California Gray Wolf Update 2018

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

The Lassen Pack has grown! Up to five pups, two confirmed, were born this spring. The wolf family now includes the new puppies, three yearlings and the alpha pair. The pair was first spotted traveling together in 2016. The alpha male (CA08M) is now four years old. He is the son of famous OR-7 of the Rouge Pack. Genetics of the alpha female (LAS01F) indicate she may have traveled from Idaho. In June 2017 she was captured and fit with a GPS collar weighing in at seventy-five pounds. Surveys for the pup count are ongoing.

California’s first wolf pack, the seven-member all black Shasta Pack was established in Siskiyou County in 2015. Later that year, the pack seemed to have vanished and it was thought they had all been illegally killed. That is until May 2016, when a yearling male (CA07M) was detected near several pup-rearing sites the pack had used in 2015. In November of 2016, the young wolf was then spotted just west of the Black Rock Desert. He was the first confirmed wolf in Nevada since 1922. It is suspected that he is the lone black wolf that’s been observed within the Lassen Pack territory.

While the Rogue Pack territory is in southern Oregon, it deserves an honorable mention. The nine-year old alpha male, OR-7 was born into the Imnaha Pack in 2009. He was the first confirmed wolf in the Golden State in nearly 100 years. In 2011 and 2013 he roamed over 4000 miles before eventually finding a mate and establishing a territory in 2013. The Rouge Pack has had successful litters for four years in a row; at least four of his progeny have been detected in California this year and last.

OR 54 of the Rogue Pack

In January and February, another of OR-7’s daughters, OR-54 traveled over 500 miles through four California counties before returning to her pack. She covered much of the same ground her famous father did from 2011 to 2013. She roamed back to California April 15 and by the end of June she traveled through Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Plumas, Sierra, and Nevada counties, covering nearly 750 miles in 76 days. OR-54 is now only two-years old and she weighed 83 pounds when she was collared in October 2017. In June, she was spotted a mile away from Interstate 80 just north of Lake Tahoe.

OR-44 entered California this year in March. He is a two-year old male that dispersed from northeastern Oregon’s Chesnimnus Pack in fall 2017. The battery on his radio collar is no longer working. Between March and the end of May the young male wolf traveled a minimum of 450 miles between Siskiyou and Del Norte Counties.

There is evidence of other dispersing wolves currently roaming the golden state. Gray wolves in California are listed under both the federal and state Endangered Species Act. Recovery of canis lupis will greatly depend on the ability of people to accept living with wolves.

Green Diamond HCP

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Green Diamond’s Clearcuts in Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Baker.

Green Diamond does it again! The company has gotten another sweetheart deal that allows them to clearcut with impunity, once again proving that the rules don’t apply to the big boys. Previously we reported on a deal struck with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that would exempt the company from protections for the Humboldt marten. Today’s story is similar: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just released a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that would allow Green Diamond to clearcut more northern spotted owl habitat than otherwise permitted in exchange for a promise to shoot barred owls. We think this deal stinks. Here’s why:

Green Diamond is currently operating under an older HCP for owls, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992. Under that HCP, Green Diamond set up a series of 40 “reserves,” no-cut areas set aside for the benefit of the owl, totaling 13,243 acres and ranging from approximately 60 to 2,000 acres each. The set-asides were designed to be large enough to support multiple pairs of owls and were spread out across Green Diamond’s ownership.

Under the new HCP, the set-asides disappear in favor of a “dynamic” reserve system. Under the dynamic reserve system, the company will “protect” 44 owl nest sites, but just barely. The company will set aside 89 acres of forest around individual nest sites that are at minimum 46 years old and 233 total acres within .5 miles of the nest that are at least 31 years old.

You might think, “at least they have agreed to protect some habitat. Surely that’s better than nothing!” Sorry pal, you are mistaken. Absent the HCP, Green Diamond would presumably have to follow take avoidance guidance established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for THPs in the redwood region. That take avoidance guidance would preserve 500 total acres of habitat within .7 miles of a nest site, including the 100 acres of the highest quality habitat near the nest site. In other words, we would preserve more habitat for owls if we did nothing and Green Diamond had to follow the law that everyone else is bound by.

A Habitat Conservation Plan is supposed to be what the name suggests: a plan to conserve habitat. Congress created these plans to incentivize landowners with protected species to manage their land to provide additional benefit to the species. In exchange, the landowner would be permitted to incidentally “take” (that is, kill, harm, harass, etc.) protected species. Here, there’s no habitat value added.

Why did the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agree to this? Green Diamond has agreed to kill barred owls on their property. Barred owls are a problem for our spotties and a limited experiment on Green Diamond land has shown that barred owl removal can help reestablish owl sites abandoned to barred owls. But is this deal enough? Under the worst case scenario, Green Diamond’s poor habitat retention would allow the number of owl sites to shrink from 196 sites to just 47.

The northern spotted owl is going extinct before our eyes. The rate of owl decline is increasing and in some areas, the owl has entered an “extinction vortex,” whereby owl declines reinforce processes that further hasten the owl’s decline, leading ultimately to its total extinction.

EPIC is on the case. We are drafting comments right now on the HCP and are mobilizing our legal and biological experts to help. This special treatment for Green Diamond has to end.

Martens Need Your Support August 23 in Fortuna!

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Humboldt Marten caught on trail camera. Photo by Mark Linnell U.S. Forest Service.

Take Action Now! The Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended that the Humboldt marten be listed as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act. This is huge news and the culmination of over three years of work by EPIC. (Phew!)

But it ain’t over yet! The California Fish and Game Commission will make the final decision on Thursday, August 23rd at their meeting in Fortuna. EPIC expects that the timber industry will be out in full force to oppose the listing of the marten. We need to show the Commission that the people stand behind saving the Humboldt marten and support science-based decision-making!

Two ways you can help:

  1. Send the Commission a letter!

Click here to send a quick letter to the Commission showing your support for our Humboldt marten. *Bonus points: forward this email to your friends and urge them to sign too! You’ll be doing the marten a BIG favor. 

  1. Show your support in person!

The Fish and Game Commission will be meeting from 3-6pm at the River Lodge in Fortuna on Thursday, August 23rd to decide the marten’s fate. Given that this is in EPIC’s own backyard, let’s draw a crowd! Come to the commission and testify in favor of our Humboldt martens. More details are here.

Want to make a sign and educate yourself about the marten? EPIC is throwing a sign making potluck party Wednesday, August 22nd from 6-9pm. Come meet fellow wildlife enthusiasts, eat some delicious food, and make a cute sign.

For more on the marten, check out our website.

A New Era of Timber Wars?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Several trusted sources have reported that Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) has hired Lear Asset Management Company , a private security firm, to conduct paramilitary operations against forest protectors in the Mattole watershed. Last week, Lear security guards turned out in force with black helicopters, dogs and tasers, ultimately making a citizen’s arrest of three people.

One forest defender reported that Lear employees were shaking the life line of an occupied treesit, risking the life of the treesitter that eventually came down and was “arrested” by Lear employees.

What’s at Stake?

The Mattole watershed has a unique forest composed of a mix of fir and hardwood compared with the majority of surrounding predominantly redwood forests in the region. A few years ago, HRC had promised to collaborate with local stakeholders, including EPIC, regarding management of the un-entered primary forests in the Mattole. These forests arguably fall outside of the company’s old-growth retention policy, but to EPIC and forest defenders, these areas warrant protection given their unique and wild nature. However, HRC never made any official commitments to protect these lands, insisting that the community should trust its promises. Now, paramilitary forces are being sent in to extract anyone in the way of the company’s logging plans. EPIC is disturbed by the sudden unrest in the forest and the heavy-handed tactics, reminiscent of Hurwitz’s PALCO.

History and Ownership

In 2008, after Pacific Lumber Company liquidated its assets, turning old growth redwood forests into denuded clearcuts, the Fisher family—owners of the Gap Clothing Company—took ownership of the 209,300 acres of redwood and Douglas-fir forests. The Gap/Fisher family gave the company a new name, Humboldt Redwood Company, and a new public relations strategy: to make nice within the community that had been left in shambles after Pacific Lumber went bankrupt. EPIC Has been closely following this controversy and will continue to monitor the project site. To read more about what’s going on in the Mattole, check out our previous articles: Road to Nowhere – HRC making a mess of the Mattole, Dead End – HRC Mattole Road Proposal Fails to Make the Grade & Tour of the Mattole Timber Harvest Plans.

A Call to Action

There are a few ways that you can support the Mattole River Watershed.

  1. Attend the rally at Humboldt Redwood Company office in Scotia for the preservation of the Mattoles’ ancient forests. The rally will be at 10am on Thursday, August 2nd.
  2. Call on Humboldt Redwood Company to sever its contract with Lear and find a way to work with community members in a humane manner.
  3. Post your photos of Humboldt Redwood Company’s logging and private security practices on social media. Tag it with #wearegapinc and #defendthesacred




2018 EPIC Base Camp

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018


EPIC Base Camp will focus on the Last Chance Grade Project alternatives, in and around Redwood National and State Parks September 7-9, 2018. Base Camp attendees will have the opportunity to participate in groundtruthing, map and compass orienteering, environmental policy, know your rights trainings, and more! Sign up for this event at the link below, as space is limited!


Groundtruthing is simple. Visit a proposed project site and document what the project looks like on the ground. This information enables EPIC, and you, to compare what the agency is planning on the ground and comparing it with what is stated in environmental documents. Past groundtruthers have found discrepancies in agency information and documented rare plants and animals that have led to the cancellation of some or all of the proposed project. Groundtruthing is an important tool used to monitor large scale projects and other industrial activities on public lands. The information gained from groundtruthing allows EPIC to provide the public with information needed to understand, and engage in, decisions affecting public forest lands, watersheds and wildlife. Information from on-the-ground monitoring also helps EPIC challenge destructive projects or actions that degrade the environment.


Space is limited! Please RSVP for this event ahead of time by signing up below.


EPIC’s 2018 Basecamp will be focusing on groundtruthing the Last Chance Grade Project and the various Highway 101 route alternatives in and around Redwood National Park. We will be camping at Rock Creek Ranch on the wild and scenic Smith River, about 30 minutes east of Crescent City, 1 hour from the project site, and 2 hours from Arcata. Click here to view directions to Rock Creek Ranch and to register for Base Camp. Our campsite can accommodate a maximum of 30 people. The campsite features tent camping areas, picnic tables, a campfire ring, toilets, potable water, a fully functional kitchen, solar showers and river/beach access trail.


Shuttles will be provided between Arcata and Rock Creek Ranch as well as to the project site at Last Chance Grade (LCG). Please check the Carpool Page to reserve a space on a shuttle, or to offer passenger space in your vehicle. Before your carpool leaves please call the office to see if there are supplies you can help transport to camp! (707)822-7711. If you plan to drive please review EPIC’s Expectations for all Drivers, here.


Friday, September 7: Camp Setup

  • 2-4pm shuttles leave from EPIC office in Arcata and arrive at Rock Creek Ranch
  • 4-6pm Camp check in and setup
  • 6-7pm Dinner
  • 7-8pm Last Chance Grade Project Overview
  • 8-9pm Campfire activities and free time

Saturday, September 8: Set Up and Groundtruthing Training

  • 8-9am breakfast/ make sack lunches
  • 9-10am project overview and ground truthing training
  • 10-12 shuttle caravan to LCG project site (Meet at 12 at DeMartin Beach Picnic Area)
  • 12-1pm orientation, ground rules, paperwork signing, and lunch
  • 1pm divide into teams, get field routes prepared & depart into the forest
  • 1-3 LCG project field monitoring
  • 3-5pm shuttle caravan back to camp
  • 5-6pm: free time
  • 6-7pm dinner
  • 7-8pm Debrief and
  • 8pm campfire and legal rights training

Sunday, September 9: Groundtruthing Training and Field Work

  • 8-9am: breakfast/make sack lunches
  • 9-10am: project overview and ground truthing training
  • 10am-11am: break down camp and shuttle/caravan departure
  • 11am-1pm: Shuttle caravan to project site
  • 1pm: Meet at 1pm at DeMartin Beach Picnic Area divide into teams, prepare field routes & depart into the forest.
  • 1-3pm: project field monitoring
  • 3-5pm: Farewell and shuttle caravan back to EPIC office in Arcata


  • Tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad (bringing an extra tarp is recommended)
  • Trash bag (for trash and/or wet clothes)
  • A flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
  • Extra warm clothing & rain gear (just in case!)
  • Swim suit and hot weather clothes & river sandals
  • Personal medications
  • A camp chair or other comfort needs
  • Boots are necessary, and a spare pair of shoes
  • Day pack
  • Sunscreen/chapstick/hat
  • Bug repellant
  • Toilet paper
  • Musical instruments/song books
  • Books/articles that spark discussion, pen & paper
  • First aid kit
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, personal hygiene needs
  • A “mess kit” (water bottle, mug, bowl, fork and spoon)
  • Compass and whistle (if you have one)
  • FOOD: extra snacks and/or food to share appreciated! *We are providing light breakfast and dinner, but if your diet is very restricted, please plan appropriately.  Bring non­perishable food (nuts, trail mix, oranges, apples, etc.), especially snacks and easy-­to-­carry items.
  • If you have a smart phone or tablet, bring it and download the Avenza Maps Application and
  • Upload this map into the application:  — Avenza Maps is an application that uses satellite technology to geo-reference photos you take, so you don’t need cell reception to utilize this app. You can download project maps that are proposed by agencies and GPS reference yourself, photos and notes on that map through the Avenza Map application.



Dinner: TBA


Breakfast: TBA

Lunch: Hummus vegetable tortilla wraps

Dinner: Thai vegetable curry


Breakfast: Oatmeal, nuts, raisins, coffee

Lunch: Peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches


Donating any of these items to EPIC will ensure that we can provide a safe, effective, high-quality camp in the forest this year! Contact if you can help us plan a successful camp by making a donation!

Suggested food donations:

  • Veggies: fresh produce will be essential!
  • Bread (gluten-free and regular)
  • dried fruit
  • rice noodles
  • almonds
  • Eggs
  • Apples (other fruit)
  • Cheeses and tofu
  • Peanut butter and Jelly
  • Honey
  • Coconut milk
  • Veggie Broth    

Suggested gear donations:

  • Digital cameras (for us to borrow or to keep)
  • GPS devices
  • Working compasses (especially ones with which you can measure slope!)
  • Notebooks (partially used is ok!)
  • Backpacks
  • Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast field guide by Jim Pojar 

Group camp donations:


Ground Rules for Attendees of EPIC’s Summer Campouts.

All participants are expected to follow the ground rules set below.

  • No dogs
  • No alcohol or federal & state-determined illegal drugs allowed
  • Don’t talk substantively to Law Enforcement Officers; direct them to LEO liaison or EPIC employee
  • Respect and follow posted Forest Service/ State Park orders, such as burn bans
  • Do not damage/destroy any property or equipment

Regarding Camp Safety and Happiness

  • Participate in group activities & help with communal camp chores
  • Notify group leader of problems/dangers/concerns
  • Always check in/out with camp host when arriving or leaving camp
  • Respect Basecamp materials and equipment
  • Keep camp clean and dispose of trash properly
  • Don’t drink untreated water
  • Refrain from picking vegetation or creating unnecessary damage to the forest
  • Quiet in common area from 10pm to 7am
  • No smoking in common areas (dispose of butts properly!)
  • No individual campfires

 Regarding Interpersonal Respect

  • We reserve the right to ask individuals to leave
  • Discrimination or oppressive behavior will not be tolerated
  • Be mindful and respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries (e.g. don’t touch people/belongings without permission)
  • Respect the judgement and requests of group leaders
  • Watch out for other campers and help when needed
  • Ask for what you need (within reason) and know your limits
  • Be mindful of space you take up in group settings


After you have registered below, share the event on social media and invite your friends!!

Green Diamond Strikes “Killer” Agreement for Martens

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Humboldt marten photo courtesy of Keith Slauson.

Despite the recent spate of good news for the Humboldt marten—California is recommending they be listed under the California Endangered Species Act, EPIC petitioned to list the critter under the Oregon Endangered Species Act, and EPIC has filed a rulemaking petition to prohibit marten trapping in coastal Oregon—we have some major bad news to report. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has given a permit to Green Diamond Resource Company that would make marten recovery much more difficult. Under the so called “Safe Harbor Agreement,” Green Diamond only has to make minimal changes to its forest practices to get around the teeth of the California Endangered Species Act.

What does the Agreement do? Not much and a whole heck of a lot at the same. In exchange for minor tweaks to Green Diamond’s management practices, Green Diamond gets a complete pass on “take” of martens under the California Endangered Species Act. And given that timber management—in particular Green Diamond’s preferred method of clearcutting the bejesus out of an area—marten conservation has taken one step forward but two steps back.

Let’s go into the details. To get a permit, Green Diamond had to show that they were improving on the “baseline”—that is, the forest as it would likely exist into the future. Green Diamond claims that it is improving the baseline by increasing the age class of the forest. (Although age class is not a recognized indicator of marten habitat, so why would we choose this indicator?) Green Diamond claims it is going to increase the average age of some of their forests. But not because of this Safe Harbor Agreement. Green Diamond was already planning to do so under its “Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan,” a federal habitat management plan to benefit aquatic species, like coho salmon. So Green Diamond isn’t really improving on the “baseline” because those protections would already exist. In areas not protected by the Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan, the average age is actually decreasing, meaning the areas not around streams are forest sacrifice zones where Green Diamond will push for clearcuts with even shorter rotations!

Green Diamond has made other minor tweaks too. Green Diamond agreed to not harvest in a special “Marten Reserve Area.” A no-harvest area sounds good. The catch? The area is composed of serpentine soils—areas filled with unforgiving ultramafic rock—whose harsh conditions result in stunted growth for conifer trees. In short, there isn’t much timber to harvest. Green Diamond has also agreed to modify their “wildlife score card”—a tool used to retain individual trees with characteristics, like cavities, important to wildlife. According to internal CDFW emails obtained by EPIC as part of a Public Records Act request, the wildlife scorecard improvements would result in approximately one additional tree saved per twenty acres of land. CDFW pushed for a scorecard that would result in more protections in high-priority watersheds but were turned down by the company.

If the Agreement is so bad, why did CDFW sign off? Money. Green Diamond has agreed to pay for part of a relocation program to create a second breeding population on Redwood National and State Parks land. EPIC fully supports creating secondary breeding population to give some redundancy to the marten, but there’s a major hitch: it isn’t clear whether relocation is feasible. With a population this small, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service will need to ensure that there are enough adults to relocate. The situation is that dire.

EPIC is concerned that the Safe Harbor Agreement will not only harm the marten, but it sets a terrible precedent for other Safe Harbor Agreements in the future. The legislature didn’t intend for landowners to get total legal immunity for minor tweaks to their management to make it slightly less awful; it wanted to induce landowners to actually try and improve wildlife habitat on their land.

Safe Harbor Agreement for Humboldt Marten on Green Diamond Resource Company Timberlands in California

EPIC Objects to Seiad-Horse Creek Post-Fire Logging

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

All of these old growth trees in northern spotted owl critical habitat and Late Successional Reserve are proposed for cutting.

On Monday, EPIC formally objected to the Seiad-Horse Project on the Klamath National Forest. The Seiad–Horse project threatens to clearcut over 1,000 acres along the Siskiyou Crest, on the California-Oregon border. It is one of multiple US Forest Service timber sales in the region that is likely to adversely affect threatened species. EPIC’s objection puts the Forest Service on notice that the timber sale violates the law and sets forth what the agency can do to avoid litigation.

Rather than listen to the best available science and work with the public to choose a more ecologically sound alternative, the Klamath National Forest has chosen the most destructive option: log within an Inventoried Roadless Area and other areas containing older forest reserves that serve as critical habitat for species like the northern spotted owl and Pacific fisher. The project runs along the Siskiyou Crest, a unique and vital east to west wildlife connectivity corridor that allows species to traverse between wild intact forest areas. The proposed industrial logging plan would create such large openings it would disrupt the migration and dispersal patterns of rare and endemic animal species.

According to its own models, the Seiad-Horse project will harm water quality and increase sediment into these already impaired mid Klamath River watersheds. These tributaries provide cool water refuge, which are strongholds for threatened coho and Chinook salmon.

The Klamath National Forest refuses to learn from the past and is recreating the conditions that caused areas of the fire to burn at high intensity. The Abney Fire burned hottest in plantations that were created from post-fire logging and replanting thirty years ago. That high intensity fire then moved into adjacent older stands that are currently proposed for cutting. The Forest Service’s plan would perpetuate this flammable ecologically destructive cycle by removing the largest and oldest trees in these forest stands, and replacing them with even-aged tree plantations.

Old growth ponderosa pine in northern spotted owl critical habitat and Late Successional Reserve proposed for extraction.

The next step will be an objection-resolution meeting with the Regional USFS Office. EPIC, with our conservation allies, will be defending the watersheds, wildlife and biological diversity of the Siskiyou Crest and working towards an ecologically sound resolution with the KNF and USFS. Please stay tuned for the outcome.

EPIC Victory for Wildlife in Shasta County

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Photo courtesy of Nathan Rupert, Flickr

Responding to legal pressure from a coalition of animal protection and conservation groups, Shasta County officials announced today that the county will suspend its contract with the notorious federal wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services. The county’s decision came after coalition members filed a notice of intent to sue Shasta County in June for violating the California Environmental Quality Act. Coalition members include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Protection Information Center, the Mountain Lion Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyote, and WildEarth Guardians.

Shasta County’s previous contract authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to kill hundreds of bears and coyotes, as well as thousands of birds and muskrats and other animals in the county every year, without assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives. Peer-reviewed research shows that such indiscriminate killing of wild animals results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity.

Over the past two years, Wildlife Services has killed 72,385 animals in Shasta County using traps, snares and firearms. The agency’s methods also killed non-targeted species — including domestic dogs — and may have harmed threatened and endangered species, such as the tricolored blackbird.

“Wildlife Services is a rogue wildlife-killing agency and California residents deserve better than to have their tax dollars spent on the trapping, poisoning, and shooting of innocent animals,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We hope Shasta County will now stick to nonlethal options to address wildlife conflicts.”​

Shasta is the latest county in California to discontinue its contract with Wildlife Services amid pressure from animal advocates. In 2013, in response to a letter from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors opted not to renew that county’s contract with Wildlife Services. In 2015, following a lawsuit, Mendocino County agreed as part of the settlement to fully evaluate nonlethal predator control alternatives. Two years later, a California court ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and its coalition partners, finding that Monterey County had to conduct an environmental review process before renewing its contract with Wildlife Services.

“Shasta County is home to dozens of threatened and endangered species that are at risk of being maimed or killed by Wildlife Services’ use of archaic and indiscriminate methods. By discontinuing its contract, Shasta County is helping to ensure that these species, which are already struggling to survive, have a better chance at recovery,” said Johanna Hamburger, wildlife attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute.

“Many non-lethal alternatives exist that effectively reduce if not eliminate conflicts between livestock and predators,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “Shasta County should follow the lead of counties like Marin that decided to adopt a non-lethal cost-share program in place of the USDA Wildlife Services lethal and indiscriminate program. Marin’s Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program is more cost effective, humane, and has proven that non-lethal methods -including livestock guard animals, Foxlights, and better fencing- are effective predator deterrents.”

“This decision is a major victory for Shasta County’s coyotes, bears and other wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “All the latest science shows predator control is expensive, ineffective and inhumane. We’re glad Shasta County recognizes there’s no basis for continuing to shoot, trap and strangle thousands of animals every year.”

“We are encouraged to see counties across California catch up to the best available science indicating the efficacy of nonlethal methods,” said Michelle Lute, PhD, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “As more and more counties like Shasta cancel their contract killing of wildlife, they will see that lives can be saved and livelihoods can be sustained with ethical, effective coexistence.”

Click here to read Shasta County’s response to our notice of intent to sue and letter of termination of wildlife services contract.


Inbred Spotted Owls Doomed By Their Own Genes?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

Northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest are facing a new threat: decreasing populations and a lack of suitable mates are forcing the owls to breed with their own parents or siblings. This may lead to an “extinction vortex,” where each new inbred generation further amplifies harmful genes from already-inbred parents, resulting in weaker and weaker offspring until a population goes entirely extinct. Once caught in this downward spiral, recovery is difficult without human intervention, like capture-and-translocate programs that shuffle owls between areas to improve genetic diversity.

A recent study published by the American Ornithological Society examined 14,000 owls in Washington, Oregon, and California over a 30-year period, finding that up to 15% of the owls are inbreeding. Stressed by habitat loss and competition from the larger barred owl species, spotted owls populations are shrinking by approximately 4% per year, with some populations already down to a third of their 1985 levels. As these geographically separated populations become smaller and more isolated, inbreeding gets worse and populations become more vulnerable.

Using long-term surveys and new statistical models, the researchers found owls to be most at risk in the Washington Cascades, where an estimated one in eight owls were breeding with siblings or parents. In addition to current conservation programs, the researchers recommend transplanting owls from California to Washington to introduce new mates into the most inbred populations.

Like most animals, spotted owls prefer healthy, unrelated mates. This avoidance of inbreeding is an evolved behavior, common to many species, that helps prevent harmful recessive genes from accumulating and weakening a population. However, this can only take place when there are a sufficient number of healthy mates available. Spotted owls are typically monogamous, and face dangers from logging, barred owl competition, climate change, wildfires, and toxic rodenticides. Together, these threats are decreasing the number of viable mates with every generation, causing population bottlenecks and potentially a “mutational meltdown,” where a critical number of bad genes become “fixed” into the shrinking gene pool, rendering subsequent generations unfit to survive or breed.

EPIC uses diverse tactics to help fight for the owls, including public commentary and legal action. We monitor timber logging plans on public and private lands to ensure operations do not encroach upon Spotted Owl habitat, and take violators to court. We petition state and federal regulators to “up-list” the spotted owl conservation status from “threatened” to “endangered” in the hopes of increasing their protections under the California and federal Endangered Species Acts. For more information, please see EPIC’s Spotted Owl Self Defense Campaign page.

This article was contributed by Roger Tuan, EPIC Intern.

Redwoods Rising Seeks Scoping Comments

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Under the umbrella of Redwoods Rising, the National Park Service, California Department of Parks and Recreation and Save the Redwoods League are beginning the process of considering various restoration efforts for the Greater Prairie Creek watershed in Redwood National and State Parks. Activities that are being considered as part of the project include forest restoration, road removal and aquatic restoration.

Scoping comments will be accepted through August 6th on the range of issues and concerns that should be addressed in the Draft Initial Study and Environmental Assessment. Scoping comments will be considered to develop a reasonable range of alternatives to advise on the breadth and magnitude of environmental impacts, and to identify possible measures that could reduce project impacts.

Scoping comments on the Greater Prairie Creek Ecosystem Restoration project can be submitted through Redwood National Park’s comment portal. EPIC staff is committed to following this project closely and participating at every stage of the planning process. EPIC’s scoping comments on the project can be viewed here.

Run for the Board of Directors!

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

EPIC is your organization. You fund it – 62% of our budget was from our members in 2017—and you govern it by electing the Board of Directors. The EPIC Board of Directors is charged with ensuring that the good ship EPIC is well-equipped, pointed in the right direction, and fortified against stormy seas of financial turmoil. EPIC’s made it for 41 years because of committed volunteers willing to share their skills and services on the Board.

If you are interested in helping to shape EPIC’s future, please consider applying for the Board of Directors. Click here for an application. Applications are due by July 31, after which the Board will review applications and put forward a ballot to our members in September.

Want to find out more? Interested in sitting in on a board meeting? Call Tom at 707 822 7711 or write

New Wind Farm on the Horizon

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

A new wind company blows into town. A new wind farm is being proposed just south of Scotia, along Monument Ridge. The project is near Bear River Ridge, the site of a proposed wind farm that generated considerable local opposition and was pulled by its developer, Shell Oil Company, in 2012. The land in question is under private ownership, with a considerable portion owned by Humboldt Redwood Company and managed for timber production, and the other portion is owned by a single ranching family.

The number of turbines will be between 45-70, but their exact siting is still under development pending the Final Environmental Impact Report. According to the project developer, final siting decisions will be made in response to survey information developed in conjunction with USFWS and CDFW to minimize adverse impacts to wildlife. The conventional three blade turbines would sit on steel towers affixed to concrete pads. Fully built out, the wind farm will be capable of producing up to 135 megawatts of electricity. This is just about enough juice to power all 63,017 households in Humboldt County. Humboldt’s current power source is Humboldt Bay Power Plant, which is powered by liquefied natural gas and diesel and produces 163 Megawatts of electricity capable of powering 125,000 homes.  Terra-Gen is speaking with Humboldt’s local Community Choice Aggregate, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority to see if a Power Purchase Agreement—a contract between a power producer and a power purchaser—can be developed.

In addition to the wind turbines, the project would require other related developments, including permanent meteorological towers, permanent and temporary roads, support facilities, and connections to the power grid. Power from the farm will run east, through an underground crossing of the Eel River, to connect to the grid at the Bridgeville substation. Terra Gen hopes to begin construction by 2020 to take advantage of federal wind energy incentives that are set to expire.

The project is being developed by Humboldt Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Terra Gen, LLC, based in San Diego, California, which is in turn owned by Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Terra Gen owns 976 megawatts of wind, geothermal and solar power across the Western United States, with much of this in California, including major wind operations in Tehachapi. Assisting in the development of the project is Stantec, a consulting firm. Stantec is preparing the environmental review of the project and is coordinating a host of studies being completed for the project.

The project needs to go through several different types of public review before it can operate. First, the project will need an Environmental Impact Report to comply with CEQA. The scoping for that process is expected to begin in August 2018. The company has begun resource surveys for rare plants, cultural resources, and wildlife. These surveys will better inform the project’s design and will contribute to the Environmental Impact Report.

Depending on the potential impacts to wildlife species that are currently under assessment, the project may also need permits under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental laws. Permits under these may also trigger NEPA project review and “consultation” under the Endangered Species Act. Each of these processes will offer a portal for public participation.

Terra Gen has approached EPIC to solicit input on the project’s design and to discuss our initial project concerns. We are actively working with Terra Gen on how to best avoid impacts to wildlife. We have been happy with the company’s early advances to work with the conservation community. EPIC is further collaborating with our partners at the Redwood Region Audubon, Northcoast Environmental Center, and the California Native Plant Society to evaluate the project.

EPIC is waiting for more information before taking a position on the project. Wind energy is an important component of California’s carbon-free energy future, but we have concerns about the potential impact of this project on marbled murrelets and other avian species. A key factor in our evaluation is how effectively Terra Gen can “avoid, minimize, and mitigate”—avoid impacts where possible, minimize the impacts that do occur, and mitigate for whatever impacts still remain.

Interested in learning more? Terra Gen is hosting two open houses to discuss the project:

  • Wednesday, July, 25 Open House by Terra-Gen at the Fortuna Vet’s Hall, 5pm-7pm
  • Thursday, July 26 Open House by Terra-Gen at the Aquatic Center in Eureka, 5pm-7pm


We will continue to monitor this project as it develops and keep you updated.

White Privilege in the Environment

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

In honor of Latino Conservation week, EPIC and Latino Outdoors have partnered for a special bilingual redwood hike picnic Sunday, July 15th along the Hiouchi Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. For more information about the hike please refer to our Event Brite page.

Latino Conservation Week, an initiative by the Hispanic Access Foundation and Latino Outdoors were created to support the Latino community getting outdoors and participating in activities that promote environmental stewardship. These groups focus on expanding and amplifying the Latino experience in the outdoors; providing greater opportunities for leadership, mentorship, professional opportunities and serving as a platform for sharing cultural connections and narratives that are often overlooked by the traditional outdoor movement.

EPIC is honored to work with the Hispanic Access Foundation and Latino Outdoors, and join their collaborative mission to diversify the environmental movement. We see a unique opportunity to share with our community the significance of this collaboration, and why it matters.

The goal of this piece is to inform and empower you to reflect on positionality and privilege, and to examine how it affects environmental activism. Furthermore, it serves as a challenge to reflect on the past, present, and future role people of color serve in the environmental community.

White Privilege in the Environment

Let’s start off with a quick reflection practice. Close your eyes. Now visualize what you think of when you hear the word environmentalist. What kind of spaces do they enjoy? How are they enjoying them? What physical form do they embody?

If you imagined a classic John Muir-type trekking his way through “wilderness”, you’re not alone. In fact, if you Google environmentalist right now—your page will fill with tons of green shirt wearing, tree hugging white folk. This is no coincidence. This is our reality. And it’s a problem.

Positionality, Privilege, and Intersectionality: A Primer

Some of these terms might be new to you. That’s okay. Many of these concepts were born in academia but describe social phenomena that are commonly experienced—giving language to the lived experiences.

“White privilege” is a societal construction; it is the system of benefits that are conferred by society to those people who appear “white”—and therefore, resemble the people who dominate the powerful positions in society—beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people. White privilege can manifest itself in many different ways, such as access to employment, educational opportunities, or biased interactions with police and people of authority. It can even manifest in smaller ways, but ways that are still hurtful. In working with Latino Outdoors, we have heard about how people feel hesitant to go hiking in the redwoods simply because there is a lack of representation, or fear of not having the name brand gear that embodies much of the outdoor recreation world.

Positionality recognizes how important aspects of our identities develop our personal values and views. Our individual identities are multifaceted in nature; we do not tend to align ourselves merely to one characteristic, rather we relate to multiple factors such as race, class, gender etc. Understanding positionality is a means of assessing your position of power and privilege.

Intersectionality addresses this by acknowledging how forms of identity are not separate, but rather develop a relationship, affecting one another.

For example, I am a white, 25 year old, able bodied, college bachelorette educated, cisgendered female. These individual parts of my identity personify my positionhood, and have contributed to my role as an environmentalist. As a younger white cisgendered female my presence in outdoor spaces is not questioned nor a concern to others. There is wide representation of people who look like me in both the outdoor recreation and environmental nonprofit world. I am able to access recreational parks with relative ease, afford park admission for national and state parks, and even have a car to get me there. I have the leisure of buying organic foods, and carry around a reusable water bottle literally everywhere I go, for I know a water dispenser is always nearby. I have a roof over my head, an education, and a job. My positonality and privilege therefore enable me to peruse my identity as an environmentalist. Rather than concern myself with where I’m going to get my next meal—I, and the majority of the environmentalist movement have the privilege to focus our energy in our own individual environmental concerns.

Creating a More Just and Effective Environmental Movement

People of color are largely missing from the environmental movement, but that’s not because they don’t care about the environment. In fact, the opposite is true.

What gives?

For the past 100 years, the environmental movement has been dominated by white guys. Roosevelt, Muir, and Pinocht are some of the famous “fathers” of contemporary environmentalism, and their rhetoric has shaped the modern conversation movement we know today. Dialogues around race are often absent, and only in the past decade have environmental justice issues hit the mainstream. While the interrelation between race, white privilege, and the environment may not be immediately apparent to all, there are legitimate connections that deserve to be critically addressed in order to move towards a more progressive and effective movement.

Most large environmental organizations started in conservation, which unfortunately has left them largely tone deaf to the concerns of communities that live in the shadow of chemical and power plants, don’t have access to clean waters, and live compromised lives due to human impacts and the after effects of industrialization. Due to a large misconception that communities of color don’t care about the environment—these issues were then left to the social justice warriors of the world. Environmental justice impacts at a rate not comparable to other acts of racial injustice, and communities of color are often among the hardest hit by climate change and disproportionately on the frontlines in local environmental fights. But in large part, standard eco-events like Earth Day are mostly a thing for white folks.


A study in 2016 found people of color are “less polarized about the issues of climate change than white people” but that they are less likely to deem themselves environmentalists. The studies authors alluded that such beliefs can be linked to the lack of diversity within environmental groups, where racial minorities often see an “image of whiteness”.

So why does EPIC care? For the past 40 years EPIC has used our legal know how to advocate and protect the forests of north coast California. We are privileged with the unique opportunity to represent and speak on behalf of the environmental community. However, we recognize that this community consists of mostly white folks-like us. We recognize our individual positionalities, and how they contribute to the work we pursue. We recognize that social and cultural barriers often exclude diverse communities from outdoor experiences, and that there is a general lack of diversity in the environmental movement as a whole. But most importantly, we recognize the potential for allyship in our community.

Ally is an action verb, for it is an ongoing process. It is not a self affirmed title-but one given to you through the demonstration of your work and collaboration. These are the steps we aim to take—and we’re pleased to present our official Environmental Justice Policy to guide our future work.

Until environmentalists acknowledge and successfully address their white privilege and its effects on their own individual efforts—the planet will suffer. Click here to learn more about the many organizations working to diversify outdoor spaces.


Thank you to Samantha Stone and Shanti Belaustegui Pockell for the inspiration, dialogue, and resources that helped make this piece possible.

Breaking: EPIC at Work to Protect Oregon’s Humboldt Martens

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Humboldt Marten caught on trail camera. Photo by Mark Linnell U.S. Forest Service.

EPIC, together with our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and Oregon Wild, have filed a petition with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect the Humboldt marten under the Oregon Endangered Species Act. This is fresh off the heels of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommending that the species be listed as “endangered” under California’s Endangered Species Act.

Oregon’s populations are incredibly small. Only two populations of fewer than 200 total animals currently survive in the state, on the central and southern coast. A recently published scientific study concluded that Humboldt martens are so rare on the central Oregon coast that trapping or road kill of just two or three annually could result in wiping out the population.

Currently, Humboldt martens survive only on federal lands in Oregon, with one population in the Siskiyou National Forest and one population in the Siuslaw National Forest. The lack of mature forest habitat on state and private forests between the populations has isolated martens and put them at high risk. Humboldt martens in California have also declined to only two small populations, making the total global population less than 400 martens.

EPIC is pressing California and Oregon to protect greater protections for the marten because the federal government has abdicated its responsibility. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied EPIC’s petition to list the marten under the federal Endangered Species Act, despite the marten’s drastically low numbers and increasing threats. EPIC sued—and won—forcing the agency to resubmit a rulemaking petition due this fall.

In addition to today’s listing petition, EPIC and allies also have a rulemaking petition pending in Oregon to prohibit the trapping of martens west of Interstate 5 in the state. (Trapping of martens is already prohibited in California.)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife must acknowledge receipt of the petition within 10 working days and within 90 days the Department must indicate whether the petition presents substantial scientific information to warrant the listing.

The martens were once common in the coastal mountains from the Columbia River south to Sonoma, California, but logging of old-growth forest and fur trapping decimated and separated populations. The animal was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the redwoods in 1996.

Martens, typically 2 feet long, have large, triangular ears and a long tail. They hunt small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, and are eaten by larger mammals and raptors.

Click here to read the Humboldt Marten Oregon Listing Petition.



Breaking News! State Recommends Marten Listing as Endangered

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Big news this morning: the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended listing the Humboldt marten as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act. This is HUGE news for the marten, which is struggling to survive because of low population numbers and increasing threats from logging and climate change. Additional protections may be the key to prevent this charming critter from having to write its last will and testament.

A small carnivore related to minks and otters, the coastal marten is found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon. The cat-like animals were once common, but because of trapping and habitat loss, the species was thought to have gone extinct. Rediscovered in 1996, there are thought to be around 100 martens left in California and an equally small number are left in Oregon. And things aren’t looking good for the marten. Since they were rediscovered, we have seen an alarming dip in population. Between 2001 and 2012, the remaining population of Humboldt martens has declined by 42%.

More protections for the marten aren’t a done deal. The California Fish and Game Commission, an appointed board independent of the Department, will have the final say on whether the species will be protected at its August 23rd meeting at the River Lodge Conference Center in Fortuna. We know that the timber industry will be lobbying hard to prevent the listing. Save the date! We need committed activists like you there to be marten champions.

Because the Humboldt marten primarily lives in old growth forests, it is an umbrella species; therefore protecting the marten also protects old growth forests. If you support protecting the marten, please consider making a donation to EPIC.  EPIC has pushed for the listing of the marten under the federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act. We have sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—and won!—for their failure to protect the marten. And EPIC is gearing up for potential legal battles ahead to ensure that the marten will not only survive but thrive.

Need more cute in your life? Check out this fun video from California State Parks on their research on the marten

Click here to read the listing petition.

Annual Report 2017

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

The Environmental Protection Information Center had some extraordinary accomplishments in 2017. Highlights include: defending wolf, marten, Pacific fisher and owl protections; thwarting a destructive railroad proposal; saving big trees and creeks from logging; litigating to protect Richardson Grove, and wild places in the Klamath region; petitioning to end the sale of invasive ivy, and the list goes on. But the most inspiring aspect of our work in the last year was connecting with our community in wild places to provide outdoor skill trainings for the next generation of community members to monitor projects in the field, lead outdoor hikes, and connect diverse communities with nature. Below is a glimpse into some of the quantifiable tasks that EPIC tackled in 2017.

Click here to check out the full 2017 Annual Report.

We have our work cut out for us, and with your support, we will have the means to continue marching forward with a plan for a sustainable future. As Margarate Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We heard your feedback! Many of our members and supporters have asked us to reduce snail mail correspondence, so in an effort to eliminate paper waste, we are publishing the 2017 Annual Report online. A limited number of hard copies will be sent to our old school supporters who don’t typically respond to emails, and a small number of Annual Reports will be available for pickup at our office or by mail upon request.

If you have any resources to spare, we would be honored to accept your contribution in the following ways:

GIVE WILDLY: Enroll in Automatic Giving


GIVE STOCKS: Donate Your Stocks to EPIC

Of course, if you are considering providing financial assistance, you probably want to know where your money is being spent. Below is the snapshot of our financial report for 2017.

Stand in solidarity with us! Click here to make a donation to help defend a healthy environment for all beings.


Pruitt Declares Biomass Carbon Neutral, Contrary to Facts

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

In a world no longer constrained by facts, Scott Pruitt is king. On April 23, 2018, Scott Pruit, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency declared that all biomass is carbon neutral. Pruitt’s sweeping declaration is not just inaccurate, but it will help further subsidize timber industry practices at the expense of our climate and our wallets.

Pruitt’s logic is simple, but flawed. Trees sequester carbon as they grow. Although burning these trees releases carbon, more trees will grow in their place, thereby offsetting what carbon was emitted. However, the truth is more complicated.

First, if forests are burned faster than they grow, then biomass not carbon neutral, and it is helping to accelerate deforestation. But even if we accept Pruitt’s basic premise—a one-for-one trade—Pruitt’s logic doesn’t capture all of the carbon accounting.

Logging itself emits carbon, from the logging trucks, to burning slash piles, to a loss of carbon in the soil. Logging emits so much carbon that clearcut forests continue to “leak” more carbon than they store 30 years after harvest.

Transportation of the fuel also plays an important role in the carbon budgeting. Biomass does not have a high “energy density,” meaning that the amount of energy per pound is low compared to other comparable fuels, like coal. Without subsidies, biomass is difficult to pull off because the “fuel” source (i.e., a forest) needs to be within a short distance of the biomass facility—a general rule of thumb is that a biomass plant in California needs to source from within 50 miles of the site. Thus, many biomass plants are seated next to a lumber mill, where “waste” from the mill can be burned for energy. (The biomass facility in Scotia is one example of this type.)

Some biomass plants also require that the fuel be in a more refined state—like a pellet or a chip. Processing is often required for shipping of biomass across a long distance, as palletization can increase the energy density of the biomass. Processing of wood products into this fuel can also be carbon intensive as well.

But with declaring biomass defacto carbon neutral, Pruitt’s announcement allows for greater subsidies for biomass power plants. With these subsidies, the transportation distance can increase dramatically, as the plant can pay more for fuel, shipping biomass further and further distances. The timber industry is rightly thrilled, and they should be—they paid Pruitt’s former chief of staff and another lobbyist who served with Pruitt in the Oklahoma Senate top dollar to lobby him for this change. Increasing biomass use and increasing demand for their product: former trees.

Biomass may be carbon neutral and appropriate in certain circumstances—unlike solar or wind, energy from biomass can be delivered regardless of the weather and so could be a useful component in a localized renewable power strategy, such as that being pursued by the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. Blanket statements like Pruitt’s risk more than just playing with the facts—they risk investing in the wrong forms of electrical infrastructure, delaying our ability to move to a post-carbon energy grid and economy.

A 2018 study from MIT found that pellet biomass facilities in Europe emitted more carbon than an equivalent coal fired plant because of the high carbon costs associated with transportation and processing. These European biomass facilities typically source their fuel from US forests, shipping biomass across the Atlantic.

If you’re interested in learning more about biomass please join the Humboldt Citizens for Clean Energy Tuesday, June 5th for a special screening of “Burned: Are Trees the New Coal?” at the Arcata Theater Lounge. The film will be followed by a question and answer discussion with filmmakers Alan Dater and Lisa Merton. A donation of $5 is suggested, but not required, for admission. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. For more information about the documentary visit

Forest Carbon Plan Released

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Governor Brown released his long-awaited “Forest Carbon Plan.” I’ll be blunt: the Plan is timber industry advocacy disguised as “science.”

The Plan focuses almost exclusively on greenhouse gas emissions from fire—fire does emit greenhouse gases, but this is a smokescreen for the larger agenda: to cut down more trees. The Plan states that California needs to increase logging to both reduce the fire risk and to move carbon from trees to “long-lived forest products,” also known as wood. To be specific, Governor Brown is calling for doubling the land actively managed from 250,000 acres to 500,000 acres per year. That means logging an area of land the equivalent size of Napa County per year. Scary.

The Forest Carbon Plan almost completely ignores research that finds that California’s in-forest carbon stocks on private land are decreasing because of logging. In other words, our forests have turned from net sequesters to net emitters, losing more carbon per year than they take in. In 2013, the California Air Resources Board commissioned a study that found that between 2001 and2008, California’s in-forest lost 100 million metric tons of carbon or approximately 14 million metric tons per year. Another study from researchers at the University of California Berkeley from 2015 reached similar conclusions, finding that loss of above-ground in-forest carbon stored amounted to 5-7% of the state’s cumulative carbon emissions. Along the same vein, Oregon State University researchers found that the timber industry is the largest carbon emitter in the state of Oregon.

California’s forests can do better—and by law, must do better. In 2010, the California Legislature declared that California’s forests must play a larger role in the state meeting its carbon emission targets. AB 1504 directed that the Board of Forestry devise new rules to force timber companies to go beyond the “status quo” and increase in-forest carbon sequestration. Eight years later, the Board of Forestry has not issued any new rules. Instead, the Board has commissioned studies with the intent to prove that existing rules—which allow for large clearcuts and do not restrict the logging of large trees and high-carbon forests—are already best practices. The most recent study commissioned by the Board of Forestry found, contrary to other peer-reviewed science, that California’s forests are sequestering significant amounts of carbon.

Governor Brown has a reputation as a climate champion, so why would he sell out forests? Governor Brown has maintained a close relationship with the timber industry. His wife, Anne Gust Brown, served for 14 years in numerous top level roles for The Gap, the retail chain owned by the Fisher family of San Francisco. Humboldt Redwood Company and Mendocino Redwood Company, the largest owners of redwood forests in the world, are also owned by the Fisher family. Robert Fisher, oldest of the Fisher family dynasty, was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Strategic Growth Council; a little-known cabinet-level agency key to Governor Brown’s planning for climate change.

A true, science-based Forest Carbon Plan would be easy to construct. Want to increase carbon sequestration? Grow bigger trees, which are capable of putting on more carbon per year and are most capable of surviving a fire or beetle outbreak. How do we grow bigger trees? We cut less, increasing the rotation age for clearcuts and leaving more, older trees when utilizing uneven-aged forestry. Besides resulting in increased carbon sequestration, this management strategy has a myriad of co-benefits, from improving wildlife habitat and clean water, to helping to mitigate for the effects of climate change by promoting conditions that keep forests cool.


Court: Halt on Richardson Grove Highway Project to Stay in Place

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Highway Widening Would Damage, Destroy Ancient Redwoods

The Humboldt County Superior Court has ruled that a lawsuit challenging Caltrans’ proposed highway widening through Richardson Grove State Park can continue, meaning the building of the destructive highway is still on hold. The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by the Environmental Protection Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and community members, to prevent a project that would needlessly damage or destroy thousand-year-old redwood trees.

“Caltrans’ most recent environmental documents are deeply flawed and one-sided, failing to take a hard look at the impacts to the iconic ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of EPIC. “We are heartened that Caltrans remains subject to the writ and we can show the court the inconsistencies and other alarming shortfalls by Caltrans.”

“Caltrans receives another failing grade for its latest attempt to circumvent public review and ram through an unneeded highway-widening project without fully disclosing the extent of the damage that would be done to ancient trees,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity.

At issue was whether Caltrans had complied with a previous court order prohibiting road construction until a valid environmental analysis had been prepared. The 1st District Court of Appeals ruled in 2014 that Caltrans’ environmental analysis was critically flawed and the agency had to “separately identify and analyze the significance of the impacts to root zones of old growth redwood trees before proposing mitigation measures.”

Instead Caltrans released an addendum to its environmental review that repeated the state agency’s discredited arguments that highway work would not harm ancient redwood trees in the park. Caltrans allowed no public comment period and sought to dismiss the lawsuit and end the public’s right to a thorough environmental analysis of the project impacts, arguing that the addendum complied with the appellate court’s order. But Judge Kelly Neel found in the new decision that the court-ordered halt to construction should remain in place until the court can review the new documents released by Caltrans, and address legal issues presented by conservation groups in a 2017 lawsuit.

Project opponents remain vigilant in defense of the grove, with three current lawsuits challenging Caltrans’ inadequate environmental analysis and other attempts to dodge public scrutiny. For more on the campaign to protect Richardson Grove State Park, visit

Click here to read the Superior Court Ruling and Order on Respondent’s Motion for Discharge of Peremptory Writ of Mandate.

Vote for a Greener Future

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Voting season is upon us, and mail-in ballots are already out for the Statewide Direct Primary Election, which is June 5, 2018. EPIC is joining our sister environmental groups to support the passage of Propositions 68 and 72, which are described below.

California Proposition 68: Parks, Environment, and Water Bond. A yes vote would authorize $4 billion in general obligation bonds for: creation and rehabilitation of state and local parks, natural resources protection projects, climate adaptation projects, water quality and supply projects, and flood protection projects. Also, prop 68 money won’t be spent on the twin tunnels or dam building projects.

California Proposition 72: Rainwater Capture Systems Excluded from Property Tax Assessments Amendment. A yes vote would allow the state legislature to exclude rainwater capture systems added after January 1, 2019 from property tax reassessments. During a time of extreme drought and weather patterns, this is the least we could do to incentivize rainwater collection to store and save water during wet months for use during dry months.

If you live within Humboldt County, you should check out the Candidate Questionnaire on Environmental Issues that was put together by the Northcoast Environmental Center.

If you are not registered to vote in this election, you can register here until May 21, 2018.