Archive for March, 2017

Court Overturns Government Refusal to Protect Rare Humboldt Marten

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
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In response to a lawsuit brought by the Environmental Protection Information Center and Center for Biological Diversity, a federal judge has overturned an April 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denying endangered species protection to the Humboldt marten. Therefore, the Fish and Wildlife Service will have to revisit their decision on the fate of our furry friends.

Small carnivores related to minks and otters, coastal martens are found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon. Coastal martens were believed extinct until 1996 because of historic fur trapping and loss of their old-growth forest habitats, but are now known to occur in three small, isolated populations in California and Oregon. Since then researchers have continued to detect martens using track plates and hair snares. In 2009 a marten was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera, the first to be photographed in recent times.

Today, there are less than 100 Humboldt martens left in California. This number is so low that a single event—disease, poisoning, fire—could eradicate all coastal martens from California. This number is also so low that the species could simply drift towards extinction. Already, we have seen an alarming dip in population. Between 2001 and 2012, the remaining population of Humboldt martens has declined by 42%—and this was largely before the record-setting drought!

“This decision is a win for science and common sense,” said Rob DiPerna, California forest and wildlife advocate at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “We thought we’d lost the marten due to bad human decision-making once before, and we could not stand by and watch that happen again.”

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Since 1977, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) has defended Northwest California’s forests and wildlife, including the rare and incredibly adorable coastal marten.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.


April Fools: California’s Vaunted Climate Change Strategy – The Joke’s on All of Us!

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
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The so-called “Inevitable March of Human Progress,” and its western manifestation of “Manifest Destiny,” that brought colonialism, genocide, and near wholesale environmental modification and destruction to the Pacific Northwest, has come face-to-face with the devise of its own demise orchestrated by its own hand. Global climate change is real, happening much faster, displaying consequences much more severe than previously contemplated, and is unequivocally caused by the daily activities of our industrialized capitalist society. And, the most extreme effects of global and bioregional climate change are still to come, having not-yet manifested, though the die of their certainty has been cast, as human societies across the globe fail to adapt and adjust and to heed the dire call for immediate and decisive action.

Here in California, the state government and the people, have generally come to a place of acknowledging and accepting the realities of global climate change, and have begun to take bold and important steps to reduce ongoing greenhouse gas emission from industrial activities into the earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses are emitted as a result of nearly every activity in our daily lives, especially industrialized activities. The science suggests that globally, as well as here in California, the overwhelming contribution to greenhouse gasses that cause global warming and climate change are a result of fossil fuel combustion, refining, and manufacturing, in the form of carbon dioxide. Secondary causes include deforestation and forest depletion across the globe, which accounts for as much as 20 percent of the global and state greenhouse gas inventory assessment of the carbon dioxide emissions budget. As of September 2016, scientists estimate that the level of greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere has exceeded 400 parts-per-million, a dangerous mile-post that raises the stakes and level of urgency on the need to address the causes and effects of climate change.

Recognizing the threat posed by climate change, California enacted the landmark legislation AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, in 2006. AB 32 called for a state-wide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 emission levels by the year 2020. In late 2016, ten years later, the California State Legislature enacted SB 32, a follow-up legislation that raised the bar, calling for a total of 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2030.

Make no mistake, the plans set forth here in California are laudable, if only because we have the courage to admit climate change is happening and we need to do something about it, unlike many other states, sectors, governments and private interests, irrespective of whether or not the targeted reductions will be adequate in the long-haul. However, it is the “how” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California’s regulated industry sectors that contribute these gasses to the atmosphere that has proved troubling.

The 2008 California Air Resources Board Scoping Plan, the base plan framework designed to ensure attainment of greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, established the present-day framework. The basic concept is to establish an emissions limitation for each industry sector that declines annually. The declining emissions limit is referred to as a “cap,” or ceiling on emissions that declines over time to allow industry sectors and individual entities to adjust their business practices through a combination of emissions reductions, technological innovations, and stricter regulations.

The rub here is that the “cap” is not a hard or absolute one; rather, industry sectors and individual polluting entities are allowed to exceed the cap if they buy offsetting credits traded in the California and National carbon trading markets that have been established. Emissions that exceed the established cap purchase offsets predicated upon carbon dioxide stored in California’s forests through the nexus of a forest land owner registering a carbon sequestration project. This, naturally, is known as “trading,” of carbon credits for offsets.

The Cap-and Trade regulations that drive a large portion of the emissions reductions claimed by fossil fuel polluting industry sectors like oil and gas refineries in the state betrays a lot of the same flaws as the systems that have created the global climate change crisis in the first place.

While AB 32 and much of the policy built around it are purportedly predicated upon ending the “business as usual,” and “status quo” mentalities of our government and regulated industries, it fundamentally fails because responding to a changing climate and our contributions to it will entail far more than simply reducing our greenhouse gas emissions levels slowly over time. This approach fails to address or recognize the fact that the over 400 parts-per-billion of greenhouse gasses presently in our atmosphere are largely long-lived carbon dioxide molecules that will be there for millennia, if not longer. Greenhouse gas emissions reductions today don’t solve the problem of over 150 years of greenhouse gas emissions from our industrialized societies, and those emissions will continue to haunt us and confound our efforts to combat climate change for the foreseeable future. This phenomenon is referred to as the concept of permanence, i.e., the damage already done is irreversible.

Further, the California Air Resources Board has made a policy decision based on directives from Governor Brown to rely upon a market-based incentive framework to attain mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Cap-and-Trade regulations and framework allow polluting entities to keep polluting at the source, buy credits as offsets, and thus net reductions in the overall greenhouse gas emissions are claimed. Essentially, the reductions claimed are more out-sourced, and moved around, like any commodity in any economic shell-game, where a premium on offsets and the price of offsets drives the bus, not the need for actual, verifiable reductions at the source.

What’s more, the Cap-and-Trade offsets are disproportionately claimed and used by oil and gas refinery industry sector entities in disadvantaged communities in California’s Central and San Joaquin Valleys. In places such as this, greenhouse gas emissions become a social, environmental, and economic justice issue, where the rich oil and gas conglomerates keep emitting, while the poor, disadvantaged communities continue to suffer social, economic, environmental, and health damages. While this is never acceptable, it is even less so when the fact that emissions reductions claimed are not “gross” but “net” based on the Cap-and-Trade carbon accounting and trading framework. In essence, it’s like much of our modern-day capitalist, “free-market,” economy, whereby slight-of-hand voodoo accounting tricks give the illusion of progress that realistically, is not being made.

Worse still is that the entire offset/credit framework is predicated upon carbon credits from carbon dioxide stored or “sequestered,” in forestry projects. Forests are the only real weapon human society has at-present to actively remove excess carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere. Back in 2010, the California State Legislature enacted AB 1504, a bill that called upon the Board of Forestry and the Department of Forestry to ensure that the rules and regulations governing private forestlands timber harvest were adequate to ensure carbon dioxide sequestration up to an interim target of 500 metric tons of carbon dioxide per-year. Again, this has been established as the basis of carbon sequestration and storage for the purposes of the Cap-and-Trade offset and credit program. Yet, seven years later, the Board of Forestry has completely ignored this legislative directive and done nothing to adopt rules and regulations to ensure enhanced carbon dioxide storage on our privately-managed forestlands.

In 2014, the California Air Resources Board directed the creation of a “California Forest Carbon Plan” in its first update to the 2008 Scoping Plan to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets of AB 32. This plan was released to the public in January 2017 by the inter-agency Forest Climate Action Team (FCAT). The Draft Forest Carbon Plan proved to be a jumbled, unenforceable mess that completely failed to meet any of the mandates or criteria for the Plan established by the Air Board.

Astoundingly, the California Air Resources Board’s 2017 Draft Scoping Plan Update makes no mention of the Forest Carbon Plan and is not construed to rely upon it in any way. Meanwhile, the 2017 Draft Scoping Plan Update puts forth a preferred alternative that continues the status-quo when it comes to the Cap-and-Trade regulations, despite the fact that the Air Board has no nexus by which to ensure better forestland management and added sequestration of carbon dioxide in our forests.

Meanwhile, the clock, and the greenhouse gas emissions meter keep ticking. In acquiescence to the reality that the 350 parts-per-billion greenhouse gas threshold has long-since been overshot, the Air Board’s 2017 Draft Scoping Plan Update now establishes the 450 parts-per-billion level as a level of safety from what it calls, “the most dramatic effects of climate change,” while the only measure to accelerate the rate of greenhouse gas emissions reductions proposed is an additional 20 percent reduction in the refinery sector, a sector that relies heavily upon the Cap-and-Trade regulatory and market frameworks.

Although California is unquestionably a leader in recognizing and attempting to respond to the realities of climate change and their effects on human societies and the planet, the road map for implementation likely is a dead end when carefully scrutinized. In the end, all the hyperbole about how great California’s climate strategy is may simply be, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”


Action Alert: Stop Clearcuts and Communications Towers in and Around Redwood National Park

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
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rodgers-peak-image

View of Rodgers Peak from Bald Hills Road Lookout

Click here to take action now. We are not kidding you: someone thinks it’s a good idea to put a massive communications tower, with an adjacent clearcut in Redwood National Park.

In total, three communication towers, with a height range of 120 to 270 feet and with adjacent clearcuts that must be perpetually maintained for the sake of the towers, are proposed for Rodgers Peak (in Redwood National Park), Alder Camp (a state-owned prison facility), and on Rattlesnake Peak (privately owned by Green Diamond). The towers would provide radio coverage for federal, state and local agencies but would not provide any cell phone reception for the nearby communities.

The three new towers would replace the Red Mountain Communications site, which must be removed from Red Mountain by 2022 because it violates the law. The current communications site violates the Six Rivers National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan as the Red Mountain facility is within the Helkau Ceremonial District, sacred to the Yurok People and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This poor placement necessitates the removal of the current Red Mountain site. But according to project’s proponents, “Portions of the project area are considered highly sensitive for cultural resources and are in the Helkau Ceremonial District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Construction activities could disturb cultural resources or possibly human remains.” In short, the proposed development would desecrate the same sacred area as the one it is replacing!

Situated on the top of three of the area’s tallest mountains, the sight of these proposed towers would be hideous. Each of the three proposed communication tower sites would have the following facilities:

  • Lattice communication tower with antennas and lightning rod (height range of 120 to 270 feet. Towers in excess of 200 feet high would be required to meet Federal Aviation Administration visibility requirements; flashing red lights.)
  • Vault or building to house radios, batteries, and generator (size varies by site)
  • Propane or diesel tank to supply back-up power
  • Power source (solar panels or propane/diesel tanks connected to the vault or power lines connecting commercial lines to the vault)
  • On-site parking area
  • Chain link fence with gate surrounding facilities for security
  • Adjacent area that would be clearcut and maintained as a clear for perpetuity for line of sight between the towers and potentially for solar panels.

square-angular-towerNot only are three towers being proposed to replace a single tower, but one of the new towers is proposed to be located within Redwood National Park (RNP), a place with international importance as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. This area is home not only to important cultural resources sacred to the Yurok People, but threatened and endangered species, such as the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl.

Let’s be blunt: this is a dumb idea. If the agency wants to go forward with this dumb idea, it should expect public resistance.

Due to the many controversial issues outlined above, EPIC believes that the project should be fully analyzed by preparing a full Environmental Impact Report AND an Environmental Impact Statement (not an Environmental Assessment) to comply with state CEQA and federal NEPA standards. The impairments and impacts of the proposed project appear to be significant and controversial especially because the proposed project would have unacceptable irreversible and irretrievable effects to the park resources, which is inconsistent with the Park’s purposes or values.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION – Tell decision makers:  Radio towers do not belong in and around Redwood National Park!

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Timber Sale Monitors Find Trees Marked in Riparian Reserves

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
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EPIC staff and volunteers have been getting out into the field and groundtruthing timber sales to verify compliance with Forest Service decisions and environmental policies. The Jess Project, a timber sale in the North Fork Salmon River watershed, proposed by the Klamath National Forest, would treat about 1,960 acres of treatments including: ridgetop, roadside, silvicultural and meadow treatments. EPIC has engaged throughout the environmental review process by attending field trips, doing field reviews, submitting substantive comments, participating in the multiparty monitoring group, filing an objection to the project and getting boots on the ground to verify whether the project is properly implemented. While monitoring the Jess Project, EPIC found many fire resistant mature and old-growth trees on north facing slopes as well as trees located in riparian reserves that were marked to be logged.

Using mobile mapping software, EPIC staff was able to take GPS referenced photos of the project area and directly plot them on the Forest Service’s project map to illustrate how silviculture prescriptions described in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and displayed on the map of the proposed action were not reflective of the marked trees on the ground. According to page 21 of the Jess Project Final Environmental Impact Statement, “There are 2,265 acres of hydrologic riparian reserves in the project area…[and] there are no treatments proposed on these acres.” However, within the few riparian reserves that were monitored by EPIC, this was not the case. Instead, large groups of mature trees were marked for harvest in the middle of riparian reserves that are supposed to be protected and off limits to logging.

The Wild and Scenic North Fork Salmon River is an important watershed for one of the last remaining wild spring Chinook salmon runs and contains critical habitat for rare and threatened species. Logging within riparian reserves causes salmon-choking sediment to flow into creeks throughout the watershed, which have been cumulatively hit over the years by wildfire, firefighting and post-fire logging. EPIC staff was able to document these areas and report findings to the Klamath National Forest and North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Some of the areas have been corrected and remarked; however, there are other areas that need to be looked at prior to the project going out to bid for contract. EPIC will be helping to ensure that the rest of the waterways are adequately protected.

Check out the maps below to see what we have documented:

Unit 106 Issues with Riparian Areas and Paint Markings

Unit 106 Riparian Reserves and Old Growth Marked

Units 104, 125, 129 & 107 Mature and Old Growth Markings

Unit 107 Riparian Reserve Paint Issues

Unit 107 Mature & Old Growth Marked

Unit 122 Issues with Trees Marked for Cut in Riparian Areas

 


Public Meeting on Headwaters Reserve Forest Restoration Amendment

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
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The Arcata Field office of the Bureau of Land Management will be holding a public meeting on its newly-proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment to allow continued forest restoration activities in the BLM-administered Headwaters Forest Reserve on Tuesday, March 28, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the University of California Cooperative Extension Auditorium, 5630 S. Broadway, Eureka.

A draft environmental assessment detailing the project is available at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/nepa/nepa_register.do, and comments can be sent by email to headwaters@blm.gov or sent by fax to (707) 825-2301. The comment period will close on April 14, 2017.

EPIC members are encouraged to attend, listen, learn, and provide comments on the Draft Amendment at the public meeting.

For more information, contact Chris Heppe at (707) 825-2351 or by email at cheppe@blm.gov

 


Cliven Bundy ❤’s HB 622

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
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Proposed Bill Would Eliminate Federal Law Enforcement Officers on Public Lands

Legislation introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) would terminate all Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement. In its place, H.B. 622 would provide block grants to states to enforce federal law, which in turn would trickle to the county sheriffs. EPIC opposes HB 622 as it would make policing environmental crimes more difficult and would play into the hands of public land giveaway advocates.

HB 622 would make busting trespass marijuana grows more difficult. Trespass grows are a plague on our public lands—and evidence suggests that the number of grows is increasing. Animals are poached and poisoned (including rare species like the Pacific fisher). Mass amounts of chemical fertilizers run off into salmon-bearing rivers. Pesticides and other poisons are wantonly spread across the forest landscape. It is the job of federal law enforcement officers to bust these sneak thieves who profit off the spoliation of our public land, and based off conservations with the BLM and the Forest Service, trespass grows are public enemy number one to the agencies. Stripping federal agencies charged with the management of these lands with the power to enforce the laws that they set is counter-intuitive and would result in a reduced police presence over environmental crimes.

Putting the law into local sheriff’s hands is also dangerous. Local sheriffs are elected by the county in which they sit. And sometimes, the people elect someone like Sheriff Glen Palmer of Grant County, Oregon. Sheriff Palmer has gained notoriety for his antics. He has deputized a posse of friends, including individuals identified as “anti-government extremists” by the state, to police the county. Sheriff Palmer is the subject of a state investigation concerning the destruction of public documents. He has pulled out of cooperation agreements between the Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service, declaring that he did not believe that the federal government had any power on their own lands. And he has publicly supported the Bundy clan and their band of buffoons during the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge siege last year. LaVoy Finnicum, the Malheur militia member who was killed in a confrontation with police, was on his way to meet with Sheriff Palmer in the nearby city of John Day—apparently under the impression that the sheriff would protect him—when he ran a police blockade, resulting in his death.

Indeed, transferring power to the local sheriffs is of the larger agenda forwarded by fringe land giveaway proponents. Under a strained (and legally rejected) interpretation of federal law, Bundy et. al. do not believe that federal law enforcement on public lands is legal. Instead, they argue, all power belongs in the hands of the local sheriffs on which the lands sit. One of the key demands of the terrorists who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a turnover of power to local law enforcement. What happened to never giving in to terrorists?

Two California Congressmen have co-sponsored the legislation: Rep. Doug LaMalfa and Rep. Tom McClintock. Let them know that this legislation is a bad idea. Give their offices a call and tell them that HB 622 is a bad idea.

 

Rep. Tom McClintock:

Washington, D.C. Office: (202) 225-2511

California Office: (916) 786-5560

 

Rep. Doug LaMalfa:

Washington, D.C. Office: (202) 225-3076

California Office: (530) 223-5898


EPIC to Legislature: Pass SB 49 & SB 50

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
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EPIC—together with our friends, the Northcoast Environmental Center, Humboldt Baykeeper, Friends of Del Norte, and Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment—support Senate Bills 49 and 50. Both bills will help to keep California green and gold by increasing state environmental law protections if federal protections are rolled back and fights back against the giveaway of public land.

SB 49, the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017, would change state environmental law to incorporate federal environmental law standards protecting clean air, climate, clean water, worker safety, and endangered species, ensuring that the environmental protections we rely upon are still enforceable, even if the federal government rolls back and weakens those standards.

SB 50, Public Lands Protection Act, would make it California state policy to oppose any federal land transfer, and directs the State Lands Commission to have the right of first refusal over any federal lands.

Extraordinary times calls for extraordinary measures. In January, EPIC called for the state legislature to keep California great by strengthening California’s environmental laws to work as a backstop in case of federal rollback. The legislature listened. EPIC thanks Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León and Senator Henry Stern for introducing SB 49, and Senator Ben Allen for introducing SB 50. EPIC further thanks our local Senator, Mike McGuire, for his support of the legislation. This legislation ensures that California will continue to lead the nation in protecting the health and integrity of our wild and human communities.

Read EPIC’s letters of support for SB 49 and SB 50.


Host an EPIC House Party!

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
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 You provide the people, food, and drinks, and we’ll provide the conversation! We are passionate about our work defending the forests and wildlife of California’s northwest corner. Let us tell you about what we do and how you can engage in conservation work.
Here’s how it works: You invite your friends, supply some hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and we will present on a topic of your choosing. All of this for free! (We’ll just pass the hat at the end of the night, if you don’t mind.) Your friends and guests will appreciate the incisive perspective of our staff of policy wonks and science nerds.
We travel to you. From Sonoma to Siskiyou County, we will come to where you call home.
We can present about the following topics (and more!):
• Updating and strengthening the Northwest Forest Plan and stopping industrial logging on our public lands.
• Preventing species extinction in the age of the Anthropocene.
• Reforming industrial forestry to sequester more carbon.
• How to comment on timber harvest plans (THPs)
• Commenting on federal timber sales
• Reforming California’s cannabis industry
Curious about something else? Just ask!
If you are interest, please email Tom Wheeler at tom@wildcalifornia.org


Conservation Groups Oppose Effort to Remove Wolf Protections in California

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
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Organizations Seek Intervention on Industry Challenge to Endangered Status 

EPIC and our allies filed a motion today to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to remove California Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. The lawsuit, against the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and wrongly alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection.

The intervenors — the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Cascadia Wildlands and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center — are represented by Earthjustice.

“Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit is baseless,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “Gray wolves were senselessly wiped out in California and deserve a chance to come back and survive here. We’re intervening to defend the interests of the vast majority of Californians who value wolves and want them to recover.”

Brought on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, the lawsuit alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection because wolves returning to the state are supposedly the wrong subspecies, which only occurred intermittently in California at the time of the decision and are doing fine in other states.

Each of these arguments has major flaws. UCLA biologist Bob Wayne found that all three currently recognized subspecies of wolves occurred in California. Also — importantly — there is no requirement that recovery efforts focus on the same subspecies, rather than just the species. The fact that wolves were only intermittently present actually highlights the need for their protection, and the California Endangered Species Act is rightly focused on the status of species within California, not other states.

“The gray wolf is an icon of wildness in the American West, and its return to California after almost 100 years is a success story we should celebrate,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. “Stripping wolves of protection under the California Endangered Species Act at this early stage in their recovery risks losing them again, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

Led by the Center, the four intervening groups petitioned for endangered species protections for wolves in February 2012. After receiving two California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports, scientific peer review assessment of those reports, thousands of written comments submitted by the public and live testimony at multiple public meetings, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect gray wolves in June 2014.

State protection makes it illegal to kill a wolf, including in response to livestock depredations — a major issue for the livestock industry. But despite the industry’s concerns, a growing body of scientific evidence shows nonlethal deterrence measures are more effective and less expensive than killing wolves. In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been allocated federal funding that can be used for nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures and to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves, which make up a very small fraction of livestock losses.

“The cattle industry has made clear that it views wolves as pests and that they filed suit to allow killing of wolves,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Wolves are a vital part of American’s wilderness and natural heritage, helping to restore balance to our ecosystems by regulating elk and deer populations. The path to restoring wolves is through protecting fragile recovering populations.”

Wolves once ranged across most of the United States, but were trapped, shot and poisoned to near extirpation largely on behalf of the livestock industry. Before wolves began to return to California in late 2011 — when a single wolf from Oregon known as wolf OR-7 ventured south — it had been almost 90 years since a wild wolf was seen in the state. Before OR-7 the last known wild wolf in California, killed by a trapper in Lassen County, was seen in 1924.

Since 2011 California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the seven-member Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County in 2015, and a pair of wolves was confirmed in Lassen County in 2016. An additional radio-collared wolf from Oregon has crossed in and out of California several times since late 2015.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) advocates for science-based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests, using an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation. 

Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia’s wild ecosystems. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion. 

The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center is an advocate for the forests, wildlife and waters of the Klamath and Rogue River Basins of southwest Oregon and northwest California. We use environmental law, science, collaboration, education and grassroots organizing to defend healthy ecosystems and help build sustainable communities.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

 


A Restoration Story Unfolds: The Somes Bar Integrated Fire Management Project

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
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Western Klamath Restoration Partnership field learning exchange Fall Workshop 2015

The Somes Bar project on the Six Rivers National Forest is a demonstration of true collaboration. It is the first pilot project born from years of working together in the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP or Partnership), which includes the Karuk Tribe, local fire safe and watershed councils, the US Forest Service, local landowners, the Pacific Southwest Research Station, EPIC and other organizations. WKRP is working proactively on restoring fire, habitat and cultural practices within 1.2 million acres of the Mid Klamath River watersheds.

Development of the Somes Bar project is in alignment with the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and is providing a rare example of how to build local capacity for implementing controlled burns at larger scales. This approach to restoring the process and function of fire in the wildland urban interface will allow for the revitalization of cultural burning, will help to protect neighborhoods and will increase the ability of allowing wildfire to burn for ecosystem benefit.

The 5,500 acre project centers around four small communities and is almost entirely within the Katimiin Cultural Management Area. The use of high quality information, including LIDAR (high-resolution remote sensing method) and GIS and thoughtfulness stemming from Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and the communities sense of place has all been an integral part of making this planning unique. For the first time, Karuk Tribe employees participated in the development of land management treatments founded upon TEK. Tribal wildlife, archeology and food security crews were instrumental in gathering field data used to formulate treatment prescriptions. For millennia, the Karuk used fire to maintain cultural use plants, forage for elk, deer and other wildlife, managing insect infestations and providing periods of inversion cooling to enhance the survival of anadromous fish, providing abundant food sources, materials as tools, clothing and other pharmaceuticals. These human-fire relationships according to TEK are inseparable from the natural fire regime.

Consideration of treatments, which includes manual and mechanical actions, looked at main roads, ridges and water bodies as a way to define “firesheds” and shaded fuel breaks. Deliberation went to; slope, aspect, thermal radiation and current forest stand conditions. It included taking care of private property boundaries. Wildlife habitat needs, such as elk calving areas and wintering habitat and the needs of old growth dependant species are being taken into account. This is one of the only national forest projects in northern California to ever survey for the Pacific fisher, even a Humboldt marten was detected. Important cultural and ecological botanical species will be enhanced. Plantations will be restored to a more natural and diverse condition and natural stands will be treated lightly in order to prepare them for fire.

The Somes Bar Integrated project is also unique in that there is a strong research and monitoring component built in. The Partnership will maintain its long-term interest through contracting, implementation and beyond. So much on-the-ground site-specific information is being gathered and the process of learning and working together will continue in to the future.

Scoping for the project is open until March 23, 2017. Comments may be emailed to Corrine Black at cblack@fs.fed.us or delivered to the Six Rivers Supervisors Office at 1330 Bayshore Way, Eureka, CA 95501-3834 or to the Orleans Ranger District at 1 Ishi Pishi Rd., Orleans, CA 95556.

Click here to see the WKRP Project Area Map

Click here to see the Scoping Letter


Industrial Logging, Forest Depletion, and Climate Change—The Ghost in the Machine

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
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“Hole in Headwaters” on Humboldt Redwood Company Property, August 2014, as part of a Sanctuary Forest Forestry Practices Hike. Forest thinning in previously-managed second-growth redwood stand.

There are nearly 33 million acres of forested land in the State of California. Since the early days of European-American settlement, the wholesale destruction of our native, “old-growth” forests, and the overall depletion of the productive capacity of our forests, both public and private, have been the subject of debate and concern. Many may not realize it, but the California State Legislature actually created the very first Board of Forestry all the way back in 1885, recognizing even then that the threat that large-scale timber harvest and resource extraction from, and conversion of, California’s forestlands were a matter of statewide urgency and concern. This first Board of Forestry was quickly dissolved in 1887 as a consequence of push-back on the Legislature applied by the burgeoning and politically-powerful timber industry.

In 1945, the California State Legislature again acted to create a State Board of Forestry and a position for a “State Forester,” once again recognizing the threat posed by rapid depletion of the state’s forestland resources, and their conversion. Unfortunately, the 1945 Forest Practice Act was weak, and the Board of Forestry was entirely comprised of the industry itself, which was left to self-regulate until the creation of the present-day Z’berg-Negedly Forest Practice Act of 1973.

Old-growth redwood forest at Tall Trees Grove, Redwood National Park.

By the time the modern Forest Practice Act was created, California’s forestland resources had already been substantially depleted, and some of the most productive land for forests had already been converted to agricultural and residential uses. At the time Redwood National Park was created in 1968, several years prior to the advent of the modern Forest Practice Act, it was estimated that only ten percent of the original 2 million acres of native “old-growth” redwood forest remained. By 1999 and the creation of the BLM-administered Headwaters Forest Reserve, the estimate ranged between three and five percent.

It was not only lack of regulation, however that has led to our forestland depletion crisis in California; land use laws, most notably taxation structures, also served to incentivize over-harvesting. Particularly, the so-called “Ad valorum” tax, which required assessment and taxation of the value of standing timber volume on private ownerships annually based upon percent of standing inventory value, was a major driver. The tax on standing timber volume was assessed in addition to property taxes, thus serving to encourage heavy-handed forest management and the depletion of forestland productive capacity in the long-term for the sake of avoiding annual standing volume taxes in the short-term.

Clearcut logging units in redwood forest land on Green Diamond Resource Company Property.

Expressing the loss and depletion of California’s forestlands and their productive capacity in terms of acres of remaining native or “old-growth” forest in comparison to previously-managed and perpetually-managed forest stands can be grossly misleading because it vastly understates the magnitude of what we have lost to timber harvest and conversion. Timber harvest in California focuses almost exclusively on the production and value of wood products derived from the trees in our forests. However, the value, and potential growth capacity of our trees, as well as all other living, green, material in our forests that isn’t comprised of trees, has been grossly underestimated. There’s no better evidence for this short-sighted and narrow view of the productivity of our forests than we have today as we look at the overall productive ability of our forests to be carbon sinks in an age of climate change.

Green, living, breathing plants, including our trees, utilize air, soil nutrients, water, and sunlight to perpetuate photosynthesis, and the conversion of base elements into simple sugars to create more living, breathing, green woody material commonly referred to as biomass. Forestland productivity is a function of the basic elemental building blocks of life on earth: carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. These basic elements utilize trees and other living, breathing things in our forests to operate and perpetuate essential planetary ecological cycles, such as our air, water, and soil nutrient cycles. Our forestlands produce all of these, and the production and perpetuation of these are essential components to healthy, growing, productive forests.

The 1973 Forest Practice Act establishes a duel mandate for timber production on private forestlands in the state. This mandate calls for ensuring, “maximum sustained production of high-quality timber products, while giving consideration,” to a suite of overall environmental and social public trust forest-related values, including fish, air, water, wildlife, range, forage, carbon dioxide sequestration, and regional employment and economic viability. In our now 40 years of history advocating for science-based protection and restoration of forests in the State of California, EPIC has long-argued that maintaining a sustainable productive capacity of private forestlands is a matter of state-wide public trust concern.

Currently, as California strives to take the lead on combating the causes and effects of global and regional climate change, it is more clear than ever that the productive capacity of our forestlands has been severely depleted, and that changes in law and incentives affecting forestry practices, particularly on industrial lands, may be our last hope for continued human civilization and survival.

Let’s remember, forests are the lungs of our planet, cycling in and storing or “sequestering” large amounts of carbon dioxide, one of the primary elements in a gaseous form contributing to our atmospheric greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is unnaturally emitted into our atmosphere in two primary ways: fossil fuel combustion, and deforestation. Research suggests that deforestation and forestland depletion contribute as much as 20 percent of the total excess carbon dioxide emitted into earth’s atmosphere as a result of anthropogenic extractive activities. A 1994 study conducted on industrial redwood timberlands in Mendocino County concluded that the total amount of living woody material, or biomass, in the forest at that time represented only ten to fifteen percent of the total biomass that existed pre-European-American settlement. In 2015, a study of the overall above and below ground carbon dioxide storage budget in California’s forests showed a continuing decline, while 2016 state-wide forest inventory assessment shows continued overall declines in total forest biomass and productivity. Declining forestland productivity and a commensurate decline in the amount of carbon dioxide stored in our forests raises many questions, about our forest management, and about our prognosis for long-term survival.

In late 2016, the California State Legislature enacted Senate Bill 32, a follow-up law that extends the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and carbon storage goals, and calls for attainment of a 20 percent reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2030. The state’s climate change plan is predicated upon the presumption of utilizing California’s forestlands as our primary means of sequestering carbon dioxide captured from our atmosphere in living biomass, such as trees and other woody forest plants, while at the same time reducing GHG emissions associated with various state industry sectors, including transportation, energy production, and manufacturing of non-renewable fossil fuels like oil and gas.

However, the depleted condition of California’s forestlands raises numerous questions about the wisdom and likelihood of success of such a strategy. The present day tree mortality crisis occurring in the southern Sierra Nevada serves as one example of how past forest management and forestland depletion have led to catastrophic consequences that may serve to foil and undo California’s bold and aggressive GHG reduction and carbon dioxide storage objectives.

Historically, the forests of the Sierra Nevada were of a mixed conifer composition, dictated by soil, slope, aspect, and elevation, as well as water availability, and were largely fire-adapted. However, 150 years of fire exclusion, aggressive logging of native forests and conversion of these to homogenous over-stocked pine plantations, combined with extensive drought, and expansion of the range and influence of the pine-bark beetle, have served to generate an unprecedented tree-mortality event that some claim has affected over 100 million trees. The debate about how to respond to this tree-mortality crisis exemplifies the “Pandora’s Box” effect of past, aggressive logging of the native “old growth” forests and replacement of these with young, overstocked, under-performing, homogenous pine tree plantations, which represents a much greater hazard for large-scale, high intensity wildfire than did the native, fire-adapted forests. Instead of having a mix of large, well-spaced, fire-adapted tree species with higher branches and crowns, the homogenous, even-aged and over-crowded pine plantations of the Sierra Nevada are a tinder box, and a potentially significant source of carbon dioxide emissions, either as a result of large-scale high-intensity fire, or from mass die-offs, and decomposition.

The one-two punch of logging native “old growth” forests, resulting in the loss of both the living, breathing woody biomass and the associated carbon dioxide that was once stored, and the replacement of these with industrial tree plantations largely harvested on short even aged rotations, deprives California of critical forestland productivity, and has turned our forests into a net source of carbon dioxide emissions instead of a carbon sink.

The solution seems simple; extend forest harvest rotations, increase forest diversity and move industrial logging away from even-aged to multi-aged management to increase total biomass and carbon storage in trees and other herbaceous woody forest plants. Unfortunately, contemporary Forest Practice Rules fail to constrain harvest on industrial ownerships in any meaningful way, and as we know, the Department of Forestry is asleep at the wheel. If California can’t change the “business as usual” mentality of our forest products industry, there’s little hope that the state’s ambitious plans to combat the causes and effects of climate change will ever succeed. EPIC is dedicated to ensuring that the forests of North West California are protected, enhanced, and restored, and are managed for maximizing benefits to combating the causes and effects of global and regional climate change.


EPIC Hike to Lady Bird Johnson Grove – Sunday, April 2nd

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
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Register Now! EPIC’s spring/summer 2017 Redwood Parks hike series kicks off on Sunday, April 2nd, with a relatively short and leisurely hike in the picturesque Lady Bird Johnson Grove, one of the crowned jewels of Redwood National Park. The Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Loop Trail is only a half-mile hike on a flat, well-maintained trail and designed to be accessible to almost anyone. It is a perfect way to get a taste of what it’s like to be in an old-growth coastal redwood forest. We are pleased to collaborate with Latino Outdoors for this event. Together we hope to bring culture into the outdoor narrative, and connect diverse communities with nature and outdoor experiences.

Meet-up is at the EPIC office in Arcata, located at 145 G Street, Suite A, at 10 a.m. As always, if you come, please be prepared for our local conditions and for the conditions generally found in our forests. Please wear appropriate clothing and foot ware, bring food, and water, a rain jacket and anything else you may need to be comfortable and safe in the forest. There is a strict NO DOGS rule in place for all our 2017 Redwood Hikes series, so please leave your furry friends at home.

Click here to sign-up to hike with EPIC  or

Sign-up and Share the Event with Friends on Facebook

 

 

For further information, please call the EPIC office at: 707-822-7711 or email Rob@wildcalifornia.org

 


Coalition Petitions for Ban on Sale of English Ivy

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
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Petition Targets Pernicious Invasive Species

EPIC, along with a coalition[1] of conservation organizations, businesses, and government entities petitioned the California Department of Food and Agriculture to designate English ivy as a noxious weed and to prohibit its sale in California. While the government currently spends thousands of dollars annually on its removal, ivy is currently being sold by nurseries, frustrating conservation efforts.

“Ivy is a scourge to North Coast coastal forests,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). “The sale of ivy is prohibited in Oregon and Washington; its time that California do the same.”

English ivy is a persistent problem for California’s forests and native plant communities. Originally brought by European settlers for use as an ornamental plant, English ivy has aggressively spread to public lands. On the ground, ivy outcompetes natural plants, such as salal and huckleberries. When it comes in contact with tree trunks, it climbs high into the trees, enveloping the trunks and branches along the way. The heavy weight of the ivy plant can cause trees to fall over. And the added leaf surface creates more wind resistance, making trees susceptible to blow over during high wind events. As ivy reaches sunlight in the tops of trees, it blooms and produces copious amounts of berries containing seeds that help contribute to its expansion, at the expense of native plants and wildlife.

English ivy is a well-recognized problem. Both Washington and Oregon classify it as a noxious weed. Within California, thousands of dollars and human-hours are spent annually on its removal and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife includes it on its “Don’t Plant Me!” list of plants to avoid planting. While ivy removal or control is a priority to many in the environmental community, efforts to control its spread are hampered by its continued sale in nurseries and garden centers throughout California

“The first step in fighting against an invasive plant is to not make the situation worse. Prohibiting the sale of ivy is a common sense measure to protect California’s unique places,” said Wheeler.

The petition has its genesis with the efforts of the Humboldt No Ivy League. The Humboldt No Ivy League is a group of volunteers who dedicate their Friday mornings (and some Saturday mornings) to hand-pulling ivy from local State Parks in Humboldt County. The group strongly advocates for more state funding for control of English ivy and other highly invasive plants, and for restoration programs throughout State Parks and other public lands in California. Based on the League’s work and advocacy, a large and diverse coalition was formed to support prohibiting the sale of ivy.

“It’s time for our state leaders and land managers to take a hard look at the serious threat that English ivy poses to California’s biodiversity. If we fail to get the English ivy problem under control, we are going to see tremendous damage done to our important native plant communities, including our Sitka spruce and Redwood forests.” said Kim Tays, Humboldt No Ivy League member.

[1] The coalition includes the Environmental Protection Information, Redwood National and State Parks, Bureau of Land Management, Arcata Field Office, Humboldt Redwood Co., Green Diamond Resource Co., Center for Biological Diversity, Save the Redwoods League, Humboldt No Ivy League, Northcoast Environmental Center, Sierra Club Redwood Chapter, North Group, North Coast Chapter, California Native Plant Society, Trinidad Coastal Land Trust, Siskiyou Land Conservancy, Mattole Restoration Council, Mid Klamath Watershed Council, Friends of Arcata March and High Tide Permaculture (collectively “Petitioners”).

Check out the links below to read more articles about Ivy:

The battle against English Ivy – The LumberJack

Attack of the English Ivy – North Coast Journal