Archive for July, 2018

A New Era of Timber Wars?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018
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Several trusted sources have reported that Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) has hired Lear Asset Management Company , a private security firm, to conduct paramilitary operations against forest protectors in the Mattole watershed. Last week, Lear security guards turned out in full force using dogs and tasers, ultimately making a citizen’s arrest of three people.

One forest defender reported that Lear employees were shaking the life line of an occupied treesit, risking the life of the treesitter that eventually came down and was “arrested” by Lear employees.

What’s at Stake?

The Mattole watershed has a unique forest composed of a mix of fir and hardwood compared with the majority of surrounding predominantly redwood forests in the region. A few years ago, HRC had promised to collaborate with local stakeholders, including EPIC, regarding management of the un-entered primary forests in the Mattole. These forests arguably fall outside of the company’s old-growth retention policy, but to EPIC and forest defenders, these areas warrant protection given their unique and wild nature. However, HRC never made any official commitments to protect these lands, insisting that the community should trust its promises. Now, paramilitary forces are being sent in to extract anyone in the way of the company’s logging plans. EPIC is disturbed by the sudden unrest in the forest and the heavy-handed tactics, reminiscent of Hurwitz’s PALCO.

History and Ownership

In 2008, after Pacific Lumber Company liquidated its assets, turning old growth redwood forests into denuded clearcuts, the Fisher family—owners of the Gap Clothing Company—took ownership of the 209,300 acres of redwood and Douglas-fir forests. The Gap/Fisher family gave the company a new name, Humboldt Redwood Company, and a new public relations strategy: to make nice within the community that had been left in shambles after Pacific Lumber went bankrupt. EPIC Has been closely following this controversy and will continue to monitor the project site. To read more about what’s going on in the Mattole, check out our previous articles: Road to Nowhere – HRC making a mess of the Mattole, Dead End – HRC Mattole Road Proposal Fails to Make the Grade & Tour of the Mattole Timber Harvest Plans.

A Call to Action

There are a few ways that you can support the Mattole River Watershed.

  1. Attend the rally at Humboldt Redwood Company office in Scotia for the preservation of the Mattoles’ ancient forests. The rally will be at 10am on Thursday, August 2nd.
  2. Call on Humboldt Redwood Company to sever its contract with Lear and find a way to work with community members in a humane manner.
  3. Post your photos of Humboldt Redwood Company’s logging and private security practices on social media. Tag it with #wearegapinc and #defendthesacred

 

 

 


2018 EPIC Base Camp

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
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OVERVIEW

EPIC Base Camp will focus on the Last Chance Grade Project alternatives, in and around Redwood National and State Parks September 7-9, 2018. Base Camp attendees will have the opportunity to participate in groundtruthing, map and compass orienteering, environmental policy, know your rights trainings, and more! Sign up for this event at the link below, as space is limited!

GROUNDTRUTHING

Groundtruthing is simple. Visit a proposed project site and document what the project looks like on the ground. This information enables EPIC, and you, to compare what the agency is planning on the ground and comparing it with what is stated in environmental documents. Past groundtruthers have found discrepancies in agency information and documented rare plants and animals that have led to the cancellation of some or all of the proposed project. Groundtruthing is an important tool used to monitor large scale projects and other industrial activities on public lands. The information gained from groundtruthing allows EPIC to provide the public with information needed to understand, and engage in, decisions affecting public forest lands, watersheds and wildlife. Information from on-the-ground monitoring also helps EPIC challenge destructive projects or actions that degrade the environment.

REGISTER NOW

Space is limited! Please RSVP for this event ahead of time by signing up below.

LOCATION

EPIC’s 2018 Basecamp will be focusing on groundtruthing the Last Chance Grade Project and the various Highway 101 route alternatives in and around Redwood National Park. We will be camping at Rock Creek Ranch on the wild and scenic Smith River, about 30 minutes east of Crescent City, 1 hour from the project site, and 2 hours from Arcata. Click here to view directions to Rock Creek Ranch and to register for Base Camp. Our campsite can accommodate a maximum of 30 people. The campsite features tent camping areas, picnic tables, a campfire ring, toilets, potable water, a fully functional kitchen, solar showers and river/beach access trail.

CARPOOL

Shuttles will be provided between Arcata and Rock Creek Ranch as well as to the project site at Last Chance Grade (LCG). Please check the Carpool Page to reserve a space on a shuttle, or to offer passenger space in your vehicle. Before your carpool leaves please call the office to see if there are supplies you can help transport to camp! (707)822-7711. If you plan to drive please review EPIC’s Expectations for all Drivers, here.

SCHEDULE

Friday, September 7: Camp Setup

  • 2-4pm shuttles leave from EPIC office in Arcata and arrive at Rock Creek Ranch
  • 4-6pm Camp check in and setup
  • 6-7pm Dinner
  • 7-8pm Last Chance Grade Project Overview
  • 8-9pm Campfire activities and free time

Saturday, September 8: Set Up and Groundtruthing Training

  • 8-9am breakfast/ make sack lunches
  • 9-10am project overview and ground truthing training
  • 10-12 shuttle caravan to LCG project site (Meet at 12 at DeMartin Beach Picnic Area)
  • 12-1pm orientation, ground rules, paperwork signing, and lunch
  • 1pm divide into teams, get field routes prepared & depart into the forest
  • 1-3 LCG project field monitoring
  • 3-5pm shuttle caravan back to camp
  • 5-6pm: free time
  • 6-7pm dinner
  • 7-8pm Debrief and
  • 8pm campfire and legal rights training

Sunday, September 9: Groundtruthing Training and Field Work

  • 8-9am: breakfast/make sack lunches
  • 9-10am: project overview and ground truthing training
  • 10am-11am: break down camp and shuttle/caravan departure
  • 11am-1pm: Shuttle caravan to project site
  • 1pm: Meet at 1pm at DeMartin Beach Picnic Area divide into teams, prepare field routes & depart into the forest.
  • 1-3pm: project field monitoring
  • 3-5pm: Farewell and shuttle caravan back to EPIC office in Arcata

WHAT TO BRING TO BASE CAMP

  • Tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad (bringing an extra tarp is recommended)
  • Trash bag (for trash and/or wet clothes)
  • A flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
  • Extra warm clothing & rain gear (just in case!)
  • Swim suit and hot weather clothes & river sandals
  • Personal medications
  • A camp chair or other comfort needs
  • Boots are necessary, and a spare pair of shoes
  • Day pack
  • Sunscreen/chapstick/hat
  • Bug repellant
  • Toilet paper
  • Musical instruments/song books
  • Books/articles that spark discussion, pen & paper
  • First aid kit
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, personal hygiene needs
  • A “mess kit” (water bottle, mug, bowl, fork and spoon)
  • Compass and whistle (if you have one)
  • FOOD: extra snacks and/or food to share appreciated! *We are providing light breakfast and dinner, but if your diet is very restricted, please plan appropriately.  Bring non­perishable food (nuts, trail mix, oranges, apples, etc.), especially snacks and easy-­to-­carry items.
  • If you have a smart phone or tablet, bring it and download the Avenza Maps Application and
  • Upload this map into the application: http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/105498_FSPLT3_3906998.pdf  — Avenza Maps is an application that uses satellite technology to geo-reference photos you take, so you don’t need cell reception to utilize this app. You can download project maps that are proposed by agencies and GPS reference yourself, photos and notes on that map through the Avenza Map application.

MEAL SCHEDULE

Friday:

Dinner: TBA

Saturday:

Breakfast: TBA

Lunch: Hummus vegetable tortilla wraps

Dinner: Thai vegetable curry

Sunday:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, nuts, raisins, coffee

Lunch: Peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches

BASE CAMP DONATIONS WISH LIST

Donating any of these items to EPIC will ensure that we can provide a safe, effective, high-quality camp in the forest this year! Contact amber@wildcalifornia.org if you can help us plan a successful camp by making a donation!

Suggested food donations:

  • COFFEE!
  • Veggies: fresh produce will be essential!
  • Bread (gluten-free and regular)
  • dried fruit
  • rice noodles
  • almonds
  • Eggs
  • Apples (other fruit)
  • Cheeses and tofu
  • Peanut butter and Jelly
  • Honey
  • Coconut milk
  • Veggie Broth    

Suggested gear donations:

  • Digital cameras (for us to borrow or to keep)
  • GPS devices
  • Working compasses (especially ones with which you can measure slope!)
  • Notebooks (partially used is ok!)
  • Backpacks
  • Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast field guide by Jim Pojar 

Group camp donations:

EPIC BASE CAMP GROUND RULES

Ground Rules for Attendees of EPIC’s Summer Campouts.

All participants are expected to follow the ground rules set below.

  • No dogs
  • No alcohol or federal & state-determined illegal drugs allowed
  • Don’t talk substantively to Law Enforcement Officers; direct them to LEO liaison or EPIC employee
  • Respect and follow posted Forest Service/ State Park orders, such as burn bans
  • Do not damage/destroy any property or equipment

Regarding Camp Safety and Happiness

  • Participate in group activities & help with communal camp chores
  • Notify group leader of problems/dangers/concerns
  • Always check in/out with camp host when arriving or leaving camp
  • Respect Basecamp materials and equipment
  • Keep camp clean and dispose of trash properly
  • Don’t drink untreated water
  • Refrain from picking vegetation or creating unnecessary damage to the forest
  • Quiet in common area from 10pm to 7am
  • No smoking in common areas (dispose of butts properly!)
  • No individual campfires

 Regarding Interpersonal Respect

  • We reserve the right to ask individuals to leave
  • Discrimination or oppressive behavior will not be tolerated
  • Be mindful and respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries (e.g. don’t touch people/belongings without permission)
  • Respect the judgement and requests of group leaders
  • Watch out for other campers and help when needed
  • Ask for what you need (within reason) and know your limits
  • Be mindful of space you take up in group settings

CONNECT WITH OTHER BASECAMP ATTENDEES

After you have registered below, share the event on social media and invite your friends!!


Green Diamond Strikes “Killer” Agreement for Martens

Monday, July 23rd, 2018
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Humboldt marten photo courtesy of Keith Slauson.

Despite the recent spate of good news for the Humboldt marten—California is recommending they be listed under the California Endangered Species Act, EPIC petitioned to list the critter under the Oregon Endangered Species Act, and EPIC has filed a rulemaking petition to prohibit marten trapping in coastal Oregon—we have some major bad news to report. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has given a permit to Green Diamond Resource Company that would make marten recovery much more difficult. Under the so called “Safe Harbor Agreement,” Green Diamond only has to make minimal changes to its forest practices to get around the teeth of the California Endangered Species Act.

What does the Agreement do? Not much and a whole heck of a lot at the same. In exchange for minor tweaks to Green Diamond’s management practices, Green Diamond gets a complete pass on “take” of martens under the California Endangered Species Act. And given that timber management—in particular Green Diamond’s preferred method of clearcutting the bejesus out of an area—marten conservation has taken one step forward but two steps back.

Let’s go into the details. To get a permit, Green Diamond had to show that they were improving on the “baseline”—that is, the forest as it would likely exist into the future. Green Diamond claims that it is improving the baseline by increasing the age class of the forest. (Although age class is not a recognized indicator of marten habitat, so why would we choose this indicator?) Green Diamond claims it is going to increase the average age of some of their forests. But not because of this Safe Harbor Agreement. Green Diamond was already planning to do so under its “Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan,” a federal habitat management plan to benefit aquatic species, like coho salmon. So Green Diamond isn’t really improving on the “baseline” because those protections would already exist. In areas not protected by the Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan, the average age is actually decreasing, meaning the areas not around streams are forest sacrifice zones where Green Diamond will push for clearcuts with even shorter rotations!

Green Diamond has made other minor tweaks too. Green Diamond agreed to not harvest in a special “Marten Reserve Area.” A no-harvest area sounds good. The catch? The area is composed of serpentine soils—areas filled with unforgiving ultramafic rock—whose harsh conditions result in stunted growth for conifer trees. In short, there isn’t much timber to harvest. Green Diamond has also agreed to modify their “wildlife score card”—a tool used to retain individual trees with characteristics, like cavities, important to wildlife. According to internal CDFW emails obtained by EPIC as part of a Public Records Act request, the wildlife scorecard improvements would result in approximately one additional tree saved per twenty acres of land. CDFW pushed for a scorecard that would result in more protections in high-priority watersheds but were turned down by the company.

If the Agreement is so bad, why did CDFW sign off? Money. Green Diamond has agreed to pay for part of a relocation program to create a second breeding population on Redwood National and State Parks land. EPIC fully supports creating secondary breeding population to give some redundancy to the marten, but there’s a major hitch: it isn’t clear whether relocation is feasible. With a population this small, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service will need to ensure that there are enough adults to relocate. The situation is that dire.

EPIC is concerned that the Safe Harbor Agreement will not only harm the marten, but it sets a terrible precedent for other Safe Harbor Agreements in the future. The legislature didn’t intend for landowners to get total legal immunity for minor tweaks to their management to make it slightly less awful; it wanted to induce landowners to actually try and improve wildlife habitat on their land.

Safe Harbor Agreement for Humboldt Marten on Green Diamond Resource Company Timberlands in California


EPIC Objects to Seiad-Horse Creek Post-Fire Logging

Monday, July 23rd, 2018
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All of these old growth trees in northern spotted owl critical habitat and Late Successional Reserve are proposed for cutting.

On Monday, EPIC formally objected to the Seiad-Horse Project on the Klamath National Forest. The Seiad–Horse project threatens to clearcut over 1,000 acres along the Siskiyou Crest, on the California-Oregon border. It is one of multiple US Forest Service timber sales in the region that is likely to adversely affect threatened species. EPIC’s objection puts the Forest Service on notice that the timber sale violates the law and sets forth what the agency can do to avoid litigation.

Rather than listen to the best available science and work with the public to choose a more ecologically sound alternative, the Klamath National Forest has chosen the most destructive option: log within an Inventoried Roadless Area and other areas containing older forest reserves that serve as critical habitat for species like the northern spotted owl and Pacific fisher. The project runs along the Siskiyou Crest, a unique and vital east to west wildlife connectivity corridor that allows species to traverse between wild intact forest areas. The proposed industrial logging plan would create such large openings it would disrupt the migration and dispersal patterns of rare and endemic animal species.

According to its own models, the Seiad-Horse project will harm water quality and increase sediment into these already impaired mid Klamath River watersheds. These tributaries provide cool water refuge, which are strongholds for threatened coho and Chinook salmon.

The Klamath National Forest refuses to learn from the past and is recreating the conditions that caused areas of the fire to burn at high intensity. The Abney Fire burned hottest in plantations that were created from post-fire logging and replanting thirty years ago. That high intensity fire then moved into adjacent older stands that are currently proposed for cutting. The Forest Service’s plan would perpetuate this flammable ecologically destructive cycle by removing the largest and oldest trees in these forest stands, and replacing them with even-aged tree plantations.

Old growth ponderosa pine in northern spotted owl critical habitat and Late Successional Reserve proposed for extraction.

The next step will be an objection-resolution meeting with the Regional USFS Office. EPIC, with our conservation allies, will be defending the watersheds, wildlife and biological diversity of the Siskiyou Crest and working towards an ecologically sound resolution with the KNF and USFS. Please stay tuned for the outcome.


EPIC Victory for Wildlife in Shasta County

Monday, July 23rd, 2018
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Photo courtesy of Nathan Rupert, Flickr

Responding to legal pressure from a coalition of animal protection and conservation groups, Shasta County officials announced today that the county will suspend its contract with the notorious federal wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services. The county’s decision came after coalition members filed a notice of intent to sue Shasta County in June for violating the California Environmental Quality Act. Coalition members include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Protection Information Center, the Mountain Lion Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyote, and WildEarth Guardians.

Shasta County’s previous contract authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to kill hundreds of bears and coyotes, as well as thousands of birds and muskrats and other animals in the county every year, without assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives. Peer-reviewed research shows that such indiscriminate killing of wild animals results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity.

Over the past two years, Wildlife Services has killed 72,385 animals in Shasta County using traps, snares and firearms. The agency’s methods also killed non-targeted species — including domestic dogs — and may have harmed threatened and endangered species, such as the tricolored blackbird.

“Wildlife Services is a rogue wildlife-killing agency and California residents deserve better than to have their tax dollars spent on the trapping, poisoning, and shooting of innocent animals,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We hope Shasta County will now stick to nonlethal options to address wildlife conflicts.”​

Shasta is the latest county in California to discontinue its contract with Wildlife Services amid pressure from animal advocates. In 2013, in response to a letter from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors opted not to renew that county’s contract with Wildlife Services. In 2015, following a lawsuit, Mendocino County agreed as part of the settlement to fully evaluate nonlethal predator control alternatives. Two years later, a California court ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and its coalition partners, finding that Monterey County had to conduct an environmental review process before renewing its contract with Wildlife Services.

“Shasta County is home to dozens of threatened and endangered species that are at risk of being maimed or killed by Wildlife Services’ use of archaic and indiscriminate methods. By discontinuing its contract, Shasta County is helping to ensure that these species, which are already struggling to survive, have a better chance at recovery,” said Johanna Hamburger, wildlife attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute.

“Many non-lethal alternatives exist that effectively reduce if not eliminate conflicts between livestock and predators,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “Shasta County should follow the lead of counties like Marin that decided to adopt a non-lethal cost-share program in place of the USDA Wildlife Services lethal and indiscriminate program. Marin’s Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program is more cost effective, humane, and has proven that non-lethal methods -including livestock guard animals, Foxlights, and better fencing- are effective predator deterrents.”

“This decision is a major victory for Shasta County’s coyotes, bears and other wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “All the latest science shows predator control is expensive, ineffective and inhumane. We’re glad Shasta County recognizes there’s no basis for continuing to shoot, trap and strangle thousands of animals every year.”

“We are encouraged to see counties across California catch up to the best available science indicating the efficacy of nonlethal methods,” said Michelle Lute, PhD, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “As more and more counties like Shasta cancel their contract killing of wildlife, they will see that lives can be saved and livelihoods can be sustained with ethical, effective coexistence.”

Click here to read Shasta County’s response to our notice of intent to sue and letter of termination of wildlife services contract.

 


Inbred Spotted Owls Doomed By Their Own Genes?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018
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Northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest are facing a new threat: decreasing populations and a lack of suitable mates are forcing the owls to breed with their own parents or siblings. This may lead to an “extinction vortex,” where each new inbred generation further amplifies harmful genes from already-inbred parents, resulting in weaker and weaker offspring until a population goes entirely extinct. Once caught in this downward spiral, recovery is difficult without human intervention, like capture-and-translocate programs that shuffle owls between areas to improve genetic diversity.

A recent study published by the American Ornithological Society examined 14,000 owls in Washington, Oregon, and California over a 30-year period, finding that up to 15% of the owls are inbreeding. Stressed by habitat loss and competition from the larger barred owl species, spotted owls populations are shrinking by approximately 4% per year, with some populations already down to a third of their 1985 levels. As these geographically separated populations become smaller and more isolated, inbreeding gets worse and populations become more vulnerable.

Using long-term surveys and new statistical models, the researchers found owls to be most at risk in the Washington Cascades, where an estimated one in eight owls were breeding with siblings or parents. In addition to current conservation programs, the researchers recommend transplanting owls from California to Washington to introduce new mates into the most inbred populations.

Like most animals, spotted owls prefer healthy, unrelated mates. This avoidance of inbreeding is an evolved behavior, common to many species, that helps prevent harmful recessive genes from accumulating and weakening a population. However, this can only take place when there are a sufficient number of healthy mates available. Spotted owls are typically monogamous, and face dangers from logging, barred owl competition, climate change, wildfires, and toxic rodenticides. Together, these threats are decreasing the number of viable mates with every generation, causing population bottlenecks and potentially a “mutational meltdown,” where a critical number of bad genes become “fixed” into the shrinking gene pool, rendering subsequent generations unfit to survive or breed.

EPIC uses diverse tactics to help fight for the owls, including public commentary and legal action. We monitor timber logging plans on public and private lands to ensure operations do not encroach upon Spotted Owl habitat, and take violators to court. We petition state and federal regulators to “up-list” the spotted owl conservation status from “threatened” to “endangered” in the hopes of increasing their protections under the California and federal Endangered Species Acts. For more information, please see EPIC’s Spotted Owl Self Defense Campaign page.

This article was contributed by Roger Tuan, EPIC Intern.


Redwoods Rising Seeks Scoping Comments

Friday, July 20th, 2018
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Under the umbrella of Redwoods Rising, the National Park Service, California Department of Parks and Recreation and Save the Redwoods League are beginning the process of considering various restoration efforts for the Greater Prairie Creek watershed in Redwood National and State Parks. Activities that are being considered as part of the project include forest restoration, road removal and aquatic restoration.

Scoping comments will be accepted through August 6th on the range of issues and concerns that should be addressed in the Draft Initial Study and Environmental Assessment. Scoping comments will be considered to develop a reasonable range of alternatives to advise on the breadth and magnitude of environmental impacts, and to identify possible measures that could reduce project impacts.

Scoping comments on the Greater Prairie Creek Ecosystem Restoration project can be submitted through Redwood National Park’s comment portal. EPIC staff is committed to following this project closely and participating at every stage of the planning process. EPIC’s scoping comments on the project can be viewed here.


Run for the Board of Directors!

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
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EPIC is your organization. You fund it – 62% of our budget was from our members in 2017—and you govern it by electing the Board of Directors. The EPIC Board of Directors is charged with ensuring that the good ship EPIC is well-equipped, pointed in the right direction, and fortified against stormy seas of financial turmoil. EPIC’s made it for 41 years because of committed volunteers willing to share their skills and services on the Board.

If you are interested in helping to shape EPIC’s future, please consider applying for the Board of Directors. Click here for an application. Applications are due by July 31, after which the Board will review applications and put forward a ballot to our members in September.

Want to find out more? Interested in sitting in on a board meeting? Call Tom at 707 822 7711 or write tom@wildcalifornia.org.


New Wind Farm on the Horizon

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
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A new wind company blows into town. A new wind farm is being proposed just south of Scotia, along Monument Ridge. The project is near Bear River Ridge, the site of a proposed wind farm that generated considerable local opposition and was pulled by its developer, Shell Oil Company, in 2012. The land in question is under private ownership, with a considerable portion owned by Humboldt Redwood Company and managed for timber production, and the other portion is owned by a single ranching family.

The number of turbines will be between 45-70, but their exact siting is still under development pending the Final Environmental Impact Report. According to the project developer, final siting decisions will be made in response to survey information developed in conjunction with USFWS and CDFW to minimize adverse impacts to wildlife. The conventional three blade turbines would sit on steel towers affixed to concrete pads. Fully built out, the wind farm will be capable of producing up to 135 megawatts of electricity. This is just about enough juice to power all 63,017 households in Humboldt County. Humboldt’s current power source is Humboldt Bay Power Plant, which is powered by liquefied natural gas and diesel and produces 163 Megawatts of electricity capable of powering 125,000 homes.  Terra-Gen is speaking with Humboldt’s local Community Choice Aggregate, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority to see if a Power Purchase Agreement—a contract between a power producer and a power purchaser—can be developed.

In addition to the wind turbines, the project would require other related developments, including permanent meteorological towers, permanent and temporary roads, support facilities, and connections to the power grid. Power from the farm will run east, through an underground crossing of the Eel River, to connect to the grid at the Bridgeville substation. Terra Gen hopes to begin construction by 2020 to take advantage of federal wind energy incentives that are set to expire.

The project is being developed by Humboldt Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Terra Gen, LLC, based in San Diego, California, which is in turn owned by Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Terra Gen owns 976 megawatts of wind, geothermal and solar power across the Western United States, with much of this in California, including major wind operations in Tehachapi. Assisting in the development of the project is Stantec, a consulting firm. Stantec is preparing the environmental review of the project and is coordinating a host of studies being completed for the project.

The project needs to go through several different types of public review before it can operate. First, the project will need an Environmental Impact Report to comply with CEQA. The scoping for that process is expected to begin in August 2018. The company has begun resource surveys for rare plants, cultural resources, and wildlife. These surveys will better inform the project’s design and will contribute to the Environmental Impact Report.

Depending on the potential impacts to wildlife species that are currently under assessment, the project may also need permits under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental laws. Permits under these may also trigger NEPA project review and “consultation” under the Endangered Species Act. Each of these processes will offer a portal for public participation.

Terra Gen has approached EPIC to solicit input on the project’s design and to discuss our initial project concerns. We are actively working with Terra Gen on how to best avoid impacts to wildlife. We have been happy with the company’s early advances to work with the conservation community. EPIC is further collaborating with our partners at the Redwood Region Audubon, Northcoast Environmental Center, and the California Native Plant Society to evaluate the project.

EPIC is waiting for more information before taking a position on the project. Wind energy is an important component of California’s carbon-free energy future, but we have concerns about the potential impact of this project on marbled murrelets and other avian species. A key factor in our evaluation is how effectively Terra Gen can “avoid, minimize, and mitigate”—avoid impacts where possible, minimize the impacts that do occur, and mitigate for whatever impacts still remain.

Interested in learning more? Terra Gen is hosting two open houses to discuss the project:

  • Wednesday, July, 25 Open House by Terra-Gen at the Fortuna Vet’s Hall, 5pm-7pm
  • Thursday, July 26 Open House by Terra-Gen at the Aquatic Center in Eureka, 5pm-7pm

 

We will continue to monitor this project as it develops and keep you updated.


White Privilege in the Environment

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
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In honor of Latino Conservation week, EPIC and Latino Outdoors have partnered for a special bilingual redwood hike picnic Sunday, July 15th along the Hiouchi Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. For more information about the hike please refer to our Event Brite page.

Latino Conservation Week, an initiative by the Hispanic Access Foundation and Latino Outdoors were created to support the Latino community getting outdoors and participating in activities that promote environmental stewardship. These groups focus on expanding and amplifying the Latino experience in the outdoors; providing greater opportunities for leadership, mentorship, professional opportunities and serving as a platform for sharing cultural connections and narratives that are often overlooked by the traditional outdoor movement.

EPIC is honored to work with the Hispanic Access Foundation and Latino Outdoors, and join their collaborative mission to diversify the environmental movement. We see a unique opportunity to share with our community the significance of this collaboration, and why it matters.

The goal of this piece is to inform and empower you to reflect on positionality and privilege, and to examine how it affects environmental activism. Furthermore, it serves as a challenge to reflect on the past, present, and future role people of color serve in the environmental community.

White Privilege in the Environment

Let’s start off with a quick reflection practice. Close your eyes. Now visualize what you think of when you hear the word environmentalist. What kind of spaces do they enjoy? How are they enjoying them? What physical form do they embody?

If you imagined a classic John Muir-type trekking his way through “wilderness”, you’re not alone. In fact, if you Google environmentalist right now—your page will fill with tons of green shirt wearing, tree hugging white folk. This is no coincidence. This is our reality. And it’s a problem.

Positionality, Privilege, and Intersectionality: A Primer

Some of these terms might be new to you. That’s okay. Many of these concepts were born in academia but describe social phenomena that are commonly experienced—giving language to the lived experiences.

“White privilege” is a societal construction; it is the system of benefits that are conferred by society to those people who appear “white”—and therefore, resemble the people who dominate the powerful positions in society—beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people. White privilege can manifest itself in many different ways, such as access to employment, educational opportunities, or biased interactions with police and people of authority. It can even manifest in smaller ways, but ways that are still hurtful. In working with Latino Outdoors, we have heard about how people feel hesitant to go hiking in the redwoods simply because there is a lack of representation, or fear of not having the name brand gear that embodies much of the outdoor recreation world.

Positionality recognizes how important aspects of our identities develop our personal values and views. Our individual identities are multifaceted in nature; we do not tend to align ourselves merely to one characteristic, rather we relate to multiple factors such as race, class, gender etc. Understanding positionality is a means of assessing your position of power and privilege.

Intersectionality addresses this by acknowledging how forms of identity are not separate, but rather develop a relationship, affecting one another.

For example, I am a white, 25 year old, able bodied, college bachelorette educated, cisgendered female. These individual parts of my identity personify my positionhood, and have contributed to my role as an environmentalist. As a younger white cisgendered female my presence in outdoor spaces is not questioned nor a concern to others. There is wide representation of people who look like me in both the outdoor recreation and environmental nonprofit world. I am able to access recreational parks with relative ease, afford park admission for national and state parks, and even have a car to get me there. I have the leisure of buying organic foods, and carry around a reusable water bottle literally everywhere I go, for I know a water dispenser is always nearby. I have a roof over my head, an education, and a job. My positonality and privilege therefore enable me to peruse my identity as an environmentalist. Rather than concern myself with where I’m going to get my next meal—I, and the majority of the environmentalist movement have the privilege to focus our energy in our own individual environmental concerns.

Creating a More Just and Effective Environmental Movement

People of color are largely missing from the environmental movement, but that’s not because they don’t care about the environment. In fact, the opposite is true.

What gives?

For the past 100 years, the environmental movement has been dominated by white guys. Roosevelt, Muir, and Pinocht are some of the famous “fathers” of contemporary environmentalism, and their rhetoric has shaped the modern conversation movement we know today. Dialogues around race are often absent, and only in the past decade have environmental justice issues hit the mainstream. While the interrelation between race, white privilege, and the environment may not be immediately apparent to all, there are legitimate connections that deserve to be critically addressed in order to move towards a more progressive and effective movement.

Most large environmental organizations started in conservation, which unfortunately has left them largely tone deaf to the concerns of communities that live in the shadow of chemical and power plants, don’t have access to clean waters, and live compromised lives due to human impacts and the after effects of industrialization. Due to a large misconception that communities of color don’t care about the environment—these issues were then left to the social justice warriors of the world. Environmental justice impacts at a rate not comparable to other acts of racial injustice, and communities of color are often among the hardest hit by climate change and disproportionately on the frontlines in local environmental fights. But in large part, standard eco-events like Earth Day are mostly a thing for white folks.

Why?

A study in 2016 found people of color are “less polarized about the issues of climate change than white people” but that they are less likely to deem themselves environmentalists. The studies authors alluded that such beliefs can be linked to the lack of diversity within environmental groups, where racial minorities often see an “image of whiteness”.

So why does EPIC care? For the past 40 years EPIC has used our legal know how to advocate and protect the forests of north coast California. We are privileged with the unique opportunity to represent and speak on behalf of the environmental community. However, we recognize that this community consists of mostly white folks-like us. We recognize our individual positionalities, and how they contribute to the work we pursue. We recognize that social and cultural barriers often exclude diverse communities from outdoor experiences, and that there is a general lack of diversity in the environmental movement as a whole. But most importantly, we recognize the potential for allyship in our community.

Ally is an action verb, for it is an ongoing process. It is not a self affirmed title-but one given to you through the demonstration of your work and collaboration. These are the steps we aim to take—and we’re pleased to present our official Environmental Justice Policy to guide our future work.

Until environmentalists acknowledge and successfully address their white privilege and its effects on their own individual efforts—the planet will suffer. Click here to learn more about the many organizations working to diversify outdoor spaces.

 

Thank you to Samantha Stone and Shanti Belaustegui Pockell for the inspiration, dialogue, and resources that helped make this piece possible.