, as well as his ability to engage with natural resource agencies and policy makers in Sacramento. Richard is highly regarded for his policy work to advance forest conservation measures that benefits California’s rural communities.

EPIC and the Trees Foundation have come together to produce this important and fun annual event in order to secure the support necessary to keep Richard working to protect and restore the forests, wildlife and waterways of Northwest California.

The party starts at 6pm with a no-host bar and music by the Ken and Maria Jorgenson’s Falling Rocks.

Dinner: Sue’s Organic’s is serving dinner at 6:30 featuring: Black-bean Coconut Soup, a tossed Green Salad with toasted, spiced sunflower seeds and Sue’s Organics tahini dressing along with Veggie Enchiladas filled with Butternut Squash, Kale, Onions, Fried Tempeh & Cheese ($10-20 sliding scale for dinner).

After dinner the No Good Redwood Ramblers will get people on their feet to their foot-stompin’ blue-grass sounds.

Featuring a Vacation Get-Away Raffle to Mendocino Coast’s Brewery Gulch Inn!

Admission $10-20 sliding scale at the door.

If you are unable to attend the Pisces Party in person, but would like to help support Richard’s work you may make a donation here.

RSVP to the party and share with your friends on Facebook here.

Take Action Today to Protect Wolves in California

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

brenders_-_den_mother-wolf_family_premier_edition Take Action: Gray Wolves in California may be left without state protections under the California Endangered Species Act if the California Fish and Game Commission were to follow the recommendation of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to not list the species.

On February 5, 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released it’s final status report for the Gray Wolf. It advised the California Fish and Game Commission to not list Gray Wolves as “endangered,” as requested by a petition from EPIC and a coalition of other groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity, because there are currently no wolves in California.

The Department is instead recommending alternative measures to protect wolves. These measures include:

  • The designation of the wolf as a “special species of concern;”
  • The existence of the wolf stake-holder group that is producing a Gray Wolf Management Plan;
  • Commission actions under the existing California Fish and Game Code that would prevent “take” of the Gray Wolf, even in response to depredation of livestock; and
  • The possibility of listing the Gray Wolf under California Endangered Species Act at a later date.

These measures are considered inadequate by our staff at EPIC because they fail to afford the fullest protection of California endangered species law to these imperiled species.

While the Department is charged with conducting the status review, and preparing the status report with recommendations to the Commission, the Commission itself is the final authority as to whether or not listing of the Gray Wolf as “endangered” is warranted. The Commission is tentatively scheduled to hear the Gray Wolf listing and make a final determination at it’s April 2014 meeting in Ventura, California.

Meanwhile, the Federal proposal to “de-list” the gray wolf in the lower 48 states has hit a substantial snag with the recent release of the peer review report regarding the scientific foundations of the “de-listing” proposal. Scientists clearly state in the peer review report that the “de-listing” proposal is not based on the best available science.

For California, the decision as to whether the Gray Wolf warrants state protections must be informed by public opinion as well as the best available science, both of which largely support the “endangered” listing.

Click here to tell the Commission to protect tomorrow’s legacy by listing the Gray Wolf as a California Endangered Species today.

Speaking events at HSU featuring Derrick Jensen and Rod Coronado

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Derrick-Jensen-bioEPIC hosts two highly acclaimed and well-regarded authors and environmental activists, Derrick Jensen on Thursday, February 27 in the Kate Buchanan Room and Rod Coronado on Thursday, May 1st in the Native Forum. This is a great opportunity to hear the insights, beliefs and principals that have guided these longtime advocates, and engage in discussions about the future of sustainable life.

Derrick Jensen: Thursday, February 27th Kate Buchanan Room, from 5-8pm.

Acclaimed author, Derrick Jensen, is hailed as the philosopher poet of the ecological movement, Derrick Jensen is the best-selling author of A Language Older than Words and Endgame, among many others. Author, teacher, activist, small farmer, and leading voice of uncompromising dissent, he regularly stirs auditoriums across the country. He was named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” and won the Eric Hoffer Award in 2008.

The event will provide the audience with an opportunity to hear about Derrick’s beliefs and philosophy, and ask him questions and engage in conversation about how we can become a more sustainable society.

For more information about Derrick, check out:

Rod Coronado: Thursday, May 1st from 5-7pm.

Rod Coronado croppedRod Coronado is a longtime activist and former prisoner. He is an advocate for the Animal Liberation Front and a spokesperson for the Earth Liberation Front. He was a crew member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and a member of the editorial collective of the Earth First! Journal.

A former proponent of the use of direct action to end what he sees as cruelty to animals and destruction of the environment, Coronado was jailed in 1995 in connection with an arson attack on research facilities at Michigan State University. He has served several prison sentences and has been repeatedly labeled a “terrorist” by the F.B.I.

In 2006, while imprisoned for felony conspiracy and awaiting trial on further charges, Coronado expressed a change in his personal philosophy inspired by fatherhood. In an open letter, he wrote, “Don’t ask me how to burn down a building. Ask me how to grow watermelons or how to explain nature to a child,” explaining that he wants to be remembered, not as a “man of destruction but [as] a human believer in peace and love for all.”

We’re asking for donations at the door to help with the cost of this tour: $5 for students & $10 for community members. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Cumulative Effects of Logging Linked to Coho Decline

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Campbell Timber Management Clearcut in Ten Mile River Watershed

Throughout the north and central California coast, Coho salmon are teetering on the brink of oblivion. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, 85-90 percent of remaining Coho population in the Central California Coast ESU occurs in watersheds with privately managed forestlands. The 2011 Central California Coast Coho Recovery Plan identifies timber harvest as an ongoing threat to the survival and viability of the species.

In 2009, the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adopted permanent Forest Practice Rules to address the glaring deficiencies in its riparian buffers for streams and rivers bearing Coho and other listed salmonids. While these rules represent a significant step forward, the Board continues to ignore the real elephant in the room; cumulative impacts related to forest management activities.

Since the late 1990’s, the questions of how to address cumulative effects resulting from high and intense rates of harvest has lingered. The advent of the New Year’s storms of 1997 in Humboldt County that saw the unraveling of watersheds subjected to the rapacious logging of Pacific Lumber Company lead even the most conservative of State and federal agencies to stand up and take notice. In 1999, the Board of Forestry commissioned a panel of experts to study the effectiveness of the California Forest Practice Rules in protecting listed anadromous salmonids and their functional habitat.

The Report of the Scientific Review Panel on California Forest Practice Rules and Salmonid Habitat found that the primary deficiency of the Forest Practice Rules was the failure to effectively address cumulative watershed effects, and particularly called out the need for consideration of rate of harvest limitations as a mechanism to maintain and improve properly functioning aquatic habitat conditions for Coho and other listed salmonids. The Scientific Review Panel Report recommended that greater scrutiny of harvest activities be given when rate of harvest exceeds 30-50 percent of a watershed in ten years.

More recent studies conducted by Klein et al. titled Logging and turbidity in the coastal watersheds of northern California has shown a relationship between rate of harvest in a watershed and excess turbidity in those streams. Klein found that “Despite much improved best management practices, contemporary timber harvest can trigger serious cumulative watershed effects when too much of a watershed is harvested over too short a time period.” Klein further identified the lack of regulatory controls for rate of harvest impacts: “Although the rate of timber harvest has been acknowledged among scientists, regulatory agencies, and legislators as a factor contributing to declining water quality and aquatic habitat for some time, regulatory controls on harvest rate do not presently exist.”

Rate of harvest is expressed through calculation of percent canopy removal, via a clearcut-equivalent acres methodology. Klein identified that watersheds with clearcut-equivalent acre rates of harvest exceeding 1.5 percent per 10-15 years resulted in greater than 10 percent turbidity exceeding baseline water quality conditions. Recent studies such as Jensen et al. (2009) have drawn a correlation between the amount of sediment deposited in spawning gravels and decreased salmonid egg to fry survival.

In the Ten Mile River basin in Mendocino County, rates of timber harvest in some sub-basins wildly exceed the scientifically-identified thresholds where cumulative impacts to salmonids may be presumed to occur. 85 percent of the Ten Mile River basin is controlled by Campbell Timber Management Company. Since 2005, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (formerly the Department of Fish and Game) has been raising concerns over high rates of harvest and cumulative effects in sub basins of the Ten Mile River and the implications for endangered Coho.

In 2010, the Department of Fish and Wildlife inspected two Campbell Timber Harvest Plans in two Ten Mile River sub basins with high rates of harvest and again raised concerns over the potential for cumulative impacts to fleeting Coho populations. In response to these concerns, CAL FIRE hydrologist Pete Cafferata calculated the potential sediment delivery from proposed clearcuts via increases in peak flows and determined that significant sediment delivery and changes in peak flows were likely to occur. Astonishingly, CAL FIRE management determined that they could not show an impact to Coho or other listed salmonids and moved to approve the THPs. However, this process has been suspended thanks to intervention from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Regional Board however did not object to the high rate of harvest in the Ten Mile sub basins, but rather raised indicated that the THPs, if implemented, would violate applicable water quality requirements. In response, Campbell decided to defer harvest on clearcut units proposed in the two THPs in question, and changed from clearcutting to selection on two units. This approach, however is riddled with flaws as well.

Meanwhile, on Green Diamond Resource Company lands in Humboldt County, rates of clearcut timber harvest similarly have been shown to exceed scientifically-identified thresholds. One example of this is the Maple Creek watershed, where Green Diamond has harvested 62 percent in a 12 year period. Future projections estimate that Green Diamond will have harvested nearly 82 percent of the Maple Creek watershed in approximately 25 years. In this instance, the Regional Water Board has once again ignored the problem of rate of harvest issue in promulgating a property-wide Waste Discharge Requirement Permit for Green Diamond. EPIC has filed an appeal with the State Water Resources Control Board of the property-wide WDR permit on the grounds that the Regional Board failed to consider and address issue of rate of harvest.

The ongoing battle over rate of harvest and its influence on cumulative watershed impacts has been complicated and convoluted by both the timber industry and CAL FIRE itself working tirelessly to dismiss the applicability of the findings of Klein and others. Meanwhile, the Regional Water Board has avoided dealing with the issue entirely. Real progress towards maintaining, enhancing and restoring properly functioning aquatic habitat conditions will not be made until the agencies and the industry become willing to address rate of harvest and cumulative impacts.

EPIC provides a public service as a watchdog organization that works to protect the redwood region of the Pacific Northwest. Since 1977, EPIC has developed relationships with logging companies and regulatory agencies by commenting on timber harvest plans and the policies that regulate them to identify and address the impacts on forests, watersheds and the animals that depend on them. In the beginning, EPIC helped shape many of the critical rules to protect our wild back yard, and now we are working to see that these rules are implemented and improved where necessary. Different levels of engagement vary from phone conversations to lawsuits; taking countless hours of reading, analyzing, commenting and negotiating to keep private industry from transforming our forests into a wasteland. EPIC will keep this work up heading into 2013 and beyond.

Please help provide EPIC with the financial means to continue the fight to protect these unique forest ecosystems for future generations. The best thing you can do is make a simple donation today. This will ensure that we can continue working on your behalf, to protect the legendary redwood coast.

Orleans Fuels Reduction: An EPIC Perspective

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Kimberly Baker inspecting logging within the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction project.

I work with the Klamath Forest Alliance and EPIC to protect and defend our North Coast Watersheds. Our organizations strongly support the Traditional Ecological Knowledge and cultural management techniques of the Tribes. This is a very brief rendition of a very heated story. The Orleans “Community Fuels Reduction” Project (OCFR) is a tangled mess of broken assurances. (more…)

Rebirth of Environmentalism Book Signing

Monday, February 1st, 2010

rebirthPlease join EPIC Friday, February 19 at 7 p.m. at Northtown Books in Arcata, to hear excerpts from Doug Bevington’s new book, The Rebirth of Environmentalism: Grassroots Organizing from the Spotted Owl to the Polar Bear. Admission is free and donations are welcome. (more…)

Direct Message to Motorists: Richardson Grove Threatened

Monday, January 25th, 2010

RGbillboardThis weekend dedicated volunteers hand painted and installed a colorful billboard along Highway 101 just south of Standish Hickey State Park reading “Save Richardson Grove.” The ongoing effort to protect Richardson Grove from a Caltrans construction project continues to gain momentum with weekly meetings, an active listserv and multi-pronged strategy for success. (more…)