Posts Tagged ‘Richardson Grove’

Save Richardson Grove: Think Globally, Act Locally

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Madrone Hugging Ancient RedwoodIf everyone cared for their own wild back yard, the world would be a better place. Northwest California is known for having some of the wildest lands, including the Lost Coast and the tallest trees on the planet, which have been preserved behind the redwood curtain since time immemorial. With less than three percent of the planet’s old growth redwood trees remaining, it is imperative that every ancient tree is protected, especially if they are entrusted into a park system, which has vowed to protect them in perpetuity.

Since 2007, EPIC has been working to protect some of the most well-known giant redwoods in the world from the California Department of Transportation’s destructive highway-widening project. A grass roots coalition of community members, business owners, economists, conservation and Native American groups have opposed the Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project, which proposed tree removal and destruction of the root systems of ancient redwood trees in Richardson Grove State Park – trees that are supposed to be protected by the state park system.

Richardson Grove is the first cluster of old-growth redwoods people see as they head up the coast on Highway 101, it is essentially the “redwood curtain” that has allowed Humboldt County to retain its rural character. The redwoods in Richardson Grove also serve as critical habitat for Marbled Murrelets, Northern Spotted Owls and streams going through the Grove are critical habitat for endangered Coho Salmon. Maintaining the integrity of these trees is incredibly important not only to the ecosystem, but to the community, since these trees are the pinch point that do not allow for larger trucks serving corporate chains that are characteristic of sprawling urban areas, and which many people feel would change the essential character of Humboldt County.

For eight years EPIC and allies have organized community support, provided comments, and filed substantive lawsuits that convinced a federal judge to grant an injunction halting the Richardson Grove project citing that the agency had been “arbitrary and capricious” in its use of what the court called “faulty data.” This past December Caltrans revoked its approval of the project. If the agency decides to pursue the project, a complete and comprehensive environmental review and approval process will have to start over. This is a victory, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and rest assured that the trees in Richardson Grove State Park will not be harmed for now.

An important lesson has been learned because of this case, that Caltrans consistently breaks the rules, violating environmental laws and risking important public trust resources. For this reason, EPIC will continue to engage with Caltrans and hold them accountable to the environmental standards that have been put in place to protect our natural treasures.

A related proposal that should be watched closely is Caltrans’ “Last Chance Grade” project, located along Highway 101 ten miles south of Crescent City where the roadbed is sliding into the Pacific Ocean. Caltrans is in the beginning planning phases of this project and is looking at potential alternative routes to the east, away from the sliding cliffs, which includes multiple alternatives that would go through the middle of Redwood State and National Parks. EPIC is committed to finding the least environmentally destructive project alternative that meets the needs of the community, while holding Caltrans accountable to environmental laws.

The loss of large tracts of intact wild lands may be the single biggest threat to our way of life. Climate disruption will only compound the threats that future generations face. In order to secure a sustainable future, it is clear that protecting and restoring Northwest California’s forest ecosystems will provide necessary habitat, clean air and water, carbon sequestration, and improve quality of life for people and native wildlife for generations to come.

In order to hone EPIC’s effectiveness in protecting wild forestlands within our bioregion, we have restructured the organization, added two new attorneys to our staff, and developed a new strategic plan to focus on three primary campaigns:

•Achieving permanent connectivity of working and wild forestlands, a campaign called “Connecting Wild Places;”

•Ensuring best management of public forestlands; and

•Ensuring best management of private industrial forests with an emphasis on the Elk, Mattole and Freshwater watersheds.

With your help, we can protect wild places and ensure that public and private lands are managed responsibly to maintain healthy intact ecosystems. We have our work cut out for us, but we are dedicated and determined to leave our children with a legacy we can all be proud of.


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.

Eye on Green Diamond: Week 2

Monday, February 1st, 2010

GDclearcut2Among the trends being born out in Green Diamond’s 2010 Timber Harvest Plans so far, the use of the over sized clearcuts proves most glaring.  So far in 2010, Green Diamond has filed five THP’s containing seven oversized clearcut units.  The Forest Practice Rules restrict the size of clearcuts to 20 acres for ground-based yarding, and 30 acres for cable or other yarding system.  Green Diamond may however propose over-sized units if justified in the plan and approved by Cal Fire during  THP Review.

THP 1-10-001 in Maple Creek proposes Unit B as an oversized clearcut of 23 acres ground-based yarding.  This plan was approved on 3/26/2010 by CalFire with the oversized unit included as proposed.

THP 1-10-011 in the Headwaters of Little River proposes two oversized clearcut units.  Unit A proposes 22 acres of ground-based clearcut, while Unit D proposes 21 acres of ground-based clearcut.  Green Diamond justifies these oversized units by potentially utilizing the option of shovel yarding.  However, shovel yarding is still classified as a ground-based yarding operation in the rules, thus these units are oversized.  This plan is currently open for public comment.

THP 1-10-014 in the Headwaters of Little River proposes Unit B as a 33-acre ground-based yarding clearcut.  This giant ground-based clearcut unit constitutes over a third of the 88 total clearcut acres proposed in this plan.  This plan is still open to public comment.

THP 1-10-016 sits on Berry Ridge above the Mad River.  This plan contains two oversized clearcut units.  Unit A is a 22.5 acre tractor yarded clearcut.  Unit C is a 28 acre tractor yarded clearcut.  These units comprise 50 of the 59 total clearcut acres under this plan.  This plan is still open to public comment.

THP 1-10-017 in Maple Creek proposes Unit  C as  a 31.5 acre oversized clearcut to be yarded either by cable or shovel.  In either case, the unit is oversized.  This unit comprises more than a third of the total 77.7 acres of clearcutting proposed in this plan.  This plan is still open to public comment.

These oversized, mostly ground-based clearcut units pose a threat not only to water quality in the various watersheds, but also threatend to continue the Green Diamond trend of voraciously fragmenting the landscape.  Also these oversized clearcuts act to wipe out larger swaths of actual and potential habitat for species of concern in those watersheds, including Northern Spotted Owls, Pacific Fisher, and others.

Please comment to Cal Fire on these THP’s.  Let Cal Fire kow that clearcutting, and particularly oversized clearcutting is the most potentially damaging logging alternative available to Green Diamond. Tell Cal Fire to enforce the clearcut unit size limitations on all Green Diamond THP’s.

For comments, please email CalFire at [email protected]

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…)

Redwood Run Biker Party Joins Save Richardson Grove Movement

Monday, January 25th, 2010

redwoodrunYou know something big is brewing when environmentalists and bikers are on the same wavelength. Redwood Run, which describes itself as the “Ultimate Old School Biker Party,” is an annual Harley-Davidson motorcycle run that ends in a big shindig at Riverview Ranch in Piercy every June. Well, it seems that bikers love Richardson Grove just as much as they love to ride and party. The Redwood Run website proclaims its opposition to Caltrans’s plans to widen Richardson Grove to accomodate large commercial trucks. The Redwood Run’s assessment of the situation, as described on its website, is pretty right on. As the movement to Save Richardson Grove continues to grow, it is becoming clear that the community as a whole—from environmentalists to bikers to college students to everyday folks on the North Coast—does not want Caltrans to open the North Coast to increased truck traffic and the onslaught of big box retail stores. Take action now by sending Caltrans an electronic letter telling them you oppose the project to widen Richardson Grove.

A New Era (and Website) for EPIC

Friday, January 15th, 2010


After two years of working with EPIC, I am so excited to see the swelling enthusiasm of our small but dedicated team of activists and organizers. EPIC’s work over the years has ebbed and flowed from an epicenter of information based in the heart of the struggle to defend redwood forests in Garberville to sparse offices in Eureka and skeleton staff with board leadership. Our totally redesigned website is a step into a new era for the organization, but we haven’t lost sight of where we came from. (more…)