Take a moment to help safeguard the Wild and Scenic Smith River. Public comments are being accepted by the Oregon Water Resources Department to protect the Smith River watershed in Curry County, Oregon for instream purposes. The classification would provide protection for fish, wildlife and recreation. Click here to send a letter of support for this very important action.
By Felice Pace, Coordinator for the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California
This fall for the seventh straight year volunteers with the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing are on the ground in Northern California’s national forests documenting the manner in which public land grazing is being managed or, as is usually the case, mis-managed. What is different this year is that we have video documentation available online. Check out the public land grazing videos on my You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Unofelice .
Here is our most recent grazing video, from the Carter Meadows Allotment:
Once again volunteer monitors are finding that water quality has been degraded, riparian areas and other wetlands are damaged and wildlife values are sacrificed all to the benefit of private livestock operations. EPIC sponsors the Project and EPIC donors fund my work using the Project’s documentation to push for grazing management reform.
Even when it is well managed, livestock grazing, like all human activities, entails some environmental impact. But proper application of modern grazing management practices and systems, including regular herding, spring and riparian protection, and rest-rotation grazing, can limit those impacts in order to comply with the Clean Water Act and other applicable laws, plans and regulations.
Unfortunately, Forest Service and BLM managers do not require modern grazing management; instead they condone the long-discredited practice known in range management circles as passive, season-long grazing. When using this grazing non-system, livestock owners move their animals, which are typically cattle but may be sheep, horses, goats or even llamas, to meadows and headwater basins on national forest or BLM-managed public lands at the beginning of the grazing season. The owners don’t herd or move their livestock again until the snow flies and it is time to take the animals back to the home ranch or to a feed lot; most owners don’t even visit the grazing allotments on which their animals are grazing for the entire three to six month grazing season.
Left unherded for months on end, livestock in general and cattle in particular find locations they prefer and remain there until all available forage and desirable browse has been consumed. That invariably leads to degradation of water quality, riparian areas, meadows, wetlands and wildlife habitat.
Rural westerners have a colorful term for this type of management; they call it Christopher Columbus Grazing because ranchers release their cattle onto the public lands in spring or summer and don’t discover them again until snow drives the livestock to lower elevation, which is typically sometime in the fall.
Passive Season-Long Grazing often results in cattle grazing for long periods in the headwater basins of forest streams, including many within designated wilderness as well as within key salmon watersheds. When headwater springs, seeps, wet meadows and streambanks are trampled every year for 3 or more months the result is hydromodification: streams become broader and shallower and the water table drops; riparian vegetation is damaged or removed; wetlands dry out and eventually disappear and late summer and fall base flow in streams below is reduced. In this way, grazing in Northern California’s wilderness headwater basins is producing negative consequences for salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout, tailed frogs, Pacific Giant salamanders and the other critters that depend on cold, high quality water. It is ironic that those wilderness basins which should be producing the nation’s highest quality water are so often degraded and diminished as a result of unmanaged grazing.
Working for Reform
To reverse the degraded condition of Northern California’s grazing allotments, the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing aims to change the way public land grazing is managed. Over the course of the past seven years we’ve produced 27 Grazing Monitoring Reports on 17 national forest grazing allotments located within three national forests. Each report contains recommendations to Forest Service managers, as well as state and federal regulators, on the changes needed to improve grazing management in order to comply with the Clean Water Act, the National Forest Management Act, and other applicable laws, plans and regulations You can read or download these reports, as well as our annual reports and presentations on Dropbox at this link.
The Project uses photo and field documentation of grazing management problems to advocate that Forest Service managers require that owners of livestock grazing on our national forests implement modern grazing management systems and techniques in order to protect water quality, as well as fish and wildlife habitat. We also use documentation produced by others, including water quality monitoring findings and reports produced by the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation. And we constantly invite Forest Service managers and those who hold public land grazing permits to join with us in a collaborative approach to grazing reform.
However, in spite of seven years advocating public land management reform and clear documentation indicating that current management is not protecting water quality, riparian areas and wetlands, Forest Service officials have so far refused to make the management changes that are clearly needed. And so the Project, EPIC and the Project’s other sponsors have begun to raise the stakes. We are now going over the heads of the District Rangers who are responsible for assuring proper grazing management to the regional forester and state water quality officials, asking them to intervene to require grazing management reform. And we are considering filing a complaint with the Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General as well as strategic litigation to force the needed reforms.
Forest Serviced grazing managers have stuck their heads in the sand and refuse to see the obvious problems with the manner in which national forest grazing is managed. We aim to force them to remove their heads from the sand and do what is right. If grazing is going to continue on our public lands, managers must require the modern grazing management methods needed to limit negative impacts to water quality, riparian areas, wetland habitats, aquatic species and terrestrial wildlife.
Why not volunteer?
The Project To Reform Public Land Grazing wants more volunteers so that we can monitor more grazing allotments on more Northern California national forests and on BLM administered public land. As the Project’s coordinator, I go out with new volunteers onto grazing allotments they choose to teach them how the Project documents grazing management problems. Volunteers can then monitor on their own or join the Project’s monitoring expeditions into wilderness areas and on other Northern California public lands.
If you would like to volunteer with the Project, or just learn more about what we do and why we do it, give me a call at 707-954-6588. And whether or not you volunteer with the Project, please report to the Project and to EPIC the negative impacts of grazing which you observe while recreating or working on our public lands. If you will share them with us, we pledge to take up your concerns with the Forest Service or BLM managers who are supposed to make sure public land grazing is done responsibly. Use the “Contact Us” link on this web page for a range of contact options.
Public land grazing is deeply entrenched; arguably it is our most intractable public land management problem nation-wide. But by raising the profile of the poor manner in which public land grazing is managed, enlisting Clean Water and other regulators to also advocate for management reform, recruiting other citizens to get involved on-the-ground as reform advocates, and by refusing to accept bad and discredited grazing management, we believe public land grazing can and will be reformed.
If modern grazing management technologies and regular herding were required, those owners unwilling to devote the energy needed to properly manage their livestock on public lands would voluntarily relinquish their grazing permits; those who remain would put in the time and energy required to manage grazing responsibly. That is the Project’s goal: if grazing is to continue on the public’s land it must be managed responsibly.mmm
The Environmental Protection Information Center proudly presents the 39th Annual EPIC Fall Celebration at the Mateel Community Center on Friday, November 4, 2016. This year EPIC will honor Greg King with the Sempervirens Award and feature some of our favorite local musicians: Joanne Rand, Woven Roots and Object Heavy.
6PM: doors open for cocktail hour with music by Joanne Rand
7PM: Sempervirens Award Ceremony honoring Greg King will be accompanied by a gourmet vegetarian dinner catered by Uniquely Yours.
9PM: Music by Woven Roots and Object Heavy
SEMPERVIRENS AWARD CEREMONY:
This year, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Headwaters campaign, and the 20 year anniversary of the largest forest protection actions ever, we thought that it would be most appropriate to honor Greg King for dedicating a lifetime of work to environmental activism. Greg discovered Headwaters Grove, named it, and was the impetus for the Campaign to Save Headwaters Forest. He is now the Director at Siskiyou Land Conservancy where he continues his efforts to protect the environment throughout the region.
JOANNE RAND For 30 years visionary songsmith Joanne Rand has brought her “Psychedelic-Folk-Revival” across the United States. Matrix Magazine calls Rand’s stage presence “electrifying,” Portland Southeast Examiner calls her “An unforgettable force of nature,” and the N.Y.Times-owned Santa Rosa PD called Rand’s music “Nothing short of brilliant.” This year Rand released her 14th CD of original songs, Still a Real World, co-produced with Stephen Hart (David Bowie, White Stripes, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan) and featuring violinist Jenny Sheinman (David Byrne, Ani DiFranco, Norah Jones).
WOVEN ROOTS harmonizes rich roots reggae and dub styles from the deep wilderness of Humboldt county. Inspiration for the powerful lyrics and beats comes from living close to the earth in the beautiful woodlands of the Pacific Northwest. This young group of musical visionaries are on a quest to create original music using nature as a model of how to maintain the continuity of life on earth. Stepping away from the mainstream path of exploitative and destructive technologies of advanced industrial economies, Woven Roots seeks to use music as a vessel to spread a message of love and understanding for our planets finite resources.
OBJECT HEAVY is one of our local bands based out of Arcata, California. Their music draws from the sound of soul music. Inspired by the parameters of Rock, Funk, Blues, R&B and Hip Hop, the band features Two voices which really capture their versatility with lyrics, reminding us of a world in need, a world to love and a place to be free. Their self-titled 1st album features Bill Summers, percussionist of the acclaimed “HeadHunters”. DJ Logic shows up on two tracks, and you’ll get to hear the Legendary Fred Wesley with his signature trombone.
You can purchase tickets for this not to be missed event at Wildberries Market Place, Redway Liquor or online at Brown Paper Tickets: http://
$60 for dinner, awards and music beginning at 6pm or
$20 for music only after 9pm.
If you can volunteer or if you have an item that you can donate for our silent auction, we would love to hear from you! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 707-822-7711.
Please join, share and invite your friends to the event on Facebook 🙂
We can’t wait to see all of you there!
Kimberly, Natalynne, Amber, Tom & Rob
By Rob DiPerna
Former U.S. President, and patriarch of American Wilderness, Theodore Roosevelt, said, “Believe that you can do something and you are half way there.” On a recent Saturday, seventeen-and-a-half years after the Headwaters Forest Reserve was established as a part of the BLM National Conservation Lands system, I had the distinct honor of guiding a group of individuals who had fought hard to save this place from the saw. This was the very first hike ever into Headwaters for some of the 50 hikers who had spearheaded the Campaign to Save Headwaters Forest from 1986-1999.
There is so much that remains so completely unlikely and unbelievable about the Headwaters Forest Reserve, for myself, and for just about everyone else I spoke with on the hike and over that weekend. First, the fact that there is such a thing as the Headwaters Forest Reserve is still very astounding and quite unbelievable in many respects. And the fact that there is the Reserve, and that the Reserve has a community-docent program, and that I, of all people am one of them, is a story that had it been told by basecamp bonfires 20 years ago, simply no one, myself included, would have ever believed it.
I moved to Humboldt County in the spring of 1997, and almost immediately found myself embroiled in the struggle to Save Headwaters Forest; 19 years later, I was at the head of the line, opening the locked logging gate at Newburg Road in Fortuna, which had been the site of thousands of arrests over the two decades of the struggle. On this day I was there to legally take into the Reserve 50 of the people who worked to protect Headwaters many for whom it was the very first time.
I was quite moved and astounded to find that this tremendous community with a fighting spirit and a heart of gold was grateful that I am among those serving as an educational docent for Headwaters in the present-day. It seemed to give many comfort in knowing that the Reserve they fought so hard to create was in good hands, and that the spirit and legacy of the Campaign to Save Headwaters Forest is being carried forward in the Reserve, and on into the future.
As Margret Mead wrote, “Never doubt that a small, dedicated group of people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The Headwaters Forest Reserve is a testament to the spirit of this principle manifested, and for many of us that attended this hike into the old-growth, we have finally made it all the way home, at long last.
By Kimberly Baker
The Klamath National Forest (KNF) repeatedly stated in its Westside documents that all legacy trees would be kept standing. From what we have seen, KNF has been cutting and removing these biological legacies at a rapid pace and more are threatened.
Legacy trees, i.e. old growth snags and live trees are defined as disproportionately large diameter trees that are often remnants of the previous stand on a given site. They are old standing trees that have persisted on the landscape after man-made and natural disturbances. For example, large trees containing one or more of the following characteristics: split or broken tops, heavy decadent branching, large mistletoe brooms, otherwise damaged to the degree that a cavity may form such as basal fire or lightning scars, or other features that indicate decay or defect. If the legacy component tree or snag was to be felled for safety reasons it was supposed to be left whole on the ground.
The alternative that KNF chose was specifically developed because of the effects of logging on spotted owl and fisher habitat, habitat connectivity, and legacy components and concerns about treatments in late-successional reserves. This alternative was chosen because it was supposed to emphasize the development of future late successional habitat, habitat connectivity, northern spotted owl habitat and legacy habitat components within the post fire landscape. It was designed to retain legacy components for future habitat development, reduce effects to owl nests, and lessen the effects of clearcut logging on watershed connectivity.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have also had concerns about the logging of legacy trees. In fact the Biological Opinion and the non-jeopardy decision for Northern spotted owls was partly based on the assumption that old growth trees would be left on the landscape. To date, the issue of removing legacy trees has not been resolved and they continue to be cut without public oversight – due to forest closure – or immediate action from the USFWS. EPIC has been communicating these concerns to the USFWS and has sent the KNF a notice of intent to litigate on this matter, which would be in addition to our current lawsuit.
Legacy tree retention is not the only issue currently going wrong with Westside implementation. In early August this year EPIC requested a visit to see if the project design features were being adequately implemented. We saw; many old growth trees stacked for hauling, no dust abatement, logging in Riparian Reserves as well as trees stacked in the reserves, damaged soils, no washing stations for equipment to deter the spread of non-native invasive plant species, roads and hillsides on the verge of wash out and more. Below is a photo gallery showing the current implementation of the Westside project, which was documented by EPIC staff on August 4th 2016.
Below is a photo gallery of legacy trees still standing, but critically threatened as they are not marked for saving, in the Grider and Cold Springs Westside Timber Sales and implementation as of August 4 in the Walker Creek watershed, which includes Walker, Salt, Slinkard and a small portion of Blue Mountain Timber Sales.
By Rob DiPerna
The year 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the citizen-lead campaign to Save Headwaters Forest, which was, at the time, the last significant old-growth redwood forest left unprotected on private forestlands in the world. Today, the 7,750-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve, located just south-east of Eureka, stands as a testament to the commitment, dedication, and visionary spirit of the thousands of every-day people who came to Humboldt County, California from all over the country and the world to protect the last remaining unprotected old-growth redwood forests in a struggle that spanned two decades.
EPIC was on the front lines of the Campaign to Save Headwaters Forest, serving as a last-line of legal defense, using the law and the courts to hold public agencies and the lawless MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Company (PL) accountable, and to protect the old-growth redwood forests in the Headwaters Forest Complex until the eventual political compromise of the 1999 Headwaters Forest Agreement could be reached. EPIC used both state and federal environmental and endangered species laws to slow the destructive march of PL’s liquidation logging and in the process established legal standards that still persist today.
EPIC’s legal strategies, combined with a massive citizen-lead movement of non-violent civil disobedience that involved thousands of arrests over the two decades of the struggle, eventually lead state and federal officials to fashion the compromise that was the 1999 Headwaters Forest Agreement, known pejoratively to forest activists as “the Deal,” with the Houston, Texas-based MAXXAM Corporation, owned by Charles Hurwitz, who orchestrated a hostile take-over of the previously family-owned Pacific Lumber Company using junk bonds acquired through the now-infamous Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980’s.
The month of September commemorates the regulatory end of seasonal nesting restriction season for logging in critical habitat for the Marbled murrelet, a small, yam-shaped seabird that stealthily nests up high in the big mossy branches of old-growth trees up and down the Pacific Northwest Coast. The end of the murrelet nesting season every September 15th meant renewed attempts by PL to log approved Timber Harvest Plans in old-growth redwood stands in the Headwaters Forest Complex, and also signaled the beginning of the so-called, salvage logging of old-growth trees in and around Headwaters Forest. Click here to see the timeline and Greg King’s amazing photo gallery of the fight to protect Headwaters.
Twenty years ago, on September 15, 1996, 6,000 people attended the rally and civil disobedience event at Fisher Gate, in Carlotta, California, with over 1,000 people arrested for trespassing in protest of the logging of the old-growth in and around Headwaters. The September 15, 1996 rally stands as the single-largest mass-civil disobedience action to protect forests ever in the United States.
Two years later, on September 17, 1998, as the Campaign to Save Headwaters Forest was nearing its conclusion, an unconscionable tragedy marred the battle to save the last of the unprotected old-growth redwood forests, as David Nathan “Gypsy,” Chain was killed by an angry Pacific Lumber Company logger who felled a tree directly at forest defenders who were attempting to slow logging adjacent to Grizzly Creek State Park, along Highway 36. This September 17th marks the 18-year anniversary of Gypsy’s death, and serves as a sobering reminder of the very real human cost of the so-called Timber Wars here in the redwoods.
EPIC and other forest activists are rallying to commemorate and remember the initiation of the Campaign to Save Headwaters Forest, on this the 30-year anniversary of the burgeoning of the movement that has shaped the lives of thousands and the fate of our rural communities in the 17-years since the consummation of the 1999 Headwaters Forest Agreement.
EPIC staff will be leading a guided tour of what is now the Headwaters Forest Reserve on Saturday, September 17, 2016. Meeting location is 10 a.m. at Newburg Park, in Fortuna, California. All are welcome! For more information, please contact: Rob DiPerna at email@example.com, or call 707-822-7711.
By Amber Shelton
This timeline of events for the Headwaters movement is in honor of the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Headwaters Campaign, and the 20th anniversary of the Headwaters Rally at Stafford that was attended by 6,000 activists. The 15th of September marks the end of the Marbled Murrelet nesting season, and the beginning of the logging season. On the 15th of September, 20 years ago, 1033 people were arrested at Fisher Gate trying to stop logging in the iconic Headwaters forest, marking the largest civil disobedience action in the history of the forest preservation movement. If you would like to learn more about the history of the Headwaters, or if you would like to get out and hike around in the Historic grove, consider joining us for the Headwaters 20 Year Anniversary Hike!
Thanks to the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters for developing the timeline below that illustrates a chronology of events relating to the Headwaters Forest Campaign, which transpired into the largest forest protection civil disobedience demonstration in history. All of the photos in the gallery below were taken by Greg King. Thank you Greg for documenting this very important piece of our history, and thanks to all of the people who worked so hard to protect these sacred forests.
Headwaters Timeline 1985-2007 courtesy of Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters
- At very end of 1985, Texas-based Maxxam Corporation takes over family-run Pacific Lumber Company (PL).
- Earth First! (EF!) chapter on north coast germinates, blossoms and bears fruit.
- Nov: Working as an investigative journalist in Sonoma County, Greg King interviews EPIC attorney Sharon Duggan, which inspires his investigation of the Maxxam takeover of Pacific Lumber.
- Feb: Greg King receives first responses to his letters of inquiry to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) to ascertain the forest types contained in the clear-cut timber harvest plans newly submitted by Pacific Lumber under Maxxam. “It is all old-growth” redwood is the universal reply.
- March: Greg King meets Darryl Cherney at an equinox gathering at Sally Bell Grove. They agree to work together to stop Maxxam.
- July: King and Cherney call a meeting and co-found Humboldt County Earth First! and plan first demonstrations.
- Oct.: First Headwaters Forest demonstration at PL office building in San Francisco includes environmental movement arch druid David Brower, as well as EF! co-founder Dave Foreman, Darryl Cherney, Karen Pickett, Greg King, representatives from the International Indian Treaty Council and EF! co-founder Mike Roselle.
- Oct: EF! California Rendezvous held near Santa Cruz.
- Oct. –Dec.: Actions in Arcata and Scotia. EF! announces a boycott of all redwood products.
- Jan: Greg King, Larry Evans, Mokai and Nina Williams begin creating the first maps showing the size and locations of PL’s ancient redwood groves.
- March: Board of Forestry actions. Greg King becomes first activist to hike through what activists were calling “the big grove.” He names it “Headwaters Forest” owing to his traversing several headwater streams in the pristine ancient redwood forest.
- April: Humboldt EF! releases “Old Growth In Crisis,” a 12-page tabloid exposing illegal timber harvest plans submitted by PL and approved by CDF. Contains centerfold map and other information about the size and locations of PL’s ancient redwood groves, the first public distribution of this information. PBS 30 minute documentary “Pacific Lumber: A Case Study of a Corporate Takeover” airs nationally.
- May: EF! stages National Day of Direct Action in five locations across the country; attempts first redwood tree-sit but climbers are caught by a PL maintenance crew.
- May: 150 people assemble at Fisher Gate in Carlotta.
- EPIC files first Headwaters lawsuit.
- PL sues 15 EF!ers
- Mendocino Environmental Center established in Ukiah by EF!ers.
- Congressman John Dingell holds hearings on PL takeover.
- Aug: Mill-in action at CDF, activists flood agency with paperwork & citizen participation. CDF responds by locking doors, closing bathrooms for good, and later raising price of THPs from $1 each to 25 cents a page, increasing cost to up to $75.
- Aug-Sept: First 2 Successful tree sits, Greg King and Marybeth Nearing (‘Tarzan & Jane”) sit in old growth, are then sued by PL.
- EPIC wins first suit. Judge agrees that CDF is “rubber-stamping” logging proposals.
- Maxxam takeover of Kaiser Aluminum, in Washington State.
- Jan: Headwaters Forest Wilderness Complex developed and proposed.
- Photojournalist Greg King creates first Headwaters slide show PL takes out full-page ads denouncing Greg King and Headwaters Forest Wilderness proposal.
- Darryl Cherney launches a run for Congress, first meets Judi Bari at the MEC, who then becomes involved in Earth First!
- More EPIC suits.
- Local grassroots initiatives. Judi Bari establishes worker outreach. IWW union organizing, and LP&GP campaigns in Mendocino. More tree sits & EF! actions.
- Workers and Dept. of Labor both sue for pension fund.
- Counter demonstrations by loggers/truckers begin. Media coverage steadily building; Outside magazine, Readers Digest, NYT, NBC, CBS.
- March: EPIC files and wins a suit against Maxxam and Simpson Timber Company.
- June: EPIC and Sierra Club file suit against the Board of Forestry and PL, leading to a unanimous California Supreme Court decision halting two Headwaters logging plans.
- Sept.: EPIC and Sierra Club stop another 230 acre THP in Headwaters Grove.
- EPIC and Sierra Club file another successful suit over a 226-acre plan in Owl Creek.
- Dec.: Day of the Living Dead Hurwitzes and the counter-demo.
- More than 40 members of Congress signed a letter to the Calif. Board of Forestry requesting a moratorium on the cutting of old growth redwoods on private land. The BofF said they would only comply with federal legislation.
- Cong. Pete Starks introduces bill to protect the ancient redwoods through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
- More EPIC suits. First NorCal EF! Road show.
- June: Violence against protesters begins: Greg King punched, Mem Hill’s nose is broken, car carrying Judi, Darryl, 5 others rear ended by logging truck.
- More tree sits!
- July: PL sues tree sitters Darryl Cherney and George Shook
- Aug.: First mass organizing & base camp: Nationwide Tree sit. Judi represents mill workers and loggers in lawsuits and worker complaints as IWW rep.
- First Forest Forever Initiative heads toward Calif. Ballot to save old growth, define sustainable logging and reform forest practices.
- Northern spotted owl listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
- EF! rips mask of Shady Deal by occupying a log truck on Hwy. 36. “Death road” into heart of biggest ancient grove is discovered on routine hike,
- April/May: Redwood Summer 1990 announced. Judi, Darryl & Greg receive three dozen death threats.
- April 24: Earth day banner hang on Golden Gate –Save This Planet: Protect Old Growth; No Fossil Fuels; Earth First!” Banner almost gets unfurled before arrests are made.
- -Seeds of peace IWW co-sponsor Redwood Summer. Strong non-violence code adopted in response to death threats.
- May: EPIC and Sierra Club sue CDF for approving 186 acre old-growth plan near All Species Grove in the Headwaters area. PL had refused to conduct wildlife surveys.
- May 24: Judi nearly killed and Darryl injured when a bomb planted in Judi’s car explodes in Oakland during a Redwood Summer Road show tour. FBI blames them for carrying bomb. Mass support for Judi, Darryl and EF! organizers flock to help. Judi continues organizing from her hospital bed. AIM, NOW, mainstream enviros and 50 others sign on to support for Judi, DC & EF!
- June-Sept. Redwood Summer – thousands of activists converge on California’s north coast to protest clearcutting of remaining ancient Redwoods.
- July: Redwood Summer continues with 4 largest EF! actions ever.
- Spotted owl listed as Threatened.
- Sept. – Dec.: Corporate Fall actions follow Redwood Summer as actioins in forest are joined by actions at the homes of corporate CEOs. Rallies at PL pres. Campbell’s house, and a “hot tub at Harry’s” action at LP’s Harry Merlo’s retreat.
- Nov.: Republican Frank Riggs, elected to congress.
- More EPIC/Sierra Club law suits.
- May, Judi & Darryl sue FBI &OPD for Constitutional rights violations.
- Redwood Summer II, 2 weeks of actions w/base camp. Lockboxes used for the first time. Judi sows first blockade since bombing. Barry Munitz, VP of Maxxam and head of failed S&L, becomes Chancellor of the CSU (Calif. State Univ. System) Road show & Protests follow. Trees Foundation Founded.
- March EPIC and Sierra club sue the Board of Forestry for approving, over CDF’s denial, a 237 acre old-growth plan in Owl Creek. The Board required PL to do a survey of Murrelets.
- Marbled Murrelet listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act
- April-June. Albion Nation uprising in Mendocino. co. Daily actions, 10 tree-sits, 15 tree sitters. Logging around Enchanted Meadow by LP stopped.
- June: PL logs in marbled murrelet habitat in Owl Creek. CDF shuts them down.
- More EPIC suits.
- LP sues 70+ people over Albion Nation Uprising.
- Nov.: Democrat Dan Hamburg defeats Frank Riggs and goes to Washington as one of the swtrongest environmental voices to enter Congress..
- Nov.: Thanksgiving weekend massacre in Owl Creek as PL again illegally enters old growth to log without sufficient permits. People run to the woods. EPIC runs to the court. After the long holiday weekend, the court stops them.
- Jan.: Congressman Dan Hamburg meets with forest activists and creates outline for a bill to save Headwaters Forest. Debt-for-nature strategy proposed as means to pay for acquisition.
- EPIC challenges PL Owl Creek logging plan in Federal Court for violating the Endangered Species Act. The case eventually leads to protection of all marbled murrelet-occupied ancient redwoods in the Headwaters area.
- PL acquires Northcoast Railroad logging rights along tracks from RR bankruptcy proceedings.
- Aug. Week of Outrage against Maxxam with base camp. First logger tree-sit. Jail Hurwitz Banner hung from Scotia and NYC to indict and sue Hurwitz. AP runs big story.
- Hamburg bill, the Headwaters Forest Act, passes the full House of Representatives, Boxer introduces bill in Senate but does not champion it, despite intense lobbying.
- Aug: Marbled Murrelet vs Pacific Lumber, EPIC’s federal case goes to trial, exposing testimony of altered, destroyed or “lost” murrelet surveys and a party using a murrelet photo as a dart board.
- Headwaters Forest Act dies for lack of a vote in the U.S. Senate.
- Feb: Judge Bechtle gives EPIC a victorious decision in the Murrelet case with a scathing decision, barring PL from logging Owl Creek (what’s left of it).
- FDIC and the Office of Thrift Supervision (part of theTreasury Dept.) file claims seeking restitution damages for the failure and $1.6 bailout of a Maxxam-controlled Saving and Loan.
- March 28, Judi Bari organizes emergency mass rally at Fisher gate for Headwaters as loggers are poised to begin in old growth. 400 show up. Tide turns.
- March 29, 10-day base camp opens at Swimmers Delight camp.
- May. Headwaters Forest Coordinating Committee (HFCC) forms; groups include EPIC, Trees Foundation, BACH, MEC, Bay Area EF!, North coast EF!, RAT, Greenpeace, Rose Foundation, Sierra Club.
- 2000 show up for Sept. 15 rally in Carlotta, marking the end of marbled murrelet nesting season. 263 arrested at Fisher Gate, 2 months of base camp follow with 70 arrests defending northern Headwaters Forest.
- EPIC obtains temporary injunction against salvage logging in Headwaters.
- July, Aug., & Sept. Atty. Bill Bertain’s shareholders suit from 1988 settles for $65 million. Pension Fund lawsuit scores victory.
- 60, 000 acre proposal created by HFCC.
- May HHFC members with stock do first presence of Maxxam shareholder meeting since 1987. -Coho listed as threatened in California.
- July and Aug.: Base camps for training and organizing.
- 6,000 people show up for the now-traditional Sept. 15 rally in Carlotta. 1033 arrested at Fisher Gate: the largest civil disobedience action in the history of the forest preservation movement. 2 months of base camp and mass rallies ensues.
- Sept. 29: 2000 people rally at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco and march to Feinstein’s office, calling for preservation of 60,000 acres. At rally are Mayor Willie Brown, Bob Weir and other celebs. Diane Feinstein announces negotiation of” Headwaters Agreement” with Charles Hurwitz shortly thereafter. 1500 rally in Arcata against deal.
- Salvage logging in ancient groves begins. Actions defending Owl Creek, All Species and Northern Headwaters groves continue with base camps at Swimmers, Grizzly Creek and Williams Grove.
- Nov. Nearly 350 arrests statewide, as numbers defending the forest grow
- Nov.: Forest Aid concerts with Bonnie Raitt.
- Nov.: Woody Harrelson and others scale the Golden Gate bridge to hang a banner: “Hurwitz: Aren’t Redwoods More Precious Than Gold?”
- Taxpayers for Headwaters forms and watershed residents begin organizing.
- Pacific Lumber submits first draft of their Sustainable Yield Plan (SYP).
- Dec. 31: Stafford Slide comes down on New Year’s eve: a massive wall of mud and trees, originating in a steep PL clearcut buries 5 homes. Miraculously, no one is killed.
- Rainforest Action Network, BACH, Greenpeace and others start old-growth redwood boycott campaign with a press conference in LA that includes Steven Seagal, Ed Asner, Bob Weir, Max Headroom.
- March 2: We lose Judi Bari to breast cancer. Movement stunned and saddened. 1000+ attend her memorial.
- May: Huge rally in Houston and 20+ activists meet and talk to Hurwitz at annual shareholder meeting.
- Sept. – Dec. Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) begin hearings against Maxxam for failed S & L.
- Sept. 14:-8,000 strong at largest rally ever for Headwaters at Stafford. Mickey Hart, Bob Weir and Bonnie Raitt perform, Jerry Brown speaks. The action involves hundreds of people helping sandbag people’s homes near the huge logging-caused slide.
- Sept. – Nov.: Base Camp at Stafford. 3 longest ever tree-sits begin. Many lockdowns and actions in Bear Creek, Bell Creek and Stafford. Three “Pepper spray by Q-tip” incidents put Headwaters and EF! back in national media spotlight. Over 160 arrested.
- Stafford and Elk River residents sue PL over slides, silt and floods.
- Nov.: Clinton signs Headwaters Appropriation.
- Dec. 10: Julia Butterfly begins treesit in Stafford Giant, Luna.
- Headwaters Forest Stewardship Plan crafted as an alternative management plan, showing how Headwaters Forest could be logged sustainably with key areas protected.
- Between 1995 and 1997, CDF issued at least 250 violations to PL.
- EPIC sues for Coho Salmon.
- March against Maxxam. 2 weeks action camp. Bell Creek actions, blockades and 6-month tree sit begins.
- May: Activists attend Maxxam shareholders meeting, Houston with a 35-ft. inflatable chainsaw, which is driven on a flatbed truck up to the front door.
- Aug.: Long-argued OTS suit comes to an end. Ruling on Maxxam debt to follow soon.
- Mattole actions bring in local residents as well as EF! and defending doug-fir old growth. PL files first of four “SLAPPs” (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) to harass protesters.
- Pepper spray civil suit ends in hung jury in San Francisco, activists appeal.
- California State Legislature approves $245 million for “Headwaters deal.”
- Sept. 2 week action camp begins.
- Sept. 17: Activist David “Gypsy” Chain is killed when an angry PL logger felled a huge tree on top of him in Grizzly Creek. Beginning of “Gypsy Mountain Free State”, blockades and tree-sits.
- Huge rally in Oakland at Habitat Conservation Plan hearings, over 20,000 pieces of public comment on HCP. Salmon and murrelets in attendance protest the “license to kill” endangered species that is part and parcel of the HCP, which is written into the Headwaters Deal.
- Dec. 10: Julia’s 1-year anniversary sitting in Luna.
- Dec. 12: Luna rally in Stafford, 1000+ attend rally, mass trespass. Humboldt DA refuses to prosecute PL logger for Gypsy’s death.
- After Steelworkers at Maxxam’s Kaiser Alum. Company go on strike and are then locked out, the Steelworkers and Earth First! Headwaters activists “find” each other and team up to oppose Maxxam’s anti-earth, anti-worker policies.
- Jan.: Final HCP/SYP released.
- March 1: Headwaters Deal is signed. 7500-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve is transferred to the public. HCP goes into effect. Hurwitz gets $480 million and several thousand acres of additional forestland in the Deal.
- EPIC , United Steelworkers of America and Sierra Club file suit challenging PL’s Sustainable Yield Plan.
- Dec.: After 738 days without touching the ground, Julia Butterfly descends from Luna. A conservation easement protects Luna and about 3 acres surrounding it.
- Board of Forestry rejects petition for rules to save old growth.
- March: Sacramento CDF board takeover and arrests over forests practices.
- April: Week of Action, base camp at Meyer’s Flat, Jordan Creek Blockade; Columbia helicopter crew truck lockdowns; Lockdowns at Northwest Forest and Marine (herbicide sprayers for Max/Palco)
- April: Nate Madsen graduated from Humboldt State University while in his treesit in Freshwater.
- May: Locked out Steelworkers go to Maxxam Shareholders meeting in Houston with forest activists. Rallies, marches and forums are held in Houston with David Foster and David Brower in attendance.
- June: “Hole in the Headwaters” blockade on North Fork of the Elk, THP put on hold.
- Oct.: Redway community organizes against PL logging of old growth there, community supports blockade of gate. THP put on hold.
- Oct: Nate Madsen descends his tree home, “Mariah” after nearly 2 years, when the THP expires
- Nov: David Brower dies.
- Dec: the State buys 1200 acres in Owl Creek Grove, including 400 acres of old growth for $67 million
- Maxxam and Hurwitz bring considerable pressure to bear getting his friends in Congress to lobby FDIC and OTS for dismissal of the claims and included the release of a highly inflammatory report by Rep. Pombo (R-CA) from his Resources sub-committee Special Task Force.
- 26 residents of Stafford who lost their homes or other properties to the PL-caused landslide settle their lawsuit for approximately $3.3 million, with $90,000 paid to other claimants.
- May: A crowd of forest activists and Steelworkers including Julia Butterfly and Gypsy’s mom attend Maxxam Shareholders’ meeting in Houston and organize rallies and marches.
- Wrongful death lawsuit is filed against PL by David Gypsy Chain’s family
- Administrative Law judge in Texas recommends against judgment against Maxxam and Hurwitz in the OTS case.
- PL plans sneak attack to log in the Allen Creek Grove, one of the six old growth groves set aside under protective status for 50 years under the infamous Headwaters Deal.
- Oct: PL cuts THP 520, the Hole in the Headwaters. PL files SLAPP # 3 against those trying to stop it.
- Dec: 140 loggers and millworkers are laid off as the Scotia mill is closed.
- CDF had approved 94 THPs in 2001, covering 11,000 acres, up from 6800 acres in 2000.
- Heritage Tree Preservation Act (SB 754) introduced. (ultimately dies in 2003)
- Feb: Maxxam’s Kaiser Alum. Co. files for bankruptcy
- Spring: PL begins logging on occupied marbled murrelet habitat, after high quality habitat is “released” by DFG under provisions included in the HCP.
- March: A young woman from Olympia climbs an old growth redwood in Freshwater and names it Jerry. She doesn’t come down.
- Summer: Lockdown action at PL offices in Scotia. PL files SLAPP #3 against those protesters.
- Sept. 23: Rally held to celebrate Remedy’s 6 months in Jerry. Begins action of 13 women in 13 trees for 13 days.
- Oct. 7: Sue Moloney of the Campaign for Old Growth, begins a hunger strike on the steps of the State Capitol to pressure Gray Davis to do as he said and “spare old growth trees in California from the lumberjack’s axe.”
- Oct.: Corporate raider Charles Hurwitz settles for $206,000 in the OTS case over the S & L crash that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion.
- Newly-elected Humboldt county DA Paul Gallegos files a Civil Fraud lawsuit against Pacific Lumber Co. Maxxam/PL immediately funds a recall effort against the new DA., ultimately spending over $300,000. The recall lost and Gallegos retained his position.
- Tree-sitters in the Mattole are cut out of lock boxes, as PL cuts at a rate of 1 million board feet/day, despite the court stay.
- Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo shows up on day 22 of Moloney’ fast to support her, and BACH activists deliver nearly 200 letters to Gov. Davis.
- Julia Butterfly and musician Melissa Crabtree join Moloney on day 50 without food, as former Congressman Dan Hamburg and Woody Harrelson speak out against Gov. Davis’ refusal to meet with Moloney.
- Legislators schedule a hearing to address the problem of old growth logging. Sue Moloney eats.
- Dec.: As the case to determine whether PL is in contempt of court by violating the logging stay is postponed until Feb., PL begins logging the residual old growth forest known to be the nesting habitat of the endangered Marbled murrelet
- Dec. 8: Tree-sitter Wren celebrates her 200th day in the tree.
- Floods due to PL logging damage homes adjacent to logging, sediment torrents bury trees in the Avenue of the Giants.
- Jan.: The Regional Water Quality Control Board hears from a panel of scientists who confirm in their report link between soil erosion, sedimentation of streams, polluted drinking water, landslides and floods – and the accelerated rate of logging of PL on steep unstable slopes.
- Jan: 581-acre Redwood grove in Redway is purchased from PL with help from SRL.
- Feb. Humboldt County D.A. Paul Gallegos files a $250 million lawsuit against PL alleging fraud and deceptive concealment in their submission of data during the Headwaters deal negotiations.
- March: Humboldt Co. sheriffs and hired contract climbers begin to forcibly extract tree-sitters in Freshwater. PL launches its SLAPP # 4 against the tree-sitters and other forest defenders.
- March: SYP case goes to trial
- July: Victory for EPIC, Steelworkers and SC in SYP case.
- July: Tree-sit goes up in Houston down the road from Hurwitz’s house.
- Final Management Plan for Headwaters Forest Reserve (nee Preserve) released, subject to one last comment period.
- Sept.: SB 810 passes in Calif. Legislature requiring logging plans to comply with water quality regulations, giving new and appropriate power to the Water agency.
- Sept.: The second Pepper Spray By Q-tip case filed by activists against Humboldt County police ended with a narrowly hung jury in San Francisco.
- Nov: PL submits THP to log old growth adjacent to Avenue of Giants. Treesit goes up. Ultimately, 65 acres are purchased.
- April: Third time’s the charm: the Pepper Spray By Q-tip case ends with the jury finding that the cops used excessive force when they applied pepper spray to protesters’ eyes in three separate Headwaters Forest actions.
- April: Water Quality stays logging plans in Elk and Feshwater as PL threatens bankruptcy
- Aug: Federal judge orders the FDIC, who was trying to investigate taxpayer bilking when those taxpayers had to bail out Hurwitz’s S&L to pay Hurwitz $72 million for his pain and suffering in being sued by the FDIC (even though the FDIC dropped their suit)
- Aug: PL offers “deal” to bondholders of 90% equity and $300 million in new bonds. Bondholders don’t bite. PL’s debt stands at over $700 million, close to the 1985 purchase debt.
- SLAPP suits go to trial. Many SLAPPees settle out of court to avoid the costs of court and PL abandons damages claim. PL gets $0, zip, zilch, nada from activists.
- March: PL puts about 75,000 acres up for sale, nearly 15,000 acres actively on the market and about 60,000 allegedly offered to timber companies in the area. Only the 15,000 acres are sold.
- July: Robert Manne resigns; PL hires exec George O’Brien from International Paper.
- Pacific Lumber and subsidiaries file bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy laws. Chapter 11 calls for the company in bankruptcy to reorganize its business, leaving same old, same old PL management in control for the time being. PL, true to its business as usual, created a bogus company, Scotia Development LLC in June 2006, six months before the bankruptcy filing, in Corpus Christi, Texas, so that their case will be heard in Texas
- PL files a “reorganization plan” that proposes to sell about 22,000 acres of its forestland into high end development of luxury homes they call “trophy homes” in a “kingdom”.
- Fortunately, nearly three months later, the bankruptcy judge ends PL’s exclusive position in submitting reorganization proposals. Proposals are expected in early 2008 from creditors, including the bondholders, and others, and the Mendocino Redwood Company, owned by the “Gap” Fisher family expresses interest in investing $200 million in the timber company.
By Tom Wheeler
Decision First Step Towards Recovery of the Owl
Folsom, Calif.—By a unanimous vote, the California Fish and Game Commission listed the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) under the California Endangered Species Act. The Commission’s decision ended the four year review process, first initiated by the Environmental Protection Information Center’s (EPIC) petition for listing in 2012.
The northern spotted owl is under siege on many fronts. Northern spotted owls are threatened with extinction by past and ongoing habitat loss, primarily to timber harvest, which can exacerbate competition from the aggressive and invasive barred owl. The increasingly rare and old growth forest adapted owls are now understood to be at risk from the use of rodenticides and other poisons used in large scale trespass marijuana operations, and there is increasing concern about what the impacts of climate change will be on the forest ecosystems that the owls call home.
“The listing of the northern spotted owl is one small step towards recovery,” said Tom Wheeler, Program Director at EPIC. “The owl was here long before us. It is our moral obligation to ensure that the owl will continue to roam our forests long after we are gone.”
While the northern spotted owl is found across the West Coast, California’s population is the species’ greatest stronghold. Protecting California’s owls is key to protecting the species at large.
The northern spotted owl has been listed as “threatened” under the Federal Endangered Species Act since 1990. The listing of the northern spotted owl has slowed the decline of the spotted owl but has not arrested it. Additional protections and conservation measures are necessary to stop the owl’s decline and to put it on a track to recovery.
“As evidenced by the owl’s decline, our current protections are not up to snuff,” said Rob DiPerna, Forest and Wildlife Advocate for EPIC. “I hope that all stakeholders can set aside differences and work together towards recovery.”
By Natalynne DeLapp
In light of the recent tragedy of the Orlando shootings and reoccurring attacks of the LGBTQ community, this article aims to educate how the environmentalist movement can be inclusive to LGBTQ individuals, and further ensure transinclusive dialogue through academic or non formal attempts of social and environmental sustainability. It is crucial at this point of our social and political climate to be introspective and reflective on how mainstream movements have a tendency to reflect culturally dominant ideas, and therefore exclude many of the voices that fall within the gender spectrum.
National interest upon movements changes with the seasons, and the current spotlight on trans issues, trans celebrities, and trans characters on television is no exception. It is imperative for the movement that we as a society expand our perspective to fully understand the contemporary challenges and systemic injustices that trans people face as the dialogue on trans rights explodes. It is important to acknowledge that the trans justice movement has been going on long before any celebrities made the screens, and more importantly – that trans women of color are the most victimized of hate crimes. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs concluded, “72% of hate crimes against LGBTQ people were against trans women, 90% of whom were transgender women of color”. In 2015, there were 20 documented murders of trans women of color in the United Sates, the most ever recorded. Therefore, it is devastating but accurate to assume that mass societies inability to accept or acknowledge courageous transitions within this community, reflects the lack of momentum in the overall transformation of society to environmental consciousness.
In order to comprehend the complexity of trans issues, proper use of definitions and the breakdown of pronouns must be introduced. A trans person is someone whose gender differs from the one they were assigned at birth. A cis person is someone who does not identify as a different gender than the one they have been assigned. The word cis has been popularized by the trans community, rather than using words such as “natural” ‘biological” or “normal” which illustrates a standard, in which otherwise is abnormal. Transmisogyny “is best described as the confluence of misogyny and transphobia, including negative attitudes, expressed through cultural hate, individual and state violence, and discrimination” which are targeted towards trans women and trans feminine people. Transphobia represents the intense dislike or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people. According to my research the most proper way to acknowledge transfolk is either “female-assigned” or “male-assigned”. Through this discourse one can understand that a trans women does not have a male body, her body is female regardless of medical history. As a cis gender woman, I in no way aim to silence or speak for trans women. However, I do aim to educate fellow cis environmentalists on these topics, and to continue dialogue with the trans community.
Contemporary environmentalism has long since focused on conservation, preservation, and the eradication of pollutants. Through this perspective, perceptions of “naturalness” are formed through cultural and social norms, rather than legitimate biological explanations. Unnatural or manufactured threats such as chemical pollutants then contaminate the wholesomeness of both human and ecological bodies. Although policy against pollutants and non-consensual body manipulation are reasonable, this perspective ignores and even enforces the notion that a body, human or not cannot be medically, or naturally manipulated without losing the integrity of “naturalness”. Furthermore, the hegemonic ideals of gender and sexuality are then also represented as “natural”. Environmental focused academic and research based findings then reflect this notion, and further enforce and normalize transexclusive language throughout environmentalist dialogue.
For example, in 2002 research from the United States Geological Survey investigated the effects of large fish kills, and accounts of skin lesions of smallmouth bass in the South Branch of the Potomac River in Virginia. Throughout their research they discovered that a majority of the male sample of smallmouth bass had developed microscopic female germ cells, as well as a high level of testicular oocytes (suggesting an intersex conditon). The presence of endocrine disruptions or estrogenic compounds in the water are claimed to formulate testicular oocytes in gonochoristis fish (fish that have a single distinct sex). The USGS admits, “ a low level of gonadal intersex may be a natural phenomenon in some gonochrisitc fishes”. Furthermore, there is no additional research to conclude the norm for smallmouth bass collected in areas of no pollution, and the solely gonochoristic character of the smallmouth bass is still unknown. However, as soon as this report circulated to mass media outlets, transmisogynistic language and stereotypes of the fixity of human gender and sex were popularized. Articles like “Operation Sex Change, “Gender-bender Threat to Marine Life”, “Something in the Water is Feminizing Male Fish. Are We Next?” confirmed hegemonic ideals of gender. Some articles even went as far to refer to the smallmouth bass as “transvestite fish”, as word that is considered a slur by many trans women today.
These headlines perpetuated fears against pollutants that may instigate “unnaturalness”, when in actually this phenomena may be indeed “natural”. In fact Joan Roughgarden, an evolutionary biologist at Stanford University, confirms “the most common body form among plants and in perhaps half of the animal kingdom is for an individual to be both male and female at the same time, or at different times during its life”. Instances such as the heterosexual monogamous portrayal of penguins in the March of the Penguin’s movies have faced criticism for falsifying the nature of the penguin’s relationships in accordance to human ones. Articles such as Jon Mooallem’s “Can Animal’s Be Gay?” which examined female-female paired Laysan albatross, faced insane controversy between the scientific and community at large. Therefore, despite science’s foundation as actively objective, there are many illustrations of a long history of scientists imposing human cultural values into the bank slate of animality. Observing nature through socionormativity calls for the misrepresentation of biodiversity, and the acceptance of transmisyogynistic language and interpretation.
Our ecological problems are deeply rooted in our extremely lopsided and dangerous social, economic and political systems. Social justice and environmental movements share many common goals, and both call out systematic injustices. Furthermore, if we are to gain any sort of balance with the non-human world we must aggressively work toward understanding and correcting our human relationships. Creating solidarity with LGBTQ movements is inevitably infiltrating the system and coercing consciousness for environmentalist efforts.
February 27, 2014 EPIC sponsored an event to bring best selling ecological movement author, philosopher, and poet Derrick Jensen to HSU. The goal of this event was to provide the audience with an opportunity to hear about Derrick’s beliefs and philosophy, and ask him questions and engage in conversation about how we can become a more sustainable society. Derrick Jensen and Lierre Kieth founded Deep Green Resistance (DGR), a direct action environmentalist organization. We at EPIC admit that we did not know Jensen’s or DGR’s controversial perspective on gender. EPIC was educated and focused solely on his individual pieces of work and philosophies. DGR claims that gender is a solely cultural construct, and therefore gender is voluntary. Through this as well as an adopted radical feminist perspective they claim that the only solution to the patriarchal systematic oppressions is to “overthrow male power and thus the entire gender system”. This statement is transexclusive, transmisogyistic, and transphobic for it does not acknowledge the existence or struggle of transfolk. Additionally, DGR has outwardly excluded trans identified women into their organization based on this premise.
By bringing Jensen to HSU we at EPIC understand that there were people in our community who were hurt and angry by his presence due to his stance on gender and past transexclusive actions. We apologize for our role in nativity, and want to restate that we, openly affirm our commitment to being trans-inclusive. We welcome trans people into our organization, as all people are essential to the mission to protect the environment from the oppressive systems that are destroying our planet. We are committed to confronting the institutions that destroy communities, cultures and the Earth. Furthermore, we vow to include transinclusive dialogue within any and all of our future efforts and reports. We strive to continue further solidarity between EPIC and the LGBTQ movement, and are making steps to improve the connection between social and environmental justice movements.
If this message has resonated with you, and you would personally like to show support, feel free to attend – Humboldt Pride Parade and Festival September 10, 2016. The event will be held at Halvorsen Park, Eureka from 12pm-5pm.
Written by Briana Villalobos, EPIC intern and Humboldt State sociology graduate.
By Rob DiPerna
In a time when corporate profits rule over our ecosystems, and each year becomes the hottest year on record, we are faced with an incredible challenge to protect what matters for the greater good and for future generations. At EPIC, we know that the best thing we can do is protect our intact forestlands, which is no easy task, but we are willing to do the hard work of participating in the public process, developing standards, and keeping corporations and agencies accountable. But this work is only possible with contributions from people like you. If you believe in our cause, please consider making a donation today.
Changes in our global climate – as a result of emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the earth’s atmosphere from anthropogenic activities such as fossil fuel combustion and wide-spread deforestation – have been apparent to scientists and concerned citizens for several decades. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Physical Science Basis Report concluded with a 95 percent degree of certainty that human activities are the dominant cause of global warming observed since the mid-20th century.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicles, power plants, deforestation, and other human activities have increased carbon dioxide to its highest concentrations in the atmosphere in 800,000 years, according to reports commissioned by the State of California Air Resources Control Board (Battles et al. 2014). According to the 2013 IPCC Report, the globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C, between 1880 and 2012.
The IPCC (2013) report states that it is “unequivocal,” that the earth’s climate system is warming, and that since the 1950’s, changes observed are deemed to be “unprecedented” in global history. Radical changes in polar and tropical temperatures are well-documented, as are changes in precipitation levels by latitude, and significant changes in severe weather and climactic events are similarly well-documented and easily observable.
In California, the signs of global climate change are easily apparent. Long-term and unprecedented state-wide drought, water shortages, increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, documented decreases in fog and precipitation on the North Cost, coastal sea-level rise, and the recently-documented die-off of over 2 million trees in the Southern Sierra-Nevada are just some of the signs that the human-induced changes in our global atmosphere and climate are very real.
Deforestation has been ranked as the second highest contributor to global GHG emissions behind fossil fuel combustion. In California today, our forests are storing less carbon than in the past. Burkhardt (1992) estimated that forest biomass, and essential component of forest carbon sequestration potential, has been reduced to a level of only 15 percent or less of the pre-European contact and settlement estimates. This dramatic decrease in total forest biomass is directly, and almost exclusively a consequence of intensive, and largely unregulated or poorly-regulated forest resource extraction in California.
According to Battles et al. 2014, between 2001 and 2008, the total carbon stored in the forests and rangelands of California decreased from 2,600 million metric tons of carbon (MMTC) to 2,500 MMTC. Aboveground live carbon decreased ~2% and total carbon decreased ~4%. The majority of this decline in carbon storage (61 %) can be attributed to a loss in carbon density, which is largely related to tree-size. According to McIntyre et al. (2015), tree density in forested regions in California increased by 30 % between the 1930’s and 2000’s, whereas forest biomass has declined, as evidenced by a 19 % reduction in basal area (a measure of average tree diameters at breast height per-acre).
In 2006, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 32, the “California Global Warming Solutions Act,” which requires California to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emission to pre-1990 levels by the year 2050. In August 2014, Governor Brown commissioned the Forest Climate Action Team (FCAT), with the purpose of creating a California Forest Carbon Plan by the end of 2016. The goal of the FCAT, among other things, is to establish forest health and resiliency conditions needed to reach targets for carbon sequestration and net reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and atmospheric black carbon, develop near, medium, and long-term targets for carbon sequestration and emissions reductions by region and ownership, through 2050 and beyond, based on goals and ecosystem potential. The FCAT is a cooperative venture of the California Department of Forestry, CalEPA, the California Air Resources Control Board, and the California Natural Resources Agency.
The FCAT is also charged with the development and implementation of forestland investment strategies to achieve carbon sequestration targets, and provide a framework for managing California’s forested landscapes to increase carbon sequestration and reduce climate-warming emissions, alongside other values of “healthy forests.”
Defining and attaining a state of, “healthy forests,” particularly as pertains to our privately-owned and administered forestlands in California, can be a significant challenge. To begin with, the vast majority of our state’s privately-owned forestland has been logged at some point in the past, many several times over, and therefore, no longer resemble the “reference” or “old-growth” condition. For example, here in Northern California’s coast redwood forest region, 95 percent of the forested landscape has been previously logged at least once; according to estimates provided by Save-the-Redwoods League (2016), 77 percent of the original 2 million-acre coast redwood forest land-base is privately-owned and managed in the present-day, almost all of which has been logged at least once, and very likely, at least two or three times in the 175-years since European-American contact and settlement in the region.
The FCAT concept of “healthy forests,” as articulated in the Forest Carbon Plan Concept Scoping Paper (FCAT 2016), describes a healthy forest as resilient, diverse, biodiverse, and ecologically and economically sustainable. The sad reality of the vast majority of California’s privately-owned and managed forestlands, particularly our large, “industrial” or “corporate,” forestland ownerships bare little if any resemblance to the reference condition, as they are largely evenaged, homogenous, and over-simplified as a result of intensive plantation-style forestry models that in no way resemble forests that are resilient, diverse, biodiverse, or ecologically or economically sustainable in the present-day. Simply put, over 175 years of intensive resource extraction and conversion of native forests to industrial fiber farm plantations has depleted our forests, our fish and wildlife resources, and has ultimately served to erode our economic and social systems as well as the infrastructural systems of many of our rural forest-dependent communities in California.
California’s private lands forest practice, legal and regulatory framework has been slow to respond to the realities of global climate change, and has done virtually nothing to meaningfully curb the past and ongoing contributions of California’s private land forest products industry to GHG emission that have, and continue to pollute our atmosphere and endanger the short-term viability of human, and other life on earth.
While the California State Legislature has recently amended the California Forest Practice Act of 1973 to require the Board of Forestry to ensure that its Forest Practice Rules consider forestland resource capacity, including values related to above-ground and below-ground carbon dioxide and carbon emissions and sequestration, and to enact standards and guidelines in the rules to guide CAL FIRE and the activities of the private lands forest products industry, in accordance with the mandates of AB 32 and Executive Orders issued by Governor Brown, the Board and CAL FIRE have thus-far failed to act to address these new legislative mandates.
To say that the bureaucratic process at the Board of Forestry is moving to address the new realities and legislative mandates at a snail pace would be a massive understatement. At present, the only proposed action the Board is developing and considering is the addition of a Greenhouse Gas Assessment component to the suite of factors to be assessed in the cumulative impacts assessment of individual Timber Harvest Plans and other discretionary projects. There appears to be no movement, or real impetus, for the Board to discuss, develop, or adopt rules and standards and guidelines to address GHG emissions, carbon sequestration, or forest health and productive capacity as directed by the State Legislature at-present.
EPIC staff has been invited to participate in the stakeholder working group developed to refine the specifications of the California Forest Carbon Plan. Among EPIC’s chief goals in the development of the Plan is advocating for an approach that is forest-type and regionally-specific that prioritizes forest management practices that protect, enhance, and restore the carbon sequestration capacity of forestlands as well as support the development of healthy, diverse, and resilient forests. EPIC also advocates for prioritization of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund allocations in areas with the greatest potential to contribute to State-mandated GHG reduction targets, and that are spatially strategic so as to achieve the greatest possible benefits from fund allocations.
EPIC is also engaging with the Board of Forestry to compel the Board to take seriously its responsibilities to ensure restoration of forestland productive capacity and to promulgate rules, regulations, guidelines and standards that ensure State-mandated requirements to address carbon emissions, sequestration, and forest health and capacity for both ecological and economic benefits are developed, adopted, and implemented.
The days of “business as usual” and favoring short-term economic benefits of private entities and individuals over the needs of our forests, fish, wildlife, water, air, economies and communities, and general public welfare simply cannot continue in California, or elsewhere. If we are to arrest or reverse the global-scale climactic crisis that threatens the very future of life on earth in the short-term, immediate conservation and restoration of California’s forests, particularly our coast redwoods, is absolutely critical to the achievement of State-mandated GHG reduction objectives, and to the creation of resilient, healthy, diverse, and ecologically and economically viable forests that can serve to buttress and combat the specter of a human-induced global climate catastrophe, and likely, mass extinction.
This is an uphill battle and we are willing to do this hard work, but we need your support to keep our organization running.
By Kimberly Baker
The Westside salvage logging project on the Klamath National Forest (KNF) is having more than severe ecological costs. The Forest Service forecasted making over ten million dollars in timber sale revenue. In reality, the agency brought in less than 5% of that estimate. Timber corporations paid $457,000 to log 13,000 acres in the heart of the Klamath Siskiyou bioregion.
“Required costs to restore the project landscape through site preparation, planting and fuels reduction are estimated as $27,487,000.” -Westside Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
That leaves twenty-seven million more dollars needed to pay for 8,000 acres of replanting, 23,000 acres of fuels reduction treatments and for cleaning up logging slash. Replanting clear cuts, known as plantation forestry, creates highly flammable conditions for decades. The KNF claims it is accelerating reforestation and recovery; however natural regeneration is and was already taking place. Fuels reduction on 23,000 acres is needed to remove the smaller trees and shrubs with no commercial value, which will likely not happen, due to a lack of funding. It is these smaller and finer fuels that are shown to exacerbate fire behavior. The entire premise of the project was based on fuels reduction. Less than 2% of the money needed for these activities was made though timber sale receipts.
Patty Grantham, KNF Supervisor and decision-maker for Westside, stated in a recent federal court declaration that without restoration (plantation creation) and fuels treatments, the area would remain at heightened risk for landslides and burning again at high severity. She stated that, funding for fuel reduction work is tenuous, typically very limited and must be appropriated by congress (your tax dollars), and therefore not guaranteed. Grantham also said that, a primary purpose of treating the project area is to restore the forest.
On top of those costs, the cost of repairing one third of the nearly 1,000 legacy sediment sites in the project area, which are road related chronic sources of sediment to our waterways, was estimated at over twelve million dollars. All 802 miles of the rivers and streams, including 101 miles of Coho critical habitat in the Westside project are listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act, which means that current conditions do not meet water quality standards. The KNF stated that, controlling legacy sediment sources and design features would offset much of the increase in cumulative disturbance. In order to get a water quality waiver, the Forest Service came up with a schedule for repairing only 350 legacy sites over the next twenty five years without a guarantee for any funding.
The Westside: Record of Decision; the EIS; all of the supporting reports (hydrology, geology, wildlife, aquatics, recreation, botany et.); consultation with US Fish and Wildlife; National Marine Fisheries Service and approval by the North Coast Water Quality Control Board all relied on plantation creation, fuels reduction and legacy sediment site repair actually taking place.
The claimed purposes of the Westside “recovery” project are for public and firefighter safety for community protection, economic viability, benefiting local communities and restored and fire-resilient forested ecosystems. Without further funding, river communities are more at-risk of high severity fire and have not benefitted, the economics are not viable, thousands of acres of natural restoration and recovery are being damaged and forest ecosystems are less resilient with a higher risk of severe wildfire, chance of landslides and loss of soil stability. At two dollars per truckload of the largest trees, the only benefit went to timber corporations.
The ecological costs of Westside salvage logging deserve attention. Westside will harm or kill an important source population of the Northern spotted owl, which was known to be one of the most productive populations in the entire range of the species. Creeks providing cold water refuge for wild and suffering salmon will be affected. The Caroline Creek bald eagles are expected to abandon their nest site, after decades of re-populating the mid-Klamath region. Endemic Siskiyou Mountain Salamanders, fishers, hawks and nearly every wildlife species in these watersheds may be negatively impacted. Logging is within Wild and Scenic River corridors, mature forest reserves, streamside areas, adjacent to the Pacific Crest Trail and on 2,000 acres of unstable slopes. Implementation of the project will disturb water quality, landscape connectivity and natural recovery. The loss of big trees impacts complex forest structure, carbon storage, shade, cooler microclimates, soil nutrients, and high quality habitat and slope stability.
Beyond the thousands and perhaps millions of dollars taxpayers spent planning the project; we are now on the hook for forty million dollars more to pay for restoration and fuels reduction. Wild places, wildlife, water quality and communities are paying an immeasurable and long-term cost, while timber corporations benefit. The irreversible damage to the value of intact complex forest ecosystems and the services they provide has not been calculated. The Westside salvage project adds up to an unnecessary colossal waste and possible environmental catastrophe.
Natural recovery taking place around these trees proposed for extraction in the Westside project. Photos courtesy of Kimberly Baker.
By Rob DiPerna
On Sunday, June 12th, ten communities members joined EPIC staff and representatives of the BLM Headwaters Forest Reserve management for a volunteer Trail Steward Day on the South Fork Elk River Trail in the Headwaters Forest Reserve. The all-day event entailed 11 miles of hiking, a tailgate lunch session at the work site, and approximately three hours of work repairing a failing trail segment, located approximately 4.5 miles from the trailhead. The community members provided the muscle, and the BLM provided the tools, as a dangerous section of trail was recontoured, stabilized, and fallen logs and branches removed to allow for easier access. Fallen brush was also cleared from several other spots along the trail on this very successful volunteer work day in Headwaters. EPIC wishes to thank all those that came out to help make this day a success!
By Amber Shelton
Public locked out of National Forest while private companies log for $2.50 a truck load – Despite rains, about 20 people gathered at the Grider Creek Campground to protest the massive clear-cut logging plan and forest closure in the Klamath National Forest. The timber sale that will purportedly take 102 Northern Spotted Owls, possibly result in a localized extinction of coho salmon, and negatively impact salmon bearing creeks and rivers is ironically called the Westside Fire Recovery Project. The timber sales are being sold for as little as fifty cents per thousand acre board feet to private timber companies, who are logging behind locked gates where members of the public are not allowed to enter or document the destruction that is taking place. The price for these forests amounts to $2.50 for an entire truck load of timber, from public forest lands containing endangered species, salmon bearing streams and old growth forests.
The Grider Creek Campground where the rally took place is surrounded by the project area and is located along the Pacific Crest Trail, where many backpackers were passing through and camping. The week before the rally was held, the Klamath National Forest’s website said the campground was open, and a phone call to the Klamath National Forest headquarters and Happy Camp offices verified that they were open. However, the day before the rally, Forest Supervisor, Patricia Grantham notified the Environmental Protection Information Center and Klamath Riverkeeper (rally organizers) that the campground was closed, but that she would issue a permit for the group to assemble. During the group picnic a Forest Service employee who regularly tends the campground said that the campground is and has been open.
As part of the Westside project, most of the largest trees in the campground had already been logged, and only large stumps remained along the creek. These stumps were likely marked as “hazard trees,” but it was clear that only the large marketable trees had been taken, and other potentially hazardous trees that were less marketable were left teetering over the trails.
The Karuk Tribe, whose ancestral territory is within the project area, as well as environmental groups have been trying to work with the Klamath National Forest to promote a less environmentally destructive alternative, which has been proposed as the Karuk Plan, a plan that focuses on strategic ridge top fuel breaks, roadside hazard treatments, and minimizes the amount of large-scale salvage logging that would impact rivers, salmon and Northern spotted owls.
Since the inception of the Westside Project, Native American tribes, environmentalists and river communities that would be affected by the project have actively expressed opposition to the project, which is one of the largest timber sale projects ever proposed in the history of Klamath National Forest.
About two months ago, a protest took place along Walker Creek Road, a main artery into the Walker Creek Timber Sale, and a couple days later Klamath National Forest announced that a huge area surrounding the timber sale had been closed to the public. Many individuals and groups have tried to obtain permits to enter the closure area to “ground truth,” which consists of walking the project area and fact-checking to see if the logging on the ground is consistent with the Project Design Features, but to our knowledge, these requests have been denied.
After gathering at the Grider Creek Campground, the group went up to the end of Walker Creek Road, where the forest closure begins, and was greeted by Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers who were guarding the closure area and told the group they could only enter the closure area if they had a permit from the Forest Service office. Many members in the group had previously requested permits, but had been denied.
Our public forests are being auctioned off to private companies at dirt cheap prices, and endangered species habitat and old growth forests are being logged despite a pending court case that has been filed by the Karuk Tribe, EPIC, Klamath Riverkeeper, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Thanks to Brooke Anderson for taking these awesome photos!
By EPIC Intern
Over the past several months EPIC has been working countless hours collaborating with citizens, advocacy groups, agencies and politicians on a variety of local, national and international issues. The list below includes letters or comments in which EPIC, alongside fellow NGO’s and agencies support or oppose various proposed or existing programs, laws and acts to protect our environment. EPIC business includes the most updated independently run efforts brought on by the EPIC staff. Also, in case you have not seen our annual report, which details our activities for 2015, you can check it out here. The list below was comprised by EPIC intern Briana Villalobos. Thank you Briana for dedicating a large chunk your summer to helping EPIC!
Letters of Support
Letter of Support – Night-time Hunting & Trapping in Wolf Territory Petition – EPIC joins conservation and animal advocates in writing a letter to the California Fish and Game to support regulations to ban night-time hunting and lethal trapping in gray wolf territory.
Letter of Support – Congress Mitigation – EPIC joins conservation groups across the country in writing a letter to Representatives in support of the Presidential Memorandum to promote appropriate mitigation to protect our natural resources.
Letter of Support-FWS CCAA – EPIC joins conservation groups in commenting on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) draft Environmental Assessment for a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances between FWS and Sierra Pacific Industries. The CCAA would allow “take” for killing 60 fishers and clear cutting 338,800 acres of uneven-aged forest habitat within 10 years.
Letter of Support – AK NWR – EPIC joins over 70 organizations in a letter to USDI Secretary Jewell and Director Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s to applaud the proposed changes to regulations governing Alaska refuges under 50 C.F.R. Part 36 as part of the proposed rule titled “Non-subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska.”81 Fed. Reg. 887 (Jan. 8, 2016). If finalized as proposed, the new regulations would ensure that Alaska’s national refuges are managed in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) mandates to conserve species and habitats in their natural diversity and ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of the NWR system are maintained for the continued benefit of present and future generations of Americans on over 76 million acres.
Letter of Support – CFOSCP FY17 Appropriations Request – EPIC joins a broad coalition of conservation and forestry organizations and municipal agencies, in writing to representatives to express strong support for the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP).
Letter of Support – Oak Flat Apache Stronghold – EPIC joins other in signing a letter of support to the Apache Stronghold for the February 26-27, 2016, march from San Carlos to Oak Flat to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Apache Stronghold’s efforts to protect Oak Flat.
Letter of Support – Pesticide Reform – Telone Exposure – EPIC joins the statewide coalition Californians for Pesticide Reform in urging the Director of Pesticide Regulation to put the health of Californians first when taking action on the soil fumigant 1,3-dichloropropene, also known as Telone and to adopt the strongest possible risk management plan.
Letter of Support – President Obama-ESA – EPIC joins over 150 conservation groups in signing a letter to President Obama asking him to oppose all policy “riders” that would undermine the Endangered Species Act during negotiations on final funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2016.
Letter of Support – Regional Haze Ruling– EPIC joins 82 conservation and public interest organizations, representing millions of members and supporters, to urge the Administrator of the EPA to strengthen the Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Rule to restore clean air to national parks and wilderness areas and their neighboring communities.
Letter of Support – HR 3843 – EPIC joins others in writing to congress to urge them to oppose HR 3843, the Locatable Minerals Claim Location and Maintenance Fees Act of 2015. Rather than solve the estimated $50 billion taxpayer liability for cleaning up our nation’s inactive or abandoned hardrock mines, this bill allows mining companies to profit under the guise of “Good Samaritan” clean up.
Letter of Support – US Forest Service’s Deputy Chief Weldon – EPIC joins others in writing to the US Forest Service’s Deputy Chief to commend the efforts to move the Forest Service road system to a more sustainable condition.
Letter of Support – CFOSCP FY18 – EPIC joins representatives of a broad coalition of conservation and forestry organizations and municipal agencies, we are writing to express strong support for the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP).
Letter of Support – Monitoring Network Final Letter – Epic joins the Californians for Pesticide Reform and 43 other organizations in writing a letter to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation in seeking modifications to the Air Monitoring Network to make sure that monitoring resources are used most effectively to capture true community exposure.
Letter of Support – SBRM Final Letter – EPIC joins others in urging NOAA Fisheries to withdraw its proposed rule for implementing the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Letters of Opposition:
Letter of Opposition – 5-year Offshore Leasing Program – EPIC joins 78 organizations to call on land management leaders to remove all offshore oil and gas lease sales from the final leasing program.
Letter of Opposition – Wildfire Budgeting, Response and Forest Managment Act of 2016 -EPIC joins others in writing to Senate members to express strong opposition to provisions in the discussion draft legislation, “Wildfire Budgeting, Response and Forest Management Act of 2016,” that could perpetuate harmful old growth logging on the Tongass National Forest, America’s largest rainforest.Lett
Letter of Opposition – UTTR Expansion NDAA – Epic joins others in writing to the congressional Armed Services Committees to express opposition to S.2383/H.R. 4579, the Utah Test and Training Range Encroachment Prevention and Temporary Closure Act, and to urge the committees to oppose any effort to add these bills to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016.
Letter of Opposition – Road Through Izembek – EPIC joins others in writing a letter to congress to reaffirm steadfast opposition to construction of a road through the heart of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
Letter of Opposition – California Offshore Fracking – EPIC joins 129 groups to oppose off shore fracking along California’s coast.
Letter of Opposition – Wilderness Act Amendments – EPIC joins over 100 conservation groups in a letter to congress asking them to reject amendments to the Wilderness Act.
Letter of Opposition – ESA Amendments to Senate Energy Bill – On behalf of millions of citizens, Epic joins others in a letter to ask the Senate to vote NO on amendments undermining the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that have been proposed for S. 2012, the “Energy Policy and Modernization Act.”
Letter of Opposition – Blocking New Parks in Amendments 3023/3126 – EPIC joins over 100 organizations in signing a letter in opposition to Senator Lee’s amendments that would undermine the Antiquities Act
Letter of Opposition – NEPA Waiver in S. 2240 – Epic joins conservation organizations in writing to Senators to express strong opposition to Section 6(c) of S. 2240, the “Federal Lands Invasive Species Control, Prevention, and Management Act,” which would seriously compromise public input and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act
Letter of Opposition S 2902 – Epic joins 20 other organizations in writing to the California air Resources Board to express opposition to the proposed inclusion of International Sector-based Offsets in Californian’s Capand-Trade Program.
Letter of Opposition – Grizzly Endangered Delisting Proposal_ – Epic joins 8o organizations, to oppose the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposal to remove grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) as threatened from the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Letter of Opposition – Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee S 2807 – Epic joins conservation organizations in writing to members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asking them to oppose S. 2807 which would greatly harm 88 coastal national parks from Alaska to Washington, from Florida to Maine.
Letter of Opposition – Wildfire Budgeting Response and Forest Management Act – On behalf of millions of people, EPIC joins others in writing to the energy and Natural Resources Committee to highlight serious concerns with the Wildfire Budgeting, Response and Forest Management Act policy discussion draft that was released for public comment on May 25, 2016.
Letter of Oppostion – Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill – EPIC with allies joins others in writing to members of congress to urge them to reject anti-environmental policy riders that threaten our air, land, water and wildlife on the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.
Letter of Opposition – PROMESA – Vieques and Title V – Epic joins conservation groups in writing a letter to members of congress to strongly oppose two environmentally-damaging provisions in the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). The first, Section 411, aims to take thousands of acres of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge away from the American people thereby placing nationally-protected endangered species habitat under threat of bulldozers and development and encouraging efforts to sell off public lands for private gain. The second, is Title V of the draft legislation which eliminates citizen input, public scrutiny, environmental review, and limits judicial review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for large-scale projects chosen by an unelected board.
Final Comments on FWS Draft Prioritization Methodology – EPIC urges the US Fish and Wildlife Service to strongly support prioritizing the protection of our nation’s most critically endangered species, and moving as quickly as possible to fully protect those species under the Endangered Species Act.
Final EPA Comments on Forest Roads – EPIC joins others in writing to the EPA to stand up for clean water and skein them to regulate and limit storm water discharges from forest roads to protect water quality.
BLM Mineral Withdrawal Final Letter – Epic advocates further protections for the greater sage grouse by joining organizations in a letter to the BLM Director to support the proposed withdrawal of federal mineral estate which is proposed to protect key habitats and to urge federal agencies to expand the withdrawal in areal extent and scope.
CALFIRE Support in Suspending Post-Fire Logging Final Letter – EPIC condemns post-fire logging by Fruit Growers Supply Company in Siskiyou County which likely resulted in the “take” of northern spotted owls. EPIC calls on CALFIRE to suspend all logging and conduct a full investigation.
Waste Transfer Station Final Letter – Original EPIC Comments on the Revised DEIR for the Mendocino Central Coast Waste Transfer Station.
EPIC Letter of Opposition for House Amendment S.2012 – EPIC urges Representatives to oppose the House amended version of S.2012. The amended bill fails to cut carbon pollution, invest in job-creating clean energy technologies, and modernize our energy infrastructure while maintaining environmental safeguards.
EPIC Compliance Manual – In 2016, under new state and local laws and regulations,medical cannabis farmers can now take steps to obtain licenses to sell their product. In response, EPIC comprised a handbook intended as a tool to provide the basics of how to comply with state and local laws and regulations that govern cannabis production. The regulatory landscape is changing quickly.
This handbook represents our best efforts to encompass state and local regulations at the time of printing, as well as provide an abridged look at some of the most important facets of the new regulations.
EPIC Letter of Support for Pomo Tribes – EPIC’s letter of support for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians who are requesting government to government consultations between the Tribes and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
By Tom Wheeler
All eyes are on the Klamath National Forest as clear cut logging continues within the Westside Project area. The damaging project subsidizes the destruction of spotted owl and salmon habitat above the Klamath River and could result in the “take” of up to 103 northern spotted owls – two percent of the species entire population. The controversial project drew a record 14,000 comments in opposition and the timber sales that were so unattractive the Forest Service reduced their price to $2.50 per log truck load. To make matters worse, Klamath National Forest has issued an unconstitutional closure order.
We have two ways you can help reopen the Klamath National Forest:
KNF is shutting the public out of tens of thousands of acres of national forest under the guise of public safety. This is unacceptable. Closing controversial areas surrounding logging operations is used frequently by the Forest Service, to shield itself from scrutiny and attempt to prevent protests. On principle, closures like this one defy the values that set aside national forest land for use—our national forests were established for the enjoyment and benefit of the people; closing them to benefit timber interests is antithetical to that purpose. Closures have a real impact on the rural, river-dependent communities of the Klamath and all people who enjoy the area.
Land that comprises the Klamath National Forest is within Karuk Ancestral Territory, where cultural practitioners frequently gather medicine and basket weaving materials that thrive in post-fire areas, including within the closure area. Other users of the forest have been shut out of popular trail systems leading to the Marble Mountain Wilderness area, and still others are blocked from traveling the road system and collecting firewood during dry summer months. Klamath National Forest is the backyard for many and this closure impacts the ability to recreate and enjoy our public lands.
The Klamath National Forest claims that the closure is necessary to protect public health. This claim falls apart under any scrutiny. If the closure is necessary to protect public health, then why is the Klamath National Forest closing areas where logging is not set to occur? Why is the order in effect for one full year, even though logging is set to wrap up in the fall? If logging is so dangerous, why only close areas which have drawn public protests? And why issue it now, when logging began in March?
The Klamath National Forest has something to hide. Kimberly Baker of the Environmental Protection Information Center has documented failures by the Klamath National Forest to implement key mitigation measures they promised to implement to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Based on these violations, the Klamath National Forest has been put on notice that it will be sued under the Endangered Species Act.
Documenting Bovine Degradation in Wilderness: A Call for Volunteers From the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern CaliforniaThursday, June 23rd, 2016
By Felice Pace, Project Coordinator
This summer and fall volunteers with the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California will again be in the field monitoring conditions on public lands where cattle and other livestock are permitted to graze. Our task will be to document with photos, measurements and field notes how the cattle are managed and the resulting degradation of water quality, riparian and wetland habitats.
This will be the seventh year Project volunteers are in the field. So far we’ve monitories 17 grazing allotments on three national forests; many allotments we’ve monitored multiple times and in multiple years. Here’s what we’ve found: District Rangers, the Forest Service officials responsible for assuring that grazing on their districts is done responsibly, are not getting the job done. Those officials are allowing livestock owners to place cattle on public land and leave them there, without management, until the snow flies and it is necessary to bring the cattle to lower elevation. That results in degradation of water quality, riparian areas and wetlands, and that is what the Project aims to stop.
Project monitors record their observations and document the destruction photographically. We then use those observations and findings in monitoring and other reports and presentations which we provide to agency grazing managers and regulatory agencies. Project sponsor organizations like EPIC and me as the Project’s coordinator use that documentation to advocate specific management changes on the allotments volunteers monitored and for systemic grazing management reforms. We especially target the State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Boards which are responsible for assuring that public land management complies with the Clean Water Act. We want the State and Regional Water Boards to tighten Clean Water Act requirements for public land grazing, including requiring modern rest-rotation grazing management systems, regular herding and other best management practices.
Our ability to monitor public land grazing is limited by the number of volunteers working with the project. That’s where you could play a role. If you are familiar with the wilderness and able to walk off trail in the mountains you could monitor with the Project; or you could train with the Project and monitor grazing on your own and with friends. Often national forest grazing takes place in spectacular wilderness environments. And one can usually find a quite place, away from the destructive bovines, to camp. Many grazing allotments can be monitored via day trips from wilderness trailheads.
Monitors are especially needed for the Mendocino, Six Rivers, Lassen and Modoc National Forests and for BLM administered public lands. The more places we can document poor grazing management resulting in water quality, riparian and wetland degradation, the better the case we can make that systemic reform of public land grazing management is needed.
When cattle are left unmanaged for months in mountains where the headwaters are replete with springs, wet meadows and willow wetlands, the result is a disaster. The photos below tell the tail to some extent, but photos can capture the full impact.
Season-long grazing without herding results in the elimination of dry meadow bunchgrasses and the trampling of springs.
Streambanks are trampled, riparian vegetation destroyed and headwater willow wetlands are fragmented and dried out
Neglectful management of national forest grazing violates water quality standards, including EPA limits on nutrient pollution and the North Coast Regional Water Board’s limits on fecal bacteria pollution. Water quality monitoring by The Quartz Valley Indian Reservation, a federal tribe, citizen groups and the Forest Service itself show that wilderness streams which should provide the highest quality waters are instead being fouled at the source.
Wilderness headwater basins that should produce critical late summer and fall baseflow in salmon streams below are being relentlessly trampled year after year by cattle weighing up to1200 pounds. When wet headwater meadows are degraded in that way they dry out; their ability to store water for slow release during the dry season is damaged and, if the trampling continues long enough, destroyed. As hydrologist Jonathan Rhodes and Fish Ecologist Chris Frissell point out in a recent report, one of the three best ways to restore California’s dry season water supply would be to eliminate grazing from Northern California’s national forest headwater basins.
Our Project does not insist that grazing be eliminated from Northern California public lands. But we do insist that those who enjoy the privilege of grazing their livestock on the people’s land manage those livestock responsibly.
We want Forest Service and other public land grazing managers to require modern grazing strategies like rest rotation grazing and best practices like regular herding and seasonal fencing to keep livestock out of wetlands, prevent them from trashing streams and protect riparian vegetation and streambanks.
Because both managers and regulators have refused for six years now to reform grazing management which is clearly inadequate and irresponsible, we are going up the line to supervisors and considering administrative and legal challenges.
We are determined to see modern grazing management brought to Northern California’s public lands. If livestock producers want the privilege of grazing in the public’s meadows and headwaters they must be willing to manage their animals responsibly, including riding the range regularly, moving cattle out of wetlands and rotating grazing to prevent degradation of land and water.
If the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management required modern grazing methods, we believe most individuals and corporations now permitted to graze livestock on public lands would voluntarily relinquish the permits. They would not be willing to incur the time and expense necessary to graze livestock responsibly in mountains that are replete with springs, streams, wet meadows and willow wetlands.
If you want to volunteer with the Project or just want more information contact me, Felice Pace, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (707-954-6588). And please take the time to get out and enjoy the lands we all own together.
By Amber Shelton
After years of assessment, documentation, mapping and planning, abandoned livestock fences in the Tolowa Dunes have finally been removed, and now a small heard of wild elk have been sighted in the area that was previously leased for cattle grazing.
Tolowa Dunes State Park is made up of ancient sand dunes, swales, dune forest, and an ephemeral wetland bottom called the Smith River Plain, along the coast of Del Norte County. The Park is used as a Pacific flyway stopover for migratory birds, serves as critical rearing habitat for juvenile salmon and provides grazing opportunities for wild ungulates. Tolowa Dunes State Park is also sacred to the Tolowa people, who once had a village there, a village that was the site of a horrible massacre of the Tolowa people in 1853.
From 1996-2011, about 230 acres of the bottoms along the Yontocket Slough were leased from Tolowa Dunes State Park for cattle grazing to the adjacent land owner, Alexandre Dairy, which modified the area with heavy equipment and built extensive fence lines throughout the Park. This area was heavily grazed and the dairy’s barbwire and electric fences remained after the termination of the grazing permit, preventing the movement of wild animals, including local wild Rosevelt elk populations.
With funding from the California State Parks Foundation, EPIC worked with Tolowa Dunes State Park, Tolowa Dunes Stewards and biologist Adam Canter to map livestock fencing and rare species, and to help plan and prioritize ecological restoration and livestock fence removal projects within Tolowa Dunes State Park. EPIC began working on this project in 2010, helping to end the illegal livestock grazing permit on State Park Lands, and now, six years later, the fences have finally been removed and wild elk have returned to the former grazing area of the park.
Timber industry officials and environmental activists warn that the state’s logging safeguards have become a bureaucratic snarl that can drag out rule-making for a decade and a half and more.
Experts say that 43 years after the enactment of the Forest Practice Act, timescales are so out of joint that the pace of environmental damage far outruns preventive action on the ground. The 1973 act’s rule book has swollen to 300 pages.
Formulating a Timber Harvest Plan for a given property is expensive – $15,000 to $60,000 per plan, says Dee Sanders of Trinity Lumber.
Critics say the regulatory framework has recoiled on itself, leaving the system effectively broken.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Sanders declared in a telephone interview.
This forbidding reality demands a legislative overhaul, according to Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), and her colleague Rob DiPerna, California forest and wildlife advocate. They have documented what they view as an “unnavigable tangle of politics, paper and process” studded with regulatory thickets. EPIC serves the five counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Siskiyou and Trinity.
One of the worst holdups stemmed from a set of “road rules” first bruited by the state Board of Forestry in 1999 to ward off the impact of construction on the North Coast’s fast-declining salmon and steelhead populations. The rules did not take effect until January, 2015, a 16-year hiatus.
In another instance, the forestry board took almost 10 years, until 1994, to act on regulations to address the cumulative impacts of logging on private lands. When the panel finally did act, it issued guidance that is merely “voluntary and suggestive,” not a real regulation, according to DeLapp and DiPerna.
Neither a 10-year nor a 16-year wait is the outside limit. The watershed of the Elk River, one of Humboldt Bay’s largest tributaries, was designated impaired in 1998 under the Clean Water Act.
Yet it took the regional water board until this past month to adopt a recovery plan – a lag of 18 years. That’s typical, said DiPerna, of the voluminous and time-consuming paperwork associated with rule making. He called it a “Frankenstein’s Monster.”
The tangle can add dozens of pages to a single Timber Harvest Plan. EPIC statistics show that a harvest blueprint averages 250 to 300 pages in length and sometimes many more. Formulating a plan is an arcane, costly and laborious exercise that balks public understanding and bedevils all the stakeholders, whether landowners, foresters, scientists or citizens.
By rights, drafting a plan should take 45 to 60 days, DiPerna estimated, but some of them get stuck in the system for years. Sanders said Oregon’s system, less rigorous than California’s, takes about two weeks.
Time is not the only debit. According to DiPerna, the average base cost of a Timber Harvest Plan for a given landowner has climbed to $30,000, midway between Sanders’ $15,000 to $60,000.
The $30,000 average does not include the many more thousands of dollars spent by state agencies such as CalFire for a harvest plan’s review, approval, administration and enforcement.
There is also concern that the public is shut out. DiPerna wrote in a recent EPIC monograph, “It is nearly impossible for the average citizen to read, navigate, understand or provide meaningful comment or engagement in the Timber Harvest Plan process.” It has taken him some 20 years to become fully informed about the issue.
Ironically, the purpose of the relevant statutes, like the California Environmental Quality Act and the Forest Practice Act, was to ensure that private citizens had meaningful information about, and open access to, the management decisions that affect air, forests, water and wildlife.
Exactly the opposite, said DiPerna and DeLapp. Forest protection plays third fiddle to an Orwellian regulatory chorus which fails in any meaningful way to effect “operational change or on-the-ground protection, enhancement, restoration or conservation of public trust resources.” The bureaucracy exalts legalism, they contend.
DiPerna freely acknowledged that EPIC’s lawsuits can at times, “unwittingly, actually make the [regulatory] situation worse,” generating more time-consuming analysis and explanation. But the avenues in the environmental laws “are really all we have,” he pleaded in extenuation.
DeLapp refuted accusations that EPIC is financed by lawsuits, saying it is funded by membership donations and private foundations. The only reimbursements received are for the costs of attorneys, many of whom work pro bono. “We do not recoup costs for staff time,” she added.
The intent and effectiveness of California’s landmark environmental laws have been co-opted by state agencies that are protecting themselves, DeLapp charged. “They insulate themselves from litigation not only by public interest groups, but by private industry and contractors as well.”
Moreover, “I find it offensive when public agencies blame public interest organizations for ‘costing taxpayers money’ when they lose court cases,” said DeLapp. “When courts find in our favor, it means the agencies failed to uphold their end of the bargain. Blaming us for catching them is 100 percent inappropriate.”
What results from bureaucratic overkill is classic “analysis paralysis,” DiPerna noted, as occurred in the Elk River fiasco. None of the staff’s fundamental findings – that the river was impaired by logging – ever changed, he said, across “reports and studies and studies of reports and peer reviews and hearing after hearing on the same issues, over and over again!”
DeLapp stated that the solution lies in the consensus among timber harvest stakeholders, both industry exponents and conservationists, that the system needs a rebuild.
“Since we all agree what the problem is, we can figure out a way to turn this over. The system is designed for us to be diametrically opposed, conservation versus industry, economics versus ecology. Instead, we should be able to collaborate and mutually develop our own solutions.”
Fresh legislation could make them a reality.
By Rob DiPerna
The coast redwood forests of Northern California are often perceived as a remnant of paleo-history, a land, and a place seemingly lost in time, and sheltered from the modern age by the pale shadow of the redwood curtain. For many across the country and the world, the coast redwood forests are a dark, impenetrable, and primeval place, where one may at once be lost, and found.
Sadly, the wild and iconic vision of a vast, mighty, and vibrant forest ecosystem set-aside from time and the march of human progress is far more hyperbole and fantasy than present-day reality here in the redwoods. A forest type that once spanned the majority of the northern hemisphere, growing and evolving for 18 million years or more, and that spanned some 2 million acres across Northern California’s rugged and scenic coastline has been reduced to small, isolated and disjunct remnant fragments in less than 200 years since European-American settlement. Today, Save-the-Redwoods League estimates that approximately 120,000 acres, or five percent, of the original old-growth coast redwood forest remains, with 95 percent of the land now in a previously-logged condition, and bearing scant resemblance to the forest that once was.
The vast majority of remaining old-growth coast redwood forest is now contained in our redwood parks and reserve systems, which according to estimates from Save-the-Redwoods League, constitutes only 23 percent of the original forest land-base. Slauson (2012) estimates that greater than 50 percent of the land-base in our redwood parks and reserve systems is actually comprised of previously-logged stands of second and third-growth forest and not old-growth.
Restoration of the forest itself in the range of the coast redwoods is a monumental and daunting task that is only now beginning to take place, and the art, science, and economic viability of forest restoration in the redwoods is experimental, at best. Slauson (2012) aptly describes the importance of this work, stating, “The management of second growth forests to accelerate the restoration of late-successional and old growth characteristics will be one of the greatest challenges for conservation in the redwood region over the next century.”
Enter the most unlikely of creatures, the seemingly long-forgotten resident of our coast redwood forest ecosystems, the Humboldt marten. The story of the Humboldt marten serves as a synergistic metaphor that runs parallel and is very complimentary to that of our coastal redwood forest ecosystem. The marten was trapped extensively for its pelts in the early years of European-American exploration and settlement in the redwoods, and with the advent of aggressive logging of the vast majority of the redwood forest old-growth, upon which the Humboldt marten depends, it was once thought that this small, cat-size member of the weasel family had been lost. That is, until 1996, when this stealth, highly allusive, and unassuming creature was accidentally captured on a wildlife survey camera in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, one of the four parks that in the present-day make up the jointly-administered Redwood National and State Parks system. Contemporary monitoring and research suggests that the Humboldt marten, like the old-growth coast redwood forest, has been extirpated from 95 percent of its original range; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2015) now estimates that less than 100 total individuals persist in the wild today, and that these individuals represent only two very small, extremely isolated population segments in California, and a small population along the coast in Southern Oregon.
Isolation and fragmentation of the coast redwood forest landscape, associated increases in road-densities, and the resultant degradation of the ecological integrity of the forest are as dangerous and damaging for the survival and recovery of the Humboldt marten as they are for our remnant coastal old-growth redwood forests. Logging and conversion of the vast majority of our complex old-growth redwood forest assemblages to young, even-aged, sterile, and homogenous early seral plantations threaten to cause the extinction of both the original redwood forest as a functional ecosystem, and of the Humboldt marten, whose small, fragmented and isolated populations are highly vulnerable to single catastrophic events, such as wildfire, due to the loss of ability for movement, dispersal, inter-breeding, and exchange of vital genetic diversity for the species.
The Humboldt marten relies on complex old-growth forest assemblages here in the range of the coast redwoods, which are often characterized by far more than the iconic giant old-growth trees. In addition to the large, old trees, the marten also relies on large dead trees, both standing snags, and downed logs, branches, and other forest woody material in order to feed, breed, rest, and find cover. Additionally, the marten is known to prefer old-growth forest areas with thick, dense, and complex under growth layers comprised of ferns, forbs, berries, and flowers. Such features, while common in an old-growth setting, are not prevalent in previously-managed forest stands in the coast redwoods. This is not only bad for the marten, but also for the forest itself, as well as our bioregional and global climate. Old-growth coast redwood forests are now world-renowned for their tremendous densities of biomass, and incomparable ability to store and sequester carbon dioxide. These critical forest ecosystem processes are just as depended upon biomass comprising of the herbaceous undergrowth as they are upon the giant trees we all know and love.
The conversion of the vast majority of our forested landscape to early seral conditions has resulted in a one-two-punch effect for the Humboldt marten. On the one hand, historic and contemporary logging and conversion of the forest from old-growth to early seral conditions have significantly reduced the range and available habitat for the species, and at the same time facilitating expansion in the historic range of two of the marten’s primary predators, the Pacific fisher, and the bobcat. Slauson (2012) theorizes that restoration in the coast redwood forest can and must go hand-in-hand with habitat connectivity and restoration for the Humboldt marten, stating, “[s]uccessful restoration of the old-growth forest mesocarnivore assemblage in the redwood region will require an increase in the amount and connectivity of old forest conditions and reduction of road densities which should result in the expansion of the remnant Humboldt marten population and decreases in the range and abundance of the fisher and bobcat.”
Restoration, regeneration, and reconnection of our coastal old-growth redwood forests simply cannot be accomplished by focusing on our pre-existent parks and reserves alone; similarly, conservation and recovery of the Humboldt marten cannot be accomplished by focusing on our public lands alone. Landscape-level restoration and connectivity across land use designations and ownership classifications and boundaries, public and private alike, will be necessary to protect and reinvigorate critical and highly-imperiled ecological functions and processes in our remnant fragments of old-growth redwood forest, and to maintain the biological and genetic viability of the Humboldt marten.
At first glance, it may seem that the solutions to how restoration and connectivity in the coast redwood forest can be accomplished are as stealth and allusive as the Humboldt marten, given that so little old-growth remains, and that vast tracts of our redwood forestlands are now privately-owned and primarily managed for industrial timber production. Here, the Humboldt marten may unwittingly be the devisor of its own rescue plan, and thereby the rescuer of our old-growth coast redwood ecosystems as well.
One of the key remaining small, but highly isolated populations of the Humboldt marten is quietly hanging on along the interface between the coast redwood forest and the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. Here, lands are owned and managed by the Redwood National and State Parks system, the Yurok Tribe, Six Rivers National Forest, and Green Diamond Resource Company. The overwhelming majority of the redwoods surrounding and adjacent to the Redwood National and State Parks system are owned by either Green Diamond or the Yurok Tribe. These lands are critical for the viability and recovery of both the Humboldt marten and our coastal redwood forests.
Since 2010, EPIC has advocated to protect and recover the Humboldt marten, and by extension, creating an impetus for landscape-level restoration and connectivity in the coast redwoods. We have used existing environmental laws designed to protect imperiled species like the marten as a proxy for trying to affect landscape management regime changes. EPIC’s 2010 petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Humboldt marten as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act spurred the creation of the Humboldt Marten Conservation Group, a working group comprised of agency, land owners, and scientists, all of whom are now working to draft a long-term conservation and recovery plan for the marten, a vital underpinning that involves landscape level forest habitat restoration and reconnection to help marten populations stabilize, facilitate greater movement and dispersal, and eventually help facilitate recovery.
In 2015, EPIC also petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list the Humboldt marten as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act, hoping to marshal the resources and direct involvement of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and create greater opportunities for cooperation, collaboration, and create more avenues for available funding through state-generated processes.
The old quip that humans “can’t see the forest for the trees,” at times, serves as a sobering allegory as we revisit the history and implications of past intensive logging of our old-growth trees in the coast redwoods. Fortunately, if we look closely enough, there yet remains, hiding quietly and patiently in the deep, dark shadows, the most unlikely of creatures that can serve as the impetus for us to restore, rebuild, and reconnect.
By Tom Wheeler
Rare Carnivore Has Been Reduced to Two Populations in California, Oregon
EPIC and our allies filed a notice of intent today to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision in April to deny Endangered Species Act protection to Pacific fishers, the latest species to fall victim to the Service’s efforts to cater to industry. Closely related to martens and wolverines, Pacific fishers are severely threatened by a number of factors, including habitat loss caused by logging and the use of toxic rodenticides on illegal marijuana growing sites. Although the Service had recently proposed federal protections for Pacific fishers, the agency reversed course at the last minute in a bow to the timber industry.
“Fishers are staring extinction in the face, so it’s deeply disheartening to see Fish and Wildlife deny them the protection they need to survive,” said Justin Augustine, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Science, not politics, is supposed to drive these kinds of decisions, and that didn’t happen here.”
Fishers once roamed from British Columbia to Southern California, but due to intense logging and trapping, only two naturally occurring populations survive today: a population of 100 to 300 fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada and a population of 250 to a few thousand fishers in southern Oregon and Northern California. They have been reintroduced in three populations in the northern Sierra, southern Cascades and Washington State.
The decision to deny protections to the Pacific fisher is the latest in a string of politically motivated decisions from the Fish and Wildlife Service, in which regional staff overruled decisions by Service biologists to protect species. Two months ago a federal judge in Montana criticized the Service for bowing to political pressures in illegally reversing a proposal to protect the estimated 300 wolverines remaining in the lower 48 states. And in December 2015 conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the Service for inexplicably denying protection to Humboldt martens, another rare West Coast carnivore on the brink of extinction.
A survey conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists last year indicated many Service scientists believe that increasingly there is inappropriate interference with science within the agency.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s denial of their own stated concerns and threats to this rare forest carnivore strongly suggests the agency has lost its professional courage to uphold its mission to protect biodiversity due to political pressure. Politics has no place in listing decisions,” said Susan Britting, executive director of Sierra Forest Legacy.
”Service scientists recently found that Pacific fishers are on the brink of extinction and face increasing threats from logging, climate change and especially from the indiscriminate use of toxic rodenticide poisons on marijuana grow sites,” said George Sexton, conservation director for the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center. “The Service acknowledged these challenges supported the need for federal protection before deciding that politics was more important than the survival of the species.”
“Today the Pacific fisher has been isolated to just two locations in the United States,” said Greg Loarie, an Earthjustice attorney who drafted the notice. “If this doesn’t justify the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using our bedrock environmental law — the Endangered Species Act — to protect an animal that needs our help to survive, then I don’t know what does.”
Efforts to protect the West Coast fisher have been going on for decades. The Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned to protect the fisher in 1994, and the four conservation organizations seeking protection for the species today filed a second petition with allies in 2000. In 2004 the fisher was finally added to the candidate waiting list, when the Service determined that the fisher warranted protection but was precluded by higher priority species. In 2010 the Center sued over the delay in protecting the fisher and the Service agreed under a subsequent settlement decision to issue a decision this year. In 2014 the Service announced a proposed rule that would have protected Pacific fishers as a “threatened” species. But the Service abruptly withdrew its proposed rule in April of this year.
“The fisher has waited long enough for protection,” said Tom Wheeler, program director for the Environmental Protection Information Center. “No amount of agency delay, political pressure or obfuscation of science can change the truth: The fisher is threatened with extinction.”
The groups issuing today’s notice are the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Sierra Forest Legacy. They are represented by Earthjustice.