Blog

Timber Sale Monitors Find Trees Marked in Riparian Reserves

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
By

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

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

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

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

Unit 106 Issues with Riparian Areas and Paint Markings

Unit 106 Riparian Reserves and Old Growth Marked

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

Unit 107 Riparian Reserve Paint Issues

Unit 107 Mature & Old Growth Marked

Unit 122 Issues with Trees Marked for Cut in Riparian Areas

 


Public Meeting on Headwaters Reserve Forest Restoration Amendment

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
By

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

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

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

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

 


Cliven Bundy ❤’s HB 622

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
By

Proposed Bill Would Eliminate Federal Law Enforcement Officers on Public Lands

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rep. Tom McClintock:

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

California Office: (916) 786-5560

 

Rep. Doug LaMalfa:

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

California Office: (530) 223-5898


EPIC to Legislature: Pass SB 49 & SB 50

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
By

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

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

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

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

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


Host an EPIC House Party!

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
By

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


Conservation Groups Oppose Effort to Remove Wolf Protections in California

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
By

Organizations Seek Intervention on Industry Challenge to Endangered Status 

EPIC and our allies filed a motion today to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to remove California Endangered Species Act protections from wolves. The lawsuit, against the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and wrongly alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection.

The intervenors — the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Cascadia Wildlands and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center — are represented by Earthjustice.

“Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit is baseless,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “Gray wolves were senselessly wiped out in California and deserve a chance to come back and survive here. We’re intervening to defend the interests of the vast majority of Californians who value wolves and want them to recover.”

Brought on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, the lawsuit alleges that wolves are ineligible for state protection because wolves returning to the state are supposedly the wrong subspecies, which only occurred intermittently in California at the time of the decision and are doing fine in other states.

Each of these arguments has major flaws. UCLA biologist Bob Wayne found that all three currently recognized subspecies of wolves occurred in California. Also — importantly — there is no requirement that recovery efforts focus on the same subspecies, rather than just the species. The fact that wolves were only intermittently present actually highlights the need for their protection, and the California Endangered Species Act is rightly focused on the status of species within California, not other states.

“The gray wolf is an icon of wildness in the American West, and its return to California after almost 100 years is a success story we should celebrate,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. “Stripping wolves of protection under the California Endangered Species Act at this early stage in their recovery risks losing them again, and we’re not going to let that happen.”

Led by the Center, the four intervening groups petitioned for endangered species protections for wolves in February 2012. After receiving two California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports, scientific peer review assessment of those reports, thousands of written comments submitted by the public and live testimony at multiple public meetings, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect gray wolves in June 2014.

State protection makes it illegal to kill a wolf, including in response to livestock depredations — a major issue for the livestock industry. But despite the industry’s concerns, a growing body of scientific evidence shows nonlethal deterrence measures are more effective and less expensive than killing wolves. In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been allocated federal funding that can be used for nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures and to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to wolves, which make up a very small fraction of livestock losses.

“The cattle industry has made clear that it views wolves as pests and that they filed suit to allow killing of wolves,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Wolves are a vital part of American’s wilderness and natural heritage, helping to restore balance to our ecosystems by regulating elk and deer populations. The path to restoring wolves is through protecting fragile recovering populations.”

Wolves once ranged across most of the United States, but were trapped, shot and poisoned to near extirpation largely on behalf of the livestock industry. Before wolves began to return to California in late 2011 — when a single wolf from Oregon known as wolf OR-7 ventured south — it had been almost 90 years since a wild wolf was seen in the state. Before OR-7 the last known wild wolf in California, killed by a trapper in Lassen County, was seen in 1924.

Since 2011 California’s first wolf family in nearly a century, the seven-member Shasta pack, was confirmed in Siskiyou County in 2015, and a pair of wolves was confirmed in Lassen County in 2016. An additional radio-collared wolf from Oregon has crossed in and out of California several times since late 2015.

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

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

Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia’s wild ecosystems. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion. 

The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center is an advocate for the forests, wildlife and waters of the Klamath and Rogue River Basins of southwest Oregon and northwest California. We use environmental law, science, collaboration, education and grassroots organizing to defend healthy ecosystems and help build sustainable communities.

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.

 


A Restoration Story Unfolds: The Somes Bar Integrated Fire Management Project

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
By

Western Klamath Restoration Partnership field learning exchange Fall Workshop 2015

The Somes Bar project on the Six Rivers National Forest is a demonstration of true collaboration. It is the first pilot project born from years of working together in the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP or Partnership), which includes the Karuk Tribe, local fire safe and watershed councils, the US Forest Service, local landowners, the Pacific Southwest Research Station, EPIC and other organizations. WKRP is working proactively on restoring fire, habitat and cultural practices within 1.2 million acres of the Mid Klamath River watersheds.

Development of the Somes Bar project is in alignment with the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and is providing a rare example of how to build local capacity for implementing controlled burns at larger scales. This approach to restoring the process and function of fire in the wildland urban interface will allow for the revitalization of cultural burning, will help to protect neighborhoods and will increase the ability of allowing wildfire to burn for ecosystem benefit.

The 5,500 acre project centers around four small communities and is almost entirely within the Katimiin Cultural Management Area. The use of high quality information, including LIDAR (high-resolution remote sensing method) and GIS and thoughtfulness stemming from Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and the communities sense of place has all been an integral part of making this planning unique. For the first time, Karuk Tribe employees participated in the development of land management treatments founded upon TEK. Tribal wildlife, archeology and food security crews were instrumental in gathering field data used to formulate treatment prescriptions. For millennia, the Karuk used fire to maintain cultural use plants, forage for elk, deer and other wildlife, managing insect infestations and providing periods of inversion cooling to enhance the survival of anadromous fish, providing abundant food sources, materials as tools, clothing and other pharmaceuticals. These human-fire relationships according to TEK are inseparable from the natural fire regime.

Consideration of treatments, which includes manual and mechanical actions, looked at main roads, ridges and water bodies as a way to define “firesheds” and shaded fuel breaks. Deliberation went to; slope, aspect, thermal radiation and current forest stand conditions. It included taking care of private property boundaries. Wildlife habitat needs, such as elk calving areas and wintering habitat and the needs of old growth dependant species are being taken into account. This is one of the only national forest projects in northern California to ever survey for the Pacific fisher, even a Humboldt marten was detected. Important cultural and ecological botanical species will be enhanced. Plantations will be restored to a more natural and diverse condition and natural stands will be treated lightly in order to prepare them for fire.

The Somes Bar Integrated project is also unique in that there is a strong research and monitoring component built in. The Partnership will maintain its long-term interest through contracting, implementation and beyond. So much on-the-ground site-specific information is being gathered and the process of learning and working together will continue in to the future.

Scoping for the project is open until March 23, 2017. Comments may be emailed to Corrine Black at cblack@fs.fed.us or delivered to the Six Rivers Supervisors Office at 1330 Bayshore Way, Eureka, CA 95501-3834 or to the Orleans Ranger District at 1 Ishi Pishi Rd., Orleans, CA 95556.

Click here to see the WKRP Project Area Map

Click here to see the Scoping Letter


Industrial Logging, Forest Depletion, and Climate Change—The Ghost in the Machine

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
By

“Hole in Headwaters” on Humboldt Redwood Company Property, August 2014, as part of a Sanctuary Forest Forestry Practices Hike. Forest thinning in previously-managed second-growth redwood stand.

There are nearly 33 million acres of forested land in the State of California. Since the early days of European-American settlement, the wholesale destruction of our native, “old-growth” forests, and the overall depletion of the productive capacity of our forests, both public and private, have been the subject of debate and concern. Many may not realize it, but the California State Legislature actually created the very first Board of Forestry all the way back in 1885, recognizing even then that the threat that large-scale timber harvest and resource extraction from, and conversion of, California’s forestlands were a matter of statewide urgency and concern. This first Board of Forestry was quickly dissolved in 1887 as a consequence of push-back on the Legislature applied by the burgeoning and politically-powerful timber industry.

In 1945, the California State Legislature again acted to create a State Board of Forestry and a position for a “State Forester,” once again recognizing the threat posed by rapid depletion of the state’s forestland resources, and their conversion. Unfortunately, the 1945 Forest Practice Act was weak, and the Board of Forestry was entirely comprised of the industry itself, which was left to self-regulate until the creation of the present-day Z’berg-Negedly Forest Practice Act of 1973.

Old-growth redwood forest at Tall Trees Grove, Redwood National Park.

By the time the modern Forest Practice Act was created, California’s forestland resources had already been substantially depleted, and some of the most productive land for forests had already been converted to agricultural and residential uses. At the time Redwood National Park was created in 1968, several years prior to the advent of the modern Forest Practice Act, it was estimated that only ten percent of the original 2 million acres of native “old-growth” redwood forest remained. By 1999 and the creation of the BLM-administered Headwaters Forest Reserve, the estimate ranged between three and five percent.

It was not only lack of regulation, however that has led to our forestland depletion crisis in California; land use laws, most notably taxation structures, also served to incentivize over-harvesting. Particularly, the so-called “Ad valorum” tax, which required assessment and taxation of the value of standing timber volume on private ownerships annually based upon percent of standing inventory value, was a major driver. The tax on standing timber volume was assessed in addition to property taxes, thus serving to encourage heavy-handed forest management and the depletion of forestland productive capacity in the long-term for the sake of avoiding annual standing volume taxes in the short-term.

Clearcut logging units in redwood forest land on Green Diamond Resource Company Property.

Expressing the loss and depletion of California’s forestlands and their productive capacity in terms of acres of remaining native or “old-growth” forest in comparison to previously-managed and perpetually-managed forest stands can be grossly misleading because it vastly understates the magnitude of what we have lost to timber harvest and conversion. Timber harvest in California focuses almost exclusively on the production and value of wood products derived from the trees in our forests. However, the value, and potential growth capacity of our trees, as well as all other living, green, material in our forests that isn’t comprised of trees, has been grossly underestimated. There’s no better evidence for this short-sighted and narrow view of the productivity of our forests than we have today as we look at the overall productive ability of our forests to be carbon sinks in an age of climate change.

Green, living, breathing plants, including our trees, utilize air, soil nutrients, water, and sunlight to perpetuate photosynthesis, and the conversion of base elements into simple sugars to create more living, breathing, green woody material commonly referred to as biomass. Forestland productivity is a function of the basic elemental building blocks of life on earth: carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. These basic elements utilize trees and other living, breathing things in our forests to operate and perpetuate essential planetary ecological cycles, such as our air, water, and soil nutrient cycles. Our forestlands produce all of these, and the production and perpetuation of these are essential components to healthy, growing, productive forests.

The 1973 Forest Practice Act establishes a duel mandate for timber production on private forestlands in the state. This mandate calls for ensuring, “maximum sustained production of high-quality timber products, while giving consideration,” to a suite of overall environmental and social public trust forest-related values, including fish, air, water, wildlife, range, forage, carbon dioxide sequestration, and regional employment and economic viability. In our now 40 years of history advocating for science-based protection and restoration of forests in the State of California, EPIC has long-argued that maintaining a sustainable productive capacity of private forestlands is a matter of state-wide public trust concern.

Currently, as California strives to take the lead on combating the causes and effects of global and regional climate change, it is more clear than ever that the productive capacity of our forestlands has been severely depleted, and that changes in law and incentives affecting forestry practices, particularly on industrial lands, may be our last hope for continued human civilization and survival.

Let’s remember, forests are the lungs of our planet, cycling in and storing or “sequestering” large amounts of carbon dioxide, one of the primary elements in a gaseous form contributing to our atmospheric greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is unnaturally emitted into our atmosphere in two primary ways: fossil fuel combustion, and deforestation. Research suggests that deforestation and forestland depletion contribute as much as 20 percent of the total excess carbon dioxide emitted into earth’s atmosphere as a result of anthropogenic extractive activities. A 1994 study conducted on industrial redwood timberlands in Mendocino County concluded that the total amount of living woody material, or biomass, in the forest at that time represented only ten to fifteen percent of the total biomass that existed pre-European-American settlement. In 2015, a study of the overall above and below ground carbon dioxide storage budget in California’s forests showed a continuing decline, while 2016 state-wide forest inventory assessment shows continued overall declines in total forest biomass and productivity. Declining forestland productivity and a commensurate decline in the amount of carbon dioxide stored in our forests raises many questions, about our forest management, and about our prognosis for long-term survival.

In late 2016, the California State Legislature enacted Senate Bill 32, a follow-up law that extends the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and carbon storage goals, and calls for attainment of a 20 percent reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2030. The state’s climate change plan is predicated upon the presumption of utilizing California’s forestlands as our primary means of sequestering carbon dioxide captured from our atmosphere in living biomass, such as trees and other woody forest plants, while at the same time reducing GHG emissions associated with various state industry sectors, including transportation, energy production, and manufacturing of non-renewable fossil fuels like oil and gas.

However, the depleted condition of California’s forestlands raises numerous questions about the wisdom and likelihood of success of such a strategy. The present day tree mortality crisis occurring in the southern Sierra Nevada serves as one example of how past forest management and forestland depletion have led to catastrophic consequences that may serve to foil and undo California’s bold and aggressive GHG reduction and carbon dioxide storage objectives.

Historically, the forests of the Sierra Nevada were of a mixed conifer composition, dictated by soil, slope, aspect, and elevation, as well as water availability, and were largely fire-adapted. However, 150 years of fire exclusion, aggressive logging of native forests and conversion of these to homogenous over-stocked pine plantations, combined with extensive drought, and expansion of the range and influence of the pine-bark beetle, have served to generate an unprecedented tree-mortality event that some claim has affected over 100 million trees. The debate about how to respond to this tree-mortality crisis exemplifies the “Pandora’s Box” effect of past, aggressive logging of the native “old growth” forests and replacement of these with young, overstocked, under-performing, homogenous pine tree plantations, which represents a much greater hazard for large-scale, high intensity wildfire than did the native, fire-adapted forests. Instead of having a mix of large, well-spaced, fire-adapted tree species with higher branches and crowns, the homogenous, even-aged and over-crowded pine plantations of the Sierra Nevada are a tinder box, and a potentially significant source of carbon dioxide emissions, either as a result of large-scale high-intensity fire, or from mass die-offs, and decomposition.

The one-two punch of logging native “old growth” forests, resulting in the loss of both the living, breathing woody biomass and the associated carbon dioxide that was once stored, and the replacement of these with industrial tree plantations largely harvested on short even aged rotations, deprives California of critical forestland productivity, and has turned our forests into a net source of carbon dioxide emissions instead of a carbon sink.

The solution seems simple; extend forest harvest rotations, increase forest diversity and move industrial logging away from even-aged to multi-aged management to increase total biomass and carbon storage in trees and other herbaceous woody forest plants. Unfortunately, contemporary Forest Practice Rules fail to constrain harvest on industrial ownerships in any meaningful way, and as we know, the Department of Forestry is asleep at the wheel. If California can’t change the “business as usual” mentality of our forest products industry, there’s little hope that the state’s ambitious plans to combat the causes and effects of climate change will ever succeed. EPIC is dedicated to ensuring that the forests of North West California are protected, enhanced, and restored, and are managed for maximizing benefits to combating the causes and effects of global and regional climate change.


EPIC Hike to Lady Bird Johnson Grove – Sunday, April 2nd

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
By

Register Now! EPIC’s spring/summer 2017 Redwood Parks hike series kicks off on Sunday, April 2nd, with a relatively short and leisurely hike in the picturesque Lady Bird Johnson Grove, one of the crowned jewels of Redwood National Park. The Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Loop Trail is only a half-mile hike on a flat, well-maintained trail and designed to be accessible to almost anyone. It is a perfect way to get a taste of what it’s like to be in an old-growth coastal redwood forest. We are pleased to collaborate with Latino Outdoors for this event. Together we hope to bring culture into the outdoor narrative, and connect diverse communities with nature and outdoor experiences.

Meet-up is at the EPIC office in Arcata, located at 145 G Street, Suite A, at 10 a.m. As always, if you come, please be prepared for our local conditions and for the conditions generally found in our forests. Please wear appropriate clothing and foot ware, bring food, and water, a rain jacket and anything else you may need to be comfortable and safe in the forest. There is a strict NO DOGS rule in place for all our 2017 Redwood Hikes series, so please leave your furry friends at home.

Click here to sign-up to hike with EPIC  or

Sign-up and Share the Event with Friends on Facebook

 

 

For further information, please call the EPIC office at: 707-822-7711 or email Rob@wildcalifornia.org

 


Coalition Petitions for Ban on Sale of English Ivy

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
By

Petition Targets Pernicious Invasive Species

EPIC, along with a coalition[1] of conservation organizations, businesses, and government entities petitioned the California Department of Food and Agriculture to designate English ivy as a noxious weed and to prohibit its sale in California. While the government currently spends thousands of dollars annually on its removal, ivy is currently being sold by nurseries, frustrating conservation efforts.

“Ivy is a scourge to North Coast coastal forests,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). “The sale of ivy is prohibited in Oregon and Washington; its time that California do the same.”

English ivy is a persistent problem for California’s forests and native plant communities. Originally brought by European settlers for use as an ornamental plant, English ivy has aggressively spread to public lands. On the ground, ivy outcompetes natural plants, such as salal and huckleberries. When it comes in contact with tree trunks, it climbs high into the trees, enveloping the trunks and branches along the way. The heavy weight of the ivy plant can cause trees to fall over. And the added leaf surface creates more wind resistance, making trees susceptible to blow over during high wind events. As ivy reaches sunlight in the tops of trees, it blooms and produces copious amounts of berries containing seeds that help contribute to its expansion, at the expense of native plants and wildlife.

English ivy is a well-recognized problem. Both Washington and Oregon classify it as a noxious weed. Within California, thousands of dollars and human-hours are spent annually on its removal and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife includes it on its “Don’t Plant Me!” list of plants to avoid planting. While ivy removal or control is a priority to many in the environmental community, efforts to control its spread are hampered by its continued sale in nurseries and garden centers throughout California

“The first step in fighting against an invasive plant is to not make the situation worse. Prohibiting the sale of ivy is a common sense measure to protect California’s unique places,” said Wheeler.

The petition has its genesis with the efforts of the Humboldt No Ivy League. The Humboldt No Ivy League is a group of volunteers who dedicate their Friday mornings (and some Saturday mornings) to hand-pulling ivy from local State Parks in Humboldt County. The group strongly advocates for more state funding for control of English ivy and other highly invasive plants, and for restoration programs throughout State Parks and other public lands in California. Based on the League’s work and advocacy, a large and diverse coalition was formed to support prohibiting the sale of ivy.

“It’s time for our state leaders and land managers to take a hard look at the serious threat that English ivy poses to California’s biodiversity. If we fail to get the English ivy problem under control, we are going to see tremendous damage done to our important native plant communities, including our Sitka spruce and Redwood forests.” said Kim Tays, Humboldt No Ivy League member.

[1] The coalition includes the Environmental Protection Information, Redwood National and State Parks, Bureau of Land Management, Arcata Field Office, Humboldt Redwood Co., Green Diamond Resource Co., Center for Biological Diversity, Save the Redwoods League, Humboldt No Ivy League, Northcoast Environmental Center, Sierra Club Redwood Chapter, North Group, North Coast Chapter, California Native Plant Society, Trinidad Coastal Land Trust, Siskiyou Land Conservancy, Mattole Restoration Council, Mid Klamath Watershed Council, Friends of Arcata March and High Tide Permaculture (collectively “Petitioners”).

Check out the links below to read more articles about Ivy:

The battle against English Ivy – The LumberJack

Attack of the English Ivy – North Coast Journal

 


Action Alert: Help Stop a Destructive Railroad in its Tracks

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017
By

UPDATE 3/9/2017: Victory! Trinity County Transportation Commission voted 4:1 against the railroad study. 50 locals spoke against the project and 4 out-of-towners spoke in favor of the study.

Take Action! Tell the Trinity Board of Supervisors to reject wasting taxpayer money on a fruitless railroad study.

The Trinity Board of Supervisors, sitting in special session as the Trinity County Transportation Commission, is set to decide on whether to spend $355,000—$276,000 of which coming from you, the taxpayer—on a feasibility study for a proposed railroad connecting Eureka to the west with Gerber, CA to the east. This proposed rail line would be an ecological and fiscal disaster. Let’s stop this bad idea in its tracks. So far, the Trinity Board of Supervisors has only heard from rail fans, a loud but small group. Now it’s time for them to hear from the rest of us! Tell the Trinity Board of Supervisors to reject wasting taxpayer money on a fruitless railroad study.

An east-west railroad has already been extensively studied, starting way back in the 1909 Lentell study and ending with the 2013 study produced for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. Rail fans insist that these previous studies are inadequate or biased and therefore we need to look at the problem again. Evidently, rail proponents will not be content until a study concludes what they want to hear.

Based on the previous railroad studies, here are four quick reasons why funding this study is a bad idea:

(1) The railroad would be an ecological disaster

Trains are often billed as a “green” form of transportation, but developing this rail line would be an ecological disaster. All feasible routes would need to run across or near important rivers, such as the Trinity, Mad, Van Duzen and others—many of which are designated as “Wild and Scenic”—and are expected to produce significant sediment and other pollution. All feasible routes would impact existing wilderness areas or would run through potential future wilderness areas.

A rail line would only be economically feasible with a massively developed Humboldt Bay. As one of the most important stops in the Pacific Flyway and a critical aquatic ecosystem home to engendered fish, such as coho salmon and eulachon, Humboldt Bay is a unique ecological treasure. The development necessary to make Humboldt Bay a major West Coast port is extreme and would spoil the bay’s natural beauty and ecological integrity.

Coal is one commodity that may be shipped to Humboldt Bay for export to China. (Indeed, coal trains are one of the presumptive types of trains used in a previous feasibility study.) Coal trains are known polluters—leaving long plumes of coast dust in their wake—they have been sued for violating the Clean Water Act violation, and are the issue of carbon emissions from the export of coal.

(2) The railroad would serve a non-existent market

In short, even if a rail line existed, a port at Humboldt Bay would not make much sense. First, the bay itself is not conducive to the large transport ships in vogue. Rail proponents highlight that Humboldt Bay is one of the few deepwater harbors along the West Coast. However, this ignores the substantial work that would need to be done to get the harbor in condition to handle large boats. The bay would need to be dredged to a deep depth and the construction of large docks and other infrastructure would be necessary. Similarly, the narrowness of the Samoa Peninsula would limit the amount of rail traffic, reducing its feasibility.

Second, other competitive disadvantages—the amount of traffic necessary to generate sufficient net revenue to pay for the line (among the largest amount of volume on the West Coast), the lack of advantage in rail distance in comparison to other ports, the connection only to the Union Pacific line and not the BNSF line—outweigh whatever advantages Humboldt Bay offers. As the most recent feasibility study concludes, “development of rail service to Humboldt County is likely to be both high cost and high risk.”

(3) The railroad would cost a fortune to build and to maintain

No matter the alignment, the rail line would cost over a billion dollars, with a cost per mile generally over five million dollars. Maintenance costs would also be huge. Given the challenging geology, the most recent feasibility study anticipates annual costs of $90,000 per mile and a cumulative sum of $18-20 million. These same high operating costs were the deathblow to the rail line that once ran along the Eel River. Why would this be any different today?

All of this is at a time when Caltrans struggles to maintain our existing roadways. Access to the coast is constantly at risk, from Last Chance Grade, which is slipping into the sea, to Highway 299, which seems to be constantly under siege from the nearby mountain. Let’s work on fixing our existing infrastructure before spending a huge amount on a risky railroad.

(4) Our geography would reduce train speeds to a crawl

It is no secret: the North Coast is a wild tangle of mountains and rivers. This unique geography makes getting to the coast difficult—as evidenced by the routine closures of our major highways and the failure of previous rail lines. (This geography also makes this place a lovely and interesting place to live, but that’s for another day.) A fundamental issue facing an east/west rail line is our geology. The steep slopes would require many miles of twisting tracks to switchback up hills. Previous feasibility studies limited the average speed that could safely be achieved at 25 mph, a snail’s pace. In fact, the pace is so slow, and the distance so long, that halfway to its final destination, there would need to be a pit stop for crews to shift. And forget about passenger rail—can you imagine how torturous that ride would be?

The past feasibility studies proved that a railway of that size and distance is audacious and unnecessary.

CLICK HERE TO TELL THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO SAY NO TO WASTING TAXPAYER MONEY!


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

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
By
rodgers-peak-image

View of Rodgers Peak from Bald Hills Road Lookout

Take Action Now! We are not kidding you: someone thinks it’s a good idea to put a massive communications tower, with an adjacent clearcut in Redwood National Park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

figure-1-general-location


Intersectional Ecofeminism: Environmentalism for Everybody

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
By

chipko-tree-huggersThe Women’s March was certainly a resounding and inspiring event. An estimated 2.5 million people around the world peacefully marched in solidarity for various women’s and social rights issues against the rhetoric of the newfound federal administration. Having attended the march in Eureka, I must admit I was astounded by the diversity of issues and people whom which were present. It was certainly a spectacle, and aimed to leave the crowd with a warm and fuzzy feeling to last them the next news day.

The Women’s March made an impression on everyone, but not without some important critiques. The success of the march set the precedent for the Science March, Peoples Climate March, and any other future collective efforts. However, one important question lingered as the crowds dissipated: was the mainstream feminist movement finally ready to treat the perspectives and experiences of womyn of differing races, sexes, and classes with the same gravity of those as their counterparts—and what does this mean for environmentalist movements whom have been historically female driven?

For the past 60 years, women have comprised some of the most powerful voices within the environmentalist movement. Consider Rachel Carson and her influential book Silent Spring, the Chipko movement ,Vandana Shiva’s and Wangari Maathai’s decades of advocacy— and more recently, Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx, Dakota Access Sacred Stone Campground founder and water protector LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, and local favorites Julia Butterfly Hill, Judi Bari, and Alicia Littletree Bales. EPIC has its own series of powerful women such as our co-founder Cecilia Lanman, and long time attorney Sharon Duggan.

Feminism is universally understood as a movement for women (but men can be feminists too!). Unfortunately, that often means that the needs and wants of privileged cis (people whose gender identity matches assigned sex) white ladies get addressed, and the experiences and voices of trans womyn, indigenous womyn, womyn of color, poor womyn, and womyn with disabilities is often ignored. In comparison, female driven environmentalist movements are predominately rooted in ecofeminist theories, which incorporate a wide range of intersectional concerns for all identifying women—including trans and non-gender conforming experiences.

Historically, marginalized groups have been on the front lines of extreme weather due to climate change—like the thousands of displaced families after Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti. Underdeveloped or low-income agriculture communities are more likely to be subject to unlawful work conditions, and are typically the first to interact with toxins and harmful pesticides— communities like Kettlmen, CA, where toxins in water runoff and water pollution caused a swarm of birth effects and miscarriages. People of color have been discriminated in legal systems making it more difficult to combat poor water quality or air pollution—like the water crisis in Flint Michigan. However, despite these difficulties, these communities are also the ones who are doing the most work to mitigate the consequences of environmental harm.

ecofemToday’s environmental issues stem broader than just our waterways and forests. Like traditional feminism, ecofeminism personifies various definitions, but acts as a perspective that looks at environmental issues through a social justice lens, and critically analyzes how the effects of environmental degradation and climate change affects marginalized groups more intensely. Ecofeminism finds parallels in which the environment and women are treated in our contemporary society. In many instances women and nature are viewed one in the same. Karen J. Warren illustrated this concept in Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature: “Women are described in animal terms as pets, cows, sows, foxes, chicks, serpents, bitches, beavers, old bats, old hens, mother hens, pussycats, cats…‘Mother Nature’ is raped, mastered, conquered, mined; her secrets are ‘penetrated’…Virgin timber is felled, cut down; fertile soil is tilled, and land that lies ‘fallow’ is ‘barren,’ useless.” Ecofeminism unveils oppressive societal structures such as racism, classism, and sexism and how they play a significant role in the health of the environment—often because the same systems that are in place to oppress women and minorities are also exploiting the environment.

Applying ecofeminism is the blending of biocentric and anthropocentric concerns. For example, when discussing the harmful effects of the LNG pipeline along the Klamath River, don’t just think of the effects of the ecosystem and the fisheries—dig deeper and consider the communities who live close to the river, such as the various native communities like The Karuk and Yurok Tribes—and then dig even deeper and consider how polluted water negatively impacts their health and cultural traditions.

This perspective allows you to practice and identify with all social justice movements. If you identify as an ecofeminist you’re not only a feminist, but also a universal ally for environmentalism, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and any other movement that aims to reinforce the needs of marginalized groups —and that is the beauty of intersectional ecofeminism.

The Women’s March represented a catalyst for mainstream feminism. The popular “we are one”, and “all lives matter” rhetoric is counter productive, and negates the experiences of the disproportionately marginalized groups. Those granted privilege whether it be gender, race, or socioeconomic class must understand and be empathic to the communities whom suffer the most when it hits the fan. Those who have privilege must use it for good, and advocate with and on behalf of our fellow communities. Educate yourself, share dialogue with others who may have never heard of the word feminism or intersectionality, and dare I say… initiate that hard conversation with your Trump supporter friend/ family member to help them see the other side of the spectrum.

ecofem1

Photo courtesy of Mark Larson. Times-Standard “Anti-pipeline marches held at local Wells Fargo banks” 1/28/17

Simply put: Feminism, environmentalism, and the LGBTQ movement wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for low income women of color at the front and center of it all. Therefore, any event that affects these communities should not only concern you—but gain your advocacy and action.


EPIC Speaks up for Northwest California Forests

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
By

rob-air-resources-boardEPIC’s California Forest and Wildlife Advocate made the trip down to the Central Valley to be present in the halls of Sacramento politics and decision-making last week, to represent the voice of Northwest California’s forests. On Thursday, February 16, Rob spent the day at the California Environmental Protection Agency building in downtown Sacramento, attending a meeting of the California Air Resources Board, and an inter-agency workshop on the Draft California Forest Carbon Plan. The Air Resources Board has been charged by the State Legislature with developing and implementing California’s aggressive and innovative policies to combat and adapt to global and regional climate change.

On the morning of February 16, the Air Resources Board heard an update from its staff on the development of the 2017 Scoping Plan Update for attainment of greenhouse gas reduction targets established by the State Legislature last fall by the passage of SB 32, which calls on the state to reduce GHG emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. In the afternoon, an inter-agency hearing and workshop was held to take public input on the Draft California Forest Carbon Plan, released on January 17, 2017, which is intended to be the roadmap for how California forests are managed into the future to augment California’s overall GHG reduction and carbon dioxide storage (or “sequestration”) targets.


Action Alert: Congress Threatens Public Input for BLM Lands

Friday, February 17th, 2017
By

Headwaters Forest Reserve 20 Anniversary Hike

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

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

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

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

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

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


Six Facts About Trump’s Supreme Court Pick

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
By

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

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

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

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

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

(2) He is opposed to campaign finance laws.

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

(3) Gorsuch is a foe of federal regulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two reasons why Gorsuch might be okay.

(1) He is a Westerner and avid outdoorsman

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

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

(2) He sided with enviros…once

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

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

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


Timber Program Under Fire from Environmental Watchdogs

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
By

DSC00641Lawsuit Alleges CalFire Fails to Meet Climate Change Obligation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Speak Up for the Future of California’s Forests

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
By

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

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

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

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

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

Take Action:

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


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

Monday, January 30th, 2017
By

Holm_Fay_date2008-04-09_time16.02.45_IMG_8035 copy

Trump Chooses Climate Change Denier to Head Department of Agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

 


Keep California Great!

Thursday, January 26th, 2017
By

img_4386California did not exist at the founding of our country, but we are the future of America.

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

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

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

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

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

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