Archive for May, 2010

Richardson Grove Update

Friday, May 28th, 2010
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Caltrans thinks that a highway construction project—that goes right through the middle of the old growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park—will not result in any significant impacts.  The proposed construction project includes plans to cut down 54 trees and impact the structural root zone of many old growth redwoods.

The removal of trees along the highway would further open up the canopy, which could:

  • result in a change in the microclimate, causing more solar radiation and thus contributing to global warming;
  • make trees more prone to blowing down;
  • decrease cover for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species who are typically found in old growth groves;
  • reduce the ability for flora and fauna dependent on the cool climate of old growth stands; and
  • increase fire hazards by creating more sunlight and allowing underbrush to grow.
Dead redwood in Avenue of the Giants -Photo by Bob von Normann

Dead redwood in Avenue of the Giants - Bob von Normann

Furthermore, the destruction of root systems of old growth redwoods would surely cause long term cumulative impacts to the ancient redwood grove.  It is a known fact that redwoods do not have a deep tap root, and their root systems lie primarily just below the surface of the forest floor. If they are cut, large parts of the giant trees -if not the whole tree- will die.  One need not venture far to see the fatal results of old growth root obstructions caused during construction in the Avenue of the Giants, and along many of the other parts of the Redwood Highway.  The tree tops are dead (view picture on right).

And by the way, ancient redwood groves are home to many threatened and endangered species, not to mention these are some of the last protected old growth redwoods remaining in the world, and they should remain protected (hence the fact that it is a State Park).

But Caltrans is still saying that their project will have “no significant impact.” Now that Caltrans has released the Final Environmental Impact Report/Finding of No Significant Impact (FEIR/FONSI) for the operational improvements to U.S. Route 101 through Richardson Grove, it is time for us to take action and persuade Caltrans and other decision makers to halt the destructive project.

EPIC needs support from people like you to keep Richardson Grove safe from Caltrans.  Click the links below to do your part.

Send a letter to Caltrans

Donate to EPIC’s “Save Richardson Grove Fund”

Sign up for EPIC’s Save Richardson Grove listserve


Protect the Mad River Watershed from the Kelsey Peak Timber Sale

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
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martensm

A Humboldt Marten at a USFS bait station.

Help us Protect the Mad River Watershed and Six Rivers National Forest!

The USFS is planning on logging 1,521 acres in the Upper Mad River Watershed, which is listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act for sediment and turbidity.  The Kelsey Peak Timber Sale proposes to log 271 acres of streamside Riparian Reserves and construct 4.24 miles of roads within the forest.  A new road is proposed through the middle of an old-growth stand that is slated for logging.  Ironically, USFS’s own research recommends decreasing the amount of roads.

Harvesting 15 Million Board Feet from this impaired watershed would fragment old growth habitat and may harm sensitive species such as Northern goshawk, Pacific fisher, American marten, bats, frogs and turtles.

The Forest Service’s single-minded focus on timber production, streamside logging and road building has created the negative resource conditions in this watershed.  The Upper Mad River needs restoration, not more destructive activities associated with logging.

(more…)


Caltrans Releases Final Plan for Richardson Grove

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
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Tall.RGsmallFourteen months after Caltrans closed public comment on the draft plan for the Richardson Grove Improvement Project, they have certified the final documents. EPIC and Center for Biological Diversity are teaming up to challenge the plan, as outlined in a media release sent out Thursday. If what you really want to do is “take action now ” (to send a letter to decision makers opposing this disastrous project) click the link.

The agency has stated publicly that they will refuse any further public input on the plan, and have made promises to survey for federally listed species like marbled murrellets to ensure the project does not damage habitat protected by hard fought environmental laws. Unfortunately, EPIC’s research shows clearly that nothing was done to offer the public adequate opportunities to participate in the planning process, and the agency does not, in fact, plan to do their own surveys.

In addition, Caltrans has not bothered to communicate with local businesses, who plan to close their doors for the full duration of the project.

“This project is going to close me down for the entire duration of the construction, and after two bad economic years, it’s hard to face yet another,” said Dan Beleme, a local businessman who owns the tourist attraction One Log House near Garberville. “A lot of the local businesses here may not make it back at all. There are other options that are not even being explored and many other ways to solve the trucking issue without ruining the environment of the area.”

Perhaps some of the most steadfast opposition to the project comes from the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, comprised of ten federally recognized Tribes. The organization has sent representatives to virtually all of the public events surrounding the issue, and prepared a stongly worded Statement of Purpose. The Council Chair, Priscilla Hunter submitted the following statement May 13.

“Since time immemorial, the Grove has held and still holds great cultural and spiritual significance for local Indigenous Tribal Peoples, some of whom trace their ancestry to this place. Our stance to defend Richardson Grove is founded on our respect for the ancient traditional belief of local Tribal Peoples that the Grove’s redwood trees are a precious and sacred part of our Mother Earth.”

All of this without mention of the core resistance to the project, the individual members of the Coalition to Save Richardson Grove. With an eye for detail, process and strategy, the local Save Richardson Grove Coalition has provided EPIC, decision makers and the public with much of the information lacking within Caltrans’ planning documents.


Eye on Green Diamond: Week 9

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
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korbelmillsiteGreen Diamond has been extremely busy preparing and submitting logging plans in 2010. The timber giant is by far the most frequent logging plan submitter in 2010.  So far in 2010, Green Diamond is responsible for 23 of the 43 plans filed in the North Coast Region. These 23 plans cover a total of 1,935 acres.

While some of this acreage can be accounted for by road construction and no-harvest areas, the vast majority of this logging will be clearcut with some selection near streams and rivers.  These logging operations are planned for a wide range of watersheds from Maple Creek, to Mad River, to Little River,  Redwood Creek and even Lower Klamath River tributaries. Many of these watersheds are currently suffering from impacts resulting from past logging. Furthermore, many of these watersheds show a present concentration of logging activity, such as Maple Creek, and the Headwaters Little River.

The proposed clearcut logging operations will destroy important habitat for Northern Spotted Owls and Pacific Fisher. Sediments, debris, and unstable failures resulting from these primarily clearcut logging operations threaten to choke streams vital the survival and recovery of Coho, Chinook, Steelhead, as well as numerous amphibians.

All these plans reference Green Diamond’s ten year future logging plans. In the case of all these watersheds, significant amounts of clearcutting are proposed for the near future. It is clear that Green Diamond will continue on the course of clearcut, burn, spray, and plant mono culture, repeat. As such, species will continue to be at significant risk of habitat loss on Green Diamond lands.


Eye on Green Diamond Week 8: Raining Herbicides in the Coastal Redwoods

Friday, May 14th, 2010
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Atrazine applied on clearcut near Korbell. Photo by Jen Kalt

Atrazine applied on clearcut near Korbell. Photo by Jen Kalt.

Many of us are aware of the dangers of herbicides and pesticides in our food and water. But can we trust Green Diamond to take precautionary measures when it comes to our health and the health of the fish, amphibians, and birds?

Green Diamond claims that these pesticides and herbicides are relatively harmless. With a little research, however, EPIC staff questions these conclusions. As one step in their controversial plantation forestry model, Green Diamond plans to use Triclopyr in combination with 2,4-D, Imazapyr, and Oust in 2010 in many sites along the Klamath River. In addition to these chemicals, they commonly use Atrazine.

To view a map of 12 sites Green Diamond plans to spray this year along the Klamath River within Yurok Reservation boundaries, click here.

Green Diamond lists many reasons to apply herbicides after logging, but often they cite the need to protect tree seedlings from competitive, faster growing shrubs, grasses and trees. To illustrate, one need only look to CalFire’s website and find the list of Timber Harvest Plans for the Northcoast region. In the lengthy section on Chemical Contaminants, found in subsection a 2d. under Section 4: is a section titled Cumulative Impacts of Timber Harvest Plans. In this section, they disclose a wide variety of chemical herbicides they may choose to use post-harvest. Application of chemical herbicides and pesticides are regulated by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Northcoast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB).

But Green Diamond is not held accountable for conducting any investigation into the harm that these chemicals cause. (more…)


Groups File Lawsuit on Orleans Fuels Project

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
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OCFUkayla-300x224

EPIC and Klamath Forest Alliance staffer Kimberly Baker investigating logging in the Orleans Fuels project.

A coalition of three environmental organizations, including EPIC, joined the Karuk Tribe in filing a lawsuit May 12 against the Six Rivers National Forest challenging the Forest Service’s implementation of the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction Project (OCFR). The complaint charges that the Forest Service violated several federal laws by allowing inappropriate logging and heavy equipment operation in an area considered sacred to the Karuk Tribe, as well as logging that is not consistent with the fuels treatment and fire protection purpose of the project.

“We are proud to work with the Tribe to protect the landscapes they have been caring for over thousands of years. There is no community in Northern California more capable and sophisticated than the Orleans and Somes Bar community in terms of their ability to plan and prepare for fire, and to live with fire on the landscape,” said Scott Greacen, Executive Director of EPIC.

The Orleans area, like many communities in Western forests, faces real threats to public safety from fires that can burn more intensely because decades of fire suppression and industrial logging have left heavy fuel loads and fire-prone timber plantations. Local community members, including tribal fire crews and the Orleans-Somes Bar Fire Safe Council, have created and begun to implement a carefully drawn plan to protect residences, key egress routes, and defensible spaces – the  Orleans Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

CVR-kelley-mtg-group-7804Rather than fund and follow that existing plan, the Forest Service repeatedly attempted over years of meetings between the Karuk Tribe, local land owners, conservation groups and restoration workers that have led to the current Orleans Fuels Project, to create a commercial logging project. The agency has done so by enlarging the area of the project and targetting valuable large trees which, from a fuels standpoint, should be retained rather than logged. While carefully designed understory thinning is critically necessary to reduce fire risks, conventional logging actually increases fire risks over the long term. (more…)


Two Bills Affecting Timber Harvest Plans

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
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Gualala clearcut found on krisweb.com

Clearcuts - Gualala, CA

Two new bills affecting commercial timber harvests are being considered by the California Assembly; one good and one bad.

The good bill, A.B. 2575, introduced by Chesbro includes goals to: restore fisheries and wildlife habitat; reduce the risk of wildfire, recover forest characteristics, reduce sedimentation and soil loss; achieve optimum carbon sequestration; and restore and recover unique attributes of a given planning watershed.

The bad bill, A.B. 2163 as explained in comments provided by the author’s office, would “grant THPs extended in 2008 and 2009 (thus, expiring this year and next) four one-year extensions under specified circumstances” resulting in approximately 50-80 THPs becoming eligible for additional extensions under this bill. “By granting a maximum of four 1-year extensions, some of these THPs, by including previous extensions, would be theoretically eligible for a total of six 1-year extensions, two more than that allowed under A.B. 1066.”

The author if the bill has already indicated that this is not his “intent” and has offered to clarify language in A.B. 2163. But regardless of intent, as the bill reads now it is not consistent with the existing THP process and would result in more THP extensions without further environmental analysis. It is important to halt this bill so that unintended THP extensions would not be granted.

TAKE ACTION
Urge your representatives to support A.B. 2575 and to stop A.B. 2163.

Contact the Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez (www.asmdc.org/speaker)

Call or email the following conservation-minded Assembly members on the Appropriations Committee:

Felipe Fuentes, Chair (D-Sylmar)
(916) 319-2039

Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch)
(916) 319-2011

Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco)
(916) 319-2013

Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)
(916) 319-2014

Alberto Torrico (D-Newark)
(916) 319-2020

Joe Coto (D-San Jose)
(916) 319-2023

Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)
(916) 319-2045

Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles)
(916) 319-2048

Steven Bradford (D-Gardena)
(916) 319-2051

Isadore Hall III (D-Compton)
(916) 319-2052

Charles M. Calderon (D-Montebello)
(916) 319-2058

Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana)
(916) 319-2069


SPI Exploits Loophole in Spotted Owl Rules

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
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SPI clearcuts in the Shasta County.

SPI clearcuts in Shasta County.

Over the last year, the rulebook on spotted owls and logging has changed substantially – at least as it applies to Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) and Roseburg Forest Products and a few other industrial timber companies in northern California. In an attempt to avoid boredom or confusion we will skip the mind numbing details of how this situation came to be.

Responsibility for the spotted owl has shifted from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to Calfire and Calfire’s version of owl protection is scientifically unsupported and…laughable. Under Calfire, the standards for owl protection have been reduced to a shadow of the former, despite ongoing decline in the population. Spotted owls living on these timberlands are facing a dramatic increase in logging of their habitat.

In recognition of the legal and scientific deficiencies of their rules Calfire had “strongly suggested” the use of FWS guidelines over the use of their own Forest Practice Rules (FPRs) for owl protection standards. In EPIC’s review of THPs proposing to log spotted owl habitat it was apparent that nobody was using the FWS guidelines and instead were defaulting to the FPR minimums while Calfire turned a blind eye. (more…)


Save Richardson Grove Campaign

Thursday, May 6th, 2010
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RGintheforestRichardson Grove State Park marks the southern entrance to Humboldt County, and is considered to be the famous redwood curtain that has kept the county from becoming another exit along the superhighway of modern development. In 1922, concerns about “potential destruction of the trees by highway construction and logging” persuaded the State to protect the redwood grove. But now Caltrans is proposing to widen the highway through the Grove, resulting in removal of trees and destruction of old growth root systems.

Caltrans originally prepared a Categorical Exemption, attempting to do minimal environmental analysis for the proposed project. However, with the involvement of EPIC and other environmental advocates, Caltrans has been forced back to the drawing board to do more extensive research, stalling the proposed project in the planning process for the past year. The trees have been allowed to remain while Caltrans conducts further analysis, preparing an Environmental Impact Report on the impacts associated with the proposed “Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project.”

The Save Richardson Grove Campaign has already stalled Caltrans, now its our job to stop them. You can be part of winning this battle right now by joining the campaign, educating yourself, signing postcards, petitioning your elected officials, reviewing the environmental documents for inadequacies, publishing opinion articles in news outlets or by doing your own unique something to spread awareness and stop the project!

Click on the links below to view Caltrans’ environmental analysis documents for the proposed Richardson Grove highway widening project:

The Save Richardson Grove Campaign has been accumulating community support for efforts to stop Caltrans’ widening project through the grove. View the pages below to learn more about the Campaign to Save Richardson Grove and find out how you can get involved:

media_httpphotosbakfbcdnnethphotosaksnc1hs269snc1962212296913760261041351761307420082191230njpg_mdaqaylpcegIEwA_jpg_scaled500 Take Action Now!

Caltrans plans to release their final proposal in May of 2010, and will stop accepting public comments at that time. Please visit EPIC’s action center to send a letter to Caltrans, to let them know your feelings about the Richardson Grove project.

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This group of organizers has kept the heat on CalTrans and have brought many issues to light.  Already this group has successfully forced CalTrans to produce environmental planning documents to examine expected impacts of the proposed project.

richardson_grove_bikesThe Big Picture: A Sacred Place, Not a Truck Rodeo

Widening the highway through Richardson Grove is just the first step in a larger scheme to alter the character of the county; to rob it of its quaint charm and turn it into a replica of so many Los Angeles suburbs.

Make a secure donationDonate to EPIC’s “Save Richardson Grove Fund”

The power is in your hands, EPIC needs support from people like you to keep the Richardson Grove campaign going. We are up against large scale developers with unlimited budgets. Every donation helps.


An Explanation of the Timber Harvest Plan Process

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
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Engaging timber1273603554_Spring_2010_EPIC_KDLooking out over the hills of the North Coast region, the expansive patchwork of clearcuts and young tree plantations marks a stark contrast from the tiny patches of preserved old-growth redwood forests within parks and the Headwaters Preserve. Private timber operators logged for years without effective regulation, and nearly destroyed the integrity of forest ecosystems for all of the species that depend on them. Since the 1970s local community activists and EPIC have worked to support better logging practices and provide habitat protection in our region, by monitoring industrial timber operations through the Timber Harvest Plan (THP) process.

While the process delineated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) for reviewing logging plans can be daunting at first glance, improvements in access to information, online mapping tools, and published opinions can help people interested in monitoring THPs participate more easily than ever before. To quickly find information about THPs online, check out thptrackingcenter.org. This website offers summaries of all THPs submitted to CAL FIRE, with interactive maps and links to CAL FIRE documents.

The THP Review Process

The THP review process for logging operations on private lands in California is defined by the California Forest Practice Rules. This set of regulations adopted by the California Board of Forestry is designed to conform to the dictates of the California Forest Practice Act and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Originating from the 1946 Forest Practice Act that was eventually invalidated, legislation to regulate forestry practices led to the Z’Berg-Nejedly Forest Practices Act of 1974 and other related laws. The THP itself is considered equivalent to an Environmental Impact Report under CEQA. To learn more about case history and related laws, see Guide to the California Forest Practice Act, co-authored by EPIC’s staff attorney, Sharon Duggan.

The THP review process is conducted by CAL FIRE, which acts as the lead agency for private logging operations. As the lead agency, CAL FIRE is charged with reviewing each THP to determine whether the project is feasible and complies with existing laws and regulations. CAL FIRE also must determine whether the plan will result in significant impacts on the environment. To make these determinations, CAL FIRE works with a host of other agencies, depending on the location and scope of planned logging operations and the environmental issues raised. The THP is generally sent to the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Geologic Survey, as well as to each county planning commission. In addition, neighboring landowners receive notification that a plan has been submitted, and grassroots forest advocates monitor new THPs as they are filed. (more…)


Northwest California’s National Forests in the Big Picture

Saturday, May 1st, 2010
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Stanley Creek in 1979, note people in the middle of the photo.

Stanley Creek in 1979, note people in the middle of the photo.

By Scott Greacen, for Forest & River News

A decade into the 21st century, the US Forest Service is only beginning to face the challenges that nearly overwhelmed it in the 20th. The tension between competing desires to exploit western forests for immediate gain or to protect them to provide for long-term sustainability first drove Teddy Roosevelt to create the National Forest system to secure both forests and key sources of clean, abundant water. But following World War II, the National Forests became the focus of an enormous logging and road-building boom. By the 1970s, the timber extraction boom had begun to create busts for wildlife and water, with salmon populations crashing and serious questions being raised about the long-term viability and desirability of plantation forestry on the public landscape. The reforms that followed, including laws like the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), sought to mitigate but not to challenge the fundamental premise of “multiple-use” management–that the public forests could continue to support functional, productive ecosystems, endless recreational opportunities, and a timber program that would, not incidentally, pay to build and maintain a road network ten times larger than the interstate highway system.

Today, Northwest California’s four National Forests offer a particularly compelling case study of both the risks of continuing down the path of least resistance–of trying to pretend that we can have our cake and eat it too–as well as the potential rewards of setting a new course for the Forest Service, one that focuses on the restoration and protection of ecosystems for the critical services they provide, including clean water, biodiversity, and climate stability.The Obama administration has a critical opportunity on this front to take actions today that could set us collectively on a better course, and so save a great deal of pain in the future. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that the new administration is paying much attention to the National Forest system as such. Today’s opportunities could too easily become tomorrow’s regrets.

Most Americans believe that our National Forests are “protected,” in the vague sense that they are “the green areas on the map.” It’s certainly true that the Forest Service must meet higher standards in managing the National Forests than, for example, industrial logging corporations have to meet in deciding when and how to log on private lands. (more…)