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Cannabis Ordinance, an Important First Step

Friday, February 5th, 2016
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A long time in the making, and sorely needed, Humboldt County now has the first land use ordinance in the state of California to regulate commercial cannabis agriculture. This is an important first step to begin rectifying the environmental destruction associated with unregulated cannabis cultivation, and providing a legitimate framework for legal economic activity that can benefit farmers and the general public. Only now can the divide between cultivators, regulators, and communities start to close, and mutual distrust begin to fade, as we work together to shape the industry’s future with our social and environmental values.

This is a monumental step taken at the behest of cannabis farmers, conservationists, government officials, members of the public and many others, who for the last five years have openly dialogued, deliberated, and educated the community about the problems of unregulated cannabis, while looking for solutions.

For nearly two decades, since cultivation for medical use was decriminalized, there have been very few rules and regulations to govern which activities are and are not acceptable. Unfortunately, few government officials outside of Humboldt County were willing or able to help find solutions to statewide problems associated with unregulated cannabis, such as water withdrawals, herbicide and pesticide use, threats to consumer and public safety, law enforcement and beyond.

Thanks to the efforts of a few brave cultivators, and Assembly member Jim Wood and Senator Mike McGuire, California adopted the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act in 2015, which at last provides a comprehensive statewide framework to regulate commercial cannabis. In addition, last summer the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board issued its groundbreaking water quality order, the first regulation by a California state agency designed to address environmental impacts from cannabis cultivation.

Finally, the components for effective regulation had to come together— Humboldt County could develop its own local ordinance to regulate land use, and what was accomplished was no small feat. The community came together to engage in the public process; and the Humboldt County Supervisors and planning staff accomplished the difficult task of balancing the needs of the environment, the industry, and the public. Having witnessed the process, I can say it is an example of the government and its citizens successfully working together to create a set of rules that most everyone can support.

The Humboldt County Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance establishes rules and performance standards designed to mitigate the harms associated with the unregulated existing industry. To be fully permitted as a legal commercial cannabis farmer, all twenty requirements must be satisfied, which include: enrollment in the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board water quality order; compliance with the streambed alteration program from the Department of Fish and Wildlife; water storage requirements to prevent dry season pumping; and strict rules for water trucking. Performance standards will begin to address noise and light pollution associated with generator use and mixed-light grows; streamside set-backs were incorporated to further protect water quality; and processing plans and allowance for off-site centralized processing centers were developed to increase safety for workers while reducing negative impacts associated with trim scenes. The Retirement, Relocation and Remediation Program incentivizes relocation of poorly situated grows to flat agricultural lands; and indoor cultivation is limited to on-the-grid power in existing structures. No new grows are allowed on forest resource lands i.e. TPZ, FR or U zones; and a sunset clause is included that limits enrollment in the county’s permitting plan to applicants who apply by December 31, 2016. In addition, the Supervisors have publically committed to completing a full Environmental Impact Report before expanding the breadth of the ordinance.

The county land use ordinance is an important first step, but it’s only the beginning. The county needs to begin immediately drafting a cannabis excise tax to fund inspection and enforcement, and provide other public services—so that it can be included on the June 2016 ballot for voter approval.

Cannabis thrived without regulation for decades. The time has now come for it to thrive with regulation. We need to help bring farmers into compliance. To assist with this task, EPIC and the Mad River Alliance are partnering with Humboldt Green, California Growers Association and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District to create a 2016 Compliance Manual. We are hosting a series of six workshops across the county with presentations by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and experts on state and county laws. Click here to be directed to the Cannabis Farmer’s Workshop Series Facebook page. 

Through all these steps, we must remember that regulations and laws are not going to be perfect the first time around and that adaptive management strategies must be employed. The community must work together to provide feedback to agencies and elected officials regarding implementation of the new rules, and whether or not they are effective. EPIC will be there to work with anyone or any group who is sincere in promoting environmentally responsible cannabis cultivation, while ensuring environmental laws are upheld.

Workshops are scheduled for:

* February 28th at the Mad River Grange

* March 13th at the Mateel Community Center

* March 19th at the Willow Creek Country Club

* April 3rd at the Mattole Grange;

* April 17th at  “Cannafest” at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds

* April 24 at Ruth Lake Community Center

Click to view the cannabis compliance workshop flier

Compliance Workshop Flier-1


Action Alert – Support California Coastal Commission Director

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
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Trinidad smTake Action: As the California Coastal Act celebrates its 40th year as the most effective coastal protection legislation on the globe, pro-development interests are attempting to terminate Dr. Charles Lester, the Executive Director of the Commission for not being developer friendly enough, although no cause has been given for such a drastic action. Dr. Lester has refused to resign quietly, and has called for a full public hearing on his proposed termination, which will take place on Wednesday, February 10th in Morro Bay.

The California Coastal Commission is the agency tasked with protecting 840 miles of some of the most beautiful coastline in the nation. The Commission was established by voter initiative in 1972 and was later made permanent by the legislature through the adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976. The Coastal Commission is comprised of a 12-member board with members appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Pro Tem, and it appears that it is the Commissioners appointed the Governor who are leading the effort to fire Dr. Lester.

Ironically, the effort to terminate Executive Director Lester comes at a time of strong Commission accomplishment, including increased public transparency and a recently received administrative authority that allows penalties to be administered against individuals who violate the Coastal Act’s coastal access provisions at $11,500 per violation per day.

The attack on the Executive Director Lester is an attack on the Coastal Act. This attempted coup d’etats is a power grab in an attempt to undermine the integrity of the Coastal Program, gain control over an independent Staff, and make the Commission more “developer-friendly” without any public accountability or transparency.

On February 10th the Coastal Commission will hold a hearing on this matter, and funded busses are available to transport people to the hearing. If you would like to attend the hearing, funded busses will be transporting people to the hearing to show support. If you are interested in taking a trip to Morro Bay, and attending the hearing, click here.

Click here to take action and support the Coastal Commission and Executive Director Charles Lester who is tasked with protecting the coastal environment.


EPIC Supports the Pomo People Near Willits in a Struggle with Caltrans

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
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Fred Short, Spiritual Leader with the American Indian Movement, takes part in a ceremony held on a former village site located on Willits Bypass Project Mitigation Lands, July 2015.  Photo by Steve Eberhard – The Willits News.

Fred Short, Spiritual Leader with the American Indian Movement, takes part in a ceremony held on a former village site located on Willits Bypass Project Mitigation Lands, July 2015. Photo by Steve Eberhard – The Willits News.

The Willits Bypass is a grossly overbuilt project consisting of a 6-mile stretch of new freeway that bypasses a town of 5,000 people with a price tag of over $300 million for the first 2-lane phase of construction. Many First Nation’s cultural sites have been destroyed; most significantly an entire ancestral village skewered by wick drains and buried under 30 feet of fill. Details of the misdeeds of Caltrans are painfully described in letters from local Tribes (see below).

The Willits Bypass Project has had major negative impacts on Native American cultural resources both on the Bypass footprint and on the over 2,000 acres of “mitigation” lands. There have been so many post review discoveries that the Tribes have been calling for a Supplemental EIS on Cultural Resources. The Tribes having their cultural heritage adversely affected are: Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, the Round Valley Indian Tribes and the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians. These Tribes have tried without any success to engage in good faith government-to-government consultations with Caltrans, hoping to achieve a successful Programmatic Agreement (“PA”) and Post Review and Discovery Monitoring Plan (“PRDMP”). The Tribal representatives have been insulted and lied to; tribal construction monitors have been excluded and ignored on numerous occasions. Over the strenuous objections of the Tribes, Caltrans is now asking the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to approve Caltrans-drafted documents. These documents should not be approved. They are vehemently and justifiably opposed by the Tribes most affected by the contents.

Caltrans ignored the Natural Historic Preservation Act by engaging in significant ground disturbing activities without obtaining signatures on a PA or PRDMP. Caltrans ignored the Tribes’ protest of commencement of ground-disturbing activities without a PA and PRDMP. Caltrans ignored the Tribes’ protest of Caltrans ‘failures to adequately identify, protect and avoid ancestral cultural sites throughout the Willits Bypass Project. An important village site, the Village of Yami was destroyed by Caltrans early in the course of construction, although this village site had been mapped and known since the time of Kroeber. Caltrans ignored the Tribes’ request to adequately survey the construction site resulting in many significant artifacts being “discovered by bull-dozer” since there were no adequate surveys.

Two of the affected Tribes have filed suit in federal court against Caltrans, Federal Highways and others. These are not Tribes with big casinos and they expend their casino revenues in providing services to their members. The well-respected law firms of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy and long-time EPIC attorney Sharon Duggan who have foiled Caltrans before, have stepped up and are willing to argue the case without pay.

This kind of collaboration is not as new as it might seem. Maybe you know the story of the Northern California InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council (ITSWC); an alliance between 10 Federally recognized Tribes and many environmental groups from Trust for Public Lands to EPIC and Earth First! that resulted in the creation of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness.

First Nations people lived for many thousands of years in relative balance with the natural world due in large part to cultures that respected natural law, understood ecological balance and held populations to carrying capacity or below. It is no surprise that the descendants of these First Peoples should want to preserve their ancestral cultures and that other people should want to support this endeavor partly because most non-native cultures have moved so far from balance and respect for the natural world as to overpopulate, overuse and in fact decimate landscapes and render many species extinct.

For more information go to:

http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Coyote-VAlley-protest-letter.pdf

http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/SherwoodValley.pdf


2015 Grazing Monitoring Report

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
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Cattle manure in Taylor Lake, a popular swimming lake in the Russian Peak Wilderness

Cattle manure in Taylor Lake, a popular swimming lake in the Russian Peak Wilderness. Photo by Felice Pace.

Call them what you want—Y’all Qaeda, bullies, or protesters—the armed occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have been the talk of the country. Their nationally televised game of fort offers a great opportunity to discuss one of the lesser known impacts on our national public lands: grazing.

EPIC’s “Project to Reform Public Land Grazing” has been hard at work to reform grazing on public lands in Northern California, from the Oregon border to south of Mount Shasta. Led by longtime environmentalist Felice Pace, EPIC contractor and volunteers have been out in the field, logging more than 224 volunteer hours on 14 different grazing allotments documenting violations and environmental impacts, the highlights of which are featured in an annual report, which can be found here.

Unmanaged grazing is ecologically harmful. In California, grazing disrupts more acres of native plant communities than any other activity. Unlike deer or elk which browse on the move, cattle generally find an acre they like and stay put, eating away native vegetation and tearing up the soil. In 2015, the Project found extensive damage caused by grazing.

Grazing is known to contribute to water quality issues. For example, in Taylor Lake, a popular local swimming spot in the Russian Peak Wilderness, the Project documented cattle manure in the lake, which is not only gross but can serve as a vector for pathogens.

Cattle also destroy important willow wetlands. Cattle trudge through willow to browse on the willows and the tender grasses and sedges growing below. Overtime, this behavior will utterly destroy willow wetlands, converting the wetlands into grasslands. This is a big deal for the Willow Flycatcher, a bird species listed as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act. The Willow Flycatcher, as its name suggests, uses dense willow wetlands for breeding. Poorly managed cattle and this endangered species cannot cohabitate.

This severely fragmented and degraded willow wetland in the Black Meadows pasture of the Big Meadows Grazing Allotment is being slowly converted into a grassland

This severely fragmented and degraded willow wetland in the Black Meadows pasture of the Big Meadows Grazing Allotment is being slowly converted into a grassland.

This environmental destruction is also heavily subsidized. According to a report by the Center for Biological Diversity, the federal government spent $143.6 million dollars on grazing programs in fiscal year 2014 but grazing receipts only totaled $18.5 million. The Feds pay for a lot—grazing employees, fences, corrals—but do not recoup their costs because they charge grazers 6.72 percent of fees charged by private land owners in the West.

Ranchers are emboldened because they view our national public lands as theirs to spoil. While the standoff at Malheur has drawn considerable attention, closer to home, this sense of entitlement is also present. In the Klamath National Forest, a growing number of ranchers are not removing their cattle on time, often merely leaving them to wander home. This is met without punishment by the Forest Service, which further encourages this sense of entitlement.

A steer on the Klamath National Forest walking home 10 days after all Cattle are supposed to have been removed from public land

A steer on the Klamath National Forest walking home 10 days after all Cattle are supposed to have been removed from public land. Photo by Felice Pace.

EPIC is gearing up for another season in the field and we could use your support. Together, we must remind government officials and stubborn ranchers that these lands belong to all of us. Their use by ranchers for grazing is a privilege, and if rules are not adhered to, their permits should be taken away.


Update on County Commercial Medical Cannabis Ordinance: Victory on the Horizon?

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
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IMG_3871Humboldt County is moving forward with regulating medical cannabis production with a final ordinance set to be passed on January 26, 2016. With the language of the ordinance still being solidified by county planning staff, nothing set in stone until the Board of Supervisors takes a final action—however, below is our best reading of the tea leaves of where the Board stands as of the time of press (spoiler alert: it looks pretty decent):

♦ No new operations in forestlands and incentives for cultivators operating in sub-prime locations such as steep terrain, or sensitive upper watershed conditions, etc. to retire, remediate and/or relocate to flatter agricultural lands.

♦ All operations must adhere to strict environmental requirements, including a water withdrawal forbearance period from May 15 to October 31, prohibition on use of non-organic pesticides, prohibition of use of trucked water, and meet specific performance standards.

♦ For commercial outdoor and mixed-light operations, tiered approval with more stringent, site-specific review triggered by higher square footage.

♦ Operations between 500-5,000 sq. ft. will require a zoning clearance certificate (a ministerial permit—after all conditions are met).

♦ Operations between 5,000-10,000 sq. ft. will require a special use permit. A special use permit provides an additional layer of oversight. It is handled by county planning staff, much like a zoning clearance certificate, but affords neighbors the opportunity to provide feedback to staff. If necessary, planning staff or neighbors may request a formal hearing before the Planning Commission.

♦ Operations greater than 10,000 sq. ft. will require a conditional use permit.

♦ For indoor operations, all operations require zero net energy or a carbon offset.

♦ For industrial or commercial parcels, up to 5,000 sq. ft. with ministerial permit and up to 10,000 sq ft. with conditional use permit.

♦ For lands zoned for agricultural production (AG and AE), the ordinance would cap operations at 5,000 sq. ft.

♦ Grows up to 22,000 sq. ft. considered through a master planning process with accompanying EIR.

♦ Set noise abatement standards for generators to a decibel level appropriate to avoid harm to wildlife, likely between 25db and 60db.

Overall, the ordinance is pretty decent—and given the myriad of stakeholders and complexity of the issue—we’ll take pretty decent. And included in the decent is a number of hard fought battles (and victories), most notably no new operations in forest lands, including Timber Production Zone (TPZ) lands!

How did we get here? To quote the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” In October 2014, California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH) invited EPIC, the NEC, and SAFE to participate in an early stakeholders meeting for a draft ordinance that CCVH intended to submit to voters. For the next year, CCVH was hard at working developing an ordinance, issuing a half dozen draft ordinances, with environmental voices providing critical review and comment.

While CCVH was hard at work, the State got in the game. On September 11, 2015, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board passed a waiver of waste discharge requirements for commercial cannabis producers, the first real environmental regulation directly applied to cannabis. In fall 2015, the State legislature passed a trio of laws to regulate medical cannabis production (AB 243, AB 266, & SB 642). These laws expressly gave the County permission to regulate commercial medical cannabis production and provided a deadline of March 1, 2016, by which counties were to promulgate local regulations. Just four days later, on September 15, 2015, CCVH decided not to run an independent voter initiative campaign and generously turned their ordinance over to the Board of Supervisors to use as a template.

The Humboldt County Supervisors were tasked with striking a balance between competing forces. If cultivators do not participate, no performance standards or environmental mitigations will be followed, which would not help attenuate the problems facing our watersheds and human communities. This is the crux of the issue within the development of Humboldt County’s ordinance—a sweet spot must be achieved that will maximize participation while providing enough oversight and environmental protection.

Collectively, we are in the process of ushering in a new paradigm for commercial cultivation of medical cannabis in Humboldt County. We are preserving local control, beginning to mitigate the adverse impacts of unregulated cannabis production, and providing a legitimate framework for legal economic activity that can benefit both farmers and the public.

Click here to read comments on the cannabis ordinance from EPIC and our conservation allies (1-8-16).

Click here to read comments (12-31-15)


Tell the Fish and Game Commission to Protect the Humboldt Marten

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
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DFG MartenTake Action: California’s last remaining population of coastal martens, the so-called “Humboldt marten,” is so small that they were once thought to be extinct. In 1996, after 35,000 survey nights were logged using baited track plates and infrared cameras placed throughout forests in Northwest California and yielded no detections, a Humboldt marten boldly left his print on a track plate located in a remote section of Six Rivers National Forest. The Humboldt marten was alive!

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!

On February 11th, the Fish and Game Commission will determine whether to take the first step in protecting the marten under the California Endangered Species Act by deciding whether it should be a candidate for final “listing.” By declaring the marten a candidate, the Fish and Game Commission will trigger a one-year review period after which the Commission will make a final decision on whether to protect the Humboldt marten.

This is a crucial first step. Because the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to honor its duty to protect the marten, for which EPIC has filed suit in federal court, it is even more critical that the Fish and Game Commission move forward with protecting the marten. Listing the marten under the California Endangered Species Act will not only prohibit humans from harming the marten, but it will also open up private and government funding sources for restoration activities.

As we showed this summer in our fight to ban bobcat trapping, concerned Californians can beat industry lobbyists by speaking their minds. We need you! Click here to tell the Fish and Game Commission that the Humboldt marten deserves protection.  


Big, Old Trees are the Local Solution to Global Climate Change

Monday, December 28th, 2015
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While much of the activism, politics, and media around global warming rightly focuses on reducing the use of fossil fuels and stopping pipelines that threaten to expand fossil fuel use, the forests in Northwest California are quietly absorbing vast quantities of carbon rivaling the most productive ecosystems on earth and sustaining natural communities and services humans depend on.

Big, old trees are our local solution to global climate change. With your financial support, EPIC will champion the important role our forests play in carbon sequestration and climate change.

Northern California is home to 4 of the top 10 carbon-storing national forests in the country. Our forests breathe in excess carbon dioxide caused by burning of fossil fuels, and store the carbon in their trunks, roots, and surrounding soil for centuries—if allowed to grow.

Let me explain: as trees grow, they suck up carbon dioxide from the air and trap it in their trunk, limbs, roots, and leaves—or to use the fancy science term, this carbon is “sequestered.” As a tree grows, it becomes a carbon “sink,” storing more carbon than it emits. And the bigger the tree, the more carbon can be stored away.

Logging short-circuits this process and accelerates the transfer of stored carbon back into the atmosphere. This is especially important in regards to old-growth forests. If a tree had been pulling from the atmosphere for 700 years, as many old-growth redwoods on the north coast have, then if that tree is cut down, it will emit significant amounts of carbon that had been stored for hundreds of years.

Just like fossil fuels, this carbon had long ago been removed from the carbon cycle; like stepping on the gas pedal in your car, logging these high-carbon forests will only speed up global climate change by releasing a sudden influx of long-stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Recruiting and preserving big, old trees is like hitting the brakes, slowing our rate of carbon emissions by keeping carbon in the trees.

Conservation victories over the last 25 years have shifted the northwest forest landscape from a net source of carbon to a net carbon sink. Proposals by Congress and the U.S. Forest Service to increase logging on public lands would increase carbon emissions, reverse hard-earned conservation gains, and fly in the face of what we know we must do to prevent an all out climate disaster.

With your financial support, EPIC will champion the important role our forests play in carbon sequestration and climate change, and be ready to push back on Big Timber interests, who have their eye on our public forests. For the love of forests, please donate today and help EPIC be ready to stop them.

 


Lawsuit Challenges Failure to Protect Coastal Marten

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015
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Photo Credit: USFWS

Photo Credit: USFWS

Groups Sue to Save Rare, Mink-like Carnivore in California, Oregon

Two conservation groups today sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect the coastal marten under the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Center first petitioned for protection for the coastal marten, sometimes known as the Humboldt marten, in 2010. Represented by Earthjustice, the groups are now challenging the Service’s April 2015 decision not to award federal protection to the marten. Read the complaint here.

The bushy-tailed carnivores were once common, but now fewer than 100 of them survive in California, while an unknown but very small number are still found in Oregon. A slender mustelid related to minks and otters, the coastal marten survives only in three isolated populations in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon.

“The science clearly shows that the coastal marten deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act, but the agency ignored its own scientists in making the political decision to betray the marten,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity and lead author of the petition to protect the marten.

The marten faces a barrage of threats, including logging, fire, climate change, trapping in Oregon, vehicle strikes, rodenticide poisoning and small population size. In denying the marten protection, the Service ignored the best available science, including its own scientific report. In the past year, the agency has come under increasing criticism for overruling its own scientists and too often bowing to political pressure.

“We’re dealing with an animal that is already extinct throughout more than 83 percent of its historic range. It’s like discovering that the ivory-billed woodpecker still exists, yet refusing to protect it,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney for Earthjustice representing the groups. “If they’re going to survive and recover, coastal martens desperately need the protection that the Endangered Species Act provides.”

“The Service’s decision not to protect the coastal marten is scientifically and morally unjustifiable,” said Rob DiPerna, EPIC’s California forest and wildlife advocate. “The marten is a special part of the natural heritage of the Northwest and deserves full protection.”

The coastal martens’ historic range extended from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon; in Oregon the marten now lives only in a small area within Siskiyou and Siuslaw national forests. Coastal martens were believed extinct in California — with 95 percent of their old-growth forest habitat lost and a history of excessive trapping — until they were rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. In 2009 the first California marten to be photographed in recent times was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera.

The extremely secretive animals are known for their slinky walking motion and expert hunting skills. Typically about 2 feet long, with large, triangular ears and a long tail, they eat smaller mammals, berries and birds, and are preyed on by larger mammals and raptors.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 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.


Latest Study Shows Northern Spotted Owl Populations in Rapid Decline

Monday, December 14th, 2015
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NSO babyThe northern spotted owl is in decline across its entire range and its rate of decline is increasing—that is the conclusion of a major demographic study produced by federal scientists, published Wednesday, December 9, 2015, in the journal “The Condor.” The study examined survey results from monitoring areas across the range of the imperiled owl, and results suggest that immediate and aggressive improvements in existing conservation efforts will be necessary if the owl is to persist in the wild.

The northern spotted owl was listed as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1990. Loss of old-growth forests, on which the owl depends, to logging across the Pacific Northwest on both federal and non-federal lands was the impetus behind the original listing, and eventually served as the basis for the creation of the Northwest Forest Plan, the forest plan that now governs activities on federal lands in the range of the owl.

However, the over 25 years of federal ESA protections, including the implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan for federal lands, has not been enough to curtail the decline of the northern spotted owl. The latest demographic study indicates that habitat loss continues to plague the owl range-wide, and that the expansion of the barred owl into the historic range of the spotted owl has further confounded efforts to protect and conserve northern spotted owls in the wild.

EPIC is Fighting for Owls

The latest demographic study results for the northern spotted owl confirms EPIC’s worse fears about the perilous condition of owl populations in California and across the species’ range, and shows alarming trends and grim prospects for the conservation of the owl. After reviewing the results of the last demographic study results for the northern spotted owl (Forsman et al. 2011), EPIC understood that more aggressive and immediate conservation measures for the owl were necessary if the species is to survive in the wild.

Taking this into account, EPIC initiated a two-pronged approach to increasing the listing status and conservation options for the northern spotted owl. In 2012, EPIC filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting that the agency “up-list” or “reclassify’ the northern spotted owl from a “threatened” to an “endangered’ species under the federal ESA. In conjunction, EPIC also filed a listing petition for the northern spotted owl under the California Endangered Species Act with the California Fish and Game Commission.

Agency Inaction in the Face of Declining Owl Populations

Our federal “reclassification” petition for the northern spotted owl has been mired in agency heel-dragging on the part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Although the “reclassification” petition was submitted to the Service in 2012, the agency did not even produce its initial 90-day evaluation and finding on the merits of the petition until April, 2015, and only then under the threat of imminent litigation from EPIC.

The listing petition for the northern spotted owl under CESA has similarly been subject to incomprehensible agency delays and heel-dragging, which has been perpetrated by both the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It took the Fish and Game Commission nearly a year before it even held the initial hearing on the merits of our petition to list the spotted owl. Although the spotted owl became a “candidate” for listing under CESA in December, 2013, and was afforded temporary protections, the final hearing on the merits of the CESA listing petition for the northern spotted owl has yet to be scheduled, largely as a result of the failure of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to prepare and produce a status review and report for the owl within statutorily-required timeframes. At present, there is no date-certain for the Department to produce and submit the report to the Fish and Game Commission, despite the fact that the report is now over six-month delinquent.

EPIC has also been working to challenge, critique, and improve the protective measures afforded to the northern spotted owl during the course of logging operations on private forestlands under the California Forest Practice Act and Forest Practice Rules. Logging operations on private forestlands in California have been poorly-regulated and poorly-monitored, particularly since 2008, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended its participation in the review and approval process for private lands timber harvest operations. The lack of independent scientific expertise to guide the review and approval process for private lands THPs, combined with the antiquated and ineffective regulatory constraints on the private lands logging industry, has effectively hung the northern spotted owl out to dry, and facilitated the continuance of “business as usual.”

EPIC will continue advocate for increased, and more immediate and aggressive measures to conserve the northern spotted owl.

NSO Population Declines, New Study Reports Final EPIC WFLC Press Release

The Effects of habitat, Climate, and Barred Owls on Long-term Demography of Northern Spotted Owls – The Condor Volume 118, 2016 pp.57-116

 

 


Stop Road Construction in an Inventoried Roadless Area!

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
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Bulldozer_CAT_D6M_XL_8705Take action now: The Shasta Trinity National Forest is proposing to build a road through an inventoried roadless area to allow Sierra Pacific Industries Timber Inc. (SPI) to reach and log 80 acres of a forested private inholding! The cost of the road would be borne by the public, subsidizing the logging performed by SPI. EPIC is opposed to the road project and we need your support.

Road construction would come at an extreme environmental cost. According to a retired Forest Service employee familiar with the area, the road would be built on steep and potentially unstable slopes. Public documents state that trees up to 39 inches in diameter would be removed to bulldoze the new road. Species thought to use the area include mountain lions, fishers, ringtail cats, and martens. Nearby streams may also be affected, including wildlife, such as trout, tailed frogs, and yellow-legged frogs. Roadless areas are the largest tracts of intact wild lands outside of wilderness areas and they provide landscape habitat connectivity for wildlife.

Road construction through public land is unnecessary. The parcel in question is not landlocked; SPI can access the parcel through its own lands, however it does not want to spend the money if the Feds would do it for them. Further, SPI routinely utilizes helicopter logging for other areas where it would be too difficult or costly to put in a logging road.

This road is unwarranted and comes at too great of an ecological cost. Tell Forest Supervisor Myers that you don’t support roads for private logging in roadless areas!


Westside Project Update

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
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Westside

Russian Wilderness post 2014 Whites Fire Near north Fork Salmon River.

For the past year, we have discussed the proposed “Westside Project” on the Klamath National Forest. The Westside Project is an environmental disaster, proposing huge clearcuts across thousands of post-fire acres of the Klamath National Forest. The project would drastically impact northern spotted owls and would harm other wildlife, such as bald eagles and the Pacific fisher. You can read more about the Westside Project here.

Four major steps need to be made before logging could begin in earnest. First, the Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service need to complete their “consultation,” a process required by the Endangered Species Act, given the high magnitude of threats to the northern spotted owl. Second, the Forest Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service need to complete their consultation, also required by the Endangered Species Act, because of the potential harm to threatened coho. Third, after consultation is completed, we expect the Klamath National Forest to issue a decision on the project. Lastly, after it releases a decision, then the Forest Service can apply to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for a “waiver of waste discharge requirements”—a permit to pollute, to (overly) simplify. EPIC is engaging with all of these ongoing processes to provide the necessary critical oversight. Given the timeline with these steps, we do not expect the Forest Service to be able to log until early spring.

While most of the major activity will not be able to occur this winter, the Forest Service could complete other logging activities in the vicinity, including some major “hazard tree” removal on the Sawyers road between Whites Gulch and Robinson Flat, a roughly two mile stretch. This stretch of road is within the Wild and Scenic North Fork Salmon River corridor. In about 95 acres, the Forest Service estimates it would remove approximately 1,400 trees greater than 14” diameter at breast height. Smaller trees will be felled and not removed. The Klamath National Forest indicated that this road presents an immediate safety risk for the surrounding communities.

EPIC will continue to bring you updates on the Westside Project as they unfold.

 


Action Alert: Don’t let Congress Silence You and Clear-cut Millions of Acres of our Forests

Friday, December 4th, 2015
By

Willits Rein in Caltrans Slide

TAKE ACTION NOW:  Tell Congress to pass a clean fire suppression funding bill—No anti-environment riders!

Some in Congress are trying, once again, to take way our voice in decisions that affect our lives. The National Environmental Policy Act is the foundational law that gives every citizen the right to be involved in decisions that affect our environment and to stop illegal activities. But some in Congress are chipping away at that law and those rights. Backroom deals are taking place in Congress right now to allow the US Forest Service to log millions of acres of our public forests with little to no public input.

The US House of Representatives passed a very bad bill this year, HR 2647, ironically called the “Resilient Federal Forest Act.” The bill has nothing to do with making forests more resilient. This is a typical trick of the anti-conservation politicians. Those pushing HR 2647 want to use fires as an excuse to clear-cut millions of acres of our National Forests that have experienced fire and to silence critical voices. Let’s be clear: this legislation will not help with better fire management and prevention—the bill is about massive clear-cuts, and taking away our public voice.

Knowing that their extreme anti-environmental rhetoric is toxic, Big Timber is pushing politicians to sneak their bad bill in as a rider to a bill to fix the fire funding chaos. Tell Congress, “No Bad Logging Riders!” Pass a clean bill or no bill.

At the same time, there is strong bipartisan support in Congress and by citizens to fix the chaotic way we fund firefighting. It is clear that we need to find a more sustainable solution to ballooning fire suppression costs, which often far exceed the amount appropriated to the Forest Service for fire suppression. This in turn forces the Forest Service to pull money from other departments, such as recreation and forest health—a process known as “fire borrowing.”

You can stop these bad riders. The action has moved to the back rooms of the US Senate now and your Senators can help stop this.

Click here to take action now!

Or contact your Representatives in Congress directly:

Senator Diane Feinstein

Northern California (San Francisco) Office: (415) 393-0707

Washington, D.C. Office: (202) 224-3841

Email: https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

 

Senator Barbara Boxer

California District Office (Oakland): (510) 286-8537

Washington, D.C. Office: (202) 224-3553

Email: https://www.boxer.senate.gov/contact/shareyourviews.html

Twitter: @SenatorBoxer

 

Congressman Huffman (California 2nd District )

District Office (Eureka): (707) 407-3585

Washington, D.C. Office: (202) 225-5161

Email: https://huffman.house.gov/contact/email-me

Twitter: @RepHuffman

 

Congressman LaMalfa (California 1st District)

District Office (Redding): (530) 223-5898

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

Email: https://lamalfa.house.gov/contact/email-me

Twitter: @RepLaMalfa


Coastal Marten Takes Important First Step Toward California Endangered Species Act Protection

Friday, December 4th, 2015
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Humboldt Marten at Bait StationIn response to a petition from two conservation groups, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended protection for the coastal marten under the California Endangered Species Act. Formerly known as the Humboldt marten, the coastal marten is a cat-sized carnivore found in the old-growth forests of Northern California and southern Oregon. The California Fish and Game Commission will vote in February on whether to accept Thursday’s recommendation by the department to make the marten a “candidate” for state protection. More than 90 percent of the marten’s forest habitat has been decimated by logging; there are probably fewer than 100 martens left in California.

“We are encouraged that the department has recommended candidacy for the marten,” said Rob DiPerna, a wildlife advocate with the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Both the perilously small population size and the magnitude of threats to the marten clearly point to the conclusion that candidacy is warranted.”

“This is great news for coastal martens,” said Justin Augustine, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Once the commission accepts the petition early next year, these amazing animals will finally start to get protections that are decades overdue.”

The Environmental Protection Information Center and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the state to protect the marten in June. Under the California Endangered Species Act, it is the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s role to make recommendations on any petition, but ultimately, it is up to the five-member Fish and Game Commission to act on the recommendation and formally accept a petition. Once the petition is accepted by the commission, coastal martens will begin to receive important protections the California Endangered Species Act affords, such as a prohibition on the killing or harming of these beautiful creatures.

The historic range of the marten extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. Once thought extinct, the marten was rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. Since that time researchers have continued to detect martens in California, but also determined that coastal martens declined substantially between 2001 and 2008 and have not rebounded.

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

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Click here to view press release.


This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of Healthy Forests

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
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Giving Tuesday TreeThis Thanksgiving holiday, after you’ve gorged yourself on turkey or tofurkey, after you’ve been trampled for door buster savings on Black Friday (or righteously protested mass consumerism by strolling through a park instead), and after Cyber Monday is just a fleeting electron, give big on December 1st for Giving Tuesday!

There is a long tradition in Humboldt County of supporting locally owned businesses and artisans. We know to buy local and to support local businesses because we care about the vitalizing effects of investing locally. We subscribe to this practice because we know it is good for our economy, our environment, and our community. By adhering to these beliefs we are tangibly improving Humboldt County’s resiliency and sustainability into the future.

Giving Tuesday is a nationwide movement to support local institutions, which help to make your world a better place. This Giving Tuesday, give big to support EPIC and its critical work to protect Northwest California’s forest ecosystems. As a membership organization, EPIC is dependent on its network of small donors. We are your voice, slogging through dense government documents and attending tedious meetings in far-flung corners of the state to make sure your interests are heard. (The environment does not have a lobbyist, unlike Big Business).

We all have a choice in how we spend our hard-earned money; during this season of thanks and generosity, please give to your local public interest organizations like EPIC because you value and benefit from their mission, and because you believe in humanity’s ability to positively impact the world.

Click here to donate and help the people-powered EPIC.


Exposed: Post-fire Logging Harms Endangered Owl

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
By
ScottHarding-KlamathNF-SHP_9598

Mixed-severity fire, like that shown, provides functional habitat for northern spotted owls. Photo credit, Scott Harding.

Private landowners, in particular Fruit Growers Supply Company, recently cut thousands of acres of northern spotted owl habitat, likely killing or harming the protected owl in violation of both federal and state law. And they got away with it. Here’s the story of how a timber company likely violated the law and how no one caught it.

Spotted owls utilize post-fire landscapes, including those that burn at high-severity—that is the conclusion of numerous recent scientific papers. High-severity areas, marked by significant numbers of dead or dying trees, provide excellent foraging grounds for spotted owls. The surge of dead wood and new shrub growth forms ideal habitat for wood rats, deer mice, and other spotted owl prey. The standing dead trees, or snags, provide branches for owls to roost while scanning for dinner. And because fires generally burn in a mixed severity pattern, with high-intensity burns close to areas that fire barely touched, there are often nearby trees for the owls to roost. This is informally known as the “bedroom/kitchen” model of habitat usage.

This finding, that spotted owls utilize post-fire forests, is somewhat new. It also runs counter to generalized statements about spotted owl habitat, which has generally been associated with complex mature forests. The Forest Practice Act was certainly written before this was well recognized.

While most logging in California is accomplished through a Timber Harvest Plan (THP), substantial logging can evade the environmental review provided by a THP. Under an “emergency notice,” a timberland owner can clearcut an unlimited number of acres by declaring an “emergency”—a broad loophole, which includes almost all conditions that render a tree “damaged, dead or dying.”

In 2014, the Beaver Fire burned some 32,496 acres, including 13,400 acres of private timberlands in Siskiyou County, much of which is owned by Fruit Growers. Based on the available information, between 2014 and 2015, Fruit Growers filed 32 emergency notices with CALFIRE totaling 8,644 acres. Other nearby landowners similarly filed emergency notices totaling 1,166 acres.

From surveys conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, we know that individual owls were harmed in violation of federal law by Fruit Growers. After the fires but before most logging had begun, a curious male northern spotted owl, identified as KL0283, responded to the hoot of an owl surveyor; he had survived the fire and was living amongst the dead trees. KL0283 was proof that spotted owls utilize post-fire forests.

Sadly, the Forest Service reports later surveys attempting to locate KL0283 after logging failed to yield any positive survey results. The Forest Service notes that logging reduced the owl’s habitat far below minimum acceptable levels, and given the lack of nearby habitat, it was unlikely that he had moved to somewhere better. KL0283 is likely dead, killed by the impacts of logging.

On a facial level, Fruit Growers followed the law—they filed emergency notices telling CALFIRE that they were planning on logging and logged pursuant to those notices. However, upon investigation, it appears that Fruit Growers harmed northern spotted owls in violation of both federal and state law. How was Fruit Growers able to log spotted owl habitat without detection for so long? Turns out, it was pretty easy.

First, it is unclear whether Fruit Growers knew it was violating the law. In each emergency notice, it wrote, “Due to the severity and intensity of stand replacing fire, [the] area can no longer be considered Suitable NSO Habitat.” As explained above, this is a common misunderstanding. By regarding all burned forest as non-habitat, it provided Fruit Growers an easy way to avoid having to evaluate and state the potential impacts to spotted owls.

Second, CALFIRE dropped the ball. It is CALFIRE’s job to evaluate emergency notices and reject any notice which may cause more than a minimal environmental impact. CALFIRE obviously failed at this.

Third, it is unclear whether anyone else was paying attention. It does not appear that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reviews emergency notices—the Department only recently was able to hire sufficient staff to even review ordinary THPs, let alone emergency notices. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged under federal law with the protection of the owl, does not review California timber harvest implementation. EPIC, I freely admit, failed to put the pieces together until too late.

But never again. EPIC is on a mission, spurred by the likely death of KL0283, to reform post-fire logging on private land in California. For more on the environmental impacts of post-fire logging, please visit wildcalifornia.org.


Agency Delays May Cook Owl’s Chance at Protection

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
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spottedowlhelper_1It is thanksgiving time here in Northwest California, a traditional time for giving, for caring, and for sharing. For the wild creatures that call our forests home, such as the northern spotted owl, it is a time for preparing to endure the long, wet winter. However, as we know, things are much different in the halls of Sacramento government and politics, where the rule of the day seems to be “if you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu.”

Such seems to typify the plight of the northern spotted owl in California, a species in precipitous decline with no voice to defend itself against the march of human progress and its disregard for the natural world. For 37 years, EPIC has served as a voice for the voiceless, willing to take the fight to protect our forests and the life that depends upon them to the halls of Sacramento, to the courtrooms, and beyond.

In accordance with our mission to give a voice to the forest, EPIC filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to list the northern spotted owl under the California Endangered Species Act, in September 2012. In California, as with elsewhere in the species’ range, the northern spotted owl is in great peril of extinction as a consequence of human activities that have modified the forests it once knew and widely inhabited. Today, industrial logging practices continue to destroy and degrade habitat for the northern spotted owl on both public and private forestlands, despite over 25 years of federal protections afforded by the federal Endangered Species Act.

CESA protections for the northern spotted owl are warranted and necessary if the species is to continue to persist in the wild. However, after more than three years of advocacy for the owl to be listed under CESA, the listing process has stalled, primarily due to the willful refusal of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to complete a review of the scientific and commercial information to assist the Fish and Game Commission in making a final decision on whether or not the listing is warranted under the law.

CESA calls upon the Department to complete a so-called “status review and report” within one year after a species is designated as a “candidate” for listing to help guide the Commission’s decision-making during the listing process. The status review and report was first due by the Department in December, 2014. The Department missed this deadline. The Commission, at the request of the Department, extended the deadline by six months, to June, 2015. The Department likewise missed this deadline; however, this time the Commission did not authorize additional extensions. EPIC considered suing the Department at this juncture but were dissuaded by the Department’s claims that it was hard at work and a final was forthcoming. This week, EPIC learned that the Department will now also fail to submit its report to the Commission at its upcoming December 2015 meeting, despite assurances that it would do so. Consequently, it appears that the Commission will once again kick the can down the road on deciding whether or not to protect the northern spotted owl.

Behind these seemingly inexplicable delays being perpetrated by the Department, and by extension, the Fish and Game Commission, is the ugly specter of big-money Sacramento politics and timber industry influence to extend the “business as usual” model indefinitely.

Scarcely a month after the Fish and Game Commission adopted findings to ratify its decision that the northern spotted owl may be either “threatened” or “endangered” under California law and afforded it the protections of a “candidate” species, the Department of Fish and Wildlife sent a letter to the Director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the agency responsible for approving private lands logging projects, to assure it that no changes in the existing review process or resultant protective measures would be necessary or required to conserve the northern spotted owl during the candidacy period. What’s more, we know that the Department of Fish and Wildlife has held several meetings and workshops with timber industry groups to discuss the northern spotted owl. None of these meetings were publically noticed or publically accessible. Department of Fish and Wildlife Director, Charlton H. Bonham, openly questioned the necessity of the spotted owl listing petition during the course of a formal Commission hearing on the merits of the petition, further betraying a bias on the part of the agency.

As a consequence of the long and unnecessary delay by the Department in producing a status report to guide the Commission’s decision-making, EPIC has been compelled to take more aggressive actions in hopes of expediting the listing process for the critically-imperiled northern spotted owl. On November 24, 2015, EPIC submitted a letter to the Fish and Game Commission detailing the long and sordid history of delay tactics perpetrated by both the Department and the Commission itself, and requested that the Commission simply proceed with a hearing on the merits of our petition in the absence of the Department’s report. EPIC is considering legal alternatives should this administrative appeal fall short.

And so, as you hunker down to partake in the wonderful feast and bounty of the land this thanksgiving, please remember those that are not at the table, but rather sadly, on the menu.

 


Environmental Groups File Suit to Challenge Implementing Regulations for In-Perpetuity Logging Plans

Sunday, November 15th, 2015
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Holm_Fay_date2008-02-25_time17.36.52_IMG_9998 copyFor Immediate Release:

Two North Coast environmental groups filed suit in state court on Friday challenging the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adoption of regulations that fail to meet standards of environmental protection or to ensure long-term sustained yield of forest products for in-perpetuity logging plans as required by state law.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) and Coast Action Group (CAG) jointly filed suit in in Alameda County on Friday, to challenge the adoption of regulations by the Board of Forestry to implement the mandates of Assembly Bill 904 (Chesbro 2013), which requires, among other things, assurances of unevenaged management, long-term sustained yield of forest products, and environmental protections to be built into the regulatory permitting structure for an in-perpetuity timber harvesting permit, known as a “Working Forest Management Plan.”

Assembly Bill 904 created the framework for the development of a “Working Forest Management Plan” for logging on private land. The “Working Forest Management Plan” offers a landowner with less than 15,000 acres and who qualify for the program a logging permit in perpetuity, in exchange for a commitment to superior forestland management, practicing unevenaged forest management, attaining maximum sustained production and long-term sustained yield of forest products, and providing enhanced environmental protections.

The regulations adopted by the Board of Forestry in June, 2015 to implement the mandates of Assembly Bill 904 fail to contain essential standards or provisions that would ensure attainment of unevenaged management, long-term sustained yield, or environmental protections.

“The regulations enacted by the board simply fail the test of ensuring that the mandates of the legislature to attain unevenaged management and long-term sustained yield and environmental protection are achieved,” said Rob DiPerna, EPIC’s California Forest and Wildlife Advocate. “To the contrary, the regulations adopted by the board have the real potential to result in significant forestland degradation due to the lack of meaningful built-in safeguards.”

“To put it simply, the Board of Forestry is simply not doing its job,” said Alan Levine, of Coast Action Group. Levine called the “Working Forest Management Plan” regulations, “a planning device that evades the legislative intent of superior management, reasonable environmental standards, and legal requirements.”

EPIC and CAG are asking the State Court to set aside the Board of Forestry’s approval of the “Working Forest Management Plan” regulations, and to remand the regulations back to the Board to make significant improvements that would meet the intent of the enabling legislation to achieve unevenaged management, long-term sustained yield, and environmental protections as part of any approved “Working Forest Management Plan.”

Click here to read the complaint

Click here to read letter from Richard Wilson, the former director of CalFire to the Board of Forestry

Click here to read the second letter from Richard Wilson to the California Governor

Click here to read the press release


The Case for Restoration in the Redwoods

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
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Forest Thinning in Headwaters. Photo Credit BLM.2

Forest thinning project in Headwaters. Photo Credit BLM.

California’s coastal redwood forests are the stuff that myth and legend are made of, like a species of dinosaur that has somehow managed to persist into the modern age. At one time, redwood forests grew across the northern hemisphere, with the oldest-known fossil evidence dating back some 200 million years to the Jurassic Period.

Once, the ancient coastal redwood forests spanned some two million acres of California’s scenic and rugged coastline from Big Sur all the way to the Oregon border. And, these were certainly no ordinary forests. The coastal redwood forest encountered by Europeans in the 1850’s contained trees of as much as 300-feet tall, and as much as 25-feet wide.

Few forests in the world have comparable species assemblages, enormous tree sizes, rich and structurally-complex canopies, soil productivity or exceptional biomass, due to the temperate climate, fog, and precipitation which create ideal growing conditions for giant trees, fish, wildlife, and a stunning array of plants, lichens, and fungi. Iconic species such as coho salmon, the marbled murrelet, and the northern spotted owl were once abundant and thrived in the lush and rich old-growth coastal redwood forest ecosystem. These old-growth forests were able to sequester massive amounts of carbon dioxide and naturally regulated water abundance and availability. Time and evolution had created a seemingly-perfect balance in the redwood forest ecosystem.

Today, many still think of the coastal redwood forests as a dark, primeval rainforest, such as those depicted in the likes of Star Wars and Jurassic Park. However, the progress of human activity over the last 150 years has resulted in a reality which is in stark contrast to the idyllic images portrayed in Hollywood.

The “progress” of human activity over the last 150 years has resulted in a landscape that would be unrecognizable to those first European-American settlers. Once, the ancient coastal redwood forests spanned some two million acres of California’s scenic and rugged coastline, from Big Sur all the way to the Oregon border. By the time Redwood National Park was created in 1968, a mere 100 years after the advent of European-American settlement, the once vast and mighty coastal old-growth redwood forest had been reduced to an estimated 10 percent of its original range. By the close of the 20th century, it was estimated that only five percent of the old-growth coastal redwood forest remained. And so it is today.

Compared to the mixed-conifer forests to the east of the redwood belt, very little of the once vast redwood forest has been set aside as public land. According to estimates provided by Save the Redwoods League, approximately 23 percent of the original coastal redwood forest ecosystem land base is publically-held in parks and reserves, with the remaining 77 percent privately-held and managed for various other purposes. In Humboldt County, two timber companies, Humboldt Redwood Company and Green Diamond Resource Company, manage a combined 600,000-acres of industrial forestland, most of which is squarely situated in the historic range of the coast redwoods.

Historic and contemporary industrial logging in the range of the coast redwood forests has left an indelible mark on the condition of these once-pristine forestlands. Even our most precious remaining resources, our redwood parks and reserves, contain large areas where the scars of past logging and land management can be seen and felt. For example, Redwood National Park includes some 38,000-acres of forestland that was clearcut logged from1950 to1978. These second-growth forests are in varying states of disrepair and recovery in the wake of intensive historic forestry operations.

Similarly, some 60 percent of the land base in the 7,500-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve—set aside for its outstanding remaining old-growth redwood forests—was logged in the past and is not actually comprised of pristine old-growth forest. Instead, the majority of the land base in the Headwaters Forest Reserve is actually young, regenerating second-growth forest.

The ecological legacy of historic and contemporary forest management in the redwoods is all too apparent today. For example, following the initial clearcutting of the 1950–1970’s in what is now Redwood National Park, the cutover land was aggressively reseeded and replanted—all too often not with local seed sources. These industrial practices altered the composition of the forest. Because this land was being managed for timber production, what was once old-growth redwoods were often re-seeded with Douglas-fir. Douglas-fir grows faster than redwoods, which is ideal if you are trying to turn a quick profit off the land, but Douglas-fir’s rapid early growth means that it often outcompetes redwoods in their early stages of development. In what is now the Headwaters Forest Reserve, re-planting was aggressively pursued after industrial logging operations, with Douglas-fir trees outcompeting redwoods in the young, newly-regenerating stands.

The results of the previous logging and regeneration activities in Redwood National Park, the Headwaters Forest Reserve, and on privately-managed industrial timberlands in the region are forest conditions which are unhealthy and unnatural. While the timing, and methods of logging and regeneration have varied over time, regenerating coastal redwood stands in Redwood National Park, the Headwaters Forest Reserve, and even on privately-managed timberlands in the region bare several characteristics in common.

thinning pic_pre2. Photo Credit BLM

Pre-thinning in Headwaters Forest Reserve. Photo Credit BLM.

Firstly, aggressive replanting activities have resulted in the establishment of an overly-dense forest with far too many trees-per-acre when compared to natural conditions. For example, in the Headwaters Forest Reserve, old-growth redwood forest contain between 69–78 trees-per-acre. By sharp contrast, previously-harvested regenerating stands in Redwood National Park have a density of 1,000 to even 3,000 trees-per-acre. These stands are structurally homogenous—all are approximately the same age and height. Unlike an old-growth forest, with breaks and variations in canopy cover which allows light to filter to berry bushes and other undergrowth, these regenerating stands are so densely packed with underperforming trees that very little light reaches the understory or the forest floor, thus further simplifying the forest. On industrially-managed forestlands in the range of the coast redwood, regenerating young plantations are often commercially thinned within the first 20 years after reestablishment in order to reduce stand densities and provide for less competition and more availability of light and growing space for residual trees, a process commonly referred to as “release.” However, the absence of such management in recovering forest stands has resulted in unhealthy forest stand conditions because far too many trees are regenerating at the same time.

Secondly, many regenerating stands in the range of the coast redwood forest are now out-of-balance in terms of tree species and their dominance. Forest species composition was significantly skewed towards faster-growing Douglas-fir post-logging, resulting in a diminishment of redwood trees. In the Headwaters Forest Reserve, for example, redwood dominates the stand component structure when compared to Douglas-fir in old-growth stands by a large proportion. In regenerating stands, by contrast, Douglas-fir makes up as much as 61 percent of trees, even post-restorative thinning.

Finally, these plantations may exhibit fire patterns unnatural for redwood forests. The excessive number of small, underperforming trees act as ladder fuels, allowing fire to spread from creeping surface fires to more severe crown fires. Because of the forest’s structural homogeneity, once fire reaches the canopy it can easily jump from tree top to tree top causing a stand replacing fire and setting the regenerating forest back to zero much like a clearcut. Old-growth redwood forests, by stark contrast, are much more fire-resistant due to large tree size with tight wood grain and thick bark, and sufficient spacing between trees to discourage crown fires from jumping from tree to tree.

Restorative forest management is ongoing in Redwood National Park, in Del Norte Redwoods State Park, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and in the Headwaters Forest Reserve. Restorative forest management activities are a far cry from the intensive, industrial-scale logging to which we have mostly become accustomed.

thinning pic_post2 Photo Credit BLM

Post-thinning in Headwaters Forest Reserve. Photo Credit BLM.

Restorative thinning was mandated for cut-over lands in Redwood National Park in 1978 when Congress, as part of the Redwood National Park expansion legislation, mandated that “a program for the rehabilitation of areas within and upstream from the park contributing significant sedimentation because of past logging disturbances and road conditions” be developed in light of the damage caused by ongoing logging operations within the Redwood Creek watershed that threatened to degrade park values and resources. In Headwaters Forest Reserve, restorative forest management has focused on thinning out smaller trees (less than 12” diameter at breast height), and has focused on the removal of Douglas-fir in an attempt to restore species balance. Importantly, other forest restoration activities, such as removal or remediation of poorly constructed roads, go hand-in-hand with restorative thinning activities as part of a holistic program of watershed restoration.

The long-term benefit of restorative forest management in the redwood region is that it can be tailored and implemented to re-grow lost old-growth forest stand conditions. Improving stocking levels, tree-spacing, species balance, stand structure and complexity, and understory vegetation development can all be accomplished through restorative forest management, and can, in turn, accelerate the recovery of the forest to more natural, pre-logging conditions.

Given that only five percent of our pristine old-growth forests remain in the redwood region, it is imperative to have a vision to protect what’s left and to restore the rest. This is a monumental undertaking that will require cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. And, the stakes could not possibly be higher—in an era where we face unprecedented drought and other effects of a changing climate, and with mass species extinction on a global scale, our coastal redwood forests represent a vestige of hope for the future of our planet and all the life that depends upon it.

November 10, 2015 – EPIC’s Rob DiPerna discusses restoration forestry in the Redwood Region. Rob interviewed Jason Teraoka, Forster for Redwood National Park, Ben Bloom, BLM Manager for the Headwaters Reserve, and Lathrop Leonard, Forester for California State Parks, who manages restoration forestry activities in the Mill Creek Addition in Del Norte, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.


Thank You for a Fabulous EPIC Fall Celebration

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
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EPIC's Fall Celebration 2015The staff and board of the Environmental Protection Information Center would like to thank all of the attendees, businesses, sponsors and artists who helped make this year’s Fall Celebration a fun and successful event. Each year we look forward to this event that resembles a family reunion for those of us who are the heart and soul of the environmental movement of the Pacific Northwest. The legacy that the EPIC family has made lives on through generations of grassroots activists and continues with the vibrant new energy of those who seek our efforts out to help keep our little corner of California the special place that we all know and love. Attendees included past and current staff, board, volunteers, colleagues, sempervirens award winners, and fresh new faces that are eager to participate in the contemporary environmental movement.

FullSizeRender (1)Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement for Environmental Activism Award Winner Betty Ball

We were honored that Betty Ball was able to travel all the way out from Colorado to accept EPIC’s 2015 Sempervirens Award for her grass roots activism efforts that helped secure protections for the famed Headwaters forest during the redwood summer era. It was a pleasure to hear her speak about the historical events that helped to shape our region and its environmental movement. Betty Ball gave an incredible acceptance speech that we are delighted to share with you.

Gisele Albertine

Volunteer of the Year

It was with great pleasure to recognize Gisèle Albertine for her ongoing dedication to environmental protection through he volunteer work with EPIC throughout the past year. Gisèle graciously tackles just about every task we ask of her with a positive outlook and always keeps us laughing. Gisèle is an amazing woman and we are so lucky to have her as part of the EPIC family!

We are grateful to chef Leni Heil and her crew at Outlaw Kitchen for preparing the gourmet family style meal that we were able to share while we dined and laughed with our colleagues, friends and the EPC family.

We appreciate the contributions from the sponsors below that helped to make our event one of the most successful ever!

Thank you!

Business SponsorsFinal


An Ordinance for Humboldt County’s Medical Cannabis Cultivators

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
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frog on marijuanaTwo comment letters submitted to the Humboldt County Planning Commission responding to the proposed Humboldt County Commercial Cultivation of Cannabis for Medical Use Land Use Regulation. The first letter is a coalition letter from EPIC, NEC, SAFE and Humboldt Baykeeper; the second letter is from EPIC only.

October 30, 2015

Dear Planning Commissioners,

This letter is on behalf of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Humboldt Baykeeper, Northcoast Environmental Center, and Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment.

We wish to thank the Board, staff, and the Planning Commission for their attention to this matter. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the development of the county’s commercial cannabis and use ordinance and believe the open inclusion of multiple voices will ultimately result in an ordinance that will result in higher industry participation and ultimately yield greater conservation success.

Based on our review of the existing regulatory landscape, including the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board waiver, new statewide legislation and signing statements, Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations, and current Humboldt County land use regulations, we do not believe the current regulatory regime is sufficient to adequately ensure environmental resources are protected. In developing a land use ordinance, we urge the county to consider the following recommendations:

Place a Cap on Total Number of Operations: We suggest a total cap of operations within the county. We suggest after five years, the county could revisit if and where it could allow new cultivation areas. By limiting the total number of operations, we believe it will provide encouragement for existing operations to come into compliance and will limit the number of legal operations within the county.

Require Water Storage Between May 15 through November 12: Water diversions associated with cannabis production are one of the most pressing environmental issues facing the county. The county’s first draft ordinance proposed a forbearance period from March 1 to October 30. A forbearance period more likely to protect water quality resources should extend from May 15 to November 12.

Discourage “Generator Grows”: Off the grid generator use associated with “mixed light” operations are of great concern. Generators used to power artificial lights produce localized noise, land air pollution—a significant nuisance to neighbors and wildlife—as many off-the grid operations are within the wildland urban interface, and improper fuel storage and/or fuel spills are a threat to water quality. Because of the significant concerns related to so-called “generator grows,” we urge the Board and the Planning Commission to require mixed-light operations be properly contained, connected to the municipal power grid and/or have proof of an adequate supply of alternative energy

No New Cultivation in TPZ: We do not support the further conversion of working forests for commercial agriculture because it threatens our vision of creating a well connected and restored forest ecosystem. That said, we understand that many cannabis cultivators are already on TPZ land. A cursory GIS exercise conducted by our organizations estimates that around 25 percent of cannabis farms are on TPZ land. A successful ordinance should be to bring as many cultivators, including those cultivating on Timber Production Zone (TPZ), who are willing to take immediate action to ensure baseline environmental standards are met into compliance with all applicable laws and stop the further proliferation of cannabis operations on TPZ land by prohibiting new operations.

Discourage and limit Indoor Operations: We are generally opposed to indoor cannabis operations because of the high associated carbon costs. We believe the future of Humboldt’s cannabis economy should be based on sun-grown cannabis. However, given the importance of indoor operations for the cultivation of certain types of medical cannabis, we understand that a full ban on indoor operations is undesirable and that a full ban would likely go ignored, pushing otherwise responsible cultivators to the black market. As a reasonable compromise, we suggest the following responsible additional regulations designed to minimize impacts from indoor operations.

The county ordinance should restrict indoor operations to areas zoned commercial or industrial. By limiting indoor to these areas, we can ensure that prime agricultural land will not be converted to other uses.

The county should require all indoor operations be connected to the municipal power grid and to a municipal water supply with adequate surplus water to support indoor operations. By requiring connection to the grid, the county can limit impacts associated with generators and by requiring connection to a municipal water supply with adequate surplus water, the county can ensure that communities, such as Redway, who already struggle to supply adequate domestic water to their residents, will not add additional users it cannot support.

Lastly, the county should limit the total size of indoor operations to 10,000 sq. ft. in order to reduce carbon impacts associated with individual farms and to promote a small-scale, diversified cannabis industry for the region.

Discourage Water Trucking: Non-potable bulk water delivery has been identified as a major environmental concern. Water trucks increase sedimentation through heavy use and disturbance of dirt roads, contribute to greenhouse gas and other air pollution, and pose a danger to residents traveling on rural roads. A standard trip between Fortuna, the closest location to Southern Humboldt where non-potable bulk water can be purchased for individuals outside of a municipal water district, and Sproul Creek near Garberville, would emit approximately 240 pounds of carbon dioxide for the 70 mile trip. Non-potable water delivery has also been tied in several instances to illegal water diversions as trucks fill directly from streams or fire hydrants under the cover of night. The ease of water delivery also disincentives water storage and proper planning. The county should not allow water deliveries as part of demonstration of proper planning for adequate water storage.

Ensure Adequate Funding: The regulation of cannabis is dependent on adequate funding of inspection and enforcement. While we understand the desire to complete a land use ordinance first to meet the state March 1, 2016 deadline, we urge the county to diligently pursue a separate funding measure so it may be included on the June 2016 ballot for voter approval.

These recommendations reflect the joint policy recommendations of our organizations. Additional and more specific policy recommendations may also be made by our organizations in their individual capacity.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments. We look forward to cannabis farmers being able to come into the regulatory light, legitimizing the craft and custom of North Coast farmers and improving environmental conditions for all.

Should you have any questions or comments, Natalynne DeLapp of EPIC can act as a point person to communicate with the larger group. She may be reached at (707) 822-7711 or Natalynne@wildcalifornia.org

Sincerely,

Natalynne DeLapp

Executive Director, Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC)

Jen Kalt

Executive Director, Humboldt Baykeeper

Larry Glass

Board President, Northcoast Environmental Center, Executive Director, Safe Alternatives for Our Forest Environment

October 30, 2015

Board of Supervisors’ Chambers
Humboldt County Courthouse
825 5th St.
Eureka CA, 95501

Dear Planning Commissioners,

EPIC appreciates the opportunity to comment. Based on our review of the first draft commercial cannabis land use ordinance, we have the following thoughts and recommendations. These are in addition to and complimentary to those presented the joint recommendations presented by EPIC, the Northcoast Environmental Center, Humboldt Baykeeper, and Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment. Because county staff is developing an additional alternative or alternatives, most of these comments are not directed towards the particular language of the first draft. Instead, these comments are broadly directed towards what we believe would be included in a successful land use ordinance.

Public Nuisance as an Enforcement Tool:

Public nuisance is an enforcement tool. EPIC appreciates the inclusion of public nuisance as an enforcement tool in the first draft and encourages its inclusion in subsequent drafts. The inclusion of public nuisance as an enforcement tool will allow the county to clean up problem areas swiftly without shifting costs to taxpayers.

Incorporate Elements of the Water Board Waiver:

We believe the County’s ordinance could strengthen water quality protections by requiring cultivators that fall within Tier 1 (operations between 500 and 5,000 square feet of cultivation area, on a less than 35% slope and not within 200’ of a waterway) to produce a plan similar to a Water Resource Protection Plan as defined in Section I.B. #4, 6 & 8 of the Water Board Waiver (Order No. 2015-0023). These elements would serve to improve water quality while imposing little burden on operators.

These elements, and their potential benefit, are described below:

Detailed list of Specific Management Conditions Designed to Meet Standard Conditions: The Water Board waiver contains a list of conditions that all sites must meet. However, only Tier 2 and 3 sites need to develop a plan on how to meet these conditions. We believe it is important that all sites consider how thy will meet these conditions. As with the water use plan, we believe that this “look before you leap” strategy will improve water quality conditions by requiring farmers to consider how they will address erosion control, stream crossings, riparian protection, road construction, spoils storage and disposal, chemical handling and management, waste disposal, irrigation runoff, and water storage and use.

Maintain List of Chemicals on Property: The NCRWQCB waiver does not require Tier 1 operations to maintain a list of chemicals kept on property and a record of their use, as it does for Tiers 2 and 3. All operations larger than 500 feet should be required to maintain such a document. We believe this will reduce pesticide usage on non-cannabis crops/property and reduce risk of cross-contamination of cannabis associated with pesticide drift.

Water Use Plan and Documentation: We believe that a water use plan and documentation is critically important for all operations greater than 500 sq. ft. for multiple reasons. A water use plan requires farmers to “look before they leap.” Pursuant to the Water Board waiver, a water use plan requires cultivators to “describe water conservation measures and document approach to ensure that the quantity and timing of water use.” In doing so, farmers will be able to more realistically predict their anticipated water needs and to plan for conservation measures at the outset. We believe that the inclusion of such planning requirements will result in better watershed conditions and a reduced likelihood of water diversions to supplement or “top off” stored water. Similarly, water use plan would discourage use of expensive and environmentally-costly trucked water by encouraging greater foresight into water sources, application rates, and amount stored. Water use plans would also provide better information on the amount of water actually used in cannabis cultivation on the North Coast and the sources for this water. Per the Water Board waiver, a water use plan “shall record water source, relevant water right documentation, and amount used monthly,” including “alternative sources such as rain catchment and groundwater, and/or hauled water.” With increased information, the county may be able to revise the ordinance in the future to better fit actual conditions on the ground.

Regulations and Stringency of Review Should Correspond with Relative Risks to the Environment:

The stringency of site-specific review—whether conditional use permit, special conditional permit, or zoning clearance certificate—should correspond to the relative risk of the operation. While numerous metrics may influence a farm’s potential risk, the clearest and easiest metric on which to base review of individual operations is based on cultivated areas, the perimeter around disturbed ground. As stated by the Water Board, “Size of cultivation areas is a relevant indicator of threat to water quality because level of threat is proportional to the area of disturbed or exposed soil, the amount of water used, the potential for storm water runoff, and the potential for groundwater impacts.” (Response to Public Comments at 13). It is unclear whether the initial county draft bases its site categories on cultivated area or canopy size. We urge the county to clearly define cultivated area to be consistent with the Water Board waiver: “Cultivation area: the sum of the area(s) of cannabis cultivation and/or operations with similar environmental effects as measured around the perimeter of each discrete cultivation area of a single parcel of land.” (Waiver at 6, n. 9)

We suggested the following tier structure for “Outdoor” and “Mixed Light” cultivation:

Cultivated Area Permit Type
500–5,000 sq. ft. Zoning Clearance Certificate
5,000–10,000 sq. ft. Conditional Special Permit
10,000+ Conditional Use Permit

 

We advocate for a graduated system of site-specific review based on the relative risks. This serves two critical purposes.

First, it allows emphasis of greater site-specific attention to operations with greater risk potential. It allows limited staff resources—particularly given the lack of a funding mechanism—be directed more towards operations with greater potential risk. Additionally, it preserves for the Planning Commission review over operations with the greatest risk, those over 10,000 sq. ft., while still allowing site-specific review by the Planning Commission for operations between 5,001-10,000 sq. ft. if staff or neighbors feel that such additional site-specific scrutiny is warranted.

Second, it promotes smaller operations. In our discussions with CCVH, other cannabis advocacy groups, and individual farmers, they have expressed that there is a strong view within the cannabis community that conditional use permits are overly-burdensome. We suggest that requiring a conditional use permit may be an incentive for cultivators to either reduce their operations below 10,000 sq. ft. or to not expand their operations above 10,000 sq. ft.

The current county draft does not provide any incentive for smaller operations. Under the draft county ordinance, a person growing cannabis on 2,001 sq. ft. and a person growing on 43,560 sq. ft. would both need a conditional use permit. If a cultivator would need to go through the hassle and public affair of a conditional use permit, what incentive is there to stay small?

Cannabis Processing Plan

In addition to these size requirements, more stringent review should be given for facilities that process large amounts of cannabis—so-called “trim scenes.” Cannabis processing requires large numbers of workers and the work, unlike outdoor cultivation, stretches into late fall to winter. The increased number of workers and the prolonged season invites greater potential environmental risks not mitigated by the Water Board waiver. Large numbers of workers require sanitation facilities connected to an adequate septic system or sewer system to avoid issues of sewage seepage into groundwater and surface water. Additionally, large numbers of workers can impact sedimentation by the prolonged heavy use of dirt roads, often into the wet weather season.

For all operations larger than 5,001 sq. ft., the amount a “mom and pop” farm can reasonably process without significant hired help, the county should require as a condition a “cannabis processing plan.” This plan would either detail where off-site the farm will take its cannabis to be processed or, if processing on-site, will show that it has adequate facilities (hand washing stations, restrooms connected to adequate septic systems or sewer lines, ventilation and heating) to support workers in a safe environment while not otherwise contributing to environmental risks. .

Discourage Cultivation on Timber Production Zone:

As EPIC wrote in an op-ed in the Eureka Times-Standard:

Forests are important to California. Not only do they provide us humans with jobs, wood products, and recreation, they also provide important habitat for California’s rare and native species, like the Humboldt marten and the northern spotted owl; fight climate change by sequestering carbon; and help to supply clean, cool water. But our forests are at risk. Increased forest fragmentation — the breaking of large intact tracts of forests into smaller clumps — is driven by the desire to make way for new residences or commercial ventures by clearing forest land. And further fragmentation poses a serious threat to the values our forests provide.

To promote the conservation of California’s forested landscape, in 1976 the state ordered counties to identify forestlands where timber management is the “highest and best use of the land” and categorize them as Timber Production Zones or TPZ. By law, use of TPZ land is restricted to timber harvesting and other “compatible uses” — those activities, as defined county-by-county, that do not “detract from the use of the property for, or inhibit, growing and harvesting timber.” In exchange for limiting the uses of TPZ land, and knowing that sustainable timber management is not a “get rich quick” scheme, the state offers TPZ landowners significant breaks on property taxes.

While EPIC is opposed to commercial cannabis production on TPZ, we believe to a large degree that the cat is out of the bag. It exists now and in large numbers. EPIC estimates that approximately 25 percent of cannabis farms in Humboldt County are on TPZ. We do not believe it is likely that banning these operations would actually cause them to leave. (Despite being federally illegal, against state law, and in violation of county zoning codes, many farms have existed on TPZ for decades.) Rather, for existing operations, it is more important to bring them into the regulatory fold. We believe that many operations on TPZ will voluntarily participate in regulatory programs, such as the Water Board waiver, and in doing so, many of the impacts associated with these operations will be minimized or mitigated.

As such, we believe that existing operations on TPZ should be allowed to participate under the same Standard Conditions of Approval as all other specifically enumerated zones in which general agriculture is permitted. New operations, by contrast, should be prohibited on TPZ.

Large Operations Should Be Located on AG Use Districts

EPIC supports the first draft’s requirement that all operations larger than 10,000 sq. ft. be located on “parcels over 5 acres in AG Use districts with Class I or II soils, on slopes of 15% or less, and with documented current water right or other non-diversionary source of water.” These lands are the most appropriate for commercial agriculture and will present the lowest risk for large operations.

Cannabis Land Use Ordinance Should Not Be Used as Vehicle for Other Code Enforcement:

The first draft cannabis land use ordinance requires that “violations of any building or other healthy, safety, or other state or county state, ordinance, or regulation” by abated or cured no later than “one (1) year after the date of the issuance of the clearance or permit.” (§ 55.4.11). We believe that it is inappropriate to use this clearance/permit program to enforce other code issues. While EPIC believes that code enforcement is important and serves environmental values, we are concerned that the inclusion of this provision would discourage participation in this ordinance and other regulations, such as the Water Board waiver. EPIC believes that maximum participation is important to minimize environmental impacts; unnecessary obstacles which keep farmers in the shadows will only cause further environmental harm.

* * *

EPIC is deeply committed to finding solutions that will meaningfully improve environmental conditions by fostering voluntary participation and compliance by the cannabis community. Should you have any questions, please contact me at (707) 822-7711 or Natalynne@wildcalifornia.org.

Natalynne DeLapp

Executive Director

Additional comment letters:

Click here to read EPIC’s comment letter to California Cannabis Voice Humboldt on July 30, 2015.

Click here to read the Environmental Coalition’s comment letter to California Cannabis Voice Humboldt September 2, 2015.

Click here to read, “Existing North Coast Cultivators Come Into Compliance” September 29, 2015.