Archive for April, 2012

EPIC Annual Report

Monday, April 30th, 2012
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It is with great appreciation and satisfaction that we share with our extended family of supporters the 2011 EPIC Annual Report.  This past year has been an amazing year in the history of EPIC!  We have come through a major staffing transition with increased momentum that has resulted in a series of concrete advances for defending our Wild California.

2011 was very significant for EPIC in that we have confirmed the existence of an exuberant, dedicated, and growing membership and donor base that is willing to invest in innovative legal advocacy for the Northwest California environment.  Since the founding of the organization 35 years ago, EPIC has been a power packed organization with broad community support that gets results disproportionate to our size and resources.

Click here to download the 2011 Annual Report

 

 

 


Lawsuit Launched to Protect Rare, Mink-like Carnivore in California and Oregon

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
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Humboldt Marten at a bait station for observation in Six Rivers NF.

EPIC and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to make a listing decision on a petition to protect the Humboldt marten, one of the world’s most endangered mammals. “Fewer than 100 Humboldt martens are thought to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center. “This critically rare animal needs the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, right now, while there’s still time to save it.”

In 2010, the Center and EPIC petitioned for the protection of the marten under the Endangered Species Act. The Service determined in January that the marten “may warrant” protection as an endangered species, but has failed to make a required 12-month finding to determine whether protection is warranted.

A cat-sized carnivore related to minks and otters, the Humboldt marten was once relatively common but is now found only in coastal old-growth forests in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon.

Because almost all of its old-growth forest habitat has been destroyed by logging, the Humboldt marten was believed extinct for 50 years. It was rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996, and in 2009, the first marten to be photographed in recent times was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera. The historic range of the marten extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. In Oregon, the marten lives in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw national forests.

These extremely secretive animals are known for their slinky walking motion and ability to prey on porcupines by biting them on the face. Typically about two feet long, with large, triangular ears and a long tail, they eat small mammals, berries and birds, and are preyed on by larger mammals and raptors.

“There’s no question that the Humboldt marten needs and deserves Endangered Species Act protection,” said Curry. “We hope the Service will issue a proposed listing without us having to actually file a lawsuit.”

“Clearcut logging and short rotation forestry has replaced diverse native forests with oversimplified tree plantations across thousands of acres of industrial timberland, driving the Humboldt marten to the brink of extinction,” said Andrew Orahoske, conservation director at EPIC in Arcata. “In order to save this unique carnivore from oblivion, we need to ban this damaging forestry practice and promote the restoration of native forests immediately.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 350,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) works to protect and restore ancient forests, watersheds, coastal estuaries and native species in Northern California. EPIC uses an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy and strategic litigation.

Humboldt Marten 12 month NOI

Click to see previous article: ESA Protection Closer for Humboldt Marten

 


Speak Up for Whales: Tell the Navy to Stop Blasting Whales with Sonar

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
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Beached Whale – Houda Point     Photo by: Amber Jamieson

The U.S. Navy is actively using intense sonar in our oceans.  The result is that our recovering whale populations are at risk.  We have succeeded in stopping most of the violence against whales through bans on whaling.  But now, as whales are recovering to former glory, the gentle giants are again subject to violent acts.

Take action by April 27th, 2012

Click here to tell the U.S. Navy to stop committing acts of violence against whales.

Suggested points to make:

Under Supreme Court precedent, the U.S. Navy may only harm whales if absolutely necessary to defend the United States from a credible national security threat.

The U.S. Navy has failed to demonstrate that such an immediate national security threat exists anywhere within the proposed Northwest Training Complex on the Pacific Coast.

The U.S. Navy’s proposed monitoring plan for whales using visual observers is completely inadequate.  Clearly, the Navy has the technology to detect whales through sound in the ocean, as that’s how whales communicate, and how they are studied by whale researchers.

Background:

Whales and other marine mammals rely on their hearing for life’s most basic functions, such as orientation and communication. Sound is how they find food, friends, mates, and their way through the under water world.

So when a sound many thousands of times more powerful than a jet engine fills their ears, the results can be deadly.  This is the reality that whales and other marine mammals face because of human-caused noise in the ocean.

Active sonar systems produce intense sound waves that sweep the ocean like a floodlight, revealing objects in their path. Some systems operate at more than 235 decibels, producing sound waves that can travel across tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean. During testing off the California coast, noise from the Navy’s main low-frequency sonar system was detected across the breadth of the northern Pacific Ocean.

By the Navy’s own estimates, even 300 miles from the source, these sonic waves can retain an intensity of 140 decibels — a hundred times more intense than the level known to alter the behavior of large whales.

The Navy’s most widely used sonar systems operate in the mid-frequency range. Evidence of the danger caused by these systems surfaced dramatically in 2000, when whales of four different species stranded themselves on beaches in the Bahamas.  The mass stranding of whales has occurred in the Canary Islands, Spain, Greece, Madeira, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii and other sites around the globe.

Many of these beached whales have suffered physical trauma, including bleeding around the brain, ears and other tissues and large bubbles in their organs.  These symptoms are akin to a severe case of “the bends” — the illness that can kill scuba divers who surface quickly from deep water. Scientists believe that the mid-frequency sonar blasts may drive certain whales to change their dive patterns in ways their bodies cannot handle, causing debilitating and even fatal injuries.

Stranded whales are only the most visible symptom of a problem affecting much larger numbers of marine-life.  Naval sonar has been shown to disrupt feeding and other vital behavior and to cause a wide range of species to panic and flee.  Scientists are concerned about the cumulative effect of all of these impacts on marine animals.  The Navy estimates that increased sonar training will significantly harm marine mammals more than 10 million times during the next five years off the U.S. coast alone.


Stop the Cruel Practice of “Hounding”

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
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EPIC supports Senate Bill 1221 which will stop the cruel and unsporting practice of “hounding” bears and bobcats. A special thank you Jennifer Fearing at The Humane Society of the United States for providing the picture and information below.

Hounding involves fitting dogs with radio devices that allow bear and bobcat houndsmen to monitor the dogs’ movement remotely. Dogs are released to chase frightened wild animals often for miles, across all types of habitat, including forests and private property. Dogs pursue their target until exhaustion and drive the bear or bobcat up a tree to escape or turns to confront the dog pack. Hound hunters may use packs of up to 20 hounds.

Since the pursuit of bears and bobcats by hounds depends on releasing them to run across large tracts of land, hounds also pursue non-target species, including deer and ground-nesting birds, and animals who are endangered or protected. The nature of hounding also causes significant conflicts between hound hunters and landowners, other types of hunters, and other outdoor recreationists.

The DFG estimates that as many black bears are taken illegally as legally each year owing to the lucrative black market for bear parts like gallbladders, paws and claws. And the population may be in more trouble than some might think. The black bear harvests in 2010 and 2011 were unusually low, raising questions about the size and health of California’s bear population. Bears hunted in 2010 totaled 1,503 animals and in 2011 were 1,264 – both the two lowest harvests in the past 18 years. This decline should be a cause for concern about the population, which may be declining in California.

UNETHICAL AND UNNECESSARY

SB 1221 is the third legislative effort to stop hounding in California since 1993. A 2011 research poll revealed that 83 percent of California voters oppose the practice of bear hounding. Less than 1% of Californians hunt, so hunting traditions depend on how non-hunters view the legitimacy of hunting practices.

Due to uncertainty over the health of California’s bear population and public backlash over unethical aspects of bear hunting, the California Fish and Game Commission did not approve efforts to expand bear hunting quotas and expansion of hounding territory and technology during the 2009 – 2011 mammal regulatory processes.

The practice of hounding is not necessary. Approximately half of the legal bear kill and 80% of the bobcat take is achieved by hunters who do not use hounds.  Eighteen states allow the hunting of bears with hounds and 14 states conduct successful hunting seasons without resorting to this unfair and inhumane hunting practice.  Hunters often profess adherence to rules of fair chase, which require that animals have a reasonable chance to escape. There is nothing fair about a pack of trained hounds wearing radio collars running down a wild animal or shooting exhausted wild animals off tree limbs.

CONCERNS FOR HOUND WELFARE

Dogs can be injured during the chase and confrontations. Bears are poor distance runners and when they tire may stand and fight with dogs instead of treeing. Dogs may be struck by vehicles, die as a result of dehydration or confrontations with wildlife, or be abandoned at local animal shelters. A Yosemite National Park ranger who cited houndsmen in four different incidences of bear-hunting hounds running illegally in the park during the past two years said that “some of the dogs are really skinny” and that houndsmen may keep their dogs hungry to encourage their prey drive. In October of last year, Mendocino County Animal Care Services reportedly took in 30 hounds from a single kennel. Other California humane societies, SPCAs and animal care agencies have also experienced significant issues with hunting hounds including picking up injured dogs who often go unclaimed by their owners causing a drain on shelter resources.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO TAKE ACTION

Click here to send a letter to your Senators

Please attend the Sacramento hearing on the April 24. It is critical to pack the house. There are going to be hundreds of houndsmen and other hunters in opposition. The hearing will be in Room 112 and a second room added for overflow. While the hearing starts at 9, we encourage people to arrive earlier to ensure seats in the main room.

Click here for RSVP form on the Humane Society web site that includes video


EPIC Thank You for Spring Gala

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
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THANK YOU to EVERYONE who came out to support EPIC at the Vagabond Opera & Fishtank Ensemble EPIC Spring Gala!!

The entire Board and Staff of EPIC would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to all of the people who were a part of our Spring Gala for the dedication of their time, energy, and resources to this incredibly successful event. This ingenious celebration of our environmental advocacy was possible due to the contributions of the artists, musicians, performers, and spectacular cooks who were responsible for the dinner and show. The event came off with breathtaking ease due to the generosity, stamina, and commitment of all the volunteers who were involved. Thank you all for expressing the craftsmanship intrinsic to serving as the guardians of your wild California!

Special thanks to ALL of the MORE than 80 VOLUNTEERS!

Tryphena Lewis for taking on the unbelievable role of coordinating and planning the entire event, including creating the delicious dinner and bar menus!

Resha Reneau for all her help, her beautiful artistic eye, and exquisite execution with the Silent Auction;

Natalia Boyce and the entire kitchen crew for making the amazing food;

Amanda Rose of Devine Creations for her incredible chocolate mocha cheesecake (who knew that raw, vegan and gluten free could be so divine?);

To all the Humboldt Fire Girls who served up the hors d’oeuvres and dinner with such style;

Fhyre Phoenix for helping with Stage Management and keeping things moving on time;

To ALL THE FABULOUS PERFORMERS for truly bringing it: Nicholette Routhier and Andrew Wether of Dell’Arte for being such fun MCs, to Shoshanna and the Ya Habibi Dance Company for their beautiful belly dance offering, to Chakeeta and the Circus of Elements for their magical fire performances, to Steven Weven and his Varietyville Friends for their talents and juggling fun, to Tofu Mike for doing such a great job with the lights and sound, to BOTH BANDS Vagabond Opera and Fishtank Ensemble for their years of dedication to their craft and gracing us with their musical talents;

To ALL THE ARTISTS and BUSINESSES who supported the event and donated so generously to the silent auction, especially to Annie Salt for her help and inspiration, and to Jeff and Carla of Sew What for sewing the beautiful tent-like fabric in the hall;

To Shawnee Alexandri, and his crew Ryan Sullivan and Bobby Wright, for their talent, patience and hard work creating and installing the tent-like structure, and to Mike and Ed of the Arcata Community Center for all their help;

To all our friends and community who traveled from afar to bring their support (from Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Oregon) it meant a lot to have you there, thank you!

And to the EPIC Staff and Board (Natalynne, Amber, Kelly, Gary, Andrew, Dian, Rob, Kimberly, Noah, Josh, Heather, Joan, Hezakiah, Shawnee…), THANK YOU!

This event was a wonderful mix of art and entertainment, and for those of us in the intimate circle of EPIC it was particularly exciting to express the artistic side of our technical advocacy that combines law, science, and politics to defend native ecosystems and endangered species. This art is the creative spirit that will accompany us as we design a sustainable and ecologically wise relationship with our bioregion. Thank you for being a part of this celebration with us.  See photo gallery below.

EPIC 2012 Spring Gala Business Supporters and Silent Auction Donors
Jade Dragon Spa
Om Shala Yoga
Veruschka Normandeau
Humboldt Back & Neck Pain Center
Lorraine Tryon
Samantha at Panache Foot Bar
Parker’s Beauty Bar
Hair Unlimited
Adam Wolter
Devine Creations
Mycality Mushrooms
Asia Anderson
Bloom Salon
Dr. Robert Kleiman
Sukura Herbals
Jeff Jacobsen
Ann Youmans
Shoshanna
Erin Rowe
Jamie Bellerman
Country Living Florists
Los Bagels
New World Water
Mad River Brewery
Elk Prairie Vineyards
Robert Goodman Wines
New World Ballet
The Pearl Lounge
Northtown Books
Caravan of Dreams
Wildberries Market
Willow & Rags
Morning Star
New Outdoor Store
Pro Sports Center
Old Town Antique Lighting
Pierson’s Building Center
Trinidad Trading Company
Bayside Roasters
Hot Knots
Natural Selection
Northcoast Co-Op
Adventures Edge
Booklegger
Vintage Avenger
Belle Starr
Yi Fang Imports
Ship Wreck
Sew What
Accident Gallery
Good Relations
Murphy’s Markets
Bang-Bang
Tru Bru
Water Planet
Libation
Moonrise Herbs
Global Village Gallery
Alirose
Brio Breadworks
Signature Coffee
Laurel Sky
John Chapman
Justine Levy
Jay Bird
Thomas Dunklin
Carrie Grant
Jim Lowery
Shannon Sullivan
Jennifer Metz
Joan Dunning
Aaron Houser
James Shelton
Ryan Hurst
David Zdrazil
Jeffery & Iris
Montage Art
Joe Sandoval
Harold Funk
Folie Douce
Abruzzi/Moonstone/Plaza Grill
Luke’s Joint
The Other Place
955 Restaurant
Passion Presents
North Coast Repertory Theatre
Dell’Arte
Hotel Arcata
Sweetwater Inn
Benbow Inn


EPIC Win for Richardson Grove

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
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A federal judge today ordered Caltrans to redo critical aspects of its environmental analysis for a controversial project that would widen and realign Highway 101 through the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County. Citing numerous errors in Caltrans’ mapping and measurement of affected old-growth redwoods, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ordered Caltrans to correct its errors and prepare a detailed new analysis that considers potential harm to the roots of each individual redwood tree in the project’s path. A coalition of conservation groups and local community members filed a lawsuit in 2010 to halt the project.

“Despite the importance of Richardson Grove and the incredible public outcry against this project, Caltrans didn’t even accurately measure and map the ancient redwood trees that its misguided highway expansion proposal puts at risk,” said Gary Hughes of the Environmental Protection Information Center, a plaintiff group based in Humboldt County. “This unnecessary project would cause irreparable damage to one of our most prized state parks, the venerable old-growth grove and its wildlife, and also harm tourism and the coastal communities of Humboldt County. It’s time to scrap this project for good.”

The proposal to realign a section of Highway 101 that winds through old-growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park to accommodate large-truck travel would require extensive cutting into the roots of towering redwoods along the highway. Root loss would likely kill at least some of the majestic trees, and highway work would also harm endangered species like the marbled murrelet and Northern spotted owl. Caltrans’ proposed assault on Richardson Grove, the fabled “redwood curtain” at the entrance to rural Humboldt County, has been met with widespread opposition from local residents, business owners, conservation groups, American Indians and economists. Conservation groups secured a federal court injunction in July 2011 stopping the project from moving forward until the case could be heard.

“Less than 3 percent of our ancient redwood trees remain, yet Caltrans wants to cut through, injure and pave over the roots of giant redwoods in a state park for the sake of a few more oversized trucks speeding through the grove, and expects us to believe there won’t be any damage,” said Peter Galvin, conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ll keep fighting until Caltrans drops this misguided project.”

“Caltrans must give us a clear and accurate description of how building a modern roadbed in Richardson Grove can harm precious and rare environmental resources that belong to us all,” said Patty Clary, Director of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics. “That would be democracy in action. That’s what the court preserved in this ruling, the right of Americans to have these important decisions made in the light of day, not behind closed doors.”

Plaintiffs in the case are the Environmental Protection Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, Trisha Lee Lotus, Bess Bair, Bruce Edwards, Jeffrey Hedin and Loreen Eliason. Trisha Lotus is the great granddaughter of Henry Devoy, who transferred the redwood forest that became Richardson Grove State Park to California in 1922. The plaintiffs are represented by San Francisco attorney Stuart Gross, Oakland attorney Sharon Duggan, a team from San Francisco law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy that includes Philip Gregory and former congressman “Pete” McCloskey, and Kevin Bundy of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Click here for the Judge’s Order.

Background

Established in 1922, Richardson Grove State Park was recently rated as one of the top 100 state parks in the United States. The park attracts thousands of visitors from around the world every year to explore one of the last protected stands of accessible old-growth redwoods. It is here that drivers first encounter significant old-growth forest when heading north on Highway 101, and this popular tourist destination has provided many people with a transformative experience walking through some of the oldest living beings on the planet. The park also provides essential habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl, and its creeks still support runs of imperiled salmon and steelhead. Currently, the California State Parks system is facing a multitude of threats beyond inappropriate highway development. Two parks near Richardson Grove on the South Fork of the Eel River are slated for closure.

The lawsuit was brought for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and Administrative Procedures Act. The environmental assessment prepared by Caltrans failed to acknowledge the full extent of the project’s impacts, as required by federal and state laws, including the effects of cutting through and paving over the widespread but shallow network of roots holding Richardson Grove together, the consequences of stockpiling lead-contaminated soil in an area draining to the designated “wild and scenic” South Fork Eel River, and the far-reaching impacts of opening the road to larger trucks. Caltrans also failed to adopt legally required measures to reduce these impacts and failed to consider less-damaging alternatives.

Caltrans first proposed the highway widening project in 2007 with minimal environmental and public review. Faced with immediate and widespread community opposition, the agency prepared a full “environmental impact report” but has still has not shown that its experimental, unproven construction methods will not irreparably harm Richardson Grove. Opposition to the project has continued to grow, led by the Save Richardson Grove Coalition, a diverse group of community members including economists, business owners, scientists, and a consortium of 10 federally recognized Northern California tribes with longstanding ties to the grove.

The proposed highway widening does not serve the region’s best interests. Caltrans claims it is needed to legally accommodate large-truck travel on this section of highway. However, it appears from Caltrans’ own statements and signage that this portion of road is already designated for larger trucks and that Caltrans has exaggerated potential safety problems. Caltrans has not established that this project is necessary either for safety or for goods movement and the economy. Since smaller-sized commercial trucks already travel through the grove to deliver goods to Humboldt County, the best alternative would be to leave the highway as it is and retain the integrity of the grove.


Speak Out Against Cruelty to Wolves

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
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photo credit: Earth Island Journal

TAKE ACTION NOW!

This graphic picture shows a beautiful black wolf caught in a leg-hold trap, surrounded by blood soaked snow, wounded and still alive.  In front smiling is US Forest Service employee Josh Bransford, from the Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho.  The trap was set near a road on Friday, March 16.  By the time he arrived on Sunday, several men had already taken shots at the ensnared wolf.  He posted pictures online and boasted about how the big 100-pound male wolf would make a good wall hanger.

In April 2011 the US Congress passed a rider in an appropriations bill removing gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the Endangered Species list.  This is the first time an animal has ever been removed from the list by Congress strictly for political rather than scientific reasons. Although conservation groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals claiming that the delisting was an unconstitutional infringement by Congress, the court rejected their arguments.

Montana and Idaho have killed 534 wolves out of an estimated 1150 in those states, eliminating nearly half of the population in less than a year.  Over 100 wolves have been murdered in traps and snares while the others were shot.  Wolf tags sell for less than 20 dollars and over 53,000 have been sold. Tags for other big game animals such as deer, bear and elk cost hundreds of dollars. The Idaho hunting season for wolves is not over yet, in fact, some areas will be open through denning and pupping season.  Both states plan to increase hunting in 2012-1213, while hunting groups and states discuss ways to allow private donations for wolf bounties.  Wyoming is working on removing the wolf from the Endangered Species list, which will allow hunting.

photo credit: Earth Island Journal

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) 2011 Wolf Recovery Update, wolf recovery in the NRM between 1974, when wolves became listed, through 2011 cost taxpayers $43,351,000.  After spending so much time and money on wolf recovery, it is hard to understand the unfounded hatred some people have toward this iconic animal. Once nearly extinct, we have an ethical obligation to restore this species.  Wolves shape and balance prey populations, they are a natural part of our ecosystems.  Despite popular myth, wolves take less than 1% of the thousands of livestock on public and private lands.

This year, California saw its first recorded wolf since 1924.  With the Center for Biological Diversity, EPIC has recently petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list the gray wolf under the California Endangered Species Act.  Scientists believe that wolves will make their way back to California and that our national forests in the Klamath Siskiyou bioregion contain enough habitat and prey species to support wolves.

While working to gain protection in California, we are appalled by the unethical and inhumane treatment that has been inflicted on wolves in Idaho, Montana and Alaska.  Please let the USFS know that this type of brutal, ugly and cruel torture to animals should not be allowed to continue in our national forests. It is shameful that USFS employees boast about and commit such heinous actions on innocent animals.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

 


EPIC Stops Grazing in the Marble Mountains Wilderness and Mendocino National Forest

Monday, April 2nd, 2012
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Felice Pace pointing out bovine waste adjacent to Summit Lake, Marble Mountain Wilderness

On March 30, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled on a lawsuit that EPIC had filed with an alliance of other environmental groups challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s use of Categorical Exclusions (CEs) for issuing cattle grazing permits on national forests.  The court’s order will halt cattle grazing on five allotment permits, including one in the Marble Mountain Wilderness on the Klamath National Forest and four allotments on the Mendocino National forest, until the U.S. Forest Service adequately addresses the environmental impacts of harmful grazing on sensitive lands and waters.

The court order stops grazing on the “Big Ridge” grazing allotment, which is located entirely within the Marble Mountain Wilderness. It encompasses roughly 12,000 acres, and the majority of its surface area is forested, containing little forage for cattle. Sixteen miles of hiking trail run through the allotment, including a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as the Kelsey Creek, Bear Creek, and Tyler Meadows trails.  Two popular lakes, Bear Lake and Turk Lake, are within the allotment.  Mountain meadows are found at the headwaters of streams or along riparian areas within the allotment, and these meadows contain habitat or foraging areas for species that include goshawks, great gray owls, willow flycatcher, Cascade frog, and western pond turtle.  In addition, native elk use habitats in the allotment’s meadow and riparian areas, directly competing for forage with private cattle in the wilderness.  The Forest Service issued a decision categorically excluding the Big Ridge allotment from NEPA review in September 2006.

Four grazing allotments subject to the court order on the Mendocino National Forest cover nearly 85,000 acres: Pine Mountain, York Cabin, Middle Creek and Elk Mountain allotments.  In July 2007, the U.S. Forest Service issued a decision authorizing grazing on four allotments, without any environmental review.  The Forest Service issued this CE decision despite its lack of monitoring demonstrating that conditions on the allotments are in satisfactory condition or trending upward in light of current grazing management. For instance, the Forest has not monitored the range condition and trend on the Middle Creek allotment at all, nor on the Pine Mountain allotment since 1961. Likewise, on the York Cabin allotment, the Forest has not measured range condition and trend since 1958. Also, on the York Cabin allotment, the Forest Service has collected very little utilization data in recent years, and the data it has collected shows that its standards were not met. Monitoring also shows that streambanks were being trampled on this allotment, causing water quality concerns. Finally, on the Elk Mountain allotment, the Forest’s range condition and trend monitoring revealed the range to be in “fair” and “low” condition.

This court ruling requires the Forest Service to go back and reexamine private cattle grazing on nearly 100,000 acres of our national forest lands, including a popular wilderness destination.  Ultimately, the agency will have to address significant and readily observable negative impacts that threaten numerous salmon bearing streams, lakes, wet meadows and sensitive wildlife habitat.  The agency will also have to ensure that enough forage is also available for the continued growth and recovery of northern California’s recovering elk herds.  Because cattle compete directly with elk for the same forage, the agency must mitigate for this conflict in favor of the public’s interest in viable populations of native wildlife.

EPIC was joined by Western Watersheds Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, California Trout, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Sierra Forest Legacy as plaintiffs in the case.  The plaintiffs were represented by Laurie Rule  from the public interest law firm Advocates for the West, and Jeffrey Channin and Warren Braunig of Keeker & Van Nest, LLP of San Francisco.

COURT ORDER

PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT