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Action Alert: Congress Threatens Public Input for BLM Lands

Friday, February 17th, 2017
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Headwaters Forest Reserve 20 Anniversary Hike

Take Action Now: The Senate is considering S.J. Res 15, a resolution to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0” land-use planning rule, which gives the public a voice in large-scale planning for public lands. If the resolution is passed, public input in the management of our public lands would be drastically limited. the U.S. House of Representatives already voted in favor of the resolution, and the Senate will be voting any day. Senators need to hear that we value our public lands and we should have a say in how these lands are managed.

The BLM manages over 245 million acres of land mostly within Western states, with over 15.2 million acres in California, and 86,000 acres in Humboldt County alone, including the King Range National Conservation Area and the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Arcata and Redding BLM Field Offices are currently undergoing their Resource Management Plan updates for managing 20-25 years out, and they have combined updates to create a more regional approach for Northwest California planning, which is referred to as the Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan.

Hunters, anglers and conservationists support Planning 2.0 because the rule ensures important migration corridors and other intact habitats are identified so these areas can be conserved throughout the planning process.

Click here to send a letter to your Senators asking them to preserve public participation in the planning process for public lands by voting no on S.J. Res 15. Its best if you personalize your letter to reflect your experiences and highlight the places you care about.

OR for those of you in California, please send your comments to the email addresses below, or call:
Senator Feinstein’s office: Kenneth_Rooney@feinstein.senate.gov 202-224-3841
Senator Harris’s office: Nicole_Burak@harris.senate.gov 415-355-9041 and 202-224-3553


Six Facts About Trump’s Supreme Court Pick

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
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gorsuchDonald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court has gotten a lot of attention for his impressive credentials—with degrees from Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard Law—and snappy legal writing. But being smart doesn’t mean that you will be a good Supreme Court Justice. (See Antonin Scalia.) Looking specifically at Gorsuch’s environmental record, EPIC notices four concerning facts about Trump’s SCOTUS pick and two potential reasons for hope.

(1) He resents public interest legal organizations, like EPIC.

Before he was a judge, Neil Gorsuch published an inflammatory article in the National Review, which claimed that “liberals” were abusing the court system in the fight for social reform: “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”

He may have well been writing about EPIC. Litigation is one of the most important tools in EPIC’s toolbox, and one that we have wielded with great result—from establishing that timber harvest plans need to consider cumulative effects in EPIC v. Johnson to advancing protection for the habitat of endangered species in Marbled Murrelet, to name a few.

Instead of relying on the courts, Gorsuch offers his “friendly” advice to groups like EPIC: achieve your aims through political advocacy.

(2) He is opposed to campaign finance laws.

Gorsuch is on record that political contributions are a form of speech. And as speech, laws that restrict this right to “free speech” should be subject to the highest form of constitution protection, known as “strict scrutiny.” This faulty line of argument is the backing behind major cases, such as Citizens United, which fundamentally undermine our democracy by giving louder “voices” to moneyed interests.

(3) Gorsuch is a foe of federal regulation

If Scalia had one thing going for him, he understood the importance of federal regulation, and afforded appropriate deference to agency rulemaking. Of course, this cuts both ways, as agencies promulgate rules that work both for and against the environment. But given that the bulk of federal environmental law has its roots in agency rules, a relative hands-off approach by the judiciary is a good thing.

Scalia was a strong proponent of the Chevron doctrine, a principle of federal administrative law that gave agency’s deference to interpreting ambiguous or vague statutory language. Gorsuch shows his greatest ideological difference from Scalia in his opposition to Chevron deference. Gorsuch has staked a lonely position among the judiciary, calling for the abolition of Chevron deference, writing, “We managed to live with the administrative state before Chevron. We could do it again.”

Gorsuch’s position is hostile to an active and engaged federal government. EPIC stands with federal administrative law, warts and all.

(4) His mom was anti-environment EPA Administrator.

Environmental antipathy may well run in Gorsuch’s blood. Gorsuch’s mother, Anne M. Gorsuch, was head of the EPA under President Reagan. As EPA Administrator, Anne Gorsuch was more focused on gutting the agency, by slashing the budget by 22% and erasing EPA regulations, than protecting the environment (you know, her job). Because of allegations that she was mismanaging the Superfund program Anne Gorsuch was ordered by Congress to turn over records. She refused and was held in contempt of Congress, and later resigned. Reagan was then forced to bring back William Ruckelshaus, the EPA’s first administrator.

Surely, Neil Gorsuch shouldn’t be held accountable for the sins of his mother. But it makes EPIC wonder: does the apple fall far from the tree?

Two reasons why Gorsuch might be okay.

(1) He is a Westerner and avid outdoorsman

Gorsuch is a fourth-generation Coloradoan. He is also an outdoorsman, who lists rowing, skiing, and fly-fishing as his passions. At his home outside of Denver, Gorsuch and his family raise horses, chickens and goats.

Our greatest environmental Supreme Court Justice, William O. Douglas, also held a fondness for the outdoors. A fellow Westerner, Douglas was a fierce advocate for environmental protection. It is possible that Gorsuch will become an advocate for the environment once he is on the highest bench and draw upon his love of the outdoors, but such radical transformations are rare in our Court’s history.

(2) He sided with enviros…once

Gorsuch appears to be a skeptic of the “dormant commerce clause,” which may have some positive implications for local and state environmental laws. The dormant commerce clause—so-called because it exists nowhere within the Constitution but can, supposedly, be inferred from the “Commerce Clause”—stands for the principle that a state is prohibited from passing legislation that improperly burdens or discriminates against interstate commerce. The dormant commerce clause has acted as an impediment against state environmental laws as they can impact interstate commerce.

In 2015, Gorsuch was on a three judge panel that upheld a Colorado law that required a certain percentage of power come from renewable sources. Coal producers challenged the law, as the law could diminish coal power and therefore coal producers.

(While Gorsuch’s position may be pro-environment here, its ideological roots—hostility to things not explicitly in the constitution—perhaps foreshadows his opinion on the “right to privacy,” found nowhere but in the “penumbras” of the Constitution. The right to privacy is the underpinning of federal judicial law protecting a woman’s right to choose, family planning, and other intimate areas of life.)


Timber Program Under Fire from Environmental Watchdogs

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
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DSC00641Lawsuit Alleges CalFire Fails to Meet Climate Change Obligation

Continuing decades of vigilance to protect California’s forests, the Environmental Protection Information Center and Sierra Club submitted arguments to the California First District Court of Appeals in support of efforts to set aside a logging plan near the town of Albion in Mendocino County. EPIC and Sierra Club present arguments to show that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) is failing to protect our forests against the impacts of climate change, and is not vigilant in its duty to limit carbon dioxide emissions while ensuring that our forests sequester carbon.

CalFire is charged with the regulation and administration of California’s private forestlands to ensure that whatever logging is done, it is done in a manner that protects the environment. The Legislature has made abundantly clear that CalFire is to regulate California’s forests to ensure that they are a net “sink” of carbon, capturing more carbon than they emit—imperative in California’s fight to mitigate climate change. New research has shown, however, that under CalFire’s watch, our forests are providing less carbon sequestration, not more.[1]

“CalFire is failing to undertake the basic steps to ensure that our forests are providing the benefits we need to protect California against the impacts of climate change,” said Rob DiPerna, Forest and Wildlife Advocate for EPIC. “CalFire’s decision-making fails to undertake the necessary and rigorous analysis to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are limited and our forests continually increase their capacity to store carbon. Instead, and despite legislative directives, CalFire continues to accept logging plans based on a lack of credible science and evidence. It’s time the agency took climate change seriously.”

In the challenged logging plan approval, without providing an analysis of the cumulative impacts of the logging, CalFire instead relied upon speculative future tree growth projections by the timber harvest plan applicant, to conclude that even though the logging plan would generate greenhouse gases, those impacts would be offset by unsupported future growth estimates. Rather than provide analysis and an accounting, CalFire simply expects the court to trust it.

“By rubberstamping logging applications, CalFire fails to ensure that California’s forests work for all Californians,” said DiPerna. “California needs to be a leader in combatting the effects of climate change, and this means CalFire needs to step up to the plate and provide credible science and analysis before it gives the green light to logging plans.”

EPIC and Sierra Club filed their amicus brief, or “friend of the court” brief, to support the Forest Preservation Society, who has challenged the logging plan approval. EPIC and the Sierra Club ask the First District Court find that CalFire prejudicially abused its discretion and set aside the logging plan.

[1] Gonzalez, Patrick, et al. “Aboveground live carbon stock changes of California wildland ecosystems, 2001–2010.” Forest Ecology and Management 348 (2015): 68-77.


Speak Up for the Future of California’s Forests

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
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tall-trees-trail-rdTake Action: California’s forests aren’t what they used to be. Since the early days of European contact and settlement, destructive logging of our old-growth forests, combined with forest fragmentation, fire exclusion, and conversion of once-diverse native forests to over-dense, under-developed plantations have left much of California’s forests in a state of disrepair.

In the Southern Sierra-Nevada, the combination of logging, plantations, fire exclusion, and now drought, beetle infestation and a rapidly changing climate have led to the unprecedented die-off that some estimate has claimed the lives of some 100 million trees.

Here in the range of the coast redwoods, past, largely unregulated logging of our old-growth forests and conversion of large tracts to industrial sapwood fiber farm plantations have resulted in the total biomass or live woody material, in our forests being reduced to at best 10-15 percent of historic levels. Redwoods are among the longest-lived tree species on earth, are the tallest trees on earth, and grow in some of the most productive forest sites on earth, both in terms of biomass, and the ability to store carbon dioxide in amounts unparalleled anywhere else on earth. Yet even today, industrial timberland owners in the range of the coast redwoods still employ clearcutting to maximize short-term economic value at the expense of the long-term productivity of our forests, and at the expense of our ability to combat and adapt to global and regional climate change.

On January 17, 2017, the State of California’s Forest Climate Action Team (FCAT) commissioned by Governor Brown, released a public review draft of the California Forest Carbon Plan, which is slated to be used as the state-wide roadmap for reducing forest-related greenhouse gas emissions and increase state-wide carbon dioxide storage to assist in meeting state-wide objectives for reducing California’s overall greenhouse gas emissions footprint to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

The Draft Forest Carbon Plan fails to make the grade in several critical ways. First, it continues to perpetuate the myth that manufactured wood products taken out of the forest and run through mills and sent to lumber yards are just as good at storing carbon dioxide long-term as woody biomass and trees left alive, green, and growing in our forests. Second, the Plan relies heavily on the tree mortality crisis in the Southern Sierra-Nevada to justify massive increases in prescribed thinning to remove dead and dying trees and conversion of these into biomass fuel. Meanwhile, the Plan recommends no changes to private lands forest management strategies that have, and continue to contribute to the problems of over-dense, under-productive and unhealthy forest conditions. Finally, the Plan’s regional implementation fails entirely to consider the ability of our coast redwood forests to store increasing amounts of carbon dioxide if managed properly moving into the future; recent research conducted via Humboldt State University confirms that our old-growth coast redwood forests are storing more carbon dioxide per-ace than any other forests on earth. This fact is not considered, and the study is not even included or referenced in the Plan’s analysis.

Take Action:

Tell the FCAT Team you like your carbon dioxide stored in living, breathing, growing trees, not in sapwood fiber-farm fence-posts, decking, and houses. Tell the FCAT Team that forest management changes must be made commensurate with restoration and thinning to reduce die-off and abate fire risk to ensure restoration and maintenance of long-term forest health and diversity. Tell the FCAT Team you want a real long-term plan that ensures regional implementation that takes into the account the unique and critical role our coast redwood forests can and must play in storing carbon dioxide and abating and adapting to global and regional climate change.


Action Alert: Say No to Climate Denier and Yes to Science

Monday, January 30th, 2017
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Trump Chooses Climate Change Denier to Head Department of Agriculture

Take Action to stop climate change denier from taking cabinet position. On January 19th, Donald Trump selected conservative Republican and climate change denier, Sonny Perdue, to be his Secretary of Agriculture. In 2014, Perdue wrote an opinion article describing climate change as “…a running joke among the public, and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.”

If confirmed, Mr. Perdue would be the head U.S. Department of Agriculture, an agency with a $155 billion budget that is charged with oversight of our national forests and grasslands, which make up 279,000 square miles of public lands. Additionally, he is tasked with matters relating to Wildlife Services, overseeing farm policy, food safety, and the food-stamp program.

The former governor of Georgia who once ran a grain and fertilizer business, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies that help chemical companies and large agriculture conglomerates at the expense of the environment and small farmers. As governor, Perdue championed the expansion of factory farms and pushed against gas taxes and EPA efforts to enforce the Clean Air Act.

Perdue’s nomination must now be vetted by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which will examine Perdue and vote on whether or not to recommend him for confirmation by the Senate.

Click here to take Action now to ask your Senator to ensure that climate change deniers like Perdue are not confirmed leading roles in our government.

 


Keep California Great!

Thursday, January 26th, 2017
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img_4386California did not exist at the founding of our country, but we are the future of America.

Look: we are going to experience losses at the federal level. Since our federal environmental laws were passed, they have been chipped away at; now, they be wiped off the books entirely. We can no longer rely on federal environmental law to protect the clean air and water, biodiversity, and ecosystem health that we need and cherish.

Now is time for California to take charge and ensure that our state environmental laws are strong enough to keep California great.

EPIC calls on the Legislature to review and revise California’s foundational environmental laws—the California Endangered Species Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, among others—to ensure that we have a safe and healthy California, for all its residents (both humans and critters alike).

California has led the nation before in setting environmental policy. California was among the first to move to protect biodiversity, passing the California Endangered Species Act in 1970, three years before the federal Endangered Species Act. Before the creation of the U.S. Forest Service, California recognized the public importance of our forests and charged the Board of Forestry, first founded in 1885, with the enforcement of forestry laws.

What we do in California has an outsized importance not just in our country, but around the globe. If it were its own country, California would boast the 6th largest economy in the world—ahead of France and just below Great Britain. Our laws can help shape federal environmental policy, even if they only apply within our own state.

EPIC is heartened to hear that Governor Brown has pledged to take up the slack left by the Trump administration and join with other states and countries to fight climate change and the declaration by California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon that California will “set an example for other states to follow.


EPIC Changes Ahead

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
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salmon-river-asEPIC things are in store for us in 2017. (Pun intended.) This year EPIC celebrates its 40th anniversary—and as with any mark of a new era, big changes are to come! All year long we will be celebrating our work to protect and restore North Coast forests and waters, and connect more people with nature by highlighting our successes and how they inspire us as we plan for the future.

At the end of February, we will say goodbye to Natalynne DeLapp-Hinton, EPIC’s Executive Director since 2014. We are pleased to introduce a new face, Briana Villalobos as the Director of Communications and Development, and welcome current Program Director Tom Wheeler J.D. as EPIC’s new Executive Director.

While Natalynne will be leaving us this year, her impact on the community and all things EPIC will stay with us. During her time as the Executive Director, Natalynne built upon EPIC’s strong brand as California’s North Coast forest protection organization, all while centralizing EPIC’S strengths as an operationally and strategically focused powerhouse. Her unconventional and bold strategies have introduced a collaborative and principled standard of communication that sought to build bridges and work within the community to find pragmatic yet idealistic solutions.

Natalynne in HeadwatersNatalynne worked her way up from the bottom, starting first with EPIC as a volunteer in 2008, then upon graduation from Humboldt State University in 2009, she was hired as a Policy Advocate traveling to and from Board of Forestry meetings in Sacramento. In 2011 she took on the role of Development Director, and in 2014 moved into Executive Director. Throughout her career at EPIC, Natalynne’s work held true to EPIC’s vision: maintaining healthy, connected forest ecosystems with sustainable and regenerative forest management practices. Among the work Natalynne will be remembered for, Natalynne built bridges will unconventional partners and long-time “adversaries,” recognizing that we can go further together. She worked with cannabis advocacy groups, other environmental organizations, and community leaders and elected officials in the growing industry throughout the development of the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance. After Humboldt’s ordinance passed, Natalynne developed organized the 2016 Cannabis Farmer’s Compliance Workshop series and the Farmer’s Compliance Handbook.

From everyone on the staff and Board of Directors, we wish Natalynne happy trails.

Tom Wheeler 2To take Natalynne’s place, Tom Wheeler is moving up to Executive Director.

Since Tom joined EPIC in 2014, he has brought a keen legal eye to EPIC’s work. Tom graduated from the University of Washington School of Law with a concentration in Environmental Law. Tom was President of the Environmental Law Society, served as Articles Editor of the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, and defended old-growth and endangered species at the Washington Forest Law Center. Tom was drawn to EPIC for its predominant “history of fighting and winning the fights no one thought possible.” Tom is excited to continue to bring his legal skills to work on protecting our wild places.

briana-vilalobosBriana Villalobos officially joined the EPIC staff in January as the Director of Communications and Development. So if you see a new face around, let Briana know you are excited about her joining the team!  Briana is responsible for energizing and engaging with the EPIC community. Her role is to work collaboratively with members and volunteers to organize events and provide resources and materials for membership development and enhancement.

Briana attended Humboldt State University where she earned her degree in sociology with an emphasis on human ecology. Her passion for environmental and social justice is exemplified by her time and research dedicated throughout her undergrad career, and as an intern for EPIC. She is fresh out of academia and is excited to further ignite her burning love for social activism and the environment.

We are pleased to enter this celebratory year with new faces, and exciting changes! However, as we carry on forward we must first acknowledge the tall tasks ahead of us. From climate change to the Trump administration, our North Coast ecosystems have never needed a vigorous advocate more than now. This year we will be on high alert, and continue to advocate for the sustainable management of public forests. The faces of EPIC are changing, but our heart remains the same. We have an exceptional staff of experts and support from a community of people who dare to think the world can be a better place. Together, we are powerful and together we will ensure California remains wild.


Grazing Reform Project Works Toward Responsible Grazing Practices

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
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bigmdws_cattle-trail-in-wetlands-2EPIC is excited to announce the launch of the new website for our Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California, located at www.grazingreform.org. On the site you can access lots of information about the impacts of public land grazing, including 28 photo-illustrated reports which span the seven years during which Project volunteers have monitored and documented the manner in which livestock grazing, all by cattle, is being (mis)managed within 15 separate grazing allotments in wilderness areas and on other national forest lands within the Klamath, Rogue-Siskiyou and Shasta National Forests. If you like the work we are doing, please consider making a donation to the Project.  All donations will keep our intrepid grazing monitor, Felice Pace, out in the field documenting problems. We are also looking for volunteers to help perform grazing monitoring, in particular grazing allotments in the Mad River Watershed of the Six Rivers National Forest.

On the website you can access, read and download reports which document the poor manner in which public land grazing is managed and the resulting degradation of water quality, riparian areas and wetlands. On the site you can also access research on grazing impacts, best management practices for managing grazing, specialist reports, like the report of hydrologist Jonathan Rhodes on the Big Meadows Grazing Allotment in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, and several videos Felice and other Project volunteers have made in the field to highlight the negative impacts of grazing on riparian areas, wetlands, water quality and meadows.

Click here to donate to the grazing monitoring project

Click here to volunteer

A little background: 

The Project to Reform Public Land Grazing started over seven years ago in support of water quality testing by the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation (QVIR) in streams like Shakleford Creek and East Boulder Creek in the Scott River Basin. Using an environmental justice grant from the EPA, QVIR began testing water quality in streams issuing from grazing allotments within the Marble Mountain and Trinity Alps Wilderness Areas. QVIR testing documented violation of water quality standards for fecal coliform bacteria and excessive nutrients; both are associated with water pollution from poorly managed grazing.

Inspired by this QVIR effort, our project coordinator, Felice, decided to go onto the grazing allotments themselves to document the bad grazing management that resulted in the water pollution QVIR found and to use that information to advocate for improved grazing management. Over the past seven years, we’ve logged 1,210 hours monitoring grazing on-the-ground in our national forests—that’s over 150 person days of volunteer grazing monitoring!

While it is certainly impossible to eliminate all the negative impacts of grazing on water quality, riparian areas and wetlands, negative impacts within Northern California’s wet meadow headwaters could be substantially reduced if Forest Service managers would require that grazing permit holders implement modern grazing management methods, including regular herding to rotate grazing among the various pastures on an allotment. Presently, however, permit holders place their cattle on the public lands in the spring or summer and don’t return until mid to late October when the snow flies and cattle must be taken to the home ranch. Some grazing permit holders have become so lax that they do not even collect their cattle in the fall. Instead they allow their livestock to wander home on their own while continuing to graze on national forest land.

Allowing cattle to remain unmanaged on public land for months on end always leads to degraded water quality, trashed riparian areas and trampled wetlands. This is just one of the many instances of lax Forest Service grazing management which the project hopes to change. Trampled springs like the one in the photo below are a common sight on Northern California’s public land grazing allotments and a clear indicator of inadequate Forest Service grazing management.

Donate Now!

Sign up as a volunteer!


Bringing Back the Condor

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
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800px-californcondor-scott-frierThe Yurok Tribe has spearheaded an effort in conjunction with the National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a condor restoration program and release facility in Redwood National Park, to return condors to their historical range in Yurok Ancestral Territory, where they have not been seen for more than a century. We shouldn’t have to tell you this, but just in case: this is fantastic and EPIC wholeheartedly supports condor reintroduction. As part of the project, five public scoping meetings will be held this month in northern California and Oregon to receive input on the California Condor Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment, including one in Eureka on January 26th.

Background

Since time immemorial, the Yurok Tribe has viewed the condor as a sacred animal, using their feathers and singing their songs in the World Renewal ceremony. As part of the Yurok Tribe’s obligation to heal the world, and return balance to Yurok Ancestral Territory, returning the condor to the region is spiritually and biologically imperative.

The California condor is the largest North American land bird primarily found in rocky shrub land, coniferous forests, and oak savannas. Condors are a keystone species, because their sharp beaks allow them to tear into tough skins of large mammalian carcasses that other scavengers cannot break down. Although fossil evidence shows that condors were once prevalent across North America, the end of the last glacial period reduced their range to the American Southwest and West Coast. In 1967 the species was federally listed as endangered, and in 1971 it was listed as an endangered species by the State of California. By 1987, habitat destruction, poaching and lead poisoning pushed wild condors into extinction, when all 22 remaining wild individuals were caught and put into captive breeding programs and in December 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recorded a total population of 435 condors, consisting of 268 wild and 167 captive individuals.

Public Meetings

January 23: Sacramento, CA  6-8pm at the Federal Building, 2800 Cottage Way

January 24: Eureka, CA 6-8pm at the Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way

January 25: Klamath, CA 10am-12pm at the Yurok Tribal Office, 190 Klamath Blvd

January 25: Medford, OR 6-8pm at the Jackson County Auditorium, 7520 Table Rock Road, Central Point Oregon

January 26: Portland, OR 6-8pm at the Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Road

How to Comment

Public scoping comments will be accepted until February 28, 2017 and can be submitted at the meetings or you can click here to submit comments online. Comments will be used to determine the scope of environmental issues and alternatives that will be addressed in the subsequent Environmental Assessment, which is scheduled to be released in summer of 2017. We encourage our members to support the program and highlight the importance of bringing the condor back to the Pacific Northwest by ensuring that the species has the habitat and protections necessary to reestablish their populations in the region.


Conservation Groups Challenge Permit to Pollute Elk River

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
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Elk River Rd Flooding

Elk River Flooding. Photo courtesy of Elk River Resident’s Association

Pollution exacerbates flooding and ecosystem damage

EPIC and the North Group, Redwood Chapter Sierra Club filed a petition with the State Water Quality Control Board challenging last minute changes to a new permit issued by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to allow Humboldt Redwood Company to discharge sediment pollution into the Elk River, near Eureka.

On November 30, 2016, the Regional Board held a hearing on the permit. At the hearing, the Regional Board made numerous changes that effectively removed many key clean water protections and passed the order. The Regional Board’s actions not only frustrated public participation, but also violated state law by failing to provide adequate protections for the severely impaired Elk River.

“We need to ensure clean water and this decision doesn’t do that,” said Tom Wheeler, Program Director at EPIC. “In a controversial situation like this, where the government is permitting more pollution in an already degraded river, we need more public participation not less.”

The Elk River is the largest freshwater tributary to Humboldt Bay, flowing from its headwaters in the coastal mountains of Northwest California to Humboldt Bay. The majority of the Upper Elk River subwatershed is composed of steep (>35%) and easily erodible soils. Intensive logging by Pacific Lumber Co., beginning in 1986, left the weak and unstable slopes susceptible to sediment pollution from landsliding and surface runoff. In short time, the once clear Elk River filled with muck, infilling the river channel. This infilling has lessened the flow capacity of the river, meaning that during storm events, the river quickly floods. This flooding is more than a mere nuisance for residents of the Elk River watershed. Flooding has put lives at risk by closing important local roads and destroyed property, including homes.

Although Pacific Lumber Co. went bankrupt, issues in Elk River remain. Humboldt Redwood Co., which purchased land in the Elk River watershed from Pacific Lumber Co., continues to discharge sediment pollution, albeit in much smaller amounts. Humboldt Redwood Co. sought a permit from the Regional Board to allow further pollution. This permit, called a “waste discharge requirement,” has been in development for over a year and the public has been involved in its development.

In their petition for administrative review, EPIC and North Group, Redwood Chapter Sierra Club seek to remand the permit back to the Regional Water Quality Control Board with instructions to protect clean water and ensure public participation.

 

 


Gap Fire Report

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
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Old-growth snag forests at the headwaters of Buckhorn Creek on the Siskiyou Crest are proposed for clearcut logging. Small snag patches like this one would be accessed with "temporary roads," tractor or skyline yarded, clearcut and replanted with plantations stands. Both snags and live trees would be cut. Photo courtesy of Luke Ruediger.

Old-growth snag forests at the headwaters of Buckhorn Creek on the Siskiyou Crest are proposed for clearcut logging. Small snag patches like this one would be accessed with “temporary roads,” tractor or skyline yarded, clearcut and replanted with plantations stands. Both snags and live trees would be cut. Photo courtesy of Luke Ruediger.

With recent snow on the ground, wildfire remains to be a hot topic. Headlines hype fire hysteria during summer months but no attention is paid to the extreme consequences of fire fighting. The necessary and beneficial effects to our forest ecosystems go unnoticed while a million dollars a day is being spent on putting them out. The monetary costs are easy to equate but the ecological costs are rarely publicized. To shed light on what takes place during and after a fire event, Luke Ruediger has put together a report of the Gap Fire that burned this summer on the Klamath National Forest.

Click here to get the full Gap Fire Report

The Gap Fire Report details day to day happenings of the military style of the fire industrial complex and highlights; significant weather events, fire severity and mosaic, impacts from past forest management on fire behavior, suppression impacts, fireline construction and rehabilitation, back-burning, retardant use, botanical impacts and the spread of noxious weeds, costs of fire suppression, the post-fire logging proposal and the importance of restorative fire management.


Three Victories for the Crown and Coast of California!

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
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Lost Coast Headlands. Photo courtesy of Mark Harris

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is expanded to 100,000 acres! Before leaving office, President Obama added 48,000 acres to the monument, which lies mostly in southwestern Oregon and now includes 5,000 acres in Northern California. The expansion will provide vital habitat connectivity and added landscape scale protection. The convergence of three geologically distinct mountain ranges, the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyous, has created a truly unique landscape, home to many rare and endemic plants and animals. It is the first monument set aside solely for the preservation of biodiversity.

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Trinidad Head. Photo courtesy of Mark Harris

The California Coastal National Monument now includes six new sites totaling over 6,230 acres. Three of them are in Humboldt County, Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch and 440 acres of Lost Coast Headlands south of Eureka and the Eel River. The other areas include the 5,785-acre Cotoni-Coast Dairies parcel on the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Piedras Blancas lighthouse in San Luis Obispo County; and offshore rocks and small islands off the Orange County coast. The monument designation ensures the protection of all islets, reefs and rock outcroppings along the entire 1,100-mile long coastline of California within 12 nautical miles.

A recent Public Land Order has secured a 20-year Mineral Withdrawal just north of the state border in the Klamath Mountains. Covering 100,000 acres of land managed by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and Bureau of Land Management the order will protect some of the region’s most pristine rivers from large-scale strip mining and new mineral development, although it does not prohibit ongoing or future mining operations on valid pre-existing mining claims. The defining characteristic of the proposal is the Wild and Scenic North Fork of the Smith River, which originates in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and runs through the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area.

The crown of California, also known as the Siskiyou Crest, is an extremely ecologically important east to west biological corridor that straddles our neighboring state of Oregon. With the newly designated National Monument to the east and added protections for roadless lands to the west, the crown jewel of the state just got wilder! Together in combination with the addition of the culturally significant areas along the coast to monumental status is a real win for the people, plants and wildlife of our wild places.


BLM Seeking Input for Public Land Management in NW CA

Monday, January 9th, 2017
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The Bureau of Land Management will be holding public scoping meetings to seek comments to help shape the Northwest California Resource Management Plan (NCIMP) and Environmental Impact Statement for public land management over the next 15 to 20 years. The plan process is expected to take up to four years to complete and would govern 400,000 acres of public lands and resources in Del Norte, Siskiyou, Shasta, Humboldt, Mendocino, Trinity, Tehama and Butte counties. Several meetings will be held throughout the region, including one in Eureka on Wednesday, January 11th at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center at 911 Waterfront Drive from 5 to 7 p.m. Other meetings will be held in Redding, Weaverville, Garberville, Willits, Chico and Yreka.

The planning area includes lands that are comprised of wilderness trails, hunting areas, off-highway riding areas, mountain bike trails and scenic vistas. Many of these lands provide habitat for fish and wildlife, as well as resource uses including mining, timber production, livestock grazing, and firewood collecting. Click here to find background documents that provide information about the planning area.

Specific areas of interest include Elkhorn Ridge, South Fork Eel River, Yolla Bolly, Middle Eel Ishi and Yuki Wilderness Areas as well as Samoa Dunes Recreation Area, Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, Lost Coast Headlands and Ma-l’el Dunes. We are urging our members to come out and advocate for habitat connectivity on these public lands as well as the protection of wildlife and vital ecosystems that could be affected by the plan.

We encourage our members to provide specific landscape-level comments and rationale including how you would like to see these places managed

Click here to comment and or find a meeting near you.


Public Land Giveaway

Monday, January 9th, 2017
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Sally Bell GroveOn the first day of Congress, the House of Representatives made it easier to give away public lands. In passing a “rules package”—the rules that are supposed to govern the rules for the 115th Congress—House Republicans included a provision that allows for the transferring of public lands without an accounting of the value that these lands provide.

Previously, rules required the Congressional Budget Office, a research arm of Congress, to determine how much a transfer would cost the U.S. Treasury by calculating the potential lost revenue from grazing fees or timber sales. Before a transfer could be approved, Congress would need to make budget cuts in other federal programs equivalent to the value of the land. The new rule change assumes that public lands are literally worthless, thereby eliminating the budgetary barrier to transfer land.

“It is alarming that giving away our public lands is apparently among the top priorities for this new Congress,” said Tom Wheeler, Program Director at EPIC. “Attempting to slip sneaky language into little-read legislation is not going to fly. We are watching.”

Our public lands are our nation’s key jewel, what filmmaker Ken Burns called, “America’s best idea.” Not only are our public lands a source of beauty and a backyard for recreation, they are key wildlife habitat and the source of clean drinking water. Public polling has shown that the vast majority of Americans are opposed to giving away our public lands, which helps to explain why Congress is trying to hide their actions in seemingly innocuous and mundane legislation.

Also worrisome, Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Ryan Zink (R-MT) voted for the rule change. Zink has previously stated that he is opposed to transferring ownership of federal lands to states, tribes, or private entities and his office said that, despite the vote, his position has not changed. To be fair, the land transfer provision was part of a larger rules package which included many other measures.


State Initiates Pilot Watershed Study of Timber Harvest Plan Process

Monday, January 9th, 2017
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The State of California has initiated the first of three planning watershed-scale pilot studies to evaluate the adequacy utility, and methods of representation and assessment of information that informs the modern-day Timber Harvest Plan review process. The Campbell Creek Planning Watershed Pilot Project is a subsidiary to the larger Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Program that was created in the wake of 2012’s Assembly Bill 1492, that calls for ensuring efficiency, accountability, and transparency in the THP process, and the eventual development of “Ecological Standards and Performance Measures,” to ensure the overall effectiveness of the THP administration program.

The concept behind the Planning Watershed Pilot Project study is to evaluate pre-existing information in Timber Harvest Plans over history in a specific planning watershed and to then “truth” the value, utility, clarity, and representation of the information against the physical on-the-ground conditions in the watershed via field examination. The study will evaluate the ability of the information as represented to accurately depict field conditions, identify and design mitigation measures, and to identify restoration opportunities and prioritization of restoration activities and funds. The Planning Watershed Pilot Project study is the brain-child of long-time EPIC associate, Richard Gienger.

The Planning Watershed Pilot Project study for Campbell Creek, a tributary to the Ten Mile River in Central Coastal Mendocino County, is being conducted by the Planning Watershed Pilot Project Working Group. The Working Group is comprised of an agency leadership team, a team of agency technical staff, and an appointed group of non-governmental stakeholders, including land owners, Registered Professional Foresters, scientists, fisheries restorationists, environmental non-profits including EPIC, and a tribal liaison from the Pomo tribe. The concept of having “multi-disciplinary” team and approach to evaluation is critical to the premise of the pilot project concept.

Another, though understated objective of the Planning Watershed Pilot Project study, is to evaluate the ability of existing information in the THP process to inform and guide methods of assessment and develop necessary mitigations to address cumulative environmental impacts of past and contemporary timber harvesting activities on private lands in the State.

The Pilot Project Working Group held its first meeting in Fort Bragg in December 2016. The location allows for easy access to field site visits in the Campbell Creek watershed on its timberlands. Timberlands in Campbell Creek are presently primarily under the ownership of Lyme Timber. Lyme is a Timber Investment Management Organization (TIMO), and is the successor to Campbell Global, itself a TIMO. Campbell Global acquired the property from Georgia-Pacific Corporation. The Ten Mile River in Central Coastal Mendocino County is one of the last vestiges of remaining native wild-run coho salmon in the Central California Coast, and is thus a critical watershed for study and assessment of restoration opportunities.

The Planning Watershed Pilot Project study concept has been subject of other legislative efforts in the past that subsequently failed, but is now built into the rubric of the larger Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Program, with the hope that the study will contribute valuable information to the larger program, and aid in the development of Ecological Standards and Performance Measures. Ecological Standards and Performance Measures can be thought of as “Thresholds of Significance,” in the CEQA parlance, a set of objectives and measureable criteria to aid in the identification and avoidance of adverse cumulative environmental impacts from timber harvest and related activities on private lands in the State.

EPIC’s participation in the Planning Watershed Pilot Project Working Group is a circling back to the landmark 1986 court decision, EPIC v. Johnson, in which EPIC sued CAL FIRE for approving the logging of old-growth in the Sally Bell Grove in what is now the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, without evaluating the cumulative impacts of successive harvests and the subsequent cumulative loss of old-growth forests.

While EPIC prevailed in forcing private forestry to be subject to evaluation of cumulative impacts via the creation of the modern-day cumulative impacts assessment process in the Forest Practice Rules, the requirements are weak at best, and in the present-day have resulted in little more than cut-and-paste boiler-plate conclusionary statements that are passed off as an “evaluation,” to support a finding of no cumulative impacts. In the 30 years since EPIC v. Johnson, CAL FIRE has never denied a Timber Harvest Plan on the basis of a finding of adverse cumulative impacts, despite the wide-spread loss of old-growth, continued declines in populations of threatened and endangered fish and wildlife, the listing of almost every major North Coast stream as water quality impaired, and now the advent of global climate change.

Long-time EPIC associate, Richard Gienger, has been advocating for a truly multi-disciplinary evaluation of the THP process and the information upon which is predicated for decades, and his vision and prints are all over the concept and structure of the Planning Watershed Pilot Project study and the Planning Watershed Pilot Project Working Group. The Pilot Project study is a foundational element to building an understanding and developing an information-based critique of the current process, identifying opportunities for much-needed reform.

40 years, and still going strong, EPIC is working as hard as ever to protect our forests, fish, air, water and wildlife against the damaging impacts of industrial-scale timber harvest on private forestlands in the State. Far from being finished, EPIC will hang tough and stay strong and vigilant in working for the place we love and call home.


California Wolf Plan Sets Road Map for Conserving Small Population

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
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California Wolf Pups. Courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Two Breeding Pairs for Two Straight Years Could Trigger Reduced Protections

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has released its final plan to guide conservation and management of a small population of gray wolves well into the future. One of the strengths of the plan, which was released late Tuesday, is its emphasis on nonlethal methods to deter conflicts with livestock. But it would also seek to reduce wolves’ federal protection status from “endangered” to “threatened” when the population reaches a threshold of only two breeding pairs for two consecutive years — far fewer than what independent scientists say is needed for a secure population.

In response to public comments on the proposed wolf plan, the agency stepped back from plans to initiate delisting of wolves once their population reached only 50 to 75 wolves. The agency also included in the final plan additional, current, best available scientific literature on key issues such as the vital ecological role of wolves.mmm

But conservation groups say the final plan should have included specific protections to shield wolves from clearly identifiable threats such as being mistaken for coyotes during coyote-killing contests. And the plan failed to identify key wolf habitat conservation priorities like connectivity corridors crucial to building healthy, sustainable populations — a feature that would benefit not only wolves but other California wildlife as well. The plan also proposes to initiate aggressive management actions, which could include killing wolves, for ungulate population declines “presumed to be influenced by wolf predation” without a scientific assessment to determine if wolves, in fact, are the cause.

“Because California is only in the early stages of wolf recovery, we need to give these animals a chance to become established in sustainable numbers rather than prematurely rushing to end protections that are vital to their survival,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But we support the plan’s initial emphasis on restoring wolves to the Golden State and reliance on nonlethal methods to reduce loss of livestock.”

This month marks the five-year anniversary of the arrival in California of wolf OR-7, the first known wild wolf in the state in 87 years. His arrival launched the development of a state wolf plan with input from a stakeholder group representing conservation, ranching and sports-hunting interests. OR-7 eventually returned to Oregon, where he found a mate and has since sired three sets of pups. In August 2015 state wildlife officials confirmed the establishment of California’s first wolf family in nearly a century: the Shasta pack in Northern California’s Siskiyou County. And just last month, a pair of wolves was confirmed in western Lassen County. DNA-testing of scat collected from the pair shows that the male is a young adult from one of OR-7’s litters, while the female is of unknown origin.

“The ongoing arrival of wolves in California is cause for celebration and makes the state wolf plan’s provisions all the more important,” stated Kimberly Baker, public land advocate for the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). “Wolf recovery will bring the essence of wild back to California and reiterates the need for landscape connectivity.”

The plan proposes a phased management approach, in which establishment of four wolf packs for two consecutive years will trigger consideration of more aggressive management of conflicts. After establishment of eight wolf packs for two consecutive years, management actions will become even less protective of wolves. Conservation groups say the reduced protections come too quickly under the plan, and call for an ongoing emphasis on time-proven, research-based nonlethal measures to minimize conflicts with livestock.

“It’s exciting that nonlethal methods of reducing wolf-livestock conflicts are such a foundational element of this plan, because we know they work,” said Damon Nagami, a senior attorney in NRDC’s Land and Wildlife Program. “We want to give these magnificent animals every possible chance to survive and thrive here in California. So we look forward to working with the Department to ensure that happens.”

The agency received significant public input last year when it released a draft plan for public comment. Changes requested included the need to acknowledge the best available current science on managing conflicts, social tolerance, the importance of protecting wolves from illegal killings, and wolves’ critical ecological role. During the comment period, 19 conservation organizations submitted a joint comment letter on behalf of 2.9 million California residents highlighting 27 key issues of concern in the draft plan. The vast majority of Californians wants wolves protected and also fully supports the joint efforts of the state, conservation groups, ranchers and hunters to implement nonlethal conflict-prevention measures.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment.

Sierra Club California promotes the preservation, restoration, and enjoyment of California’s environment, and enables chapters and grassroots activists to speak as one voice to promote California conservation.

Click here to view the official Press Release, which includes press contacts.


Horse Creek Project: Losing Taxpayer Money to Harm Spotted Owls

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
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Low severity fire in upper Buckhorn Creek. Small snag patches such as this one in upper Buckhorn Creek are being targeted for logging by the KNF. The damage to soils, forest regeneration, and habitat complexity will degrade some of the watershed's only remaining old-growth forest. Photo courtesy of Luke Ruediger www.siskiyoucrest.blogspot.com

Low severity fire in upper Buckhorn Creek. Small snag patches such as this one in upper Buckhorn Creek are being targeted for logging by the KNF. The damage to soils, forest regeneration, and habitat complexity will degrade some of the watershed’s only remaining old-growth forest. Photo courtesy of Luke Ruediger www.siskiyoucrest.blogspot.com.

Take Action Now: Meet the Horse Creek Project, the Klamath’s new boondoggle that will log sensitive areas while losing taxpayer money. (There’s something in it for everyone to hate!)

The Klamath National Forest cannot let a fire go to “waste.” Following the 2016 Gap Fire, the Klamath National Forest is trying to log areas that should be off-limits: Late Successional Reserves, forests set aside from commercial timber harvest so that they can develop into old-growth forests; Riparian Reserves, areas around streams that are supposed to be off-limits to logging to prevent water pollution; and northern spotted owl habitat. The Klamath National Forest argues that logging large diameter snags, (which will stand for decades until new forests grow up around them all the while providing critical wildlife habitat) is good for the forests and for wildlife—paradoxical logic that has been rejected by both science and the courts.

If history is any guide, the Klamath National Forest will lose money in logging owl habitat—what’s known in Forest Service parlance as a “deficit sale.” Burned forests are worth more to owls and fishers than they are to timber mills. To make a profit, timber companies need to purchase trees from the Klamath National Forest for next to nothing. In several timber sales from earlier this year, the Klamath National Forest sold a logging truck’s worth of timber for about $2.50—less than the price of a cup of coffee. The Klamath will lose untold thousands or millions of dollars on this timber sale, money that could go to protecting local communities or improving wildlife habitat.

The Klamath National Forest has also tied important measures such as the removal of roadside hazard trees and the reduction of fuels near private property, to the controversial logging units. By doing so, the Klamath National Forest will not only delay this important work by several months through more complicated environmental review, but may tie up this work for years in court.

EPIC urges the Klamath to focus on the priorities. Protect local communities and drop logging in Late Successional Reserves, Riparian Reserves, and occupied owl habitat.

Take Action Now: Let the Forest Service know you oppose losing taxpayer money to log sensitive areas.


Water Board Buckles under Pressure in Fight to Protect Elk River

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
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Courtesy of Elk River Residents.

Flooded home. Courtesy of Elk River Residents.

Although the dust is still settling from the eight hours of hearing in Eureka last week, it is clear that the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board members chose to defer to acquiesce to pressure from Humboldt Redwood Company and CAL FIRE instead of protecting, people, property, and water quality in Upper Elk River. The Regional Board, after months of delay, finally acted to adopt a new water quality control permit for Humboldt Redwood Company’s timber operations in the Upper Elk River watershed last week, but the product approved represents a gutted shell of the proposal that was originally brought for by staff earlier this year. The new water quality control permit does not contain sufficient control measures to prevent sediment pollution and is unlikely to lead to the attainment of water quality objectives specified in the watershed remediation and recovery plan adopted by the Board for Upper Elk River in May 2016.

Last week represented the third attempt by the Regional Board to adopt new regulations to control sediment pollution from Humboldt Redwood Company timber operations in the severely impacted Upper Elk River watershed. The proposed order brought to the Board members for consideration by staff last week has been systematically watered-down with each failed attempt at adoption at the behest of Board members. Any remaining value to the Proposed Order was gutted by Board members, from the dais, via successive motions, with no opportunity for public input.

In May 2016, the Regional Board finally adopted a 14-year delinquent watershed remediation and recovery strategy, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), in which it established that no further controllable sediment from human activities could be authorized due to the well-documented lack of capacity in the Upper Elk River to assimilate further pollution. Yet, the water quality control permit adopted by the Regional Board to control Humboldt Redwood Company timber operations and their contributions to sediment pollution in the watershed will clearly not attain the goal of a ‘zero’ addition to the sediment pollution problem.

EPIC has fought for Elk River for over 20 years and will continue to fight. EPIC and our allies are presently studying the order adopted last week and are evaluating possible redress options. EPIC will not stand by and allow the disinclination of individual Board members to regulate timber operations and their contributions to water quality pollution to win out over the mandates of the law, science, conscious, and plain common-sense.


Trump Administration Troubling for Public Lands

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
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trump-digs-coal-the-guardianOur nation’s public lands are more than just pretty places. Our public lands provide clean drinking water, are “home” to wildlife, clean our air and sequester carbon dioxide, and are the backyard in which we play. They are the crown jewel of America and our greatest legacy we pass down through generations. The Trump Administration is a threat to our public lands.

Trump says that he wants to “drain the swamp.” EPIC has two problems with this. First, it’s a bad turn of phrase—doesn’t he know that wetlands are critically important? Second, Trump is filing his administration with the same Washington insiders and industry apologists that already plague our political system.

Two picks in particular, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, are the most important to our public lands

The Department of the Interior

Trump’s choice for the Department of the Interior could be his most impactful. Within the Department of the Interior are three major landowners: the Bureau of Land Management, which owns forest and rangeland across the West, and has earned the moniker the “Bureau of Livestock and Mining” do to the coziness with the ranching and mining communities; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who are not only charged with implementing the Endangered Species Acts, but also manage our federal wildlife refuge system, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and the National Park Service, the crown jewel of America’s public lands.

The consensus frontrunner for the job is Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma. Gov. Fallin is a cheerleader for the oil and gas industry. Her track record as Governor is scary. She’s questioned climate change, outlawed local jurisdictions from regulating fracking, cut taxes on Big Oil (at the expense of public schools), and signed an executive order stating that Oklahoma would not follow the Obama power plant regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If her record is any indication, our public lands may be auctioned off to the highest bidder. As Governor, she shuttered 18 parks; reducing the number of public outdoor spaces from 50 to 32 in a single day. In 2005, as Lieutenant Governor, she spearheaded an effort to sell 750 acres of Lake Texoma State Park to private developers—who just happened to be campaign contributors—to construct a billion dollar resort on the lake.

There have been other rumored candidates. Harold Hamm and Forrest Lucas, both oil and gas company executives, have been floated. From the Bundy public lands giveaway camp, Rob Bishop—the chief agitator in favor of giving away public lands and gutting the Endangered Species Act—is a favored candidate. Donald Trump Jr., a trophy hunter himself*, is another potential pick and could be the most pro-conservation pick. (What a world where I cross my fingers for Trump Jr. to be elevated into a position of power!)

Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Forest Service is, somewhat surprisingly, within the Department of Agriculture. This is an anachronism from when our federal forests were concerned primarily with timber production and not the full suite of values, from recreation to wildlife that our forests are now charged with promoting.

Most rumored candidates are from Big Ag. At the moment, there isn’t a clear frontrunner. Names that have been floated include Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Chuck Conner, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under George W. Bush. Both men are not from the West and issues of forestland management are unlikely to be at the top of their minds.

While most of the rumored candidates are from the world of Big Ag, that doesn’t mean our forestlands will be safe. For years, logging lobbyists have been crowing that federal environmental laws have been at the expense of good paying jobs, and that if we “streamline” laws, we can have “healthy forests” and “healthy communities.” Expect assaults on NEPA and expectations to “get the cut out.”

*EPIC is not opposed to hunting, per se, but is opposed to trophy hunting.


Westside Update: EPIC Before Ninth Circuit to Defend Owl, Coho Habitat

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
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westside-legal-team-sf-11-15-16EPIC was back in court on Tuesday before to stop the Westside Timber Sale, a series of clearcuts totaling around 6,000 acres on steep and unstable slopes above the Klamath River near Happy Camp, CA. EPIC was before the Ninth Circuit challenging the denial of a temporary restraining order sought last spring. Logging has continued all summer, resulting in the destruction of northern spotted owl habitat. There is no timetable for a decision.

While much of the logging may be completed before a court ever rules on the merits of the case, EPIC is committed to seeing this litigation through. The Westside Timber Sale sets a dangerous precedent, especially as we expect illegal logging projects like Westside to increase under a Trump administration.

EPIC filed this lawsuit because of concerns to wildlife, including the northern spotted owl, coho salmon, and the Pacific fisher. The logging will destroy northern spotted owl habitat, resulting in the “take” of up to 103 owls—2% of the total species population. Logging will result in more sediment being released into the already overloaded Klamath River. Karuk fisheries experts have testified that they believe that the logging could result in the localized extinction of coho salmon in the mid-Klamath watershed. Logging is also set to take the large trees that the Pacific fisher needs. EPIC is currently in litigation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its failure to protect the fisher under the Endangered Species Act as the fisher is in continued decline because of logging projects like Westside.

Courthouse News – 9th Circuit Urged to Stop NorCal Logging Project