Action Alert: Oppose Federal “Logging Without Laws” Legislation!

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Take Action Now! Last week, the House of Representatives passed the horrific “Logging Without Laws” bill, a piece of legislation that will suspend key environmental laws and push forward Trump’s radical anti-public lands agenda. The bill passed on a near party line vote: 232-188.

Now the fight moves to the Senate. Let’s let our Senators know that we can’t sacrifice our public lands for private profit. Click here to take action.

The deceptively-named “Resilient Federal Forests Act” (H.R. 2936) is the worst piece of forest legislation in EPIC’s lifetime (and that’s saying something, as previous bad bills include the ’95 Salvage Rider and the Bush-era Healthy Forests Restoration Act).

Among the carnage, the bill would:

  • Allow up to 50 square mile clearcuts without examining the environmental impact
  • Undercut the Endangered Species Act by
  • Close the courtroom door for EPIC and other environmental champions.

The Senate is our last hope. Click here to let your Senators know: Oppose the “Logging Without Laws” legislation!


Welcome Judith! Fond Farewell Dian!

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

The ballots have been counted and we have a new Board of Directors at EPIC! We are excited to welcome Judith Mayer to the Board. Judith teaches in HSU’s Department of Environmental Science and Management, and Environment and Community graduate program. She holds MS and PhD degrees in City and Regional Planning. Judith is serving a fourth term on Arcata’s Planning Commission, currently as vice-chair, after two terms on Arcata’s Economic Development Committee. An Arcata resident since 2000, Judith has lived, traveled, studied and worked extensively in the US, Europe, and Asia. A founding member of The Borneo Project of Earth Island Institute, she also served as its Director/Coordinator, and continues on its board. Her research and advocacy for community environmental planning in the US and abroad gives her a local and global perspective on North Coast concerns. Judith hopes to contribute to EPIC’s defense of the Earth, and believes EPIC’s effective public persuasion, collaborative efforts, regulatory advocacy, and willingness to sue if necessary make EPIC the North Coast’s most effective environmental advocacy organization.

EPIC is also excited to welcome back Shawnee Alexandri, Robert Shearer, Peter Martin, Mitra Abidi, Noah Levy, Tom Preble, Nate Madsen, and Tony Silvaggio for another tour of duty on the Board. We are lucky to have such a committed and engaged Board.

EPIC is sad to bid adieu to Dian Griffith. Dian has been a stalwart supporter and friend of EPIC for many years and has served EPIC for 17 years, first as EPIC’s bookkeeper before transitioning to the Board. Dian always provided a keen financial eye, ensuring EPIC’s long-term viability. She also is a good friend and her positive outlook will be missed. While Dian is stepping down from the Board, she is not leaving the community and intends to stay on as an advisor to EPIC. In recognition of Dian’s longtime service to EPIC, we have renamed our annual Volunteer of the Year Award, presented at the Fall Celebration, in her honor. Many thanks, Dian, and happy trails!

Thank You for Supporting 40 Years of Forest Defense!

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

The staff and board of the Environmental Protection Information Center would like to thank all of the attendees, businesses, sponsors, volunteers and artists who helped make the 40th Anniversary Fall Celebration a fun and successful event! Each year we look forward to this EPIC reunion where we can visit with people who make up the heart and soul of the redwood region’s environmental movement. The legacy that the EPIC community has made lives on through generations of grassroots activists and continues with the vibrant new energy of those who seek our efforts out to help keep our little corner of California the special place that we all know and love. Attendees included past and current staff, board, volunteers, colleagues, Sempervirens Award winners, and fresh new faces eager to participate in the contemporary environmental movement.

Judi Bari, Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement for Environmental Activism Award Winner

We were honored that Alicia Littletree, Dennis Cunningham, Priscilla Hunter, Polly Girvin and Darryl Cherney gave such eloquent and heartening accounts through spoken word and songs of Judi’s activism and efforts that helped build the Redwood Summer environmental movement that led to the protection of Headwaters Forest. Judi is an inspiration to us all! Considering today’s political climate and continued destruction of the Earth, nonviolent grassroots activism is as crucial as ever. Judi believed that “You cannot seriously address the destruction of the wilderness without addressing the society that is destroying it.” Over 20 years later, this analysis remains true – and is a conversation we should continue with future activists. Honoring Judi is a means to remembering the unity of the Redwood Summer – the fight for not just our environment, but for all those living within it.

Molly Gilmore, Volunteer of the Year

This year Dian Griffith will be leaving the EPIC Board after putting in over a decade of work, we thought it was appropriate to name our volunteer award the Dian Griffith Volunteer of the year award in honor of her hard work and dedication. It was with great pleasure to recognize Molly Gillmore for her ongoing dedication to environmental protection through her volunteer work with EPIC throughout the past year. Molly is a pleasure to have in the office and out in the field, with her positive outlook and cheery personality, she flawlessly handles just about every task we have asked of her. Thanks to Molly for showing up and being motivated to get stuff done, its people like her who make this organization possible!

Business, Artist and Sponsors

A huge thank you goes out to all of the businesses and artists who contributed to the silent auction, dinner, and refreshments, it definitely takes a village to pull this event off! Sincere appreciation to Mad River Brewery, Redway Liquors, Pacific Seafoods, Pocket of Posies flower Shop, Bubbles, Ramones, Wildberries Marketplace, CO-OP, Garberville Community Park, Arcata Exchange, Humboldt Distillery, Jason Lopiccolo, Pen + Pine, Joann Kelly Catsos, Chautaqua Natural Foods, Lagunitas Brewery, Disneyland, Bead Mask, Tot Mocs, Humboldt Spice Co., Mark Henson, Sierra Martin, Redwood Empire Golf & Country Club, Driftwood Designs, Hubb Caps, Myrtletown Healing Center, Endless Jewelry, Stone Leaf Jewelry, Mitra Abidi, Belle Star, Adams Ranch Olives, Flaming Pearl, Mystic Fables, Baby MaMa, Barb’s Designs, Julia Garretson, Oala Khast, Jo Stafinbil, James DeRoso, Ogres by Jam, Sprout, Marilyn Haber, Ragged Thistle, Jewell Distillery, Deja Vux Jewlery, Signature Coffee, Dias Artistry, Patagonia, Nothing Obvious, Fire Lily Ceramics, Organic Attire, Hisel Pottery, Cool Shoe, Godwit Days, Meagan Meadows, Norma Mounce, Laser Trees, Matt Jones Art, SeaPod, Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, Arcata Core Pilates, Hoot and a Holler, Kats Creation, Dandelion Herbal Center, Foodwise Kitchen, Benbow Historic Inn, Humboldt Bay Social Club, The Minor Theater, Nieves, Loise’s Finishing Salts, Plum Blossom Farm, Fungaia Farm, Witch in the Woods, Peter Martin, Tony Sylvaggio, Tom Preble, Virginia Bass, Dani Burkhart, Allen McCloskey, Sungnome Madrone, Compliant Farms, Humboldt County Growers Alliance, Heartwood Institute, Spirit Door Creations, Gypsy and Loud, Red Zola, Synergy, Funshine Daydream, and to Peter, Wyatt, Thomas Dunklin, Nate Madsen, Noah Levy, Mark Harris, Rob of the Redwoods, Turtle River Design, Hal Glick, K. Rudin and the Wheeler and Villalobos family for generously donating rentals and resort accommodations.

Dinner and Music

We have great appreciation for the bands for their contributions that made this another successful EPIC event! Casey Neill and the Norway Rats and Alice DiMicele rocked the house, keeping people on the dancefloor into the wee hours of the morning, and thanks to Joanne Rand for setting the tone with her heartfelt songs, and to Robin Krauss and Rob Siefert for handling the lights and sound. We are also very grateful to Sue Moloney and Sue’s Organics kitchen crew for preparing the gourmet, organic, locally-sourced meal that we were able to share while we dined and laughed with our colleagues, friends and the EPIC Community.


Thank you to Sue Moloney for rounding up and cooking our delicious dinner, Duff and Julian for kicking butt on the dishes, Michael McKaskle for holding down the kitchen, Molly, Bella, and Jenna for coordinating the Silent Auction, Shawnee Alexandri for hauling all the rental items, setup and cleanup, Deja for helping setup, bartend and cleanup, Emily and Serenity Wood for holding down the front entry tickets, Mitra, Tony, Anne, Morgan, and Rob Fishman for managing the bar, Tryphena for hospitality and supplies, Casey, Emily and Matt for helping create our adorable pinecone owl centerpieces, Bruce and Shohei for their assistance in arranging the table decorations, and Adam, Lexi, and Dan and Abbey for lending a hand from start to finish!

This year, Vidu documented the event with his amazing video and photography skills. Thank you Vidu! Click here to check out EPIC photos from the event.

Stop Mendocino National Forest Clearcutting!!!

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Take Action Now: The Mendocino National Forest is proposing roughly 1,000 acres of even-aged logging – basically clearcutting – in the headwaters of Grindstone Creek. This includes; green tree retention, group selection, overstory removal and shelterwood seed cut. Green tree retention removes 85% of the trees, group selection equates to mini-clearcuts, overstory removal cuts all the big trees and leaves the smaller ones and shelterwood leaves a few large trees to provide a future seed source. Called the “Four Beetles South” project, the Forest Service is using legal loopholes to avoid public comment to cut a vast swath of forest. This is an alarming return to the old-school industrial practices that we thought we had escaped on national forests.

The plan is being pushed through with minimal environmental analysis and only one opportunity for public comment, also known as a categorical exclusion (CE), purportedly to “avoid litigation.” But by attempting to avoid litigation, the Four Beetles South project is instead inviting it. If the final decision on the project were unfavorable, only filing a lawsuit in federal court could change its course.

In order to use a CE, projects must meet an exacting set of requirements. It must: be a restoration treatment; maximize the retention of old-growth and large trees; use the best available science while maintaining ecological integrity; and it has to be developed and implemented through collaborative process. Four Beetles South fails to meet those requirements.

This “forest health” project is purportedly aimed at making the forest more resilient to insects and disease and is necessary to stop beetles from killing trees. The agency claims it is mimicking beetles by killing trees but it is just capturing the monetary value. In essence, the Forest Service wants to kill the trees to protect the forest, but without trees and snags, there is not forest to protect.

Deforestation, e.g. even-aged logging, has caused an extreme fire hazard throughout our forests, is the leading cause of the 6th great mass extinction of wildlife and directly attributes to global warming. Instead of protecting our forests, the Forest Service is moving forward to make a quick buck and meet timber targets. It’s time agency planners, who are supposed to be serving the public and caring for the land, get with the 21st century.

Please urge the Mendocino National Forest Supervisor and Acting Grindstone District Ranger to rescind the Four Beetles South scoping notice!

EPIC 40th Anniversary Fall Celebration with Casey Neill, Alice DiMicele and Joanne Rand

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

You are cordially invited to celebrate forty years of grassroots activism for forest and wildlife protection at the EPIC Fall Celebration on Friday, November 3rd from 6pm-midnight at the Mateel Community Center in Redway, CA. We are very pleased to present musical activists Casey Neill and the Norway Rats, Alice DiMicele and Joanne Rand who will be sure to take us on a trip back in time down memory lane, through the redwood curtain and to the roots of the North Coast environmental movement.


6:00          Doors Open/ Music with Joanne Rand & Rob Diggins

7:00          Sue’s Organics Gourmet Dinner

7:30          Sempervirens Award Ceremony for Judi Bari

9:00          Alice DiMicele

10:00        Silent Auction Closes

10:15        Casey Neill & the Norway Rats

We will be serving up an organic locally sourced gourmet dinner catered by Humboldt County favorite, Sue’s Organics kitchen crew. Sue’s Organics began as a vegan catering business in Humboldt County, California. Their mission is to make the most delicious organic vegan combinations of dressings, sauces and food available to the community.

During dinner, we will be honoring the late Judi Bari with the Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her renowned environmental, labor and social justice leadership. Bari’s

activism with Earth First! and philosophy of nonviolent protest set the tone for success of Redwood Summer and future direct action movements against corporate logging.

Judi Bari was far more than simply an environmentalist; she was an avid advocate for workers, and the rights of working people. In addition to being a prominent member of Earth First! Judi was also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and spent tremendous time and energy not only working to slow the destruction of the last of the old-growth redwoods, but also to organize and cooperate with timber and mill workers, many of whom knew and understood the consequences of the destruction of the forest would also mean an end to their jobs and way of life.

After the awards, we will have a throw back experience dancing on the ruins of multinational corporations with Casey Neill and the Norway Rats and Alice DiMicele.


Casey Neill has been engaged with EPIC and the forest protection movement since the Headwaters era. The music of Casey Neill & The Norway Rats combines high energy rave-ups and haunting sonic reveries built around narrative songwriting. Their latest CD/LP “All You Pretty Vandals” garnered rave reviews from national press, online blogs, and widespread radio play. His songs are stories of American life, anthems for social change, and occasionally something about outer space. The Norway Rats are Chet Lyster (guitar), Kathryn Claire (fiddle), Jesse Emerson (bass) and Stuart Murray (drums). Casey Neill tours extensively throughout the US, Japan, and Europe with the band and solo. A new record ‘Subterrene’ is slated for release next year.

“Reclaiming tradition and social consciousness as weapons of resistance and tools for significant societal change, Neill appeals to our desire for collective experience, spinning touching and uplifting stories of hope, dignity and progressive politics. Be it through raucous rockers, fragile acoustic ballads, passionate bursts of punk fury or soulful touches of Irish folk, Neill’s narrative talent and concern for real people’s struggles stand out.” Marco Rivera, SPLENDID

 “I hear the passion in his singing” – Pete Seeger


Alice DiMicele seeks to uplift the human experience through music. Her lyrics are love incantations to the elements earth, water, fire, and air. Drawing from a rich musical background including folk, jazz, funk, rock, and soul DiMicele’s acoustic music incorporates many styles creating a fresh funky stew all her own. With her powerful band behind her, or alone with her acoustic guitar Alice’s multi-octave voice soars high and rumbles deep. As a lyricist and singer DiMicele invokes passionate emotion.With thirteen self-released albums and almost 30 years of touring under her belt, DiMicele is a master of her craft and knows how to delight her audiences be it on a large festival stage, a theatre, or a house concert.


Touring nationally for 30+ years playing original “Psychedelic-Folk-Revival” music, Joanne Rand has just released her 16th indie CD of original songs. Rand’s vocal styling is all her own: “magical and luxuriant, like the best brandy in the world” (-No Depression). Her songs have been called “Nothing short of brilliant,” by Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “Joanne Rand’s voice raises your hair. Elegance and fierceness in the same deep breath,” writes poet Gary Snyder. Rand’s 2015 & 2016 CDs both made the folk DJ most-played-list nationwide and are receiving worldwide airplay.

Born and bred in the Deep South, Rand has performed in Manhattan, L.A., Toronto, Atlanta, Seattle, Hawaii, Alaska & the Amazon. A North Bay readers’ poll once voted her “Best Acoustic Band.” Based in rural Northern California, with a BFA in music composition, she has performed alongside such greats as Bonnie Raitt, Micky Hart, John Hartford, John Trudell, Dougie McLean.

Rand’s songs reflects a wide array of styles (folk, rock, jazz, Celtic, psychedelic, gospel), weaving tales of: War, peace, loyalty, betrayal, hope and humor. “One of the year’s freshest, most distinctive offerings.”-Roots Music Report.

Rob Diggins will accompany Joanne Rand. Diggins is a principal violinist with the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra and San Francisco’s Magnificat and will be showing off his fusion, folk, world music and psychedelic rock chops as well as his classical virtuosity.

Volunteers are needed to help with the production of this event. If you are interested in getting involved, please email or call 707-822-7711.


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This year’s silent auction will be amazing! Come prepared to do your holiday shopping with all proceeds going to an important, effective and local cause that benefits wildlife and wild places.

We have rounded up a family trip to Disney Land with accommodations, original artwork, locally crafted products, gift baskets, Dandelion Herbal Center’s “Beginning with Herbs” course, overnight stays at Benbow Inn and Airbnb, artisan jewelry, leather masks, hand crafted ceramics, gift cards, redwood and paddle adventure tours and more!!






EPIC Urges Supervisors: No New Grows!

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

EPIC is urging the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission to focus the county’s new cannabis land use ordinance on getting existing cannabis farms to comply with environmental regulations and enforcing against individuals who refuse to come into compliance, not expand growing by permitting new farms to out-of-area developers intent on getting rich from the green rush. Read EPIC’s letter to the Board of Supervisors.

It’s no secret: cannabis cultivation has caused significant environmental damage, from forest fragmentation, water theft and pollution, loss of wildlife habitat, and noise and light pollution. The vast majority of these impacts are coming from unpermitted operations. According to the County, only 8-13% of Humboldt’s cannabis farms have applied for a land use permit. Faced with such dramatic existing “background” cumulative effects, the county should not add to the problem by permitting new cultivators. Instead, the county should focus its resources on either getting existing operations to comply with our environmental regulations or take enforcement action.

EPIC remains committed to the principle that a well-regulated cannabis industry is best for our environment and community. The proposed land use regulations, if followed, will ensure that an individual operation will have a low impact on the environment, likely below that of other forms of agriculture.

More vigorous enforcement is on the way.

In August, the Board of Supervisors increased the Planning Department’s power to enforce against noncompliant operations. The Supervisors decreased the time between a notice of code violation and an abatement order, from 75 to ten days, as well as the Board’s approval of a drastically steeper fine schedule, with a total maximum fine increasing from $10,000 to $90,000. The County has already dramatically increased the number of employees in its Planning Department to process applications and to enforce against noncompliant operations. We are told that the County now has two employees whose job it is to review aerial imagery to look for noncompliant farms and to notify these operations that the County will begin enforcement against them.



Remembering David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Photo credit: Penny Andrews/ James Ficklin HAVOC

In the waning months of the Campaign to Save Headwaters Forest prior to the consummation of the March 1, 1999 Headwaters Forest Agreement, known among environmental activists of the time as “The Deal,” tensions between Pacific Lumber Company loggers, private security, and Earth First! forest defenders using their bodies to slow the logging of the old-growth redwoods were on edge. Over a decade of tension and conflict—punctuated by events like the Owl Creek Massacre, the massive non-violent civil disobedience actions of September 1995, 1996, and 1997, and the violent use of Q-tip swabbed pepper-spray in the eyes of immobilized Earth First! protesters by Humboldt County Sheriffs Office—had created a power-keg waiting only for a spark to ignite and fully explode.

That spark was eventually generated by a face-to-face conflict between timber fallers and Earth First! forest defenders. On September 17, 1998, David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain was killed when irate Pacific Lumber Company timber faller, A.E. Aemmons, cut  and felled a tree directly at a group of Earth First! forest defenders on a logging site above Grizzly Creek, adjacent to Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

Although video tape footage recorded by Earth First! forest defenders clearly showed the angry A.E. Aemmons verbally threatening to kill the forest defenders, then-Humboldt County District Attorney, Terry Farmer, refused to bring charges against the Pacific Lumber Company timber faller, threatening to file manslaughter charges against the forest defenders instead.

Soon after Gypsy’s death, it was revealed that the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection had charged Pacific Lumber with at least 250 violations of the California Forest Practice Act between 1995 and 1997. These violations continued to accumulate in 1998, and in November of that year, Pacific Lumber became the first company ever to lose its logging license in California. Within less than six months, the Headwaters Forest Agreement between Charles Hurwitz’s MAXXAM Corporation and its subsidiary Pacific Lumber Company, and the State and Federal governments was signed, sealed, and delivered, transferring what is now the 7,500-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve into public ownership for the price-tag of $480 million.

To the surprise of no one, the MAXXAM Corporation eventually ran Pacific Lumber into the ground, and by 2008, PALCO had filed for bankruptcy, marking the close of nearly two decades of protests and conflict between environmentalists and the company.

Gypsy, only 24-years-old, found his way to the California redwoods all the way from Texas, and like so many of us, was captivated by the majesty of the redwood forest, but heartbroken by its ongoing destruction. The hillsides above Grizzly Creek where Gypsy was killed were an important connectivity corridor and buffer between Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, and old-growth redwood on then-Pacific Lumber Company property that has since been acquired by the State and added to the park. Like so many of the places at-risk in the MAXXAM-era old-growth liquidation logging days at Pacific Lumber, Grizzly Creek was a lesser-known and out-of-the-way place that remained on the chopping block until an option for purchase was included in the Headwaters Forest Agreement by the California State Legislature at the 11th hour.

This September 17, 2017, commemorated the 19-year anniversary of Gypsy’s death. March 1, 2017, marked the 18-year anniversary of the creation of the Headwaters Forest Reserve. On September 17th, EPIC sponsored and led a hike into what is now the Headwaters Forest Reserve on the Salmon Pass Trail, accessed via the Newburg Gate in Fortuna, once the site of massive demonstrations against the destruction of Headwaters, in honor of the memory of David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain. 17 local citizens joined the three-mile loop hike, which includes a traverse through a patch of remaining old-growth redwood now spared from the destructive MAXXAM-era Pacific Lumber Company chainsaws, but many of which still bare the scar of the blue-paint-stripe mark that signified the logger’s intent to cut.

Thanks to David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain and the thousands of others who came to northern California from all over the country and the world to protest the destruction of the last remaining old-growth redwoods on private lands, there today stands a Headwaters Forest Reserve, inside which stand many trees that would have otherwise surely fallen for repayment of junk-bond debt.

This article was published in the EcoNews.

EPIC Honors Judi Bari with Sempervirens Award

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Judi Bari Headwaters Rally San Francisco 1995. ©2016 Greg King

EPIC is honored to present the 2017 Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award to Judi Bari at the Fall Celebration, held November 3 at the Mateel Community Center. EPIC will present the award to her daughters, Jessica and Lisa, in recognition of Judi Bari’s renowned environmental, labor and social justice leadership.

You are cordially invited to celebrate 40 years of innovative forest advocacy and wildlife protection at EPIC’s Fall Celebration on Friday, November 3rd at the Mateel Community Center in Redway, CA. We are very pleased to present performances by musical activists and longtime EPIC friends Casey Neill and the Norway Rats, Alice DiMicele and Joanne Rand. Dinner will be expertly crafted courtesy of Sue’s Organics, and will feature our annual silent auction, which is sure to be full of enticing items. Celebrating 40 years of cutting edge forest advocacy in one night will not be easy, but we hope to take you on a trip down memory lane to the roots of the North Coast environmental movement as we honor of all the supporters, volunteers, and activists who helped make it possible!

Judi Bari was far more than simply an environmentalist—she was an avid advocate for workers and the rights of working people. In addition to being a prominent member of Earth First!, Judi was also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and spent tremendous time and energy working not only to slow the destruction of the last standing old-growth redwoods, but also to organize and cooperate with timber and mill workers. Through her work, Judi expanded the movement, bringing greater understanding of how the destruction of the forest would also impact timber workers future employment and way of life. Bari’s efforts to humanize both environmentalists and timber workers benefitted the movement, and created a more holistic understanding of the complexities of the Redwood Summer.

Judi, along with Daryl Cherney, was the major impetus behind the 1990 season of non-violent civil disobedience along the redwood coast of Northern California. Drawing inspiration from the iconic “Freedom Summer,” our “Redwood Summer” sought to slow the destruction of the last remaining old-growth redwood forest utilizing peaceful direct action—all while groups like EPIC and others used the courts and political venues to forward redwood conservation. Famously, while on a road tour to promote Redwood Summer in 1990, a pipe-bomb exploded in the backseat of the car being driven by Judi and Daryl while the two were preparing for a show in Oakland, CA.

The wounds suffered by Judi Bari as a consequence of the pipe-bomb and complications therefrom would eventually claim Judi’s life in 1997. On March 1, 1999, the Headwaters Forest Agreement, which most pejoratively referred to as, “The Deal,” was consummated between MAXXAM Corporation, who controlled Pacific Lumber Company, the U.S. Government and the State of California, transferring 7,500-acres of what is today the Headwaters Forest Reserve into public ownership, effectively marking the end of the so-called “Timber Wars” that marred our forests and divided our communities for nearly two decades.

Although Judi did not survive to see the creation of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, she lives in spirit through the Headwaters Forest Preserve. On June 19, 2015, a plaque and dedication with the planting of 200 trees took place in Headwaters at “Visionaries Grove,” a place dedicated to the hard work, sacrifice, and visionary inspiration of all who fought to protect Headwaters Forest. Today, the Headwaters Forest Reserve stands as a critical refugia for threatened and endangered fish and wildlife, and also as a critical landscape where restoration from the decades of destructive MAXXXAM/Pacific Lumber logging is being driven forward. Headwaters also stands as testament to Judi Bari and her tireless spirit.

EPIC is honored to award Judi Bari with the 2017 Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award, and is honored to celebrate Judi and her enduring legacy and spirit on this, our 40th anniversary. As we look back, we also keep our eyes ever-forward as we continue to push for better and more responsible forestry practices on private and public lands. Far from being too old, EPIC is just getting warmed up! Please come join us and help us celebrate our past, present, and future!


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Crisis and the Timber Industry

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This is the mantra of the Timber Industry in fire season. Although this summer’s fires are just about out, the Timber industry and its friends in Congress are already pushing forward a radical agenda to wipe away federal environmental laws and drastically increase the cut.

Let’s take a closer look at the Timber Industry spin machine works to exploit forest fires.

First, create a crisis.

It is like clockwork—every year, there will be a fire in the West. Regardless of the fire, the Timber Industry PR team is in quick response, filling local op-ed pages with hyperbolic headlines and news stories with breathless quotes. Employing highly charged language, the Timber Industry will describe how a fire “ravaged,” “destroyed,” and “decimated” the forest, leaving a dead and devoid “moonscape” behind. No matter what, a fire will be called “catastrophic.” You can almost set your watch to it.

But it works.

The American public is deeply afraid of forest fires. This fear is justifiable. Homes burn down and lives are lost. Fires are tough to live with, as evidenced by the massively bad smoke conditions this year—even coastal Humboldt County was not spared.

But fire, including high-severity fire, is a natural forest disturbance. In its wake, a high-severity fire doesn’t leave ruin, but new birth. Forest fires—even some of the “mega” fires—are not abnormal. Charcoal records and early recorded accounts demonstrate that large and hot fires predated European colonization.

(Don’t forget that the Timber Industry can supply the “crisis,” too. 84% of forest fires are started by humans, such as the Minerva fire that forced the evacuation of Quincy, CA, started by an employee of Sierra Pacific Industries, or the Moonlight fire, caused by Sierra Pacific Industries’ negligent hiring and supervision of a logging contractor, or the most recent Helena Fire that burned the town of Junction City.)

Second, blame the other guys.

After over sensationalizing the fire, the Timber Industry looks to point blame at their mortal foes: environmental groups and endangered species. They claim that groups like EPIC put too many handcuffs on the timber industry from logging. In this world view, all forests are just fuels. As one catchy (but misinformed) slogan puts it, “Log it, graze it, or watch it burn.” In truth, the Timber Industry is to blame for much of the current condition.

Many forests are more dense than “reference conditions,” points in the past against which we can measure. But that’s largely because natural forest stands have been clear-cut and replaced by tree plantations. These tree plantations are the ones most likely to burn the hottest, as they are dense and have a uniform crown (instead of a staggered crown more typical of a native forest.)

The Timber Industry also promotes a culture of fire suppression. The Timber Industry sees forests as money, and fires as putting their money at risk. For that reason, there is no greater champion of the military fire industrial complex than the timber industry.

Stinky Zinke

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

On National Public Lands Day, September 30, 2017, EPIC held a renaming ceremony to rename all vault toilets on federal public lands “Zinkes” after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in recognition of the crappy way he is treating our public lands. Secretary Zinke is a bad dude. In a leaked memo to President Trump, Secretary Zinke recommended removing protections from 10 National Monuments, including our own Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. Why? Because Big Oil and Big Timber want to be able to drill and log these areas.

We encourage all of our members to take up the name. For example, you can say, “Wow, that’s a stinky Zinke,” upon encountering a particularly smelly toilet. Or before hitting the trail, you can tell your hiking partner, “Hold on, I need to hit the Zinke.” Or, if the Zinke is nearing capacity, you can let someone know, “That Zinke is full of crap.”

The name is already catching on! Our renaming ceremony was picked up by national media, including Steve Bannon’s Breitbart “news” service. Viva la toilet humor!

Activists Name Public Toilet After Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in Protest – Breitbart

Environmental groups name toilet after Interior Secretary in public lands protest – Eureka Times Standard

Humboldt Environmentalists Hold Unofficial Ceremony to Rename Vault Toilets After Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Encourage Public to Take a “Stinky Zinke” In His Honor – Lost Coast Outpost


EPIC Saves Big Old Trees

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Last December, we ventured out into the Klamath National Forest to monitor the Jess Timber Sale to ensure that trees that were marked for logging were consistent with Forest Service decisions and environmental policies. At our first stop in the timber sale, we noticed that dozens of mature trees were marked to be logged in riparian reserves, where they were supposed to be protected.

We went back to the same timber sale unit last week, and because of our effort, were very pleased to see that the trees we had documented on our previous trip were no longer marked for logging. The blue paint telling loggers to cut had been painted over with black paint, which means that we have saved them (for now).

The Jess Timber Sale is located in the Jessups Gulch area of the Wild and Scenic North Fork Salmon River watershed. The project includes approximately 2,000 acres of treatments including: over 800 acres of commercial logging and ridgetop, roadside, silvicultural and meadow treatments. EPIC has engaged throughout the environmental review process by attending public field trips, conducting on-the-ground-monitoring, submitting substantive comments, participating in the multiparty monitoring group, filing an objection to the project and getting out into the field to verify whether the project is planned out according to the environmental documents.

Throughout the process it has become clear that one of the most effective ways to protect a place is to get out into the field and document what you see. This is much easier now that we have new technology to identify exactly where you are on a project map, and where protected areas, like riparian reserves should be preserved.

If you have a background or knowledge of wildlife, botany, water quality, or just have the time to explore the remote reaches of your wild backyard, please apply your skills. Photographs with GPS coordinates are incredibly important to illustrate the uniqueness and fragility of our mountain landscapes. To learn how to get the most out of your field trip, check out our public lands advocacy page, an excellent resource for citizens to use when surveying a particular area where a project is proposed.


EPIC Victory: Klamath Old-Growth Saved From Logging

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

As you remember (because you read every word that we write, right?), EPIC had submitted an “objection” of the draft decision for the Horse Creek Project, a large scale post-fire logging project on the Klamath National Forest. In our objection, we laid out measures that the Forest Service must take to avoid breaking the law. Here’s the big news: the Forest Service listened!

In total the Forest Service agreed to:

  • Drop 450 acres of the most controversial and harmful logging units, protecting old-growth along the Siskiyou Crest (check out the great Siskiyou Crest blog for more information on why this area is so important);
  • Drop 2 miles of road building;
  • Retain all large snags over 45” in diameter;
  • Commitment to prescribed burning and fuels treatment;
  • Work with the Karuk Tribe on vegetation planning;
  • Decommission new and existing temporary roads post project; and
  • Work with stakeholders to develop a burning plan.

As a result of the agreement, the final project design will more closely mirror that of the “Karuk Alternative,” a post-fire restoration plan developed by the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources. In total, the project would provide rural jobs, protect the best old-growth wildlife habitat in the project area,  and would begin work on fuels reduction activities to protect homes and ranches from future fires. We are satisfied with this outcome, as EPIC had pushed the Forest Service to adopt the Karuk Alternative.

This was a large fire season and we are not over it yet. National Forests in the area will undoubtedly feel pressure to log trees that were damaged by the fires. We hope that the framework of the final Horse Creek Project is something we can build on when developing future projects with the Klamath National Forest.

A Long Strange Trip: 10 Years of Richardson Grove Defense

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

On Saturday, we celebrated 10 years’ worth of friendships forged over litigation and turmoil. EPIC would like to thank all of our friends who have stood with us. A special thanks goes to our co-plaintiffs: Friends of Del Norte, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, and the Center for Biological Diversity, Trisha Lee Lotus, Bess Bair, Jeff Hedin, and David Spreen. Many thanks goes to our partners at the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities. We appreciate your support and allyship.

The anniversary also gave us time to pause and reflect on those we’ve lost. We still miss the warmth and passion of Bruce Edwards, one of our original plaintiffs. We will never forget Stu Moskowitz, who painted the “Save Richardson Grove” sign that still stands, and alerts motorists that the park is in danger. We lost a great advocate in Loreen Eliason, a co-owner of the Riverwood Inn in Phillipsville and one of our original plaintiffs. Finally, we are down a friend and ally with the passing of Sydney King.

Our celebration was muted because Caltrans continues to press for the Richardson Grove Project. EPIC is back in court—our fourth trip—to force Caltrans to do an honest accounting of the damage to the grove. We won’t back down, even if we are at it for another 10 years.

Help support the fight to protect Richardson Grove by donating to the Save Richardson Grove Campaign.

Tipping the Scales

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Horse Creek watershed July 2017 showing checkerboard ownership. Private lands logging has already begun, the untouched portions are targeted by the Klamath National Forest.

EPIC recently submitted an objection to the Horse Creek Project— 1,700 acres of post-fire clearcutting in the 2016 Gap Fire footprint. An administrative objection is the way to formally challenge a Forest Service project, prior to litigation. Our lawsuit against the Klamath National Forest, for clearcutting nearly 10,000 acres after the 2014 Westside Fires, has yet to be heard in Federal Court. Both of these timber sales expect to kill or adversely harm salmon and their essential fish habitat.

Wild Salmon are Suffocated by Sediment

Wild salmon are struggling to survive and experiencing collapse after the lowest numbers in history while post-fire logging and the Klamath National Forest are pushing them closer to extinction. Unstable watersheds which provide vital cold water refuge to ailing fish have seen heavy use by thousands of logging trucks or have experienced massive road failures and landslides including, Beaver, Horse, Walker and Grider Creeks to name a few. The Horse Creek project invites more of the same.

Coho salmon in Southern Oregon and the Klamath Basin have been declared threatened for twenty years. In 2011, EPIC petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the spring-run Chinook salmon and to designate critical habitat. That petition was denied because, the Service argued, the springers were not genetically distinct from fall-run Chinook. Now six years later, thanks to research by UC Davis, springers have been proven to be genetically distinct. The Karuk Tribe has submitted a notice of intent to, once again, petition to list the species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Our Future with Fire

Getting a smart grip on pre- and post-fire management is key to the salmon’s survival. There are over 50,000 acres of wildfire on the Klamath National Forest and approximately 225,000 acres on the Six Rivers, Modoc and Rouge-Siskiyou National Forests. The wet winter has certainly helped these fires burn cooler and some strategic allowances of fire for ecosystem benefit have been made. However, as witnessed, scouting for opportunities to clearcut our forests and in turn to lose money, harm wildlife and water quality begins before the smoke clears.

EPIC will defend wild salmon, water quality and wildlife in the wake of post-fire madness with the goal of reversing the damaging and continuous cycle we are beginning to see every year. Wildfires are inevitable and can have an impact. It is industrialized timber sales, which take all the big trees and leave all the flammables behind (which may or may not be treated), in our salmon dependent watersheds that are entirely avoidable.

We are slowly trending in the right direction. We continue to live with fire and learn from Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Prescribed burning is increasing, more cultural burning is revitalized and pre-fire strategies are gaining traction with implementation pending. After fires break out, depending on leadership, less extreme fire fighting tactics are being considered and forest communities are better prepared. However, we need a sense of urgency throughout California and beyond to shift from the age of the military-style fire industrial complex and massive post-fire logging to protecting communities and our wild places. As embers burn and smolder responsible officials and agencies need to stand up, follow their missions, make sound decisions and work fast to restore the last strongholds of wild salmon.

Help Support EPIC’s Forest Defense Work.

From collaborating and working with the agencies to groundtruthing proposed logging sites, writing comments, objections and lawsuits- EPIC works tirelessly to protect wild places and wild salmon. As a membership organization, we are powered by your generosity. Thank you!



Sharon Duggan – Kin to the Earth

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

California’s forest practice rules—often described as the most protective in the nation—largely stem from one woman: Sharon Duggan. Sharon is a one-woman force-of-nature, a potent combination of caring and cunning. For 35 years, Sharon has provided legal muscle to help individuals and grassroots organizations challenge the status quo and preserve our North Coast. She is a kin to the earth.

Sharon started practicing environmental law in 1982. Having grown up in Humboldt, Sharon took inspiration for her work from her roots. She remembered what the landscape was once like: rivers with fish, big trees, and a vibrant, locally-based timber industry that was the lifeblood for the small towns in which she lived. And she saw the change that occurred when Big Timber started taking over the local timber companies.

Relatively fresh out of law school, Sharon took on her first forestry case, the storied EPIC v. Johnson, in 1983. Georgia-Pacific had filed a timber harvest plan to clearcut old-growth redwoods in Little Jackass Creek near what is now the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park along the Mendocino Coast. On behalf of EPIC, Sharon challenged the state’s approval of the logging plan, arguing that the state did not consider the cumulative effects of the logging. The case may have seemed like a longshot to some—environmentalists up against the good ol’ boys in local court—but that didn’t stop Sharon. With a thoughtful yet tough prosecution of her case, Sharon won. The lawsuit helped generate enthusiasm for the protection of the Sinkyone, eventually leading to its preservation in perpetuity.

This scenario—a longshot case that was won because of hard work— has repeated itself throughout the rest of Sharon’s career. In court, Sharon is a ruthless litigator. She is diligentin her preparation, often tasked with the needle-in-the-haystack work of reviewing banker-boxes of documents to find a smoking-gun. She is creative in her writing, massaging the narrative of a case to appeal to a certain judge or to catch favorable political winds. And she is dogged, pressing every angle and avenue she can find in pursuit of justice. To opposing counsel, Sharon must seem like a pit bull. But to her friends and clients, she is a saint.

She has been a mentor to many. Rob DiPerna, Forest and Wildlife Advocate at EPIC, counts himself as a disciple of Sharon’s. “Sharon Duggan is a master-strategist and staunch supporter of the rights of public engagement and enforcement in environmental decision-making,” said Rob. “I have been so very blessed to account Sharon as a friend, colleague, and my primary mentor as I have grown into my professional capacity over the years.”

Phil Gregory, co-counsel for Richardson Grove, says of Sharon, “Sharon constantly inspires me not merely to save our planet but to do everything I can to preserve our natural resources as our sacred heritage. Sharon has made a fundamental impact in my life both as the role model of a true environmental attorney and as a loving, compassionate soul.” Phil adds, “Go Giants!”

Rachel Doughty, Attorney at GreenFire Law, also counts Sharon as a mentor. “Sharon is a tireless advocate for the places and people she cares about. She has been a tremendous mentor to me. There is one thing she is terrible at: retirement. She continues to dedicate herself to the future of our children and to mentor the next generation of attorneys, even while maintaining a docket protecting the wild spaces that are so loved and such a part of our identity as Californians.”

Despite her threats at retirement, Sharon has not slowed down. Sharon continues to work as counsel to EPIC, most recently back in court in EPIC’s challenge to Caltran’s proposed widening of Richardson Grove at the expense of old-growth redwoods. Sharon is a board member at Our Children’s Trust, developing innovative legal doctrines to take on climate change. And she provides limitless advice to the attorneys, young and old, who call her out of the blue to pick her brain.

Outside of her legal work, Sharon is a passionate advocate for Palestine, women’s rights, and a liberal democracy. She is a longtime volunteer with Redwoods Monastery in Whitethorn and is often found there on weekends, putting in hard labor to help the people and place that she loves. Sharon is buoyed by her longtime partner, Anne.

This article was published in the August 2017 EcoNews.

Exploring Scattered Public Lands

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Remnant old growth Douglas fir on BLM land near Harris in Southern Humboldt. “Wolf trees” like this were left standing when the area was logged because their many branches would make low-grade lumber. Now they provide habitat complexity in the recovering forest. Photo by Susan Nolan.

Susan Nolan, longtime EPIC Supporter and 2010 EPIC Volunteer of the Year has visited some of the scattered tracts of land that the BLM manages throughout the region. The article below describes what she has found on her excursions and their ecological and community value.

The United States began with a great wealth of fertile farmable land, timberland, and minerals. The young nation devised a number of programs, including the Homestead Act, to settle and develop this huge potential. Over time, most useable land was claimed, and the Bureau of Land Management was formed in 1946 to oversee the remaining land.

The BLM manages a number of properties on the North Coast: the King Range, Headwaters and much of the oceanfront of Humboldt Bay. Besides these headliners, the BLM still holds dozens of scraps of leftover land in public ownership all across Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

They may be as small as 40 acres or range up to several thousand acres. Some are brushy rocky outcrops, but most are forested and some still have old-growth. Many are on high ground, but some are right on rivers, especially along the Eel. Some, surrounded by private land, don’t even have access for BLM personnel, while others are well known and visited by many.

One spot familiar to travelers on Highway 36 is Goat Rock, where a striking steep cliff soars above the Van Duzen River west of Bridgeville. It’s a popular access point for swimmers, sunbathers, fishers and boaters to enjoy the river.

Sometimes the Bureau of Land Management adds to its holdings. Up until 1970, the King Range had only ten miles of extremely remote coastline in eight disconnected segments, used by a few off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, and 35,000 acres of poor timberland. Today, the King Range has grown to 68,000 acres and 35 miles of oceanfront, with tens of thousands of visitors annually.

BLM land along the historic Littlefield Trail in Mendocino County, included in the Yolla Bolly Wilderness. Photo by Susan Nolan.

Gilham Butte is a high point in southern Humboldt adjacent to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Once slated for logging, it’s now (thanks to a long campaign led by its neighbors) an old-growth reserve, protecting ancient Douglas firs. In 1999 its size more than doubled when 3,800 acres were added from a timber company which had planned to log. It is now managed as a reserve by the BLM.

Lacks Creek is another, more recent, success story. The BLM held a long narrow spine of steep forested land north of Highway 299 and west of the Hoopa Reservation. The most accessible parts were logged, but some old-growth remained in the remotest corner. It received very little use, primarily from handful of deer hunters in fall.

With support from nearby Redwood National and State Parks, BLM acquired logged-over timberland in the lower watershed of Lacks Creek about ten years ago. Public interest in developing mountain bike trails was strong, so BLM decided to meet the need on its newly acquired land. Now miles of bike trails have been developed, with more still planned. Besides being a recreation destination, Lacks Creek retains its old-growth reserve (no trails will be built there), elk are moving into the area, and the national park benefits from conservation-minded management of the land upstream from the park’s famous Tall Trees Grove on Redwood Creek.

Perhaps more parcels will grow with new acquisitions over time. Some may become recreation meccas like Humboldt Bay’s South Spit, Lacks Creek, and the King Range.

Most will probably remain isolated fragments of wild land, mostly unknown. But these can provide valuable ecological benefits by providing a place for a raptor’s nest, a quiet den site for forest carnivores such as bobcats or fishers, refugia for old-growth dependent lichens and fungi. Pat Higgins of the Eel River Recovery Project has noted that many critical salmon spawning creeks locally have their headwaters on BLM land, where undisturbed forest provides clean cool water.

For more information on BLM holdings on the North Coast, including information and maps on how to visit the most accessible, you can stop by the Arcata Field Office, 1695 Heindon Road (near Toni’s and the 101/299 junction).




Logging Threatens Unique Coastal Sitka Spruce Grove

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

South Beach Spruce Grove. Photo Credit F.L. Hiser Jr.

A proposed Timber Harvest Plan in Del Norte County near Crescent City threatens to devalue a sensitive and unique grove if coastal Sitka spruce. THP 1-17-034DEL “Hambro” proposes to harvest and substantially degrade the ecological value of 44 acres of mature unique grove of Sitka spruce that has been designated as a special and unique area by the California Coastal Commission and that presently resides in a Coastal Special Treatment Area that calls for special management considerations. The Hambro THP is surrounded by a State-administered wildlife area, and otherwise by the industrial complex of Crescent City.

The Hambro THP Sitka spruce stand is over 120 years-old, with many large, structurally-complex, and very old trees. Based on standardized forest classification methods, the Hambro THP stand represents a near-climax successional stage, and even meets the Forest Practice Rules criteria for designation as a Late Successional Forest, which also calls for special consideration and management of the stand.

EPIC is working cooperatively with Friends of Del Norte County to raise public awareness and interest in protecting the unique coastal Sitka spruce stand at-risk from logging degradation by the Hambro THP.

State Water Board Approves Strictest TMDL in State History

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Elk River Resident Kristy Wrigley testifying before the State Water Resources Control Board -August 1, 2017

The California State Water Resources Control Board has moved to ratify and strengthen conditions in the most stringent Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and watershed remediation plan (Action Plan) for remediation ever established in the State. At its August 1, 2017 meeting in Sacramento, the State Water Board ratified the now-15-year-tardy TMDL and Action Plan for the Upper Elk River Watershed, just south of Eureka, California. The State Water Board also moved to clarify the terms and expectations for the TMDL and Action Plan, and directed the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to revisit sediment pollution discharge permitting frameworks for the two major industrial timberland owners in the upper Elk River watershed by no later than January 2019.

In May 2016, the North Coast Regional Water Board adopted the Upper Elk River TMDL and established the limit on additional sediment pollution in the upper watershed, known as the load allocation, at zero, meaning no new human-caused sediment pollution from activities such as timber harvesting, can be discharged without exacerbating the damaged conditions and their impacts on water quality, fish, wildlife, and local residents. A scientific synthesis report of sediment in the Upper Elk River Watershed (Tetra Tech 2015), found that sediment pollution resulting from past and contemporary timber operations had overwhelmed the river’s capacity to withstand or move through any further sediment inputs. As clarified by the State Water Board, the TMDL and zero load allocation apply to all human-generated sources of sediment pollution, past, present, and future, until the capacity for Upper Elk River to assimilate further sediment is expanded through remediation conducted through the TMDL Action Plan’s Recovery Assessment and Stewardship Program components.

The State Water Board sent a clear and direct message to the Regional Board, Humboldt Redwood Company, and Green Diamond Resource Company. In order to ensure the attainment of no new sediment discharge, current sediment waste pollution discharge permits for timber operations need to be revisited and revised until and unless the TMDL is revised as a consequence of expanded sediment loading assimilative capacity resulting from watershed recovery efforts.

EPIC has filed a challenge with the State Water Board of the sediment pollution discharge permit issued to Humboldt Redwood Company by the Regional Water Board. However, this challenge has been in a holding pattern in anticipation of the State Board’s decision on the TMDL and Action Plan. Now, EPIC will work to monitor and engage in the Regional Board’s mandated-revisit for both Humboldt Redwood Company and Green Diamond Resource Company’s sediment pollution discharge permits in the Upper Elk River watershed.

Holding the line for water, fish, forests and people, EPIC gets results.

Support New Draft Wilderness Legislation!

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Photo Credit: Native Fish Society

Congressman Huffman has released a draft bill that would help protect 326,000 acres of federal public lands as “wilderness” by expanding nine existing wilderness areas and establishing ten new ones and would designate 485 miles of streams and rivers as “wild and scenic rivers.” View a map with the new proposed wilderness areas below.

But this is more than a typical wilderness legislation. It is a start at rethinking the way we interact with public land in Northern California. In addition to land protections, the legislation promotes sane forest management that will help restore fire to the landscape while protecting rural communities through the development of “shaded fuel breaks” around communities. It is would also help to promote our local recreation economy—the number one source of forest jobs—by creating a regional trail program. This legislation will help to move us out of the old false dichotomy of “trees vs. jobs.” You can read the bill in its entirety by clicking here.

Sounds good, right? There are two ways that you can help:

1. Show Your Support in Person at Upcoming Public Meetings with Congressman Huffman! Starting next week, Congressman Huffman will host several public meetings to discuss his proposal for Northwest California’s public lands. This is a fantastic opportunity to thank Congressman Huffman for his leadership in working to protect these special lands and waters for generations to come. Can we count on you to attend a public meeting and speak up for Northwest California’s unique public lands? Please RSVP by clicking the County links below and share with your friends! It is important that we bring out strong environmental voices to this meeting, as Big Timber will likely fight this legislation.

Humboldt County August 14th 5:30-6:30 pm Wharfinger, 1 Marina Way, Eureka, CA 95501
Del Norte County August 15th 5:30-6:30pm Del Norte Educational Resource Center, 400 West Harding, Crescent City, CA 95531
Trinity County August 16th 5:30-6:30pm Trinity High School, 321 Victory Lane, Weaverville, CA 96093
Mendocino County August 29th 1:30-2:30pm City of Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Ave, Ukiah, CA 95482

2. Say Thanks! Congressman Huffman has been developing this wilderness legislation for over a year, meeting with countless groups, local businesses, tribes, and individuals to gather ideas. His hard work has paid off. Click here to send an email to Congressman Huffman thanking him for working to protect Northwest California’s special places, encouraging him to introduce legislation, and letting him know you love the region and want to see it protected now for future generations.


Meet Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel, a New Species in our Forests

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Humboldt’s flying squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis) perched on tree. Mendocino Co, CA. Photo by Brian Arbogast,

Scientists recently announced a “new” mammal species that calls our redwood forests home: Humboldt’s flying squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis). The squirrel, named after the famed naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, is now the 3rd species of North American flying squirrel and the 45th in the world.

It turns out that the squirrel was hiding in plain sight. Humboldt’s flying squirrel is a “cryptic” species, closely resembling in appearance another flying squirrel, the northern flying squirrel. There are slight differences—Humboldt’s flying squirrel is slightly darker and smaller than the northern species—but because the two species had overlapping ranges, scientists had assumed that these differences were unimportant.

But those small differences had puzzled researchers. Curious to see if there was something more at play, biologists collected DNA samples from 185 squires, some recently killed squirrels and others old museum samples. The results surprised scientists. Looking at the nuclear genome, scientists saw a clear and distinct split—two branches on the family tree diverging.

It is thought that the species diverged as a result of the last ice age. A northern population of squirrels became cut off from a southern population by glaciation. Isolated from each other, the two different populations diverged on separate ecological paths. Eventually, they became so different from each other that when the glaciers melted and the two populations came in contact again, they didn’t interbreed. (The fact that they don’t interbreed or “hybridize” shocked researchers, as the other two species of North American flying squirrels hybridize.) Scientists are puzzled as to what is keeping these two species from breeding. Is it behavioral or are they so physically different that they can’t interbreed?

Humboldt’s flying squirrel ranges the West Coast, from British Columbia in the north to the bottom of the Sierra Nevada forests. In its northern range, Humboldt’s flying squirrel shares its forests with its cousin, the northern flying squirrel. Although the two squirrels look alike and share the same forests, they do not interbreed.

Humboldt’s flying squirrel generally prefers older forest types, where it can launch itself from high branches to soar to another tree. Using a membrane that runs from its front legs to its back legs as a sail and its poofy tail as a rudder, the flying squirrel can glide up to 100 meters in the air. The squirrels forage at night, looking for berries, nuts, fungi, carrion, and bird eggs. They, in turn, are hunted by predators like the northern spotted owl, Pacific fisher, and the Humboldt marten.

The flying squirrel’s “discovery” is a good example of the impact that cheap, high-resolution genetic studies have had on the field of taxonomy. In some cases, genetic research has determined that there are less differences than we had previously thought—such as recent research that shows that coastal martens in Oregon and California are actually one subspecies and not two. In other cases, like here, scientists can discern separate species from physically similar individuals with overlapping ranges. Expect more discoveries like Humboldt’s flying squirrel in the future as genetic tests become cheaper, faster, and easier to perform.

New genetic studies also have regulatory implications. To the degree that a single species can be “split” into multiple species, the more likely it is that one of these new species is eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Similarly, if two species can be “lumped” into one species, the protections afforded to individuals can diminish.

The full text of the Humboldt’s flying squirrel genetic report can be found here: Genetic data reveal a cryptic species of New World flying squirrel: Glaucomys oregonensis