Blog

Redwoods Rising Seeks Scoping Comments

Friday, July 20th, 2018
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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
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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 tom@wildcalifornia.org.


New Wind Farm on the Horizon

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
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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
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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.

Why?

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
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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
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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
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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 EVERLASTING: Add EPIC to Your Will

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
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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 burnedthemovie.com


Forest Carbon Plan Released

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018
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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
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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 www.SaveRichardsonGrove.org.

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
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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.


David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain Memorial Scholarship

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018
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Dear Friends,

This coming September will be twenty years since David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain lost his life while trying to prevent illegal logging in an Earth First! Action near Grizzly Creek in the Van Duzen River watershed.  To mark this anniversary and remember an idealistic young man, we have established the David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain Memorial Scholarship.  Administered by the Humboldt Area Foundation, this fund will provide an annual scholarship of $1,000 for a local high school student or first year student at Humboldt State University or College of the Redwoods who has demonstrated commitment to issues of forest ecology through volunteer or academic projects.

In addition to assisting students, establishing this scholarship will provide a focus for reflection on changes in our community over the past twenty years. What have we learned since the painful controversies over and in the forest in the 1990s?  How have we grown as individuals and as a community?  For those of us who knew Gypsy or knew of him, how did his death influence the course of our lives?

We envision memorial events on the HSU campus on Sunday, September 16 and Monday, September 17, including performances, lectures, and art displays.  Members of Gypsy’s family will travel here to attend.  Gypsy’s mother, Cindy Allsbrooks, will serve on the annual scholarship selection committee; we hope the task will bring her comfort.  If you would like to serve on our creative team and help produce the memorial events in September, please contact either of us directly.  We will appreciate assistance with all aspects of the project including designing and facilitating the events, gathering materials for a memorial website, and publicizing the memorial fund and events.

Also, we invite you to participate by making a donation to the Fund.  Donations large and small will be appreciated.  We have set an ambitious goal of $25,000, the minimum required for a Fund to continue into perpetuity.  In addition to helping individual students, the annual  announcements of the scholarship availability and recipients will continue to educate the public about an important era in Humboldt County history and the ongoing story of the preservation and restoration of the magnificent but fragile redwood ecosystem.

To make a donation online or by mail please see: http://www.hafoundation.org/GypsyChain

Sincerely yours,

Marion Nina Amber, marioninamber@gmail.com

Naomi Steinberg, rabbinaomisteinberg@gmail.com


Last Chance Grade Project Update

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018
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The Redwood Highway, also known as Highway 101, is the main north-south arterial connection for North Coast residents and visitors alike. “Last Chance Grade” is a stretch of Highway 101 about ten miles south of Crescent City, which sits precariously above the Pacific Ocean. Built on an active landslide, the road has steadily slipped towards the Pacific Ocean, including a fairly substantial road failure in winter in 2017. In many areas, the road is no longer in its original alignment, having slipped further down the slope. The area that has experienced the greatest movement has moved 40’ horizontally and 30’ vertically so far. The question is not if the road will fail, but when and how badly.

Congressman Jared Huffman has convened a stakeholder group to help work through some of these issues. EPIC, Friends of Del Norte, and Save the Redwoods League sit on this group to provide input from the conservation community. The stakeholder group has met numerous times over the past three years to consider the project. The unanimous conclusion of the group, so far, is that something has to be done to improve the existing road. The question is what, where, and at what cost.

Caltrans is considering possible alternatives and reroutes. Of the six initial options presented by the agency, each has something that would ordinarily rule out that alternative from further study—from massive cost (Alternative F, a deep tunnel under the problem area, would cost one to two billion dollars, if it is even feasible at all!) to large impacts to old-growth (Alternative A2 would affect 3 acres of old-growth redwoods, including the loss of 30-50 trees) to technical feasibility (Alternatives C3-C5 are also in areas prone to sliding and may not be any better at staying open than the current route).

At the most recent stakeholder meeting, Caltrans has introduced two more alternatives: Alternative X, which would take drastic actions to stabilize the current alignment, and Alternative L, which would move the road slightly uphill, perhaps better positioning the road for the future). From their initial descriptions, EPIC is intrigued and excited to develop these alternatives further. Both alternatives initially appear to have the smallest environmental impacts—neither would affect old-growth nor require any stream crossings. Both are relatively cheap too, with a back-of-the-envelope estimate of $100-300 million, making them appear more feasible in our eyes. There are downsides too. Both would be costly to maintain and still prone to failures like the current road has experienced.

To further narrow their thinking, Caltrans has completed an “expert risk assessment,” where the agency has employed the help of geotechnical experts from across the West Coast to do an initial assessment of the various alternatives. The assessment focused on three factors: the cost to maintain the road (“cost”), likelihood of impairments to mobility, such as temporary lane closures for road work (“mobility”), and the risk of a full road closure (“closure”). One alternative, the long tunnel under the problem area (Alternative F) scored far better than the rest—but this alternative is the most expensive to build in the first place (“cost” in the report only concerns the cost to maintain) and the agency lacks the geotechnical data necessary to understand if this alternative is even possible. So it may be cumulatively cheaper to build a less expensive road but pay higher annual maintenance costs than to build an expensive road that doesn’t cost much to keep up.

The geotechnical analysis is only part of the consideration of values necessary to refine the alternatives. It doesn’t include consideration of environmental values, like preservation of old-growth or sediment inputs to rivers. To refine the alternatives further, Caltrans will conduct a “value engineering analysis” that will require soliciting thoughts from stakeholders about their deeply held values. These values will inform what alternatives that Caltrans will further decide.

By November 2018, Caltrans hopes to begin “scoping” under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). NEPA and CEQA are the laws that require the agency to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the various alternatives. The project will still take many years to complete, with Caltrans searching for money from federal and state coffers.

EPIC will keep our members informed as we learn more information.


EPIC Stops Tower in Redwood National Park

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018
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The Office of Emergency Services (OES) has heard our voices loud and clear, and has decided not to put an emergency communications tower in Redwood National Park. The initial proposal called for three towers ranging from 120 to 270 feet, one of which was proposed inside the boundaries of Redwood National Park. But thanks to the 1,451 EPIC members from 32 states and 28 countries who spoke up by sending comments through EPIC’s two action alerts, none of the towers will be built within Redwood National Park. Instead, the towers will be built at alternative locations outside of the park.

The approved project includes three new towers to replace and provide the same level of coverage as the Red Mountain communications site, which must be removed due to its location within the Helkau Ceremonial District, a site that is sacred to the Yurok Tribe. The towers will provide coverage in the remote and rugged region within the Yurok Reservation, as well as Redwood National Park and surrounding areas that do not have cell phone reception. The emergency communication towers will be for use by state, federal and local law enforcement, transportation, fire, medical and resource agencies. Once the Red Mountain site is cleaned up, the Yurok Tribe will once again be able to access their sacred site and begin holding ceremonies as their ancestors have since time immemorial.

The 5 alternatives that were considered in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) include:

  • Alternative 1: Rodgers Peak (Redwood National Park), Rattlesnake Peak and Alder Camp.
  • Alternative 2: Same as Alternative 1, except Rodgers Peak site would expand clearcutting from 1.5 acres to ~3.9 acres to install a solar array as a primary power source.
  • Alternative 3: Rodgers Peak would not be developed under this alternative. Rattlesnake Peak and Alder Camp would be the same as Alternative 1 and Green Diamond 1 and Orick sites would also be developed for a total of 4 towers.
  • Alternative 3a: Rattlesnake Peak, Alder Camp and Green Diamond 1 sites would be developed. Green Diamond 1 site is clearcut.
  • Alternative 3b: Identical to Alternative 3a except Green Diamond 2 site would replace the proposed Green Diamond 1 site. The Green Diamond 2 site is clearcut and a portion of the parcel is located within the Coastal Zone. However, the tower would be built outside of the coastal zone.
  • Alternative 4: No Project Alternative. Decommissioning activities would be implemented at Red Mountain, and the sacred site would be restored consistent with existing permits issued to the State by the USFS. None of the proposed sites would be developed and the entire region would lose emergency communication services.

The tower locations that have been approved in the Final EIS include Rattlesnake Peak, Alder Camp and Green Diamond 2. The Initial Scoping Notice only proposed one alternative that included Redwood National Park. After over 600 comments poured in, OES developed a range of alternatives, with Alternative 1 identified as the proposed project, but after hearing from community input in the form of the second round of hundreds of public comments requesting that the agency avoid building a tower in Redwood National Park, the OES went with Alternative 3b, which includes Rattlesnake Peak, Alder Camp and Green Diamond 2. The Green Diamond 2 location is partially within the coastal zone; however, the location of the proposed tower would not be in the coastal zone, and is in an area that is already clearcut.

Although significant unavoidable impacts will be made to the visual resources of Lyons Ranches Historic District, the OES has issued a Statement of Overriding Considerations along with its project approval, finding that the project benefits (providing emergency services communications and cleaning up a sacred site) outweigh the impacts of replacing the red mountain tower with three new towers that affect the viewshed of the surrounding areas.


EPIC Forest Prom Thank you!

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
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The staff and board of the Environmental Protection Information Center would like to thank all the attendees, businesses, sponsors, volunteers and artists who helped make our first EPIC Forest Prom a success! It was inspiring to see a room full fresh faces engaged in our cause. We were thrilled to host an event that showcased our old school EPIC charm with the vibrant new generation of environmental activists.

EPIC was proud to partner with Zero Waste Humboldt to host a Zero Waste Prom! From our decorations and corsages—to our glassware and eco green plates, we were able to pull off a huge event with little to no waste.

EPIC Prom Nominees

Congratulations to Nathaniel Pennington and Briana Villalobos for taking home the crown. We were honored to highlight the impactful work of our EPIC Prom Court Nominees. A special thanks goes out to Jennifer Savage, Mitra Abidi, Natalynne Delapp, Robert Shearer, and Mike Wilson for being such good sports and helping raise money for the forests and wildlife of North Coast California.

Businesses and Sponsors

We owe a special thank you to Lost Coast Communications for their generous radio ad sponsorship, and for Collin Yeo for the A+E blog feature in the North Coast Journal. Thank you to long-term EPIC board member, Peter Martin for your sponsorship—we appreciate your support! A huge thank you goes to The Arcata Veterans Hall and the staff who helped us put up and break down decorations. Joanne McGarry for assisting in our Zero Waste Prom initiative and allowing us borrow her eco green plates. Sue Leskiw for her delicious donated desserts. Arcata Tuxedo for their free tux rental giveaway. Sincere appreciation goes out to Mad River Brewery, Lost Coast Brewery, Humboldt Cider Co., Sean Charles, Moonstone Crossing, and the Co-Op for the food and drink donations. We could not have done it without you all!

Music

We have great appreciation for the musical acts that helped make this event a success! We were happy to support local favorites The Apiary and DJ East One. We were all boogying on the dance floor till the wee hours of the night, and it was truly a joy to see everyone let loose in their formal prom attire. Thank you Phil from the Arcata Veterans Hall for assisting with sound throughout the night.

Volunteers

EPIC’s volunteers are the roots of our success, and EPIC’s Forest Prom could not have happened without their support. A special thank you to Anne, Molly, Abbey, Casey, Amber, and Rob for dedicating the time and energy to craft, create, and forage all the decorations for EPIC’s Forest Prom. Thank you to Luke and Kyra for donating their time to make our EPIC Forest Prom posters, and to Madrone and Halle for making the most beautiful corsages and boutonnieres. Shawnee and Tryphena for allowing us to borrow their pint glasses and bar kit. Adam, Lexi, Madison, Shohei, Emely and Claire for assisting with the setup of the bar and venue. Our fabulous bartenders Pierce, Ali, Elyse, and Daniel for quenching everyone’s thirst. Nathaniel for assisting us at the door, Gigi and Stan for helping us bus dishes, Tom for helping haul the kegs and decorations in his truck, and to Dennis for supporting us wherever we needed help. Many of our volunteers assisted in multiple positions throughout the night—and their dedication does not go unnoticed! Thank you!

 

Photographers

We were blessed to have two different photographers document the nights festivities! Thank you to James Adam Taylor Photography for the candid shots, and to Ray Cisek for coordinating our photo booth.

Click here to view your EPIC Forest Prom photo booth pictures!

Don’t worry if you weren’t able to make it this year, we are thrilled to announce that the EPIC Forest Prom will now be an annual event!

Photos Below courtesy of James Adam Taylor:

Additional James Adam Taylor Photography’s candid prom shots can be viewed here.


Dead End—HRC Mattole Road Proposal Fails to Make the Grade

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
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Mattole trees between 100-120 years old.

There are some, it seems, that will just never learn. Reciprocity is a basic law of the physical universe, and so it is also true when dealing with suspect timber company behavior. Humboldt Redwood Company just doesn’t seem to be getting the memo, or learning from the mistakes of its predecessor. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

And so it is with HRC’s ill-conceived, and highly suspect proposed Major Amendment to THP 1-12-026HUM, the “Long Ridge Cable” THP, located in the North Branch, North Fork of the Mattole River watershed, in one of the most ecologically significant and unique landscapes on its property, and one of the powder-keg watersheds for the company. Yet, HRC was proposing to construct over 1,000 feet of new road without providing CAL FIRE, the public, or anyone else any legitimate reasons why it was necessary, or even providing the thoughtful analysis of road construction and road networks required by State Forest Practice Rules.

HRC had once promised an open, collaborative, and solution-orientated process for resolving the issues surrounding management of the largely unentered Primary Douglas fir forests of the North Branch North Fork of the Mattole, but this never actually materialized, with the company choosing instead to cut EPIC, the Mattole residents, and the public at-large out and to simply pronounce its intentions to all involved.

HRC claims it has voluntarily relinquished the rights to log in portions of the unentered primary forests on parts of the two approved THPs in the North Branch North Fork of the Mattole, but the company has refused to codify any of its commitments in writing, either as part of the THPs or in a written agreement with the community and interested stakeholders. EPIC, Mattole residents, and the public have been simply told to trust HRC; however, heavy-handed application of hack-and-squirt herbicides in old hardwood stands and a proposal to construct over 1,000 feet of new road for no identifiable reason has strained any inclination toward trust.

HRC was recently forced to withdraw its amendment and plans to construct the new road, faced with the realities of the regulatory hurdles and great pushback from EPIC, the Mattole residents, forest defenders and others.

With spring springing and the landscape in the North Branch, North Fork of the Mattole River watershed beginning to dry out, the specter of logging still looms, albeit with great uncertainty as to the intentions of HRC, or how much faith and stock can be put in the company’s previous promises and commitments.

EPIC urges HRC to abandon this bull-head, short-sighted and heavy-handed approach to addressing the logging plans in the North Fork, North Branch of the Mattole River, and urges the company to keep its promises to EPIC, the Mattole residents and others that a collaborative and community-orientated process would determine the fate of the forest.

EPIC has submitted two rounds of comments on this THP, see our comment letters below.

EPIC Comments on Long Ridge Cable THP April 2, 2018

EPIC Comments on Long Ridge Cable THP February 14, 2018

 


Action Alert: Tell CAL FIRE to Deny Green Diamond Plans to Log Marbled Murrelet Habitat

Thursday, April 26th, 2018
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Green Diamond clearcut adjacent to Redwood National Park. Remaining trees are supposed to be “habitat” retention areas.

Take Action! Green Diamond Resource Company is refusing to appropriately map known-marbled murrelet habitat, and is refusing to accept recommendations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect suitable nest trees and stands associated with known-occupied marbled murrelet habitat. Naturally, Green Diamond would rather clearcut the marbled murrelet habitat instead.

Astoundingly, the California Department of Forestry is siding with Green Diamond and is poised to approve THP 1-17-124HUM, located near Maple Creek and Big Lagoon, in the absence of requiring mapping and protection of the marbled murrelet habitat as required by CDFW, and over CDFW’s official Non-Concurrence with CAL FIRE’s recommendation to approve the THP and allow the logging.

Stand up for marbled murrelets, and help us stand up to Green Diamond and CAL FIRE.

Take Action Now: Tell CAL FIRE it must deny Green Diamond THP 1-17-124HUM according to State Law and State Forest Practice Rules unless the mapping and protection of habitat stands and trees for the critically-endangered marbled murrelet are included in the THP, whether Green Diamond likes it or not!

Click here to take action now!


EPIC Forest Prom Court Nominees

Thursday, April 26th, 2018
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We have selected 7 wonderful enviro-nominees to fight for the EPIC Forest Prom crown—and they need YOUR votes to win!

Join EPIC’s Forest Prom this Saturday, April 28th to cast your vote. Like any election, your dollar matters. Each nominee will have an EPIC donation jar set up at the bar, and whoever garners the most donations by the end of the night wins! If you can’t join our funtitivies this weekend, but want to support EPIC’s work please donate HERE! 

Check out whose in the running:

Mitra Abidi, Redwood Community Action Agency. Mitra graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Natural Resources Planning, she was an active CCATer, then tree planter and restorationist, and has been in Humboldt County for 10 years now. She is currently running a garden program through the Redwood Community Action Agency, supporting local community gardens and running a large garden that feeds a local drug & alcohol rehab center/shelter’s kitchen. She’s extroverted, funny, and is outside everyday with her big dog. She cares deeply about our environment and made a promise to herself many years ago to work for the betterment of our earth, either through environmental or social work, for the rest of her life. Mitra has served on the Board of Directors for the Environmental Protection Information Center since 2013.

Natalynee Delapp, Humboldt County Growers Alliance. An avid nature enthusiast and amateur mycologist, Natalynne has made it her life’s work to help “shift people’s cultural relationship with environment and community.” Natalynne holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Humboldt State University in Environmental Science: Public Policy. Between 2008 and 2017 Natalynne worked with the Environmental Protection Information Center. In 2014 and 2015, Natalynne helped facilitate dialogue between environmental organizations, cannabis farmers, and the public. By working across political boundaries Natalynne helped shape Humboldt County’s landmark Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance for the benefit of farms, forests and fish. In 2016, Natalynne left EPIC and started the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, a non-profit trade association for legal cannabis businesses who are working together to protect the people, environment and community.

Jennifer Savage, Surfrider Foundation. Jennifer is the California Policy Manager at the Surfrider, she keeps a watchful eye on what’s going on in Sacramento and along all 1,100 miles of California coastline, supporting Surfrider’s 20 California chapters on local and statewide campaigns. With experience as an environmental journalist, radio personality, event organizer and freelance columnist, Jennifer has a lot of tools in her toolbelt to spread the word about threats and solutions to our ocean’s health. She divides her time between San Francisco and Humboldt, and considers the entire California coast her backyard! When not working, Jennifer spends as much time in or around the ocean as possible surfing, hiking and taking photos, preferably with family and friends.

Briana Villalobos, Director of Communications and Development at EPIC. Briana attended Humboldt State University where she earned her degree is sociology with an emphasis on human ecology and ecofeminism. Her passion for environmental and social justice is exemplified by her time and research dedicated throughout her undergrad career, and professional work at EPIC. All of EPIC’s social media posts, radio shows, and outreach events have a little bit of Briana’s touch to them. Briana has been with EPIC for a total of 3 years, and is most passionate about her collaboration with Latino Outdoors and the bilingual hike series. Briana is dedicated to connecting diverse communities with the outdoor narrative, and creating more community-student relationships through internship and volunteer opportunities with EPIC. Briana more commonly goes by her nickname “Bean”, and loves going on hikes with her kitten Arlo, roller skating, cooking with friends, and dancing the night away.

Nathaniel Pennington, he does it all! Nat currently sits on the Board of Directors for Klamath Riverkeeper, Nature Rights Council and Klamath Forest Alliance. He has also worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for over 20 years. Nat ran the Salmon River Restoration Council Fisheries Program for 10 years and has coordinated their annual cooperative spring-run Chinook salmon surveys for the past 20 years.  He is owner/CEO at EcoFlo Rafting Company, Klamath Justice Coalition Member, and was instrumental in the campaign to un-dam the Klamath River. Nat traveled to Borneo and the Amazon with indigenous youth delegations to advocate for the protection of the environment and rivers in regions that were threatened with mega dam proposals. In 2006, Nat secured funding for spring Chinook genetic research that was recently published in Science magazine and coauthored the endangered species act petition with the Karuk Tribe that was recently accepted by NOAA fisheries. Nat understands that a collaborative approach leads to success and would like to thank all of his friends and colleagues who have made contributed to these efforts

Robert Shearer,Botany Teachers Assistant and EPIC Board Member. Bobby has been with EPIC for 6 years now and currently serves as VP of the board. He graduated HSU magna cum laude with degrees in botany and ecology and is currently a biology graduate student and botany teaching associate. He’s a teacher, a dancer, a writer, a naturalist, outdoor adventurer, a political activist, and a lover of all life. The expertise he brings to the EPIC team includes campaign development, strategic planning, and plant-based conservation science. When he’s not in the lab or the classroom, there’s nowhere Bobby prefers to be more than with his loving wife, Ayana Paige, enjoying the incredible forests and rivers of northwest California that EPIC works to protect.  

Mike Wilson, Humboldt County Board of SupervisorsBorn and raised in SoHum, Mike Wilson is Humboldt through and through. Mike is a graduate of the Environmental Resources Engineering Department, Humboldt State University, and is owner of Humboldt Water Resources, a small company that creates new wetland habitats for wildlife species, while also taking advantage of natural ecosystem services to treat stormwater and waste water. Mike is a rabblerouser and punk rocker in addition to his duties on the Board of Supervisors. In his time on the Board, Mike has distinguished himself as the voice for the environment.


Buy Your Tickets for EPIC’s Forest Prom!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018
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Join us for EPIC’s Forest Prom  Saturday, April 28th at the Veterans Hall in Arcata.

This redwood carpet affair will provide an experience you do not want to miss! Whether you never went to your High School Prom, desperately want a “do over”, or just want to have a good time, this event promises to create lasting memories all in support of EPIC’s efforts to protect and restore the forests of Northcoast California.

EPIC Prom is ALL ages.

Come dressed to impress and be ready to capture new prom memories in our photo booth. Don’t worry about spiking the punch- our full bar will have mixed drinks, locally crafted brew, and non-alcoholic beverages. Be sure to pre-order and pick up you freshly foraged corsages and boutonnieres for your date (updates to follow!).

A live vinyl set will be provided by DJ East One and funky soul jams by the Apiary will close the night. You won’t be able to stop your feet from moving, hips from shaking and singing along with friends.

SCHEDULE:

8PM: doors open for cocktail hour and photobooth
8:30PM: Live vinyl set by DJ East One
10PM: Prom King and Queen Commencement
10:30PM: Music by the Apiary


Tickets available online or at Wildberries.

Advanced Student Tickets $10

Advanced Non-Student Tickets $15

Stay posted for Prom King and Queen nomination updates and announcements!

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


Action Alert: Seiad “Salvage”- Bad for Water, Wildlife and Wild Places

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018
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A view from the Siskiyou Crest and the Pacific Crest Trail into the Abney Fire and the Seiad Horse Project. The fire-affected forest at the headwaters of Horse Creek is proposed for clearcut logging and plantation development. The impacts to ecological, recreational and scenic values will be severe if the Seiad Horse Project is implemented. Photo by Luke Rudiger.

Protect the Siskiyou Crest: Click Here to Act Now!

The Klamath National Forest has done it again, planning over 1,200 acres of post-fire logging adjacent to the Pacific Crest Trail on the steep slopes of the Siskiyou Crest. The Seiad-Horse Creek project would: significantly increase sediment in already impaired watersheds critical for salmon, require “take” or killing of threatened species, harm wildlife connectivity, and affect Roadless and Botanical Areas. Rather than fully address the impacts through an Environmental Impact Statement, the Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Analysis (EA) initiating the public scoping comment period.

Water Quality

All twelve of the creeks within Seiad and Horse Creek watersheds, which are tributaries to the Klamath River, are listed as 303(d) impaired for temperature and sediment under the Clean Water Act. This means that the current conditions do not meet water quality standards. According to Forest Service models, many of the streams are already over the “threshold of concern” yet the project would increase the risk of soil loss, sediment delivery and landslides and would further exacerbate adverse effects to aquatic and riparian habitats.

Wild salmon populations on the Klamath River are the lowest in history, suffering from disease and warm water as a result of dams, decades of mismanagement, years of consecutive wildfire, wildfire suppression activities and subsequent widespread industrial post-fire logging. Coho salmon are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and the Karuk Tribe recently submitted a petition to list the Klamath spring-run Chinook salmon, which is currently being considered. The Seiad-Horse project has a “May Affect, Likely to Adversely Affect” determination for coho salmon and for coho and Chinook essential fish habitat. Unconvincingly, the EA claims that logging over 1000 acres in impaired watersheds would improve aquatic conditions in the future by placing large woody debris in Horse Creek and by treating some sediment sources from roads sometime within the next twenty years.

Wildlife

Recent science shows that female Pacific Fishers, may find forests that burn at high-severity to be the best habitat for raising litters. Possibly due to increased abundance of small mammals in open forest canopies. Spotted owls also seem to prefer post-fire habitat for this reason. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Like salmon, northern spotted owl (NSO) populations continue to decline. Both the Seiad-Horse and recent Westside project have a “Likely to Adversely Affect” determination. Westside allowed the take (harm or kill) of up to 100 owls. The directly adjacent Horse Creek post-fire logging project has a “May Affect, Likely to Adversely Affect” determination. This Klamath region has been recognized for being critical for NSO conservation by providing a “source” population; however, the intense harm in these watersheds from the Klamath National Forest continues to multiply.

The Siskiyou Crest connectivity corridor provides habitat for fishers, martens, wolverines, bald eagles, northern goshawks, bats and the endemic Franklin’s bumblebee and Siskiyou Mountain salamander. Vast swaths of clearcuts would create large and contiguous openings, which may impact all of these species. Fire-affected forests are fully functioning habitats. High severity patches generate critical ecological pulses of dead trees (biological legacies) that are associated with extraordinary levels of biodiversity and provide complex forest structure used by a plethora of animals.

Upper Horse Creek, the Condrey Mountain Inventoried Roadless Area, Johnny O’Neil Late Successional Reserve, and the Abney Fire viewed from the Siskiyou Crest. The burned forest at the center of this photograph is proposed for clearcut logging by the Klamath National Forest. Photo by Luke Rudiger.

Wild Places

The project area is central to the Klamath Siskiyou bioregion, which is home to the largest expanse of wild lands on the West Coast. These forests are a stronghold for rare species and ranks third in species richness (for taxa ranging from butterflies and plants to birds and mammals) for all temperate conifer forests across the continent. Seiad and Horse Creeks specifically rank some of the highest in biodiversity in the state. These forests also contain some of the highest biomass-dense forests in North America, sequestering carbon and storing carbon long after a fire.

The Pacific Crest Trail runs just above the Siead-Horse project. Logging on 1,270 acres is proposed between the Kangaroo and Condrey Mountain Roadless Areas, entirely within the Johnny O’Neil Late Successional Reserve, an area designated to maintain and restore habitat for old-growth dependent species. Post-fire logging is unequivocally damaging to fire-rejuvenated forests and aquatic ecosystems. The impacts to ecological, recreational and scenic values will be severe if the project is implemented.

Click Here to Act Now!