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Wolves of the Golden State

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

OR-7

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

OR-25

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

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

Lassen Wolf

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

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

EPIC Goes to Court to Defend Gray Wolves

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

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

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

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

 

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


Action Alert: Protect Our National Monuments!

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
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TAKE ACTION NOW:

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

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

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

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

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


EPIC in the Community

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


EPIC Spring Social

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


Mount Shasta Earth Day Expo

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


Eureka People’s Climate March

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


Creek Days

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

 


You’re Invited: EPIC Base Camp 2017

Monday, May 8th, 2017
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We are excited to announce that EPIC will host a weekend of skills training to help protect our public lands! EPIC Base Camp will take place in the Klamath National Forest near Happy Camp on June 9-11, 2017. Base Camp attendees will have the opportunity to participate in groundtruthing, map and compass orienteering, environmental policy, know your rights trainings, and more!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Action Alert: Support Tribal Forest Plan Over Timber Giveaways

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

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

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

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

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

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


Volunteers Needed to Document Cattle Grazing Degradation within our National Forests

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grazing Destruction

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

 

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

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

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

Grazing Reform Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28 Maple Road

Klamath, CA 95548.

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

Felice Pace, Project Coordinator

Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California


2017 EPIC Hikes

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
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Come out and join the staff of EPIC for a series of spring and summer excursions in our majestic and critically-important redwood region parks and reserves, home of the tallest trees on earth. Hikes will be led by EPIC staff, and are free and open to the public. Topics to be covered will include the ecology, sociology, history, management, protection, and conservation of our public parks and reserves in the redwood region of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

All hike dates and times are subject to change, pending inclement weather, or other factors, so be aware! As always, if you come, please be prepared for our local conditions and for the conditions generally found in our forests. Please wear appropriate clothing and foot ware, bring food, and water, and anything else you may need to be comfortable and safe in the forest. Hikes are of varying lengths and difficulty levels, so please check out the descriptions below, and know your limits! All hikes will originate from our office in Arcata, CA, at 145 G Street, Suite A, at 10 a.m., unless otherwise noted. Space may be limited, so please RSVP if you plan to attend an individual hike.

Click on the hike date to join individual events on Facebook. For more information, or to RSVP for an individual hike, please call us at (707) 822-7711, or e-mail: rob@wildcalifornia.org.


Last Chance Grade: Update

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
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Last Chance Grade, a narrow sliver of Highway 101 near Crescent City, is falling into the ocean. This wet winter has taken a toll, with half the roadway falling down the hillside. The question is not if the road will fail, but when and how badly.

Caltrans and EPIC don’t often see eye to eye. But we agree that something needs to be done about Last Chance Grade, and fast. To that end, EPIC is working with other stakeholders to find funds to begin planning for an environmentally responsible replacement.

EPIC is a member of the Last Chance Grade Stakeholder Group, convened by Congressman Jared Huffman, to help Caltrans in the development of a replacement project. Caltrans has developed a number of potential alternatives, which can be viewed here. These alternatives range from a long bypass, largely through Green Diamond Resource Company land, to a shorter tunnel through Redwood National Park.

Before Caltrans can do work, it needs money to start environmental analysis. EPIC and other stakeholders are requesting immediate funding from the California Transportation Commission to begin geotechnical evaluation of potential new alignments. Caltrans is also looking for “emergency” funding from the Federal Highway Administration for work on the project. Under normal circumstances, this money would not be available to create a new alignment—that is, moving a road to a different location. However, Congressman Huffman and Caltrans have been hard at work to secure an exemption to this usual rule as replacing the road in its current alignment is impossible. Both Congressman Huffman and Caltrans deserve immense credit and kudos for their quick work and resolve in seeking funding.

The worst case scenario—for both the community and our forests—is a catastrophic failure of Last Chance Grade. Under this “emergency,” Caltrans may be able to bypass environmental review laws to punch in a road as quickly as possible—with the quickest and shortest route through old-growth forest in Redwood National Park. However, Caltrans has maintained that avoiding old-growth redwoods is a chief priority. EPIC believes in Caltrans position to safeguard old-growth redwoods throughout the new alignments, and is committed to seeing this project through to the end to ensure Caltrans holds true to their word.

As a voice for the conservation community on the project, EPIC will continue to push to minimize any environmental impacts from road construction and to mitigate all impacts to the fullest degree feasible. EPIC will keep you updated when more information becomes available.

Last Chance Grade Alternatives Map


Action Alert: Advocate for Smart Post-Fire Management

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017
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What kind of forest management should the Forest Service do after a fire? That was the question facing the Shasta-Trinity National Forest after the fires of summer 2015. Does it go for a timber grab disguised as “restoration,” like the Klamath National Forest in the Westside Project, or does it try to work with the community to meet multiple needs?

For the most part, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest has done it right with the Trinity Post-Fire Hazard Reduction and Salvage Project. The Forest Service has focused its efforts on hazardous trees near roads, instead of timber grabs. It has deliberately chosen public participation and process (instead of end-arounds of the National Environmental Policy Act). And it has emphasized returning fire to the landscape in the future.

As part of the Trinity Post Fire Project, the Forest Service has developed a wide range of alternatives, from those that are heavy on logging (Alternatives 1, 2, and 3) to those that are light on logging or contain no commercial logging whatsoever (Alternatives 4 and 5, respectively). Given the potential negative effects to wildlife and the low price this burned wood is likely to receive, EPIC recommends that the Forest Service adopt Alternative 5, the “Minimum Impact Alternative.”

Alternative 5 benefits the local community by creating forest jobs—212 jobs to be exact—reducing “fuels” on 4,000 acres immediately alongside roads. It benefits forest users by keeping roads open and accessible. And it will create future shaded fuel breaks to reestablish fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. What Alternative 5 doesn’t do is lose taxpayer money on timber sales.

Click here to let the Forest Service know that you appreciate the approach it has taken and that you support Alternative 5.


Westside Update: EPIC Back in Court to Fight for Project Remediation

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
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For more articles about the Westside Timber Sale, click here.

EPIC is back in court to ensure that promised logging remediation will occur. EPIC is seeking to amend our original lawsuit to target some of the unfulfilled promises made by the Forest Service. The amended complaint is here and our motion to amend is here.

Broadly speaking, the Westside Timber Sale consisted of two components: a timber sale and project features to “recover” the forest post-fire and post-logging. The first part, the logging, has occurred. But the second, the recovery actions, may never occur because of the Forest Service’s failures.

Through the Westside Timber Sale, the Forest Service has denuded around 6,000 acres of mostly steep and unstable slopes in the Klamath National Forest. In its wake, the Forest Service has left a mess. Slash and logging debris litter the landscape. Roads are collapsing and washing into the Klamath River. Forest fuel conditions are worse than when the project started. (In short, this is what EPIC predicted would happen. But no one likes an “I told you so.”)

As promised to the public in their environmental impact statement, the Forest Service indicated that it was going to come back in and clean up this mess through fuels reductions projects and treatment of “legacy” sources of sediment pollution. The Forest Service predicated this remediation work on selling timber for exaggerated prices—$240 per thousand board feet of timber. In reality, the Forest Service sold owl critical habitat for as low as $.50 per thousand board feet, as the market for these fire-killed trees dried up. (At that price, a log truck full of trees would cost less than a cup of coffee.)

When the Forest Service realized that the project was no longer economically viable, it should have stopped logging and reevaluated the Project. It didn’t. Now EPIC is asking the court to force the Forest Service to think critically about what it can feasibly do by revisiting its environmental impact statement.


EPIC Spring Social Potluck

Monday, April 10th, 2017
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Join EPIC staff and board on April 28th for a membership mixer and potluck dinner with Darren Speece, author of Defending Giants. Festivities begin at 6pm, as we enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and talk about EPIC’s current projects and vision for the future. At 7pm Darren Speece will read his account of the Redwood Wars, and EPIC history. We hope to see you there!

 

Darren Speece Defending Giants : The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics

Darren Speece is Assistant Dean of Students and History Teacher at Sidwell Friends School. A Humboldt State University alum (1997, BS Geology), he received his PhD in history at theUniversity of Maryland (2010). After leaving Humboldt State, Darren worked for The Fund for the Public Interest, running citizen outreach campaigns for seven years on behalf of the PIRGS, Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign, Forests Forever, Greenpeace, and more. His writing has appeared in Environmental History, Salon.com, The Chicago Tribune,and The Salt Lake Tribune. California History is publishing an article about the Redwood Wars later this spring. Defending Giants (2016) is his first book. He is currently working on an environmental history of Washington, DC as well as a history of the Maine North Woods.

“Defending Giants explores the long history of the Redwood Wars, focusing on the ways rural Americans fought for control over both North Coast society and its forests. Activists defended these trees not only because the redwood forest had dwindled in size, but also because, by the late twentieth century, the local economy was increasingly dominated by multinational corporations. The resulting conflict-the Redwood Wars-pitted workers and environmental activists against the rising tide of globalization and industrial logging in a complex war over endangered species, sustainable forestry, and, of course, the fate of the last ancient redwoods. Activists perched in trees and filed lawsuits, while the timber industry, led by Pacific Lumber, fought the lawsuits and used their power to halt reform efforts. Ultimately, the Clinton Administration sidestepped Congress and the courts to negotiate an innovative compromise. In the process, the Redwood Wars transformed American environmental politics by shifting the balance of power away from Congress and into the hands of the Executive Branch” (University of Washington Press).


2016 EPIC Annual Report

Thursday, April 6th, 2017
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The Environmental Protection Information Center is proud to present to you our 2016 Annual Report. The report includes an overview of some of our major accomplishments from last year, and a vision for what we plan to do in the coming year. In 2016 we had many victories: we started the year off with a rally to defend public lands, continued to advocate for Elk River and its residents, challenged the Westside timber sale, expanded our grazing monitoring project, engaged in the emerging Northwest Forest Plan Revision process, and developed and distributed 6,000 Humboldt County Farmer’s Compliance Handbooks to the masses. We continued to defend the rare and threatened wildlife that call our forests home, and successfully listed the northern spotted owl under the California Endangered Species Act, and moved the Humboldt marten to a “candidate” species listing.

In the year ahead, we plan to be ever transparent and engaged with our community in order to provide the best defense for our forests, wildlife, and watersheds. In summer 2017, we are introducing EPIC BaseCamp, which will be an opportunity for our membership to get their boots on the ground, and out into the forests. Groundtruthers will develop on-the-ground monitoring skills that will help challenge bad logging projects, destructive grazing, and other Forest Service actions that degrade the environment. Click here for more information about EPIC Basecamp.

EPIC’s approach to forest advocacy is to seek out and champion the best available science to shape policy through education, outreach and strategic litigation. Our administration has made it’s environmental agenda clear, and EPIC will work diligently to ensure that state and federal agencies follow their mandate to uphold environmental law. This work would not be possible without people like you. As a membership organization we represent your values as we push forward with strategic advocacy and legal action to champion the best conservation and protection for our forests.

This year, we said goodbye to our beloved Natalynne Delapp-Hinton and welcomed former Program Director Tom Wheeler as our new Executive Director. Briana Villalobos officially joined the EPIC staff in January as the Director of Communications and Development. The faces of EPIC are changing, but our heart remains the same. We have an exceptional staff of experts and support from a community of people who dare to think the world can be a better place.

Together, we are powerful and together we will keep California wild!


Court Overturns Government Refusal to Protect Rare Humboldt Marten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
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View of Rodgers Peak from Bald Hills Road Lookout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Timber Sale Monitors Find Trees Marked in Riparian Reserves

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

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

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

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

Unit 106 Issues with Riparian Areas and Paint Markings

Unit 106 Riparian Reserves and Old Growth Marked

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

Unit 107 Riparian Reserve Paint Issues

Unit 107 Mature & Old Growth Marked

Unit 122 Issues with Trees Marked for Cut in Riparian Areas

 


Public Meeting on Headwaters Reserve Forest Restoration Amendment

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

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

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

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

 


Cliven Bundy ❤’s HB 622

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rep. Tom McClintock:

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

California Office: (916) 786-5560

 

Rep. Doug LaMalfa:

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

California Office: (530) 223-5898


EPIC to Legislature: Pass SB 49 & SB 50

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

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

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

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

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


Host an EPIC House Party!

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