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Update on Caltrans’ Last Chance Grade Project

Thursday, February 19th, 2015
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Drilling Last Chance Grade

Caltrans recently held a series of public workshops seeking input from the public as the agency considers possible alternatives and reroutes in an attempt to find a long-term solution for the Last Chance Grade — a stretch of U.S. Highway 101 about ten miles south of Crescent City, which sits precariously high above the Pacific Ocean and experiences frequent landslides due to the geological instability of the area.

lcg_preliminary-alternativesThe road-building agency is currently examining a number of preliminary alternatives that would reroute Highway 101 to the east through Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and private timberland. The reroutes would impact old-growth, mature and young redwood forests, coastal spruce forests and Mill Creek, which provides the best spawning habitat for the federally endangered Coho salmon  in the Smith River basin. The price tag for these projects run between $200 million to over $1 billion.

There is little question among the staff at EPIC that the project has a legitimate need: to maintain motorist safety and to connectivity of the major highway between Oregon and California; but we believe that all viable options for avoiding impacts to our natural resources must be thoroughly studied, and these studies must be made available to the public, before the project proceeds.

Specifically, studies regarding the feasibility of using the existing right of way for the project – through more permanent stabilization efforts than are currently taking place, use of a viaduct, or other measures – must be conducted and made available to the public. Despite what Caltrans officials said at the public meetings, EPIC does not consider this to be a “no action” alternative. Instead, we would like to see the feasibility of taking action within or near the existing roadway first. If a study concludes that this is infeasible, Caltrans should select an alternative that avoids impacts to old-growth redwoods to the greatest extent possible. For impacts that are truly unavoidable, Caltrans should implement mitigation that enhances old growth redwood and salmon habitat values. EPIC supports keeping the project as a 2-lane, 55mph road.

As this project unfolds, EPIC will continue to advocate for full public transparency and protection of old-growth redwood forest and salmon habitat values.

Click here to be redirected to Caltrans’ website for technical documents.


EPIC in Review

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
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salmon-river-spring-M-Aaron CowanEPIC in Review, a summary of original comments submitted and letters signed to support conservation across the state and nation.

EPIC submitted substantive comments on the Draft Working Group Charters for the California Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Program. The California Natural Resources Agency (CRNA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL EPA) are implementing the provisions and intent of Assembly Bill 1492. EPIC has reviewed the draft working group charters for Ecological Performance, Data and Monitoring and Administrative Performance Measures. The draft charters lack fundamental foundation definitions, goals, and objectives; and EPIC does not believe it to be a true public process designed to deliver necessary change. If ecological standards and performance measures are intended to secure vibrant forests, healthy rivers, and abundant, self-sustaining wildlife populations, then measurable objectives must be defined and monitored. They must be science-based, and done out-in-the-open in a collaborative process using the input of stakeholders from outside of the usual agency and industry suspects. EPIC supports the concept of a comprehensive review and analysis of the existing forest practice regulatory system.

Six Rivers & Klamath National Forest road maintenance plans: EPIC submitted scoping comments on the Six Rivers Road Maintenance Project. The project proposes to maintain and treat portions of up to 2,682 miles of National Forest Transportation System roads on Six Rivers National Forest and Klamath National Forest. We urge the agency to scale down the project either in size, timing or by other means to allow a sufficient analysis to the impacts.

Grazing leases in the King’s Range: EPIC joined with Western Watersheds and submitted comments on the proposed renewal of Grazing Leases in the King’s Range National Conservation Area.  The HJ Ridge grazing lease includes 1,160 acres of public land with approximately 1,000 acres in wilderness. The Spanish Flat grazing lease includes 9,100 acres of public land, all entirely within wilderness. EPIC believes that livestock grazing is degrading wilderness character, impacting cultural and ecological resources, and recreational experience. With ongoing drought and climate change issues, and lack of water for livestock, the Bureau of Land Management should be working with the public to close these allotments to further commercial livestock use. We urge the BLM to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement before renewing these leases.

EPIC Submitted comments in support of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to list the West Coast Distinct Population Segment of the Pacific Fisher as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The letter encourages the Service to designate Critical Habitat for the Fisher at the time of listing.

Vote NO on H.R. 161, the Natural Gas Pipelines Permitting Reform Act: EPIC co-signed a letter urging representatives to oppose HR 161, a bill that would spread pipelines into parks, forests, and private property, across the country thereby fragmenting forests and causing loss of critical habitat. HR 161 seeks to rubber-stamp Federal Energy Regulatory Committee permits, superseding states’ authority to provide their own protection under the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Protection Act.

EPIC signed a coalition letter opposing H.R. 399, the “Secure our Borders First Act of 2015.” Under the guise of enhancing border security, H.R. 399 would further militarize areas already glutted with walls and roads; undermine environmental laws, and allow more damage to the fragile border environment. Sections 3 and 13 would only harm wildlife, and communities on the border while doing nothing to increase border security.

EPIC signed on in support of Booker’s Amendment #155 to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, S.1. This amendment ensures agencies disclose any significant new circumstances or information on the environmental, public health, social, and other impacts resulting from the project and that the Keystone XL Pipeline is subject to the same requirements as all other major pipelines.

EPIC signed on to letter challenging unmitigated Navy Testing and Training in the Pacific Northwest: The Navy shows a continued failure to protect whales, dolphins and other marine life from behavioral disruptions such as the separation of mothers and calves, and injury such as permanent hearing loss. They must develop alternatives and mitigation measures in a wholesale revision of the DEIS.

EPIC signed on to a Letter to Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior re: the Aquatic Conservation Strategy (ACS) of the Northwest Forest Plan: The ACS is largely responsible for higher quality aquatic habitats, enhanced water quality, sustenance of imperiled salmon and associated recreational and commercial fisheries, restoration of sediment and hydrologic regimes, increased floodwater retention, and countless other ecological and economic benefits that flow from healthy watersheds. Emerging science on climate change, stream conditions, nutrient retention and other issues justify more, not less, protection, yet despite its success, the ACS is under attack. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, the land management agencies charged with its administration, are being pressured by Congress to dismantle or significantly weaken the ACS.


Moonalice at the Mateel Community Center, March 27

Sunday, February 1st, 2015
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Moonalice_Psychedelic_Bob-Minkin

Click here to buy tickets.

Moonalice is a band of hippie musicians from California with no label, no manager, no publicist, no problems, and lots of fans. They’re made up of seasoned players exploring new musical territory with a passion. Bringing their heady brew of roots, rock, rhythm-and-blues, peppered with spirited doses of improvisation and surprise to the North Coast to benefit forest protection and restoration in Northwest California.

  • Doors open at 6pm for dinner and music by Diane Patterson
  • Moonalice performs at 8pm
  • Tickets: $20 for concert, dinner an additional charge TBD

Moonalice is known for integrating multi-sensory experience of lights, visuals, music, art, dance and sound highlighted by extended improvisations in the tradition of the Grateful Dead into every show. A new psychedelic poster is created for each concert and gifted to guests to memorialize the show.

Band members: Barry Sless (Phil Lesh & Friends, David Nelson Band), Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Rod Stewart), Roger McNamee (Flying Other Brothers), and John Molo (Bruce Hornsby, Phil Lesh & Friends). Plus manager/road scholar/medicine man Big Steve Parish, the man who was Jerry Garcia’s guitar tech for 25 years introduces every show. For posters, music and videos of all shows visit Moonalice.com

http://youtu.be/iwYvJhlJn0k

Doors open at 6pm for drinks and a delicious dinner prepared by Sue’s Organics. Opening set by folkadelic, singer-songwriter, Diane Patterson. Diane sounds like a cross between “Joni Mitchell, Ani DiFranco, and a young Pete Seeger.” She is a modern day folk goddess singing the world awake with strong voice, rocking guitar, sweet ukulele, and revolutionary lyrics. Her sincere spirit and wild heart joyfully plant seeds of love and light in every listener.

The event, formerly known as the Pisces Party, benefits the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) efforts to restore the forests and watersheds of the North Coast of California. The Pisces Party is a celebration to welcome the coming spring and honor local activists who are working to create a healthy, sustainable forested landscape for flourishing nature and wildlife, and to safeguard earth’s valuable living resources in a changing climate for current and future generations.

Tickets for sale at Redway Liquor, Blue Moon Gift Shop, Wildberries, the EPIC office (145 G Street Suite A, Arcata, Ca), or online at Brownpapertickets.com. For more information wildcalifornia.org or call 707-822-7711.


Action Alert: Tell Caltrans to study impacts before advancing the Four Bridges Project

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
By
Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is proposing to upgrade four existing  bridges along the Avenue of the Giants, a world-famous scenic drive along old Highway 101, through the ancient redwood groves of Redwood State Park.

Take Action: Tell Caltrans that it needs to adequately study impacts, and adequately inform the public, before they move forward with the project.

Elk Creek Bridge

Elk Creek Bridge

Caltrans released an Initial Study with Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration for the “Avenue of the Giants – Four Bridges Project” over the holidays, comments are due on Monday, February 2.  (A “Mitigated Negative Declaration” is a CEQA document that essentially says that environmental impacts will be mitigated below significant levels, and therefore that further study of the project impacts is unnecessary.) As proposed, this project would involve upgrades to bridge and guard railings and repaving of the existing roadway on each side of four bridges on Avenue of the Giants/Route 254, and all of this work would occur within and around ancient redwoods and important salmon habitat. Yet, despite the precious resources potentially threatened by this project, Caltrans is pushing the project through without adequately analyzing or disclosing to the public the impacts of the project.

 Tell Caltrans:
* Impacts to redwoods need to be fully analyzed, and all conclusions need to be fully explained to the public, before work begins in and around their roots.
* Adequate, and fully explained, measures to avoid spills or other stream disturbances need to be developed before Caltrans begins working over streams with important fish habitat.
* Caltrans needs to recirculate the Initial Study with Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration with all underlying studies and documents in order to be transparent with the public about the project and its potential impacts to public resources, and in order to comply with CEQA which requires that the public be provided this information for comment.

Impacts to Trees
Caltrans maintains that the project area contains 46 coastal redwood trees. While the Initial Study and Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration notes that “[i]t is difficult to develop a mitigation strategy that adequately offsets a project’s impacts to old growth redwood trees, due to their size and age,” it nevertheless concludes that the study will have “less than significant” impacts on these trees. The impacts on each tree in the area were rated on a 0-6 scale corresponding with the magnitude of impacts of the projects on the tree: eleven trees were rated “0” (no effect); fourteen were rated “1” (effect of root zone disturbance is extremely minor with no decline in foliage density or tree health); and twenty-two were rated “2” (effect of root zone disturbance is very slight with no decline in foliage density or tree health). Exactly how this rating system was developed, or how the trees were rated, however, was not disclosed. For trees rated “2,” for instance, the Initial Study indicates that there may be project activities closer than 10 feet from the base of these trees. Caltrans needs to explain why it believes that this work occurring so close to the trees would cause only “very slight”  root zone disturbance.

Various avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures are proposed to reduce impacts to redwoods. Many, however, contain inadequate descriptions regarding how they will be carried out. For example, one such measure is “no roots greater than two inches in diameter will be cut,” however the Initial Study does not describe how work crews will achieve this.

In short, Caltrans has not demonstrated that it takes seriously the great responsibility of working near our precious ancient redwoods, and that it deserves our trust when they say that the project will leave these trees unharmed.

Impacts on Fish
The bridges at issue span Ohman Creek, Elk Creek, Bridge Creek and Bear Creek, all four of which provide habitat for Chinook and Coho salmon, among other aquatic creatures. As with its analysis of impacts on redwoods, Caltrans concludes that the impacts of the project on fish will be “less than significant,” but it provides little evidence to support this conclusion.

Furthermore, the document acknowledges that unexpected impacts to fish can occur from “unintended spills, increased sedimentation, and alteration of pH.”

Collapse Jan. 22, 2015. Photo Credit: Steve Eberhard Willits News

Collapse Jan. 22, 2015. Photo Credit: Steve Eberhard Willits News

As we have unfortunately learned from the recent collapse of the overpass at Willits Bypass, which spilled wet concrete into a nearby stream, raising the pH of the stream to a level that can kill fish immediately, unintended events can have huge impacts. But the “avoidance, minimization, and/or mitigation measures” provided in the Initial Study for the Four Bridges Project for potential impacts to anadromous fish are vague and inadequate. Before starting work above and around these streams, Caltrans should provide additional assurances that spills and other disturbances of the creeks in the project area will be prevented, and it should develop and circulate for public review a site-specific emergency response plan for spills or other disturbances of the streams.

CEQA violations
CEQA requires that all documents referenced in a proposed mitigated negative declaration be made available to the public. (See Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21092; CEQA Guidelines  § 15072). In this Mitigated Negative Declaration, however, many conclusions rely entirely on referenced documents and surveys, which were not made publicly available, in clear violation of CEQA.

While ultimately it may be that Caltrans believes it has put adequate measures in place to reduce environmental impacts of this project to acceptable levels, it needs to prove this to the public by publicly releasing all underlying documents so that the public – as a participant in the process for informed decision-making – can review and comment on all the information.

This must be done before Caltrans can act to decide this project.

Click here to be directed to Caltrans’ website for technical studies.


Take Action—Tell the Fish and Wildlife Service to Protect the Pacific Fisher

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
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Pacific FisherAfter 15 years of delays and subsequent litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the West Coast population of the Pacific fisher, a small, weasel-like forest carnivore, as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered Species Act. In 2000, EPIC and 16 other conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to list the West Coast population of the Pacific fisher under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Now, the end is almost in sight; our goal is almost achieved.

The Pacific fisher faces many threats to its survival and conservation. From logging to roads, stand-replacing wildfires and overly-aggressive fuel reduction programs, and the explosion in illegal marijuana growing and the associated use of anticoagulant rodenticides, the small, isolated populations of West Coast fishers have long needed the protections afforded by the ESA. However, EPIC is concerned with certain proposals put forward by the Service and big-timber interests.

First, EPIC is concerned about the designation of critical habitat for the fisher and the development of a subsequent fisher recovery plan. The ESA normally requires the Service to designate critical habitat for a listed species concurrently with a listing determination. The Service has indicated it will not do so for the fisher. Instead, the designation of critical habitat will be pushed out into the future. In developing future critical habitat, it is essential that the Service pay close attention to the conservation needs of the fisher and not rely on the conservation strategy for the northern spotted owl to adequately protect the fisher.

Like the northern spotted owl, the fisher primarily relies on old, mature forests and complex forest structures, like snags and mistletoe brooms, for denning, feeding, and dispersal behaviors. Because of these similarities, there is pressure to rely on the conservation strategy developed for the northern spotted owl—most notably, relying on northern spotted owl critical habitat and the system of late-successional reserves on our public lands for the conservation of the fisher. However, reliance on the extant conservation strategy for the northern spotted owl will not likely be sufficient to protect and conserve the fisher across the species’ range. While the owl and the fisher do use some similar habitats, the best available research shows us that the habitat for these two species does not entirely overlap, and that conservation of the fisher will rely on a more comprehensive strategy.

Second, EPIC is concerned with attempts to redefine which populations should be afforded protection under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering several listing configurations for the west coast population of the fisher. When only a portion of a larger species is proposed for listing, the ESA provides for the ability to list what is known as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS). At present, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether or not to include the entire West Coast population of the fisher into one DPS, or if it will break out the Sierra, Northern California, and Washington and Oregon populations into smaller listable units. EPIC supports the designation of the entire West Coast population of the fisher as a single DPS. Listing of the entire West Coast population of the fisher under the ESA will increase the likelihood that the small, isolated populations of the fisher can persist, and perhaps even reconnect. In addition, listing of the West Coast population of the fisher will serve to improve landscape management, which in turn, will aid in our goals of protecting and connecting our wild and forested landscapes.

Lastly, EPIC is concerned that the Service may attempt to weaken the normal protections afforded to a threatened species to lessen the sting of the ESA on industries which degrade fisher habitat. In addition to the failure to promptly designate critical habitat for the fisher, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has indicated that it is considering the promulgation of a “4(d) rule” which would allow the Service to weaken the default ESA protections for the fisher in favor of promoting so-called “fisher-friendly forestry.” EPIC opposes any such rule which serves only to weaken ESA protections afforded to the fisher.

Action:

Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

  • Listing of the West Coast population of the fisher is a warranted action.
  • List the entire West Coast fisher populations as a single Distinct Population Segment.
  • You oppose any rule that would weaken Endangered Species Act protections for the fisher in favor of “fisher-friendly forestry.”

Send Comments to Federal eRulemaking Portal:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-R8-ES-2014-0041-0148


Massive Timber Sale Proposed for Klamath National Forest – Public Meetings Announced

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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Photo by Nat PenningtonA massive 43,883 acre post-fire logging project is being proposed by the Klamath National Forest. Almost half of the project is within areas that are supposed to be set aside to protect and enhance old growth forest ecosystems called, Late Successional Reserves. The Forest Service is planning to streamline this unprecedented timber sale, which would shorten public comment opportunities, and speed up the environmental review process.

The proposal is dubiously named the Westside Fire Recovery Project, but instead of acting as a prescription for recovery; the proposal would devastate old growth forests, watersheds, salmon, sensitive animal and plant species, and proposes to plant 20,000 acres of even aged plantation forests that would increase the potential for high intensity fires in the future.

Recent post-fire “salvage” logging projects that have been carried out by the U.S. Forest Service on Klamath National Forest have not followed mitigation measures and have failed to implement project design features put in place to protect wildlife and fisheries, resulting in negative impacts to fish and wildlife.

We recognize the need for hazard tree removal for roadside safety along primary roads, defensible space around homes and communities, and strategic fuel breaks. However, proposed logging in the Westside proposal targets mature forests that are located on steep slopes with unstable soils in high value watersheds for at-risk salmonid populations. This is a region where salmon populations are already heavily impacted by many other factors including dams, diversions and drought, and millions of dollars have been spent on fisheries restoration projects. These irreplaceable ecosystems should not be traded for short-term economic gains.

Forests need fire. Post-fire landscapes are more biologically diverse than unburned forests are considered to be one of the rarest and most ecologically important forest habitats. Historically, Native Americans would use fire as a means to thin out the understory, open up the forests for fruit and nut producing shrubs, and enhance prairie grasslands and to cultivate basket weaving materials. Decades of fire suppression combined with post-fire logging, and uniform tree planting, has allowed for much of the region become densely overgrown and the forests have become less biologically diverse. After a fire burns through a forest, the large old growth trees usually don’t die, the small overcrowded trees are cleared out, the snags that are left become wildlife habitat, and the downed trees hold the slopes together, enhance soil complexity and eventually become fish habitat when they fall into the waterways. However, when roads are made on the sensitive burned soils and many of the largest marketable trees are logged, large sediment loads are sent into watersheds, and the soils, forests and watersheds have a difficulty recovering.

We need your voice to advocate for real recovery! The Forest Service has scheduled informational meetings to allow for public input on the Westside Project. Please come out and voice your concerns for this unprecedented large and hurried process that targets some of the most productive and best habitat for the last remaining run of wild spring Chinook salmon and other rare plant and wildlife species.

Westside Fire Open House Meeting Schedule:

Yreka– Friday, January 30 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Klamath National Forest Headquarters Office

Scott Valley- Saturday, January 31 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Fort Jones Community Hall

Klamath River- Tuesday, February 3 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Community Center

Happy Camp- Wednesday, February 4 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Karuk Senior Nutrition Center

Scott Bar- Thursday, February 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Community Hall

Sawyers Bar- Friday, February 6 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Salmon River Restoration Council

Seiad– Friday, February 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Seiad Fire Hall

Please come to these meetings and be a voice for the wild!


Crab N’ Drag at the Bayside Grange January 31

Monday, January 26th, 2015
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buy ticketsRoll out the redwood carpet, get out under the stars, and party for redwoods and rainbows! Aqueerius Productions is proud to present the classy, fun and colorful, Crab N’ Drag, a celebrity drag themed crab dinner and dance party, to benefit EPIC and Humboldt Pride.

CND jpg

EPIC is dedicated to the protection and restoration of the forests of Northwestern California, and Humboldt Pride seeks to educate and energize the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community and our allies.

Come out and dance the night away in your glitz and glamour to shine like the star that you are, and enjoy a delicious dinner with fabulous entertainment and a full bar.

The theme “Under the Stars” encourages the public to dress as a STAR including but not limited to a celebrity, rock star, pop star, famous person, fictional character, comedian, super star, bright n’ shiny sun star, sea star, the star that YOU are!!! get creative and shine bright!

Awards for Kingest King, Queenest Queen, and Queerest Queer!

Exciting entertainment will include, the performing troupe Circus of The Elements, the all-drag boy band Girrrls 2 Men, Fushia Rae, the newly crowned local celebrity, Mizz Mr. Humboldt, and the Ho-stess with the mostess Mantrikka Ho will dazzle us throughout the evening.

DJ Anya will bring on the booty shakin’, with her sassy electro beats mashed with nostalgic hip-hop sounds to create an instant dance party!

Seduce your taste buds with a local and sustainably caught dungeness crab & oyster dinner with local grown organic greens and quinoa with vegan option and desert! Available for purchase at the event, dinner will be served till we run out.

Doors open at 6pm, dinner will be served from 6:00-8:00 and music goes until midnight. Tickets are $10and includes entertainment and DJ dance party! Dinner will be available for separate purchase at the event and will feature a crab and oyster dinner and a vegan option for ~$15 (prices may vary due to market value). 18+ Adults Only.

Contact Kelly@wildcalifornia.org or call EPIC 822-7711 for questions or to volunteer. Contact illuminateyourevent@gmail.com for stage and performing information. We are coming together to celebrate our differences and to share in an important cause in this open and affirming venue. People of all genders and persuasions are welcome and we’d love to have any and all join us to support EPIC and Humboldt Pride. Dance for biodiversity and diversity! Party for redwoods and rainbows!

Buy Tickets Now!

 

 

 


Caltrans Setting Sights on Redwood National Park

Thursday, January 15th, 2015
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Last Chance GradeCaltrans is in the beginning stages of planning for the Last Chance Grade Project along Highway 101 (10-miles south of Crescent City), where the highway is slipping into the Pacific Ocean. This project would have significant environmental impacts, as the highway would likely be rerouted to the east through Redwood State and National Parks.

EPIC is committed to finding the least environmentally destructive alternative for this project and will work tireless to hold Caltrans to the law. We need your help. Please attend the meeting most convenient to you. We need to show Caltrans that the community is paying attention to this project and let them know we will protect our ancient redwood forests and coho salmon-bearing streams. Click here to learn more about the project.

A series of community workshops will be held to get public input and ideas on a range of possible alternatives for Last Chance Grade. Come to a workshop to learn more and share your ideas:
Crescent City – Monday, January 26, 2015
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Del Norte County Fairgrounds
Arts & Crafts Building
421 Highway 101 North

Eureka – Tuesday, January 27, 2015
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Wharfinger Building
Great Room
Eureka Public Marina, #1 Marina Way

Klamath – Wednesday, January 28, 2015
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Yurok Tribal Office
Klamath Community Room
190 Klamath Boulevard

These meetings are being characterized as a series of workshops, with small breakout groups. There are six different preliminary alternatives for consideration that will be further analyzed as part of the design engineered feasibility study that will be completed by July 2015. All meetings will be verbally recorded so that the content is sufficiently captured. We have seen no notification to the public regarding these meetings.


Save Richardson Grove: Think Globally, Act Locally

Thursday, January 15th, 2015
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Madrone Hugging Ancient RedwoodIf everyone cared for their own wild back yard, the world would be a better place. Northwest California is known for having some of the wildest lands, including the Lost Coast and the tallest trees on the planet, which have been preserved behind the redwood curtain since time immemorial. With less than three percent of the planet’s old growth redwood trees remaining, it is imperative that every ancient tree is protected, especially if they are entrusted into a park system, which has vowed to protect them in perpetuity.

Since 2007, EPIC has been working to protect some of the most well-known giant redwoods in the world from the California Department of Transportation’s destructive highway-widening project. A grass roots coalition of community members, business owners, economists, conservation and Native American groups have opposed the Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project, which proposed tree removal and destruction of the root systems of ancient redwood trees in Richardson Grove State Park – trees that are supposed to be protected by the state park system.

Richardson Grove is the first cluster of old-growth redwoods people see as they head up the coast on Highway 101, it is essentially the “redwood curtain” that has allowed Humboldt County to retain its rural character. The redwoods in Richardson Grove also serve as critical habitat for Marbled Murrelets, Northern Spotted Owls and streams going through the Grove are critical habitat for endangered Coho Salmon. Maintaining the integrity of these trees is incredibly important not only to the ecosystem, but to the community, since these trees are the pinch point that do not allow for larger trucks serving corporate chains that are characteristic of sprawling urban areas, and which many people feel would change the essential character of Humboldt County.

For eight years EPIC and allies have organized community support, provided comments, and filed lawsuits that ultimately convinced a federal judge to grant an injunction halting the Richardson Grove project citing that the agency had been “arbitrary and capricious” in its use of what the court called “faulty data.” This past December Caltrans revoked its approval of the project. If the agency decides to pursue the project, a complete and comprehensive environmental review and approval process will have to start over. This is a victory, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and rest assured that the trees in Richardson Grove State Park will not be harmed for now.

An important lesson has been learned because of this case, that Caltrans consistently breaks the rules, violating environmental laws and risking important public trust resources. For this reason, EPIC will continue to engage with Caltrans and hold them accountable to the environmental standards that have been put in place to protect our natural treasures.

A related proposal that should be watched closely is Caltrans’ “Last Chance Grade” project, located along Highway 101 ten miles south of Crescent City where the roadbed is sliding into the Pacific Ocean. Caltrans is in the beginning planning phases of this project and is looking at potential alternative routes to the east, away from the sliding cliffs, which includes multiple alternatives that would go through the middle of Redwood State and National Parks. EPIC is committed to finding the least environmentally destructive project alternative that meets the needs of the community, while holding Caltrans accountable to environmental laws.

The loss of large tracts of intact wild lands may be the single biggest threat to our way of life. Climate disruption will only compound the threats that future generations face. In order to secure a sustainable future, it is clear that protecting and restoring Northwest California’s forest ecosystems will provide necessary habitat, clean air and water, carbon sequestration, and improve quality of life for people and native wildlife for generations to come.

In order to hone EPIC’s effectiveness in protecting wild forestlands within our bioregion, we have restructured the organization, added two new attorneys to our staff, and developed a new strategic plan to focus on three primary campaigns:

•Achieving permanent connectivity of working and wild forestlands, a campaign called “Connecting Wild Places;”

•Ensuring best management of public forestlands; and

•Ensuring best management of private industrial forests with an emphasis on the Elk, Mattole and Freshwater watersheds.

With your help, we can protect wild places and ensure that public and private lands are managed responsibly to maintain healthy intact ecosystems. We have our work cut out for us, but we are dedicated and determined to leave our children with a legacy we can all be proud of.

 


Spotted Owl Told to Wait (Again)

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
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Owl-Self-Defense-wings-shadow-296x300The Northern Spotted Owl is an iconic corner-stone species that has called the forests of northwest California home since time immemorial. Despite over 20 years of enhanced protections afforded by the listing of the owl under the federal Endangered Species Act, the best available science continues to show alarming and precipitous declines in NSO vital statistics across the species’ range.

EPIC’s Northern Spotted Owl Self-defense Campaign has sought to achieve enhanced protections for the owl in California and beyond. Given the myriad and immediacy of threats to the species, EPIC believes that urgent actions are needed to prevent the extinction of the NSO.

In 2012, EPIC filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ‘up-list’ or ‘reclassify’ the NSO from a “threatened” to an “endangered” species under the federal ESA. Despite statutory obligations to produce an initial 90-day finding on our petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to fulfill its responsibilities under the ESA. In 2014, EPIC reached a ‘handshake’ agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service had committed to publishing its initial 90-day finding on our petition by December 12, 2014. However, the Service failed to meet this specified deadline, now indicating that it does not intend to publish the 90-day finding until March 31, 2015.

Meanwhile, EPIC also submitted a listing petition for the NSO under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) in 2012. After a great deal of delay, the California Fish and Game Commission considered the petition in August 2013. The Commission found that the proposed listing action ‘may be warranted,’ thus initiating a one-year ‘candidacy’ period for the NSO under CESA, during which time the species would be treated as if it were listed. The NSO is thus currently protected under California state law.

CESA requires the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to ‘promptly’ commence a full status review of the NSO in California, and to produce a status report for submission to the Fish and Game Commission to inform the Commission’s final decision on the listing proposal. The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s status review and report were to be completed by December 2014. However, the Department has sought, and successfully received a six-month extension for the submission of its status report for the NSO. The new release date for the Department’s status report is now June 26, 2015.

The failure of the wildlife agencies to address our listing petitions and the increasing threats to the NSO in a timely manner bodes poorly for the prospects for survival of the owl in California and elsewhere in the species’ range. Despite the fact that existing conservation measures for the owl have clearly failed, both the state and federal governments have shunned their responsibilities to ensure the conservation, survival, and recovery of the NSO in the wild. Instead, business as usual prevails in both our public and privately-held forestlands.
Preventing the extinction of the NSO is key to maintaining forest ecosystem health, maintaining species’ biodiversity in the forest, and for protecting and connecting our wild places and managed landscapes. EPIC will continue to use the tools available to advocate for the conservation and recovery of the Northern Spotted Owl.


Thank You Jared Huffman!

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
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HuffmanEPIC would like to thank Representative Jared Huffman for his outstanding work on environmental issues affecting Northern California. Huffman has a long history of championing environmental causes. Prior to serving California’s Second Congressional District, he worked as an environmental attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Since first being elected in 2012, Representative Huffman has:

  • Protected Humboldt County’s water rights from encroachment from Central Valley irrigators;
  • Expanded the California Coastal National Monument off the Mendocino coast;
  • Fought trespass marijuana grows in public forestlands; and
  • Defended the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from development.

For these things, and many more, EPIC is thankful. Help us thank Representative Huffman by calling his D.C. office at (202) 225-5161 and telling him to continue the good fight!


2014 EPIC Year in Review

Friday, December 19th, 2014
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grandfather treehuggerWhen it comes to getting things done, EPIC churns out one campaign after another in the pursuit of making our world a better place. Over the past year, we have taken on almost every project you can imagine, from getting protections for the Grey Wolf, to banning rodenticides, to protecting wild places, to thwarting Caltran’s attempts to harm ancient redwoods, our team is proficient in bringing about changes to better the environment and quality of life.  The list below takes a look at some of our most notable accomplishments from 2014. We could not do all of this work without the support from our members, interns, volunteers and activists, so we would like to thank you for all that you do to fuel our efforts into the future.

PUBLIC LANDS

Filed a third lawsuit to prevent Caltrans from vandalizing the ancient redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park, convincing Caltrans to rescind its approvals for the project. Caltrans must now restart the full environmental review of the project if they choose to move forward with the proposal. Earlier in the year, the California Appeals Court ruled that Caltrans Failed to Consider Highway Project Impacts on old-growth redwoods.

Secured a preliminary injunction halting Caltrans’ 199/197 Highway-widening proposal in Del Norte County along the Wild and Scenic Smith River, citing substantial violations of the Endangered Species Act, a ‘haphazard” consultation process with the federal fisheries agency, and the potential for irreparable harm to the Smith River and salmon habitat.

Developed and launched the Connecting Wild Places Campaign, which sets out to designate, protect and connect habitat areas, wildlife corridors, carbon-dense forest stands and all remaining old-growth in northwest California to build a well-connected network of wild lands to allow for the movement, mating, foraging and adaptation of species in an era of climate change.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act, we submitted a message on behalf of 50,000 EPIC and conservation partner members asking U.S. Department of the Interior Sally Jewell and California National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Supervisors to protect and connect wild places.

Prepared a legal complaint challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to log over a thousand acres in the Klamath National Forest along the Wild and Scenic North Fork Salmon River. Because of the threat of litigation, the Forest Service withdrew important old growth reserves from the Salmon Salvage timber sale, resulting in the protection of some of the best northern spotted owl habitat in the proposal.

Sent three separate action alerts opposing U.S. Forest Service proposals for post-fire “salvage” logging in the Klamath National Forest:

  • Westside Project (604 comments)
  • Jess Project (1,182 comments)
  • Salmon River Salvage (1,347 comments)

Sent 1,073 comments on the Crawford Timber Sale within the Siskiyou 1 Roadless Area, a proposal that would be damaging to forest health and biodiversity with taxpayers footing the bill for corporate timber profits at the expense of wildlands and wildlife.

Monitored and documented cattle grazing allotments in wilderness areas that have resulted in fragmentation of willows and wetlands and degradation of watersheds. The documentation was then sent to federal and state officials to encourage more effective grazing management to protect our public lands and public trust resources.

Worked with conservation groups, Tolowa Dunes State Park, and Biologists to survey, document and map current fencing and restoration efforts to develop a plan for removing old livestock fencing from the park to improve habitat for migratory wildlife such as elk. The majority of the fencing is scheduled to be removed in early 2015.

Filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Region 5 of the U.S. Forest Service to request documents detailing the effects of trespass marijuana growing on public lands and their impacts on forests, fish, and wildlife.

Participated in Humboldt County’s Cannabis ordinance workshops and Growing Green citizen workshops to advocate for ecologically sustainable solutions for the cultivation of our region’s number one cash crop.

WILDLIFE

Successfully petitioned to protect the Gray Wolf under the California Endangered Species Act. For more than two years we advocated for the wolf, gathered over 4,000 comments, attended countless hearings, hosted teach-ins and testified at the California Fish and Game Commission hearing in Fortuna when it was announced that OR7, California’s wandering wolf had sired puppies and that the species would be granted protections!

Action alert to urge U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to grant protections for fishers as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Encouraged 2,409 epic members to take action ultimately convincing the California Fish and Game Commission to end inducements (cash prizes) for wildlife killing contests.

Launched campaign that resulted in a statewide ban on over the counter sales of dangerous anticoagulant rat poisons that kill countless children, pets and wildlife each year.

Commissioned a wildlife researcher to conduct an independent review of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Northern Spotted Owl initial evaluation of our petition to list the Owl as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. This report will be presented to the Commission to provide scientific evidence that the species is in decline and needs protections.

Filed and settled two separate lawsuits to reform the timing and number of fish released from Trinity and Mad River fish hatchery practices to protect native wild salmon populations from being bred with and preyed upon by hatchery fish.

Joined forces with other groups to file a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for a silvery phacelia, a rare plant that grows in coastal areas along northern California & southern Oregon.

WATER

Submitted comments and gathered 1,207 signatures to urge the Oregon Department of Water Resources (ODWR) to deny the Red Flat Nickel Corporation’s Strip Mining application that was proposed for the headwaters of the Wild and Scenic Smith River. Earlier this month, we learned that the mining corporation has appealed the ODWR’s denial, and now we are urging congressional representatives in Oregon and California to block the proposals by issuing a mineral withdrawn for mining in the sensitive areas of the Illinoi and Smith River, click here to take action.

Participated in workshops that developed into California’s newly adopted Groundwater Legislation.

Attended rally in Sacramento and encouraged 1,880 people to send comments to the Bureau of Reclamation to prevent a fish kill in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. In the end, the Bureau made the decision to release the flows and this year’s salmon runs were one of the largest on record.

Developed comments and an action alert yielding 1,598 comments requesting withdrawal of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a proposal that was based on over allocated water rights that would take more water from Northern California’s rivers threatening the viability of endangered species and native salmon runs only to benefit large industrial agricultural interests.

Attended meeting where we delivered over 10,000 petition signatures opposing the Navy’s Northwest Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement, which proposed the harm, kill or harass more than 500,000 marine mammals with sonar, weapons, and toxic chemicals. The extensive comments submitted during the last public comment period have forced the Navy to write an additional Supplement to the initial Environmental Impact Statement, which is currently being circulated for public comment and includes a series of meetings with one in Eureka on January 16, 2015.

Participated in Sacramento Rally and submitted over 6,000 comments to California lawmakers, asking them to ban fracking in California.

PRIVATE INDUSTRIAL FORESTLANDS

Filed a petition to challenge CAL FIRE’s use of ‘G-Plus Methodology,’ an underground regulation that illegally applies an alternative review and approval standard for private industrial Timber Harvest Plans

Worked with residents, forest defenders and timber managers in the Mattole watershed to assess primary forests and the effects timber harvest proposals would have on the landscape, eventually Humboldt Redwood Company agreed to temporarily halt logging in these controversial places. EPIC plans to continue working with stakeholders in this area to develop a plan that will protect old growth stands and restore the watershed.

In 2014 EPIC has successfully engaged on conservation advocacy issues at the national, state, and local level, and our advances are directly attributable to the consistent support that our small, grassroots and community-based organization receives from our membership. Thank you for a positive 2014, we are well positioned to have a successful 2015. Click here to read our vision for 2015.


Dear Santa: Save our Beautiful Wild Rivers from Strip Mining

Friday, December 12th, 2014
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Santa and river image for alertTake Action: All we want for Christmas is a mineral withdrawal

This Christmas, please join us in asking Santa for something extra special: a mineral withdrawal in southwest Oregon that benefits California too!

Here’s what’s at stake:

  • the purest of waters and wildest of rivers;
  • a stronghold of native salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout; and
  • a treasure trove of botanical diversity with one of the highest concentrations of rare plants in North America.

Mining companies want to develop nickel strip mines in pristine, wild lands in southwest Oregon, including the headwaters of California’s famed Smith River. Senators Wyden and Merkley and Congressman DeFazio have long supported withdrawing the fragile watersheds of Rough and Ready and Baldface creeks (headwaters of the Wild and Scenic Illinois and North Fork Smith rivers) from mining, and we’ve urged them to add Hunter Creek’s headwaters—equally fragile—to their roster. Congressman Huffman has joined them to protect the Wild and Scenic Smith River.

There’s not much time. Immediate introduction of legislation to withdraw the area from mining is needed. This will protect these priceless federal public lands by closing them to mining unless there’s a valid existing right.

It’s our best way to protect the crystal clear, salmon-studded waters of the wild rivers coast from damaging pollution.

Take Action: Urge the Oregon and California delegation to introduce legislation to protect this wild and wonderful area from mining!

 

 

EPIC is a member of the Kalmiopsis Rivers group, we would like to thank them for providing the content of this action alert.

EPIC Unveils New Strategic Plan

Thursday, December 11th, 2014
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HeadwatersIt is a great honor to share with you the Environmental Protection Information Center’s Strategic Plan. EPIC is an organization in the process of reestablishing itself as the most effective forest advocacy organization in the north coast California region. Our goal is to build a stronger, more solid, focused organization, and achieve the greatest impact in forest protection.

For nearly four-decades EPIC has held public agencies accountable by upholding environmental laws to protect Northwest California’s native biodiversity. EPIC filed more than 70 lawsuits on behalf of imperiled wildlife species and their habitat, many of which led to the permanent protection of some of the region’s most biologically significant, carbon dense, intact ancient forests.

Building off our past accomplishments and holding true to our principals, we concluded that the most effective thing we can do is focus our energy and resources on achieving three specific goals: (1) Connecting working and wild forests; (2) Ensuring best management of public forestland; and (3) Ensuring best management of private industrial forests. This is not a strategy to do less; it is a strategy to be more focused, rigorous and stable.

EPIC advocates for the science-based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests.

NW Ca Biodiversity 2reducedBiodiversity loss, also known as extinction, may be the biggest threat to life on Earth, as we know it. People are altering landscapes and ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than any other time in human history. Today, a small percent of intact ancient forests remain, mostly in California’s state and national parks, wilderness areas and wildlife refuges. But between these protected biodiversity hotspots, the majority of California’s forests remain unprotected and are constantly threatened by clearcut logging, road building, grazing, trespass marijuana grows, and conversion from working forests to industrial agriculture. The cumulative impact of these activities is devastating to biodiversity. Over the last few years an increasing number of scientists have suggested that the planet’s collapsing biological diversity may well be the largest and most intractable environmental problem we face—even greater than climate change or pollution.

Biodiversity and the resilience of the environment are deeply intertwined.

There is an urgent need to identify new conservation areas—areas that can provide refuge from climate change, corridors of habitat that allow species to migrate and areas where habitat restoration can promote species and ecosystem resiliency to, and adaptation of climate change.

The following are EPIC’s Conservation-advocacy Goals and a forecast of our strategies and campaigns for the coming year of 2015:

Connecting Working and Wild Forests

Corridor Map North Coast1. Achieve permanent connectivity in working and wild forest lands. Our campaign, called Connecting Wild Places, sets out to designate, protect and connect habitat areas, wildlife corridors, carbon-dense forest stands and all remaining old-growth in northwest California by 2019. We will:

Identify, name and develop site “campaigns” for each of 13+ high priority areas on National forestland;

Collaborate with conservation allies, including tribal representatives;

Focus on building relationships and finding pressure points with private industrial timber companies: Green Diamond and Humboldt Redwood Company; and

Work with the U.S. Forest Service and private industry to achieve goal.

Ensuring Best Management of Public Forests

2. Protect public forest lands and ensure best conservation practices to protect forest health, watersheds and wildlife species on the Six Rivers, Mendocino, Klamath, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, and other public lands in Northwest California.

Watchdog U.S. Forest Service to enforce existing law and regulations. Continue to monitor and comment on Forest Service Projects with an emphasis on projects that would negatively impact endangered species habitat, roadless areas, old-growth forests, and potential wildlife corridors;

Challenge ecologically destructive timber sales and post-fire logging projects;

Implement endangered species habitat protections for the northern spotted owl, Humboldt marten, gray wolf, and pacific fisher;

Target leaders in office and in forest, fish and wildlife management to reform antiquated resource extraction policies;

Participate in project planning and implementation to develop resilient fire-adapted communities;

Address threats to wilderness resources from unmanaged cattle; and

Protect Richardson Grove State Park and the Wild and Scenic Smith River from Caltrans’ road-widening projects.

Ensuring Best Management of Private Industrial Forests

3. Ensure best management practices on private timberlands for species protection, clean water, human communities, and to encourage growth of older forests in order to achieve healthy forests, connected landscapes, and watershed integrity.

Encourage protection of, and sustainable management of “primary forests” in Mattole Watershed; encourage restorative management in plantations; and remediation of adverse watershed conditions in the Elk Watershed;

Track, review, and comment on timber harvest plans and other private lands projects that would negatively impact endangered species habitat, old-growth forests, potential wildlife corridors, and the Elk and Mattole Watersheds;

Engage with State and Regional Water Quality Boards to implement the Clean Water Act as they pertain to Green Diamond and Humboldt Redwood Company’s timber operations especially within Mattole and Elk Watersheds;

Follow through with our effort to list the Northern Spotted Owl under the California Endangered Species Act; and

Influence decision makers concerning timber industry regulation and planning implementation relative to private forestland in Northwest California. Specifically meeting with Governor’s office, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, State Water Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife Services; and continuing to monitor the California Board of Forestry as policy is developed.

Institutional Development

EPIC is developing an integrated vision of what the organization needs to accomplish in terms of advocacy, constituency building, and institutional development. It is imperative in our line of work that our staff has a strong foundation of environmental law and scientific expertise. As of fall 2014, the EPIC team has significantly increased its legal expertise with the addition of two full-time attorneys joining the staff.

2014 Staff & BoardWe hired attorney Thomas Wheeler to fill the position of Program and Legal Coordinator. His role is to assist in the development, implementation and management of EPIC’s campaign strategies. Our staff has been further strengthened with an unexpected and amazingly fortunate addition of attorney Lucy Allen, a Humboldt County native. Lucy was awarded top honors from UC Berkeley Law School and was granted a Public Interest Fellowship to work for any organization of her choosing with her salary paid by the university for one year; she chose EPIC. Sharon Duggan, one of the most effective environmental lawyers in the western states, continues to work with EPIC, providing invaluable experience, mentorship, guidance, and oversight to our legal and political strategies.

Kimberly Baker (Public Lands Advocate since 2006), Amber Shelton (Conservation Advocate since 2009), Rob DiPerna (California Forest and Wildlife Advocate, with more than 8 years working with EPIC) and Richard Gienger (Forest Restoration Advocate since 1977) continue their positions as EPIC Staff.

Executive Director, Natalynne DeLapp, has been with the organization since 2008 and during which time she built relationships with a wide cross-section of people from the region. She is skilled in fundraising, strategic management, public relations, community organizing and team building; her educational background is in environmental science and public policy.

To advise EPIC’s policy-related decisions we have developed a Scientific Advisory Panel consisting of experts from fields e.g. fire ecology, fisheries biology, forest ecology, climate science, etc. Our goal is to have at least eight panel members by March 2015.

Our team is nurturing the organization in a way that cultivates institutional resiliency in what are clearly very challenging times for grassroots organizations. Support from the EPIC Community is critically important for EPIC to reach short-term objectives and long-term organizational goals. More than 60% of EPIC’s funding comes from individual donations from our members and supporters.

CIRCLEWe need your support to accomplish what might be our most ambitious goals yet. 

Together we can ensure Northwest California’s forests will be healthy, connected, and wild; and that sustainable, restorative management practices will be the standard. The forests of our bioregion will help buffer the impacts of climate change resulting in clean air and water, abundant and diverse native flora and fauna, and the natural beauty will be protected for generations to come. Your generous gift can make ALL the difference!

Please contact us for more information about our vision and plans for 2015 and beyond, (707) 822-7711.

EPIC Banner_Because Life Depends on Healthy Forests_ 700x116


Plans Halted for Widening Highway Through Ancient Redwoods in California’s Richardson Grove State Park

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
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RichardsonGroveAfter years of opposition, Caltrans has rescinded its approvals for a controversial highway-widening project that would endanger ancient redwood trees in Richardson Grove State Park, along Highway 101 in Humboldt County. Conservation groups and local residents this week dismissed a lawsuit they filed in federal court in July in exchange for Caltrans abandoning the project approvals and agreeing to restart the environmental review if the agency pursues the project. Caltrans has been prohibited from any project construction activities by both a 2012 federal court injunction and a recent state court order.

“This is an important victory stopping a nonsensical project that would have done terrible damage to an ancient grove of giant redwoods in our state park,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ll be ready to go back to court if Caltrans decides to pursue the project, and it’ll have to completely start over on environmental review and the approval process.”

Conservation groups and local residents have now won three consecutive lawsuits challenging the “Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project,” a proposal that would cut into and pave over the roots of many of Richardson Grove’s ancient redwoods, including some that are 2,000 years old, are 18 feet in diameter and reach heights of 300 feet. Caltrans has pursued this project solely to benefit passage for oversized commercial trucks.

“It’s time to investigate the huge amount of taxpayer money Caltrans has wasted pursuing this ill-conceived project,” said Natalynne DeLapp with the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Caltrans should have to answer why the agency continues to pour money down the drain pursuing a project that cannot be legally approved. Regulatory agencies and the public will not allow Richardson Grove’s ancient trees to be damaged.”

The latest lawsuit was filed by the Environmental Protection Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, Bess Bair, Trisha Lee Lotus, Bruce Edwards, Jeffrey Hedin and David Spreen. The lawsuit challenged Caltrans’ violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Background

Richardson Grove State Park, where tourists often first encounter large redwoods when heading north on Highway 101, is home to one of the last protected stands of accessible old-growth redwood trees in the world. The park also contains essential habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the northern spotted owl, and its creeks support runs of imperiled salmon and steelhead trout.

Caltrans first proposed the highway-widening project in 2007. Opposition to the project has grown substantially, led by the Save Richardson Grove Coalition, a diverse group of community members including economists, business owners, scientists and Northern California tribes with longstanding ties to the grove.

Caltrans claimed the highway-widening project was needed to accommodate large-truck travel, but acknowledged that the portion of road in question was already designated for larger trucks and did not have significant safety problems. The agency did not establish that the project was necessary for safety or would benefit the local economy. Smaller-sized commercial trucks have travelled through the grove for years to deliver goods to Humboldt County, and legislative exemptions have functioned to allow the passage of oversize trucks.

The plaintiffs first sued in 2010 when Caltrans certified inadequate environmental review documents and adopted a “finding of no significant impact.” In 2012 a federal court stopped the project, citing numerous errors in Caltrans’ mapping and measurement of affected old-growth redwoods and stating that the agency had been “arbitrary and capricious” in its use of what the court called ‘faulty data.” The California Court of Appeal in January 2014 ordered Caltrans to reevaluate the environmental impacts of the project under state law, finding that it had failed to fully assess impacts on ancient redwoods or provide measures to reduce potentially severe harm to the trees.

The latest lawsuit was filed earlier this year when Caltrans approved a “supplement” to its federal environmental review and renewed the project approval, while refusing to consider public concerns about the issues raised in the previous lawsuit. Caltrans failed to fix the numerous errors in mapping and measurement of affected old-growth redwoods that were cited by the federal judge in his order.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs are Philip Gregory and Pete McCloskey of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP; Stuart Gross of Gross Law; and Sharon Duggan, a long-time expert on environmental law.

EPIC Richardson Grove Press Release 12.5.14


EPIC Arts Arcata and Membership Mixer December 12

Sunday, December 7th, 2014
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EPIC Membership SlideCelebrate Arts Alive at the EPIC office on Friday, December 12th from 6-9pm! Meet our Board and Staff and hear about our exciting new programs for 2015. Local artist and film-maker, Thomas Dunklin will feature his photography that focuses on local fisheries. At 7pm we will be presenting a slideshow outlining recent accomplishments, and new projects we will undertake in the coming year. 

We will offer art, wine, snacks and a raffle prize, so come visit our workspace, listen to some music, check out local photography and connect with the Northern Humboldt forest protection community at 145 G Street, Suite A in Arcata!

Click here to invite your friends on Facebook!


EPIC Evening at the Palm Dec. 6

Sunday, November 30th, 2014
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An EPIC Evening at The Palm, brings Eclectic Art, Sultry Jazz, Spicy Burlesque and a Cocktail Dance Party to the Historic Eureka Inn.

Burningleaf Productions is proud to present, An EPIC Evening at the Palm, a grand and swanky cocktail party fundraiser for the Environmental Protection Information Center. EPIC is dedicated to the protection and restoration of the forests of Northwestern California.

BadablingCome out in your glamour and glitz to sip some cocktails, enjoy eclectic art, listen to live jazz, be seduced by burlesque and dance the night away at the Palm lounge in the Historic Eureka Inn on December 6th. Hosted by the newly crowned “Mr. Humboldt”, Comedian, John McClurg, will entertain and enliven throughout night.

Start out the evening early and come celebrate Arts Alive! with a collaborative art show including four local artists exhibiting their works beginning at 7pm. Live music will the fill the air with a classy Jazz trio comprised of Brigette Brannan, Marcia Mendels and Chris Manspeaker .

DJ COPPERTON3 will bring the party to the next level at 9pm, as the audience prepares to be enraptured by Southern Humboldt’s Bada Bling! Burlesque. Bringing a sizzling array of performances to this intimate setting will certainly spice things up on this vivacious occasion.

DJ Jsun, founder of the Deep Groove Society will keep things shaking with his flirty and fluid house music. And to top the night off, everyone’s favorite Brazilian, DJ Marjo Lak brings a buttery bounce with her eclectic, tribal fusion, swinging house beats.

Tickets for an EPIC Evening at the Palm available at the door. Tickets will be on sale at the door at 518 7th St in Eureka for a sliding scale of $15-$25. Art Reception opens at 7pm with live jazz. Doors for Burlesque show & DJ’s 9pm. This is a 21 and over event. Special room rates offered at the Eureka Inn. Call (707)497-6093 to inquire. For more Information contact Jenny Metz at 707-223-3849 or burningleaf@asis.com.Epic Evening4.png


EPIC in Review

Monday, November 24th, 2014
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20140201_154619

Redwood Tree Sit

As usual, EPIC is busy upholding environmental laws both at home, and across the nation. Over the past few months our staff has advocated for the protection of old growth in the Klamath National Forest, opposed the Federal Drought Bill and bad forestry bills, requested endangered species protections for monarch butterflies, requested action to protect families from harmful pesticides and submitted petitions on behalf of tens of thousands of people to protect wildlife and wild places. This list of documents is a sample of the many ways we engage with agencies and elected officials to make this world a better place, one issue at a time. Thank you to all of our members who take the time to make individual comments on these issues and for getting engaged with environmental protection on a deeper level. We are in regular contact with officials and it is clear that the agencies are listening and our comments are making a difference in the management of our natural resources.

Westside Scoping Comments – EPIC submitted substantive scoping comments to the Klamath National Forest on November 14, 2014.  The post-fire project proposes logging over 40,000 acres, of which 20,000 acres are within Late Successional Reserves.  Logging is also proposed in Wild and Scenic River Corridors, within watersheds critical for salmon recovery and within vital wildlife corridors.

Jess Petition - EPIC submitted 1,143 petition signatures to oppose logging old growth trees and vast forest canopy removal proposed on the North Fork Salmon River within the Klamath National Forest.  Thank you for taking action.

Sage Grouse Rider Letter – Supporting an amendment to strike the Sage-Grouse Endangerment Rider from the 2015 appropriations bill, which would delay federal protection for sage-grouse, and threaten efforts to protect their habitat.

Letter Opposing Senator Feinstein & Representative McCarthy’s “Federal Drought Bill” –  The bill directly undermines key statutory protections for fish, wildlife and groundwater protection, including water transfers from wildlife refuges and critical fish habitat of North Coast rivers.

Omnibus Letter – Encouraging committee on appropriations to pass a spending bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2015 that is free of policy riders that put polluting interests ahead of our air, water, lands, wildlife, public health and climate.

Nongame Fur Bearing Hunting Contest Comments EPIC submitted a petition containing 15,787 signatures to the California Fish and Game Commission in support of its proposed rulemaking to end inducements for hunting contests for nongame fur-bearing mammals.

Monarch Support Letter – Requesting support for that legal petition and protecting the monarch butterfly as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Letter to Governor Brown – Requesting that he take significant steps to protect California families from pesticides that have devastating consequences for children and their families.

Coalition Letter Opposing Bad Forestry Bills – The National Forest Jobs and Management Act of 2014 and the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act pose a serious threat to environmental stewardship, public involvement, wildlife conservation and the rule of law in our National Forests.

Non-profit Letter to Water Board – Supporting the restoration of freshwater flows from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries to the estuary.

Letter to Chief of the U.S. Forest Service –  Supporting the Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program.

Organization Comments on “Effective Use of Programmatic NEPA Reviews” - Urging the Council to add clarification and direction in the final guidance making it clear that large-scale programmatic reviews without additional site-specific reviews are insufficient in the vast majority of cases.

Coalition Letter to Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board Regarding Land Retirement Benefits to Grasslands Bypass Project – Encouraging the retirement of 9,200 acres of irrigated land in the San Joaquin Delta, which would result in an estimated reduction of 14,000 acre feet of drainage, 92,000 tons of salt, 8,100 pounds of selenium and 282,000 pounds of boron discharges to aquifers and groundwater. This land retirement project would save water, prevent selenium contamination and reduce further impacts to endangered species.

Comment Letter to Forest Service Regarding  Proposed Rule Governing Use by Over-Snow Vehicles -Rrequesting that the final regulation protect resources, promote safety and minimize conflicts between other uses.

Passenger Pigeon Proclamation Request Letter – Requesting a presidential proclamation commemorating the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon and reminding Americans of the need to be continued good stewards of wildlife and nature.


Giving Local Tuesday Dec. 2

Thursday, November 20th, 2014
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GivingLocalTuesdayEPICEPIC and the Northern California Association of Nonprofits have teamed up with several local organizations to bring Giving Local Tuesday to the north coast region. Taking place December 2, 2014 – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – the Giving Tuesday campaign aims to harness the power of social media to create a national movement around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with holiday shopping. The organizations are seeking to inspire a spirit of generosity, personal philanthropy and greater levels of giving to local organizations during the holiday season.

“We need to cultivate our generosity out of appreciation for the services provided by nonprofits and out of reverence for the future of our community,” said Natalynne DeLapp, Executive Director of EPIC. “We all have a choice in how we spend our hard-earned money; during this season of thanks and generosity I encourage people to give to your local public interest organizations because you value and benefit from their missions, and because you believe in our collective ability to positively impact the world.”

The Northern California Association of Nonprofits includes more than one hundred local nonprofit organizations that provide key services to the community. Member organizations exist to solve social problems and advance important causes. Local nonprofits have genuine interests in making our communities better places to live, help create a vibrant arts and culture scene, work to protect the environment, defend human and civil rights, provide safety net services, and assure access to information in the form of public media.

“It is our hope that people across the region realize that they have the power to make significant differences in the community through their gifts to local organizations – whether that be through a donation of $5 or $5,000,” shared Amy Jester, NorCAN Program Manager. She continued, “Giving Local Tuesday is a fun way to inspire people to act and to encourage them to lovingly motivate their social networks to give money, time or needed resources.”

The Giving Tuesday movement was started in 2012. Seeing an opportunity to channel the generous spirit of the holiday season to inspire action around charitable giving, a group of friends and partners, led by the 92nd Street Y (92Y) in New York, came together to find ways to promote and celebrate the great American tradition of giving and the beginnings of the campaign were born. 92Y worked with partner organizations to harness the power of social media to create a national movement around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping. Local organizations have adopted the campaign with the twist of giving local.

“The retail industry has long benefited from seasonal shopping that symbolically kicks off with “Black Friday” – a day that has since inspired “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” Giving Tuesday, then, serves as a celebratory, fully connected day to kick off the giving season by making generous holiday and end-of-year charitable gifts,” said Denise Marshall, Director of the McLean Foundation. “The chance to give only begins with Giving Local Tuesday. We are encouraging people to think of the entire month of December as an opportunity to lend some year-end support to the numerous organizations that do such great work in our beloved community.”

“Giving is also good for businesses. “Positive community relationships as well as marketing opportunities can come from business participation in Giving Local Tuesday. It can also be a way to boost employee engagement, morale and team work,” said Fawn Scheer of Greenway Partners, an Arcata based consulting firm that operates The Link, a business incubator and collaboration space.

Maggie Kraft, Executive Director of Area 1 Agency on Aging explained, “We are participating in Giving Tuesday because coordinated giving efforts can have great impacts in communities,” she continued, “If you have money, please give, even if just a little. If you have time, there are so many ways to give it. It isn’t hard and it doesn’t hurt. Look around and just join in. Giving evokes gratitude, its contagious, and there have been several studies that show that giving is actually good for your health!”

Our goal at EPIC is to build upon the already strong culture of philanthropy to further strengthen the resiliency of the non-profit sector. If all groups become stronger, EPIC will become stronger and more capable. EPIC is focused on connecting working and wildland forests into whole healthy landscapes for flourishing nature and wildlife, in order to safeguard our valuable living resources in a changing climate for current and future generations. Click here to donate to EPIC.

For more information about Giving Local Tuesday, visit northerncalifornianonprofits.org


Advocate for Real Recovery

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
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Take Action: The Klamath National Forest recently proposed a massive post-fire logging operation throughout some of the most important watersheds on the north coast. The Westside project targets up to 43,338 acres concentrated in Late-Successional Reserves (old forests), Riparian Reserves (streamside forests), in Wild and Scenic River corridors and within Northern spotted owl critical habitat.

This summer, fire burned through 200,000 acres of the Mid Klamath watershed, three-quarters of which were low to very low severity. While the fires burned—a necessary and important forest process in the Klamath Mountains—fire suppression efforts left a long-lasting mark on the landscape. Bulldozers marched through the forest creating wide and often ineffective firebreaks stacked with slash and denuding untold miles of ridgelines.

While the proposed cuts are bad in their own right, they are especially egregious in light of the recent past fires and intense fire suppression activities surrounding the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area. Further, there are past, present and proposed future timber sales throughout the region. The additional logging proposed in the Westside project would diminish crucial wildlife connectivity, like the Grieder Creek corridor that links contiguous habitat to and from the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

The Klamath National Forest is central to the Klamath/Siskiyou bioregion and is a treasure worth protecting. It is a biodiversity hot spot, supporting a wide variety of unique animals and plants including the endangered Northern spotted owl, Pacific fisher, Humboldt marten, and California wolverine. The cool, clean waters of the area protect California’s most robust salmon runs. Preserving intact forests in this region is also a local solution to climate change. The bioregion contains some of the highest biomass-dense forests in North America, sequestering carbon and storing carbon long after a fire.

Fire is a necessary component of healthy forest ecosystems. EPIC is currently engaging with the Klamath National Forest on a programmatic and project-by-project level to ensure sensible fire management. Post-fire logging is devastating for our wildlife, and wild places. The agency should engage with local community partners like the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership to work towards long-term fire strategies. Comments are due by November 14th. We need your help. Please help us advocate for real recovery.

Click here to take action now!

For more information on fire’s role in our forests and the harmful effects of post-fire logging, please visit our website.