Archive for November, 2011

No Relief for Stewardship Crisis in California State Parks

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
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This historic photo is of a “lost” vehicle at Tolowa Dunes State Park

As the year 2011 starts to draw to a close, the stewardship crisis in the California State Parks System is clearly becoming more acute. The disastrous plan to close specific park units, including a disproportionate number of parks in Northwest California, continues to unfold without any promise of relief, while many other park units not on the closure list face dire conservation threats. Maintenance backlogs continue to pile up through out the system, and there are concerns that the current budget cuts and lack of investment in the Department of Parks and Recreation is going to cause long-term damage to the capacity of parks administration to carry out their obligation to care properly for these natural jewels of global importance.

To respond to this crisis, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) is steadily developing an agile and aggressive State Parks Defense Project as part of our Public Lands Program. The contribution that EPIC is making to the broad community of citizens and organizations that oppose the misguided and inappropriate California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Highway 101 development proposal for Richardson Grove State Park is, without question, our flagship State Park Defense initiative. In conjunction with this important litigation to defend the ancient redwoods in Richardson Grove, EPIC has embarked upon a series of strategies designed to address specific conservation threats to parks through out our region. The following is a brief overview of our assessment and lines of action on a few issues concerning the state parks stewardship crisis.

Richardson Grove State Park and Jedediah Smith State Park

EPIC is positioned to succeed in our legal challenge to the Caltrans Highway 101 widening proposal for RIchardson Grove State Park. The Preliminary Injunction secured in federal court against Caltrans on their Richardson Grove proposal remains in effect until the hearing for summary judgement, which is scheduled for February 23, 2012. Staff and attorneys for EPIC are working hard to prepare briefings and fully develop arguments for this legal strategy, as well as make headway on parallel political and media strategies. We ask members and supporters of EPIC to anticipate the new letter writing actions and public education efforts that will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months. We are excited to put the Richardson Grove issue in the spotlight again, especially as we enter 2012 and get closer to the late February hearing date.

At the same time, our ongoing research confirms that the Caltrans proposal for widening Highway 199/197 through Jedediah Smith State Park threatens the ancient redwoods in that park to a greater degree than in Richardson Grove. We are monitoring that proposal closely, and we are intent on being sure that Caltrans gets the message from our defense of Richardson Grove: Hands Off Our Ancient Redwoods!

State Legislative Hearing Highlights Incompetence in State Park Closure Plan

On November 1 there was a joint legislative hearing by the Assembly Committee for Water, Parks, and Wildlife and the Assembly Committee for Accountability and Administrative Review. During this hearing state legislators had a chance to question representatives of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the agency that is charged with the stewardship of the California State Park System. One predictable result of the hearing has confirmed what EPIC has been saying since the park closure plan was first announced: there is undeniable evidence that park leadership failed in their responsibility to design a coherent and viable formula for the proposed closures. The stunning lack of methodology, the absence of transparency, and the essentially arbitrary and capricious nature of the establishment of the plan for park closure and the list of parks to be closed is shameful, and reflects poorly on Governor Jerry Brown, whose environmental legacy will be written upon the vandalized walls of bathrooms in closed parks across the state.

Interestingly enough, it took six months for the state legislature to come to the same conclusion about the incoherent parks closure plan that EPIC had stated publicly upon first glance. With total confidence that EPIC’s  membership is in strong support of our demand that the California State Park System must be provided the robust public funding that such valuable and irreplaceable ecological and economical assets merit, we will continue to pursue political strategies that do more than bemoan the tragedy of the park closures, but rather generate leverage and momentum to halt any further closures and begin to reverse this tragic course.

Huffman Bill Becomes Law

One of the most celebrated rescue packages for the parks slated for closure is Assembly Bill 42, sponsored by Marin Assemblymember Jared Huffman, which provides legal structure for certain not-for-profit organizations to enter into agreements with the state to assist in the management of park units that are slated for closure. This is clearly an important emergency response that may work smoothly for a few park units, and EPIC is comfortable in seeing this tool used as a short term solution to bridge the stewardship gap presented by the ill-conceived closure plan. There are, however, some very serious dangers present in this bill, and we are concerned about the passivity of decision makers and mainstream environmental interests to settle so easily and rapidly for a solution that for all intents and purposes is a first step towards the privatization of our state parks. Even proponents admit that this strategy will not provide any relief for many of the park units threatened by the increased off-road vehicle use, vandalism, timber theft, poaching, indiscriminate cannabis cultivation, and facilities deterioration that will result from closure. We also have serious reservations about the drain that this type of solution will have on an already severely stressed not-for-profit sector in rural California. EPIC will monitor the implementation and the ramifications of this law closely, as well as pursue appropriate collaboration and consultation with local organizations that do endeavor to step up to the plate for their local parks and do the hard work in safeguarding public assets that the State of California is now shirking.

State Parks Promises to Curb Off-Highway Vehicle Use at Tolowa Dunes

It is important to celebrate our successes this year in defending the natural treasures of our state parks. In particular, EPIC has had excellent success this year in efforts to influence conservation management of the Tolowa Dunes State Park. We succeeded this summer in finally getting the parks administration to terminate an illegal grazing permit, and we have had positive engagement with the park administration that promises to lead to greater enforcement of prohibitions against off-highway vehicle use on the beach and the dunes of Tolowa Dunes. EPIC stands by our position that OHV users have multitudes of locales to pursue their motor sports, yet rare and endangered species like the snowy plover only have so many places to call home. Our message is that off-highway vehicle use is totally inappropriate in Tolowa Dunes State Park. We will continue to work to end inappropriate OHV activity at Tolowa Dunes, and other park units threatened by this activity, and we welcome the conservation oriented management changes by the state parks administration that are an important step towards this objective.

Does this Dark Cloud Have a Silver Lining?

Unfortunately, the list of parks that are on our State Park Defense Project radar screen is tending to get longer, and not shorter. Both up and down stream on the South Fork of the Eel River from Richardson Grove State Park are Benbow Lake and Standish Hickey State Recreations Areas, which are both facing uncertain futures and closure. Our research on the planned closure of Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park has revealed severe inconsistencies between the conservation promise of the famed (and expensive!) Headwaters Deal and the current closure plan. The use of toxic pesticides for ineffective control of invasive species has been a concern at Humboldt Redwoods State Park, as is a proposal by Caltrans to build four new bridges over key fish bearing streams along the Avenue of the Giants. Destructive vehicle use at Usal Beach in the Sinkyone State Wilderness continues to be a major conservation problem at that remote spot. And the economic impacts of the closure of several of the Mendocino Coast parks have also been largely ignored. Responding to these threats, and more, are making up the body of EPIC’s State Park Defense Project as we head into 2012.

Regardless of the challenges present in responding to the current stewardship crisis in our state parks, we at EPIC have come to the conclusion that it is possible that the closure threat and emergency in our redwood parks is what is most needed to get citizens in Northwest California to begin to fully appreciate the profound and immense economic, educational, recreational, and environmental values of our state park system. Once these values are celebrated and held in common by our community it will be a natural step to demand of our political representatives a forward thinking action plan that will have the objective of protecting and preserving our state parks for the future generations. EPIC will be working on these issues strongly in 2012, and we are excited to be a strong voice for our community and our members to demand long-lasting solutions to these problems. Stay tuned for an exciting series of actions in our State Parks Defense Project in the coming year!


CalFire and DFG battle over “Late Successional” forest

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
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Late Successional Forest in “Casey NTMP” Mendocino County

As so often happens, the Department of Forestry (Cal Fire) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) are at loggerheads over protection measures for highly sensitive and rare public trust forest resources.  The case of the “Casey” Non-industrial Timber Management plan (NTMP) provides another example of all that is wrong with the current THP/NTMP review program as administered by Cal Fire.

The “Casey” NTMP is located in southern Mendocino County, approximately five miles southeast of Boonville.  The NTMP contains a stand over which great controversy has ensued.  The stand appears to be an old growth redwood and Douglas fir forest.  This stand does not appear to have been subjected to commercial logging in the past, though this is a point of contention.  The DFG has identified this stand as being “Late Successional Forest” according to the definitions provided in the California Forest Practice Rules.  “Late Successional Forests” are effectively old and complex forest habitats with functional characteristics of old growth forests.  The DFG has also determined that the entire stand represents suitable nesting habitat for Federally-threatened and State-endangered Marbled Murrelets.  Marbled Murrelets are small sea birds that nest in complex old growth forests along the pacific coast from Washington to Central California.

The forester preparing the NTMP is in disagreement with the DFG’s determination that the stand represents a “Late Successional Forest,” and has balked at the protective provisions recommended.  Cal Fire, for its part, disagrees with DFG over the extent of the “Late Successional Forest.”  Cal Fire and the forester for the NTMP recently conducted a second field inspection of the property, while purposefully failing to invite or involve the DFG.  Cal Fire has subsequently determined that some of the stand is “Late Sucessional Forest” according to their interpretation, but still disagrees with the DFG over the actual size and functionality of this forest habitat.

The disagreement between the forester, Cal Fire, and the DFG is significant because the measures recommended by the DFG to protect Marbled Murrelet habitat are only valid during the period  when surveys are required for this species.  If surveys do not detect Marbled Murrelets, the landowner will be allowed to log in the “Late Successional Forest” stand.  Although the forester and the landowner are required to assess the potential cumulative effects of logging this rare and essential forest habitat, there is nothing in state forestry regulations that would prevent commercial logging in this stand. The DFG fears logging will  compromise the utility of the stand for Marbled Murrelets and other “late Successional Forest” dependent species.  Unfortunately, State Forest Practice Rules do not require Cal Fire to incorporate the recommendations of the DFG in approved logging plans.  Thus, Cal Fire can ignore the full extent of the “Late Successional Forest” as identified by DFG.  This would allow logging of larger and older trees in the portions of the stand in dispute.

Old growth and “Late Successional Forests” are extremely rare in Mendocino County, particularly on the private landscape.  The cumulative impact of past and current land use activities has resulted in the list of Marbled Murrelet as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act,  due largely to cumulative habitat loss.  Protection of remaining Marbled Murrelet habitat is considered essential for the long-term survival of the species, particularly in Mendocino County where habitat is so rare.  The State, and State agencies such as the DFG and Cal Fire have a responsibility under the California Endangered Species Act to provide for the survival, enhancement, and restoration of species such as the Marbled Murrelet.  As such, those agencies have a responsibility to manage for recovery of Marbled Murrelets and their habitat.  EPIC will continue to advocate for protection, restoration, and recovery of Marbled Murrelets and their habitat.


An EPIC Thanks for an EPIC Party

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
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Gary and DarrylThank You to Everyone Who Supported EPIC’s Annual Meeting and Fall Celebration!!

On Friday, November 4, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) celebrated 34 years of advocacy for wild forests and endangered species on the North Coast of California.  Hundreds of EPIC members and supporters gathered within the warm embrace of the Mateel Community Center to dine, to dance, and celebrate community through EPIC’s annual membership meeting.

As a highlight to the evening, the 2011 Richard Gienger Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the one and only Darryl Cherney for his lasting contributions in environmental advocacy.  Cherney’s work includes over 25 years dedicated to social change, artistic expression, and wild forest protection on the North Coast.

Also, during the awards ceremony, Kelly Karaba was granted the 2011 Volunteer Award, for her “tremendous dedication to EPIC’s outreach strategies, high attention to detail, and her peace of mind and calm attitude.” Thanks Kelly! Your positive influence on the organization is felt by us everyday!

The music of the evening was tremendous. Josephine Johnson provided a beautiful acoustic touch to the dinner gathering, and then Fishtank Ensemble rocked the night away with their dynamic gypsy sounds and theatrical antics.

We want to extend a huge thank you to Tryphena Lewis and all of her volunteer kitchen staff for preparing a delicious Mediterranean feast for nearly 200 people!

During the Annual Meeting portion of the evening EPIC’s 2012 Board of Directors was confirmed. We are sorry to see Cecilia Lanman relinquish her seat with the EPIC Board. We are grateful and appreciative of the years of service that she offered to EPIC and her community and we are honored to have had the chance to collaborate with and learn from her. Thank you, Cecilia for your tireless dedication to EPIC.

The EPIC Board currently consists of the following people:

  • Heather Reese (President)
  • Noah Levy (Vice Pesident)
  • Shawnee Alexandri (Treasurer)
  • Josh Brown (Secretary)
  • Lindsey Holm (Member)
  • Joan Merriman (Member/newly elected)
  • Dian Griffith (Member/Staff)
  • Gary Graham Hughes (Ex-oficio/Executive Director)

Thank you to all of the businesses and artisans that support EPIC:

  • Amelia’s Bakery
  • American Hydroponic
  • Arcata Artisans
  • Baroni Designs
  • Bayfront Grill
  • Beachcomber Café
  • Bead Supply—Arcata
  • Blue Moon Gift Shop
  • Bootleg
  • Brass Rail
  • Bubbles
  • Carter House Inn
  • Chautauqua Natural Foods
  • Eel River Brewery
  • Elk Prairie Vineyards
  • Erin Rowe Mediation Services
  • Eureka Natural Foods
  • Flood Plain Farms
  • Finnish Country Spas and Saunas
  • Fire and Light Glassware
  • Frey Vineyards
  • Gardin’ of Beadin
  • Hana Sushi
  • Hands of Time Massage
  • Holly Yashi
  • Hot Knots
  • Humboldt Glassblowers
  • Humboldt Herbals
  • Humboldt Hunnies Day Spa
  • Humboldt Nutrients
  • Inn of the Lost Coast
  • Island Tribe Apparel
  • Jessica Puccinelli
  • Joan Dunning
  • Kathleen Bryson
  • Klamath Rafting
  • KMUD
  • Kyoto Sushi
  • Lamport Legal Services
  • Larrupin
  • Larry Eifert
  • Libation Wines
  • Liscom Hill
  • Mama Palazzo
  • Many Hands Gallery
  • Mateel Café
  • Mateel Community Center
  • Michael Guerrero
  • Morning Star Clothing
  • Pacific Lotus
  • Patty Senot
  • Pacific Outfitters
  • Peggy Loudon
  • Peter Powell Wines
  • Picky Picky Picky
  • Pierson’s Building Supply
  • Pleasure Center
  • Pro Sports
  • Redway Liquour
  • Redwood Curtain Brewery
  • Rustic West Trading Co.
  • Rookery Bookstore
  • San Francisco Giants Baseball
  • Scoop’s Ice Cream
  • Scotia Inn
  • ShopSmart in Redway
  • Signature Coffee
  • Simply Mac
  • Solutions
  • Soul to Soul Footbar
  • Sylvandale Garden Supply
  • The Minor Theater
  • Three Foods Café
  • Tides Inn
  • Tomas Jewelry
  • Tomo Sushi
  • Trees Foundation
  • Trim Scene Solutions
  • Trinidad Trading Company
  • Turtle Rocks B&B
  • Wildberries Marketplace
  • Wildwood Music

Please consider these businesses when you are making choices about supporting sustainability in your community! The generosity of these companies in supporting our organization is invaluable to our being able to do the work that we do, THANK YOU!

Thank you to all of the volunteers who made the night possible:

  • Aaron Jefferson
  • Bridgette BishopEPIC Supporters
  • Bryce
  • Dan Brenner
  • Hillary
  • James Shelton
  • Jeri Fergus
  • Joan Merriman
  • Kelly Karaba
  • Leo Power
  • Lynn Ryan
  • Mitra Abidi
  • Noel Soucy
  • Rick Silva
  • Rob Fishman
  • Sierra Spooner
  • Steven Diamon
  • Susie Silva
  • Sylvia DeRooy
  • Taun Moody
  • Tom Hart
  • Victor Reuther

Our volunteers are the heart and soul of EPIC, THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who helped make our 34th Annual Meeting and Fall Celebration a total success. It really was a firecracker of a party! Watch for our schedule of events for 2012, we will be sure to get everyone together again to celebrate our Wild California!


This holiday, give the gift of a Wild California!

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
By

It is because of what you do for endangered species and the wild landscapes of Northwest California that we still have something left to fight for in Northwest California. Let’s make 2012 a year to remember!

Would you become part of the EPIC Community and make a $35 donation today, so that we may continue our work of protecting California’s Redwood Coast?

One of the easiest and best ways to stay informed and help protect the forests, rivers, and coast of Northwest California is to become a member of EPIC. You’ll receive bi-monthly electronic newsletters, plus action alerts on important issues and you’ll know that you’re helping to protect our unique region for generations to come.

If you’re already a member please consider a gift membership for a friend or loved one.

A basic membership is $35 a year for an individual or $50 for a household.

By contributing generously to EPIC you are investing in a time tested advocacy organization that is grounded in the shared vision of our community. EPIC is a grassroots and independent organization whose impact is exponentially larger than our small size. We thank you for your support, and for donating today! As the guardians of your wild backyard we are forever grateful for all that you do for this organization, and for the spectacular places that we are working to protect.

Everyday EPIC works to:
* Defend the amazing forests that define this region, from federally managed public lands to the California State Park System and to the privately-owned, industrial timberlands—nearly 15 million acres!
* Restore clean, clear, cold water to rivers of the North Coast; and
* Protect the special creatures like the Northern Spotted Owl, the Klamath Spring-run Chinook Salmon, the Marbled Murrelet and the Humboldt Marten—all threatened by the historic legacy of exploitative resource management.

EPIC holds polluters and government agencies accountable; we develop comments on behalf of the public trust resources, fish and wildlife, and for our membership; and we act as a government watchdog to ensure that industry-backed initiatives, laws or regulations do not go unchecked at the expense of our wild places.

Your donation of $10, $35, $50, $100 or even $1,000 means so much return on your investment for Wild Northwest California. If everyone who reads this message pitched in just $10 we would reach our goal of raising $20,000 by the New Year. Please donate today!

Please show your support for these efforts and help us usher in 2012 with the resources we need to keep fighting the battles, big and small that really matter to this region.

Sincerely Wild!

Natalynne DeLapp


Action Alert: Remove Dams on the Klamath River Now!

Thursday, November 10th, 2011
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CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION NOW!

Tell the Secretary of the Interior to Remove Dams on the Klamath River Now

UPDATE! Comment Deadline Extended to December 30, 2011

Dams on the Klamath River must come down to restore Coho and Chinook salmon runs to their historic spawning grounds.  Right now, the federal government is considering a proposal to remove the dams beginning in 2020.  It is critical that government officials hear from you now to advance the restoration of the Klamath River.  Please take a moment to submit your comments before the new comment deadline of December 30, 2011.  We encourage you to be original, and consider EPIC’s key points to include in your comments.

EPIC encourages you to include the following points in your comments:

1.     I support the immediate removal of all dams on the Klamath River and its tributaries.

2.     I also support the restoration of all historic wetlands and marshes in the upper Klamath basin, including Lower Klamath Lake, Tule Lake and Upper Klamath Lake.

3.     The restoration activities must also improve conditions for salmon on the Scott and Shasta Rivers.

4.     In addition, I demand that an absolute minimum flow of 1,300 cubic feet per second at the Iron Gate gauge be established for the dry season.  The National Marine Fisheries Service has required a minimum flow at Iron Gate pursuant to biological opinions to comply with the Endangered Species Act, and therefore the Secretary should include a minimum flow for fish.

5.     Lastly, the Secretary of Interior should ensure that more water from the Trinity River stay within the watershed so that increased water flows in the dry season assist salmon migration in the Lower Klamath River.

 

For more details about the proposed Klamath Facilities Removal, check out: www.klamathrestoration.gov

You can submit comments online at:

http://klamathrestoration.gov/Draft-EIS-EIR/feedback

 

You may also submit comments by sending letters directly to the following officials:

Ms. Elizabeth Vasquez

Bureau of Reclamation

2800 Cottage Way

Sacramento, CA 95825,

or by fax to 916-978-5055 or email: KlamathSD@usbr.gov

 

Gordon Leppig

California Department of Fish & Game

619 Second Street

Eureka, CA 95501

Or by fax to (707) 441-2021 or email: KSDcomments@dfg.ca.gov

 

Comment Deadline Extended to December 30, 2011

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION NOW!