Action Alert: Speak Up for Rare Mendocino County Pygmy Forest

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Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Mendocino Cypress Pygmy Forest Photo Credit:  hidesertdi1 (Flikr)

Mendocino Cypress Pygmy Forest Photo Credit: hidesertdi1
(Flikr)

Click here to take action. The supposed inevitable march of progress of modern society over the last 150 years in Northwest California has left a landscape that has largely been logged, converted, scarred, or otherwise fragmented. This dynamic is most acutely understood in the context of the loss of nearly 95 percent of the original old growth redwood forests. However, other forest and vegetation types have experienced similar detrimental impacts and precipitous declines.

Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodlands, otherwise known as “pygmy forests” have been subject to significant conversion, logging, and other varieties of development. These unique and rare forests require a combination of environmental factors—including highly acidic and nutrient-depleted soils with an underlying layer of hardpan rock or dense clay—which stunts the trees’ growth. Some estimates put the total remaining acres of Mendocino pygmy forests at 2,600 acres or less, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that approximately 70 percent of what remains is under some sort of non-protective status.

Now, the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority is proposing a solid waste transfer station for the City of Fort Bragg on a 17-acre parcel of undeveloped Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodland and Northern Bishop Pine Forest—another rare forest type—along state highway 20. The 17-acre parcel is currently owned by the state, and is being managed as part of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest, but the proposal involves a land-swap that would transfer it out of state ownership for the purposes of the proposed development.

The proposed conversion of these forests for a waste transfer facility runs contrary to several land management mandates that are built into the Mendocino County General Plan, and even runs contrary to tenants of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest management plan, which calls for protecting and maintaining the current extent and distribution of pygmy cypress forest types.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the project fails to adequately assess potentially significant adverse environmental impacts resulting from the conversion of these rare forest habitats, and fails to present or adequately analyze feasible alternatives to the project that would either avoid or substantially lessen the potentially significant adverse impacts of the conversion.

In a letter dated February 28, 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife indicates that it believes the project will have a significant adverse impact on pygmy forest, stating: “[g]iven this project has the potential to remove acres of high quality habitat in a rare, threatened, and declining vegetation type, CDFW finds it is highly likely this project will result in significant impacts to Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodland.”

Click here to take action now. Tell the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority that you oppose placement of the solid waste transfer station on lands currently occupied by rare Pygmy Cypress Woodland and Northern Bishop Pine Forest. Tell the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority that it must properly evaluate the potentially significant adverse impacts of the proposed waste transfer station location, and that it must develop and consider feasible and meaningful alternatives to the proposed location that would avoid or substantially lessen the potentially significant environmental impacts of the project as proposed.