Archive for May, 2017

You’re Invited: EPIC Base Camp 2017

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
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We are excited to announce that EPIC will host a weekend of skills training to help protect our public lands! EPIC Base Camp will take place in the Klamath National Forest near Happy Camp on June 9-11, 2017. Base Camp attendees will have the opportunity to participate in groundtruthing, map and compass orienteering, environmental policy, know your rights trainings, and more!

The event will include workshops to learn basic skills to monitor timber sales and grazing allotments, then team leaders will take groups into nearby national forest lands to apply these skills and collect data on nearby projects.

EPIC’s 2017 Basecamp will be located at a public camp ground off Hwy 96 near Happy Camp in Klamath National Forest, about a 3 hour drive from the EPIC office in Arcata, CA. Exact location TBA. Our site is located in a shaded area adjacent to the Wild and Scenic Klamath River and can accommodate a maximum of 30 people. The campsite features an area for dispersed tent camping and several picnic tables and campfire rings with grills, toilets and potable water.

The link below includes a description of the event, trainings, what to bring, carpooling options, a weekend schedule, meal options, ground rules, and a wish list of items we need donated.

Sign up now: space is limited and we are expected to fill up quickly!

Click here to learn more and to sign up for this event.

 

 


EPIC Gets Results—Spotted Owl Self Defense Update

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
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Sierra Pacific Industry Logs. Photo courtesy of Humboldt Earth First!

The 2017 spring spotted owl nesting season is now well underway. Our very wet and very cold winter and early spring here on the North Coast of California makes this year’s spotted owl nesting season a difficult one. EPIC has been advocating for protection and recovery of the spotted owl for the entirety of our 40-year history, and 2017 is no different. Here are some highlights of the work we’ve done, are doing, and will do in 2017 to protect and restore the spotted owl to their rightful place in the forests of Northwest California.

California State Listing Accomplished!

In August of 2017, after a four-year melodrama marred by delays and failures to meet statutory deadlines, the California Fish and Game Commission finally voted to list the spotted owl as a “threatened” species under the California Endangered Species Act. The Commission has failed to adopt finding to ratify this decision, however; EPIC will be in front of the Fish and Game Commission on June 20-21, at its meeting on the Smith River in Del Norte County to once again advocate on behalf of the spotted owl.

Spotted Owl Stakeholder Group Looks at Rule Changes

The state listing has yielded immediate results. EPIC has met twice with the California Department of Fish and Game, CAL FIRE, and the Board of Forestry to discuss changes to the Forest Practice Rules to protect the northern spotted owl. EPIC will continue to work with our state resource agencies to ensure our Forest Practice Rules are up to date. (Currently, the Forest Practice Rules allow for logging in excess of amounts that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has warned would result in the “taking” of owls. Whoops.)

Additional Federal Protections Soon?

In 2012, EPIC also petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “reclassify,” or “uplist” the spotted owl to “endangered,” under the federal Endangered Species Act. In April, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service promised it would complete a new status review for the spotted owl and render a 12-Month Finding on our petition in the summer of 2017. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials now indicate that the status review and finding will be prepared and issued by early fall 2017.

Reforming Post-Fire Salvage Logging on Private Lands

In the wake of several large fires that burned a mix of public and private forests over the last several summers, private industrial logging companies have used an emergency logging provision that exempts their logging from the normal THP and CEQA review process. Some of these ministerial exempt salvage logging conducted by private timber companies including Fruit Growers Supply Company and Sierra Pacific Industries resulted in clearcuts without size restrictions that downgraded and destroyed suitable spotted owl habitat and resulted in logging in and around known owl activity centers. EPIC raised concerns with CAL FIRE, and eventually, having been stonewalled by CAL FIRE, brought a petition to the Board of Forestry in March 2017 aimed at tightening up the rules governing these post-fire emergency timber operations and their damage to spotted owls and owl habitat. Although EPIC’s petition was rejected by the Board of Forestry, CAL FIRE has now hired new staff and initiated an intensive review and monitoring program for all ministerial logging operations exempted from the normal environmental review process. This is a direct result of EPIC’s efforts to be the voice of the owl in the halls of Sacramento.


3 Reasons to Buck the Horse Creek Project

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
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(1) Logging Makes Conditions Worse

The Forest Service claims that the project is necessary to reduce fuel loads and ensure a new forest will return. Logging will actually hinder both of these goals. In the short-term, logging will increase fuels on the forest floor and harm the natural regeneration of the forest.

Loggers generally only take out the merchantable timber from a logging area. The rest—the limbs, tops, and other wood not good enough for a sawmill—will be left on the ground creating a sudden accumulation of wood. (Without logging, these dead trees will fall at a sporadic rate, with the smaller diameter trees falling first and larger diameter trees holding on much longer.)

The area is naturally regenerating. In May, EPIC staff visited numerous logging sites and discovered that the forest is already being reborn. Even in areas that burned at high-severity, life is abundant. Hardwood trees are sprouting from stumps and the forest floor is full of little conifer seedlings. Given time, another forest will regrow here. Logging, however, puts this regeneration at risk. Heavy machinery and crews of loggers will compact and chew up the forest floor, killing the regrowth.

The story of how this science was ultimately published is a doozy and shows the close relationship between the timber industry, college forestry departments, and Congress.

(2) Taxpayers Subsidize Private Logging Companies

It is likely that the Horse Creek Project will require taxpayer dollars to subsidize private logging. Even if you don’t give a hoot about the logging project’s impacts to owls, this corporate cronyism should upset you!

Frequently, post-fire timber sales like Horse Creek cost more to plan than they make back in timber revenue. The economic value of the standing dead trees as timber is low. After a fire, timber value diminishes dramatically. In a recent salvage sale, the Klamath National Forest spent over $3 million on planning but recovered only $336,000 dollars in timber revenue.

Not only does it cost more to produce a project than the government will make back, but taxpayers are asked to clean up after the logging.

As discussed above, logging will create large amounts of fuels in the near term. Instead of requiring the timber industry to clean up after themselves, taxpayers will ultimately be responsible for cleaning up this mess under the guise of “site preparation.” Further, because logging requires new roads and road upgrades, taxpayers will pay to have back-country roads retrofitted to accommodate and clean up the impacts of heavy logging equipment on public roadways.

In effect, taxpayers are not only paying to produce a project that will benefit the timber industry, but we are also footed with the bill to clean up their mess!

(3) Logging Will Remove Habitat for Forest Critters

In both the short- and long-term, post-fire logging destroys habitat for our wild friends like the northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher.

Owls and fishers are adapted to a fire-heavy regime and will use post-fire forests for hunting. The large pulse of dead wood, together with the growth of herbs and shrubs, provides great habitat for some prey, like woodrats. The standing dead trees provide the necessary structure and some element of protection. Owls will perch on the limbs of dead trees and fishers will rest in the dead trees and downed logs.

Post-fire logging removes the largest trees—those that provide the structure necessary for critters like the owl and the fisher. When the trees are cut, the area can no longer function as habitat in the short term. The largest dead trees are also those that are likely to continue standing until a new forest grows up. In the long term, logging and subsequent tree planting will simplify regrowing forests into even-aged, monocrop tree farms, making them less valuable as future habitat.

Click here to take action and learn more about the Horse Creek Project.


Wolves of the Golden State

Thursday, May 18th, 2017
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For the first time since 1924, wild wolves are roaming California. Below are the wolves who call (or have called) our state home.

OR-7

OR-7, also known as Journey was born into the Imnaha Pack in 2009. He was the first confirmed wolf in the Golden State in nearly 100 years. In 2011 and 2012 he roamed over 4000 miles before eventually finding a mate and establishing a territory in southern Oregon in 2013. He had his first pups in 2014 just across the border in the Rouge-Siskiyou National Forest. His pack remains there and continues to grow, having a successful litter four years in a row.

OR-25

At three years old OR-25, full brother of OR-7, roamed into California after he traveled through Washington’s Columbia Basin, the Mt. Hood National Forest and down the length of the Oregon Cascades before arriving in Klamath County. In January of 2016 he ventured to Modoc County. He has since recently been located back in Oregon in Klamath and Lake Counties.

In November 2016, two wolves were confirmed in Lassen County. The two-year old male is the son of OR-7 and the female is suspected of coming from Idaho. Both wolves are likely young animals with no evidence of reproduction yet. The repeated sightings indicate that these are resident animals, and not simply dispersers passing through the region.

Lassen Wolf

In August 2015, California’s first wolf family, the Shasta Pack, was confirmed east of Mount Shasta consisting of a breeding pair and five pups. The alpha female is the younger sister of the famous OR-7, also from the Imnaha Pack. Interestingly, all the wolves in this pack are black. Because they are not collared, their whereabouts as of spring 2017 have yet to be confirmed.

In March 2016, a lone male known to be offspring of the Shasta Pack, ventured into Nevada just west of the Black Rock Desert 20 miles from the California border, making it the first confirmed sighting of a wolf in the Silver State in nearly 100 years. At least three male wolves fitted with GPS collars have been tracked in southwestern Oregon in 2016, as well as three un-collared wolves documented in the Keno area. Wolves from this area are known to venture into California and will likely be responsible for wolf recovery in this part of their home range.

EPIC Goes to Court to Defend Gray Wolves

Wolves need room to roam and Northern California has the habitat. EPIC has helped the return of the wolves by ensuring protections are in place for their protection. In 2012, EPIC filed a listing petition for the gray wolf with the California Fish and Game Commission. The Commission voted to list the gray wolf in 2014, with final regulations issued in 2017.

EPIC’s work did not sit well with Big Beef. In January, Big Beef filed a lawsuit against the California Fish and Game Commission to get rid of wolf protections. EPIC and friends intervened in the lawsuit to ensure our wolves will get the best legal defense possible.

EPIC was also a stakeholder in the development of the Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, released in December 2016. EPIC continues to work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and wolf advocacy groups across the West to make sure our wolves are safe. We look forward to watching our wolf families grow.

Wolf supporters at Fish and Game Commission hearing on June 4, 2014 – the day wolves were listed under the California Endangered Species Act.

 

Please donate today to continue EPIC’s effort to ensure that wolves receive the protections they deserve, with your support, we will be successful!


Action Alert: Protect Our National Monuments!

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
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TAKE ACTION NOW:

Over the weekend, the Trump Administration initiated the process to review 27 national monuments—threatening areas of cultural and native significance, immense biodiversity, and expansive recreational use. We oppose any rollbacks on our public lands, and need your help to stop them. Our own neighborly Cascade-Siskiyou and Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monuments are on the chopping block. Trump intends to shrink or eliminate these monuments to open up fossil fuel development, industrial logging, drilling, and mining. These attacks on our public lands are an injustice to every life that enjoys these public places.

Intersecting the Cascade, Siskiyou, and Klamath Mountains, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a vast, tangled knot of peaks and rivers that shelters an incredible complex of wild country and rare and unique species. Originally designated in 2000, it was the first monument to be set aside solely for the preservation of biodiversity. As one of his last acts in office, Obama expanded the original designation this last year to a total of 100,000 acres. If properly protected and restored, the  bioregion may serve as a “climate refuge”—providing essential habitat that supports diverse natural communities in the face of human development and climate change. This diverse ecosystem supports wildlife, scientists, and students alike, and offers a wide range of educational and research programs. Home to various recreation activities and a segment of the Pacific Crest trail, this strikingly beautiful monument is the perfect illustration of how we should properly use our public lands.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument was designated by President Obama in 2015, and is home to a wealth of natural, historical and cultural resources, as well as recreational opportunities. The 330,780-acre monument extends from nearly sea level on Bureau of Land Management lands around Lake Berryessa in the south, up to 7,000 feet through the northern Snow Mountain Wilderness and the eastern boundary of the Yuki Wilderness in the Mendocino National Forest. Snow Mountain provides precious water toward both the Sacramento and Eel Rivers. Lush old-growth forest areas, a state game refuge, and two natural research areas provide high quality habitat to endemic and endangered species like the northern spotted owl, marten, fisher, and Chinook salmon. Home to seven different tribes, this monument is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions in California. The scenic vistas and valleys of the Berryessa Snow Mountain provides breathtaking views, and great recreational opportunities.

Public involvement is critical in the protection of these monuments. There is a 60 day comment period to hear from supporters like you, help protect forestlands and wildlife from corporate exploitation. Now more than ever, private interest groups are expanding at the expense of all of our futures. For 40 years, EPIC has fought for a healthy environment for generations to come, but we can’t do it alone. We need your participation and support now more than ever.

Click here now to tell Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the U.S Department of the Interior that we demand to keep our lands public.


EPIC in the Community

Thursday, May 11th, 2017
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Its times like these when our work is most important. Now more than ever, our forests, rivers and wildlife need us. They cannot defend themselves, so its up to people like you to do something. Stay engaged, do what you can, and find ways to participate in meaningful events where you can make a difference. EPIC staff has been all over the region in the last few weeks to advocate for our forests and wildlife. We are planning to continue our full press public outreach efforts throughout the next few months, and we hope the events below will inspire you to join us for future events such as EPIC Basecamp, a boots on the ground weekend of field training for forest protectors.  As a non-profit membership organization, we depend on people like you to keep our efforts funded, so please consider becoming a sustaining member of EPIC. Together we can make a difference!


EPIC Spring Social

EPIC and friends enjoyed a night full of food, drinks, EPIC updates, and storytelling about the redwood wars from Defending Giants author Darren Speece. Thanks to all who helped pack the house, its was great to see EPIC staff and members – old and new all under one roof. We appreciate your support!


Mount Shasta Earth Day Expo

EPIC staff made the trek to scenic Mount Shasta City for the Mount Shasta Earth Day Expo on Sunday, April 22th,   that was hosted by the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center. EPIC staff was invited to table and present talks and workshops at the annual Earth Day celebration in the shadow of snow-covered Mount Shasta. EPIC staff also presented and intensive workshop on creating a forest watch and monitoring program on behalf of the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center that was attended by fifteen concerned local citizens. EPIC is branching out and leading the way, and teaching others how to make Earth Day every day.


Eureka People’s Climate March

EPIC staff participated in the April 29th People’s Climate March held in Eureka in conjunction with the traditional local Rhododendron Parade. Nearly 200 participants turned out on a sunny Eureka Saturday afternoon to march for Climate Action. The Eureka People’s Climate March was organized by our Humboldt County chapter of 350.org, the national climate change advocacy group. Climate action means action to restore the health and productivity of our forests as the only means we have of drawing and storing excess carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas driving climate change, out of our atmosphere. EPIC advocates for forest protection and restoration as a viable long-term and critical element to any efforts to curb and combat the causes and impacts of climate change.


Creek Days

EPIC staff presented to hundreds of students and teachers at Creek Days, an environmental education fair that was hosted by Watershed Stewards Project in Freshwater Park.  We discussed why salmon need trees and how our forests, rivers and wildlife are interconnected, and the children made some awesome posters to advocate for native wildlife!

 


Action Alert: Support Tribal Forest Plan Over Timber Giveaways

Monday, May 8th, 2017
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A dozer makes a fireline through the forest during the Gap Fire. The area where Klamath National Forest is proposing the Horse Creek Logging Project. Photo courtesy of inciweb.

Take Action Now: The Klamath National Forest is back with another large post-fire logging project: the Horse Creek Project. According to a draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the Forest Service, the Horse Creek Project would log 2,257 acres of fragile post-fire forests. This logging would affect northern spotted owl critical habitat, salmon spawning areas, and wildlife connectivity by degrading the natural landscape. EPIC and our allies stand ready to fight the timber giveaway.

But there is another way. The Karuk Tribe has submitted their own alternative for the Klamath National Forest to consider, the “Karuk Alternative”. EPIC fully endorses the Karuk Alternative. Developed by the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources, the Karuk Alternative is based on forest .science not timber markets. It recognizes that logging post-fire forests harms natural forest recovery as well as nearby salmon-bearing streams. The Karuk Alternative places an emphasis on returning fire to the landscape, using fire as a natural fuels reduction solution to ensure the safety of rural landowners. The Karuk Alternative still provides for jobs for rural landowners through the development of fire breaks and through fuel reduction work near private property. In short, it provides local jobs while protecting wildlife: a win/win.

The Karuk Alternative limits salvage logging because the Karuk Tribe recognizes that salvage logging can harm fish bearing streams and can increase the potential for high-severity fire. Salvage logging results in tremendous amounts of “slash”—unmerchantable trees, limbs, branches, and tops. This slash becomes “jackstrawed,” piled on top of each other like a game of pick up sticks. This slash dries out and, without contact with the ground, takes a long time to decompose, increasing the occurrence of a high-severity fire for around 20 years.

The Karuk Tribe has a special relationship to Horse Creek. Horse Creek is an important cold water refugia for salmon and is near traditional Karuk fishing grounds. As part of mandated government-to-government consultation, the Karuk Tribe asked the Forest Service to consider the Karuk Alternative. The Klamath National Forest has thus far refused to consider the Karuk Alternative. Instead, the Klamath National Forest uses the Karuk Alternative as a tool to argue in favor of their big-timber project.

Click here now to tell Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham to consider and adopt the Karuk Alternative.


Volunteers Needed to Document Cattle Grazing Degradation within our National Forests

Sunday, May 7th, 2017
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This summer and fall the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California will again be in the field, monitoring conditions on public lands where cattle and other livestock are permitted to graze. Our task will be to document, with photos, measurements and field notes, how the cattle are managed and the resulting degradation of water quality, riparian and wetland habitats. Along with EPIC, other Project sponsors, organizations and allies, we will then use the documentation to advocate for changes in the way livestock are managed on public land.

This will be the eighth year Project volunteers are in the field. So far we’ve monitories 18 grazing allotments on three national forests; many allotments we’ve monitored multiple times and in multiple years. Here’s what we’ve found: District Rangers, the Forest Service officials responsible for assuring that grazing on their districts is done responsibly, are not getting the job done. Those officials are allowing livestock owners to place cattle on public land and leave them there, without management, until the snow flies and it is necessary to bring the cattle to lower elevation. That results in degradation of water quality, riparian areas and wetlands, and that is what the Project aims to stop.

Project Volunteer Luke Ruediger surveys bank trampling and riparian shade reduction on the Silver Fork of Elliot Creek within the Siskiyou Ridge portion of Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest

Project monitors record their observations and document the destruction photographically. We then use those observations and findings in monitoring and other reports and presentations, which we provide to agency grazing managers and regulatory agencies. Documentation is used to advocate specific management changes on the allotments volunteers monitored and for systemic grazing management reforms. Especially targeting California Regional Water Boards which are responsible for assuring that public land management in California complies with the Clean Water Act. We want the Regional Boards to tighten Clean Water Act requirements for public land grazing, including requiring modern rest-rotation grazing management systems, regular herding and other best management practices.

Our ability to monitor public land grazing is limited by the number of volunteers working with the project. That’s where you could play a role. If you are familiar with the wilderness and able to walk off trail in the mountains you could monitor with the Project; or you could train with the Project and monitor grazing on your own and with friends. Often national forest grazing takes place in spectacular wilderness environments. And one can usually find a quiet place, away from the destructive bovines, to camp. Many grazing allotments can be monitored via day trips from wilderness trailheads.

Monitors are especially needed for the Mendocino, Six Rivers, Lassen and Modoc National Forests and for BLM administered public lands. But you can also join volunteers already monitoring grazing on the Rogue-Siskiyou, Klamath and Shasta-Trinity National Forests. The more places we can document poor grazing management resulting in water quality, riparian, wetland and habitat degradation, the better the case we can make that systemic reform of public land grazing management is needed.

Grazing Destruction

When cattle are left unmanaged for months in mountains where the headwaters are replete with springs, wet meadows and willow wetlands, the result is a disaster. The photos below tell the tale to some extent, but photos can’t capture the full impact.

 

Streambanks are trampled, riparian vegetation destroyed and headwater willow wetlands are fragmented and dried out

Neglectful management of national forest grazing violates water quality standards, including EPA limits on nutrient pollution and the North Coast Regional Water Board’s limits on fecal bacteria pollution. Water quality monitoring by The Quartz Valley Indian Reservation, a federal tribe, citizen groups and the Forest Service itself show that wilderness streams which should provide the highest quality waters are instead being fouled at the source.

Wilderness headwater basins that should produce critical late summer and fall baseflow in salmon streams below are being relentlessly trampled year after year by cattle weighing up to1200 pounds. When wet headwater meadows are degraded in that way they dry out; their ability to store water for slow release during the dry season is damaged and, if the trampling continues long enough, destroyed. As hydrologist Jonathan Rhodes and Fish Ecologist Chris Frissell point out in a recent report, one of the three best ways to restore California’s dry season water supply would be to eliminate grazing from Northern California’s national forest headwater basins.

Grazing Reform Strategy

The Grazing Reform Project does not insist that grazing be eliminated from Northern California public lands. But we do insist that those who enjoy the privilege of grazing their livestock on the people’s land manage those livestock responsibly.

We want Forest Service and other public land grazing managers to require modern grazing strategies like rest rotation grazing and best practices like regular herding and seasonal fencing to keep livestock out of wetlands, prevent them from trashing streams and protect riparian vegetation and streambanks.

Because both managers and regulators have refused for seven years now to reform grazing management, which is clearly inadequate and irresponsible, we are going up the line to supervisors and considering administrative and legal challenges. We are determined to see modern grazing management brought to Northern California’s public lands.

If the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management required modern grazing methods, we believe most individuals and corporations now permitted to graze livestock on public lands would voluntarily relinquish the permits. They would not be willing to incur the time and expense necessary to graze livestock responsibly in mountains that are replete with springs, streams, wet meadows and willow wetlands.

Here’s how national forest meadows in our region look when they are not grazed:

An ungrazed and healthy willow wetland(top) and a healthy stand of native bunchgrass in the Marble Mountain Wilderness

If you would like to volunteer with the Project or just want more information contact me, Felice Pace, by email (unofelice@gmail.com) or by phone (707-954-6588). If you want to monitor grazing management on your own, please download this handout and fill out the form on the last page. Mail completed forms to:

28 Maple Road

Klamath, CA 95548.

And please take the time to get out and enjoy the lands we all own together. Happy trails!

Felice Pace, Project Coordinator

Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California