Archive for June, 2011

EPIC Prevails with the Karuk Tribe in Lawsuit Against USFS

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Photo taken during public field trip to OCFR project area

Orleans, CA – This week a federal judge found that Six Rivers National Forest violated the National Historic Preservation Act when implementing a timber harvest plan in 2009. The Orleans Community Fuels Reduction Plan (OCFR) was billed by the Forest Service as a wildfire suppression plan, but work on the ground more closely resembled an industrial timber harvest that damaged ancient medicine man trails and ceremonial areas of the Karuk Tribe.

The plan itself was developed after years of collaborative meetings between Six Rivers National Forest, the Karuk Tribe, conservation groups and community members. In the end, the Tribe and the community signed off on the plan which aimed to thin, prune, hand-pile and burn 2,700 acres around Orleans in western Humboldt County. But what was implemented on the ground was not what Six River Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelly represented on paper.

“We participated in good faith in the Forest Service’s collaborative process and we were assured that our sacred areas would be protected and our cultural values respected. It’s now obvious that those were hollow promises,” said Leaf Hillman, Natural Resources Director for the Karuk Tribe.

The Tribe found decks of large hardwoods lying across trails used by medicine men during the Tribe’s annual World Renewal Ceremonies. Other ceremonial areas were also desecrated by logging activities, contrary to commitments in the project plan.

“EPIC is proud to be a member of the coalition that stopped the Six Rivers National Forest from implementing a project that would have further degraded the cultural and biological resources the Forest provides,” said Kimberly Baker, National Forest Advocate for EPIC and the Klamath Forest Alliance. “The trees and ceremonial trail desecrated through the partial implementation of this project cannot be reversed, but can be prevented in the future.”

Logging activity was halted after Tribal activists blockaded logging roads in December 2009. Soon after the Karuk Tribe along with the Environmental Protection and Information Center (EPIC), Klamath Forest Alliance, and Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center filed suit.

Important to the claims of the plaintiffs is the fact that portions of the Orleans project overlapped the Panamnik World Renewal Ceremonial District, which was nominated for National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Karuk’s spiritual Medicine Man Trail spans the district, and about half of it fell within treatment units of the Orleans project. Based on the evidence, the Court ruled that the logging activity within this area was a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act.

“In light of the finding that defendants violated the National Historic Preservation Act, defendants are hereby enjoined from conducting further implementation of the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project until appropriate remedial measures are established to bring the project into compliance,” Judge Alsup ruled.

In addition to his role as Natural Resources Director, Leaf Hillman is a Karuk Ceremonial Leader in Orleans.  According to Hillman, “Supervisor Kelley has no respect for this community or native cultures as is evidenced by their actions on the ground. With this court order we are hopeful that we can move forward to provide fire protection for our communities without sacrificing our sacred sites.”

Trinidad Community Forum: Green Diamond and Industrial Logging

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The high rate and intensity of logging on Green Diamond/Simpson lands is visible from space. GIS credit Lindsey Holm

You are invited to join EPIC’s staff to discuss the impacts of industrial logging operations in the watersheds surrounding our towns in Humboldt County. Please join us at the Trinidad Town Hall on Wednesday July 13 at 6 pm for a Community Forum.

Simpson Timber, the parent company of California Redwood Company and Green Diamond Resource Company, owns roughly 400,000 acres of some of the highest producing lands in the redwood region. There is very little older forest on these lands, and forest resources on Simpson lands are in various states of recovery from past logging and current Simpson activities.

The rate and intensity of logging on Simpson lands is high and very disturbing. High intensity management practices which rely heavily on clearcuts, chemical herbicides, extensive roads, short rotations and plantation forestry betray a flaw in the paradigm of industrial forestry practices, as well as a pervasive lack of government regulatory control.

EPIC wants to hear your vision for a better future on forests and lands in our region. We advocate for the restoration of our forests and watersheds. Intensive industrial forestland management which relies heavily on clearcuts, chemical herbicides, extensive road systems and sterile plantations should be a relic of the past.

EPIC seeks to encourage a discussion around the principles of ecological restoration forestry, and seeks alternatives to the dominant management regime found on many private industrial forest landscapes. EPIC wishes to engage with the community and neighbors of these industrial logging giants to develop a new and more ecologically centered forestry for the future. Come join us on July 13 at 6PM at the Trinidad Town Hall.

Save the Date for EPIC Arts Arcata! July 8th 6-9pm

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Murrelet and Chick, oil on board By: Joan Dunning

Save the Date!  Friday, July 8th Arts Arcata! 6-9pm, at the EPIC Office, on 145 South G Street, in Arcata, near the Marsh.    

EPIC will be hosting an open house and participating in Arts Arcata! Friends and supports are encouraged to come to the impromptu gallery, at the EPIC office, meet the staff, and enjoy the wonderful artwork. 

Local artist, Joan Dunning will be displaying her paintings and holding a book signing of her newest book, Seabird in the Forest; the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet, a children’s picture book about the elusive seabird that nests in the ancient redwood forest.   

EPIC has a long history of protecting the marbled murrelet, in 1993, their lawsuit, Marbled Murrelet and EPIC v. Pacific Lumber, was the first time the Endangered Species Act was applied to stop logging on private forest land to conserve the habitat of a species.

The new EPIC office, located at 145 G Street, Suite A in the old North Coast Journal building, near the Arcata Marsh

Joan Dunning is a critically acclaimed nature author and artist who writes for both adults and children. Her books include, The Loon: Voice of the Wilderness; Secrets of the Nest; From the Redwood Forest and she is an illustrator of a children’s book, Leaving Home. Her paintings are shown in gallery exhibitions and hang in private collections.

EPIC Fights to Protect California State Parks

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Rally at Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz

The Time Has Come For New Park Leadership

The state parks of California are recognized as one of our country’s flagship protected area systems.  The California Department of Parks and Recreation manages the entire California State Parks System, which includes 278 parks and 1.4 million acres.  The California State Park system contains the largest and most diverse natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation. The California park system is an indispensable element in protecting the natural heritage of our landscapes for future generations.

EPIC has been working hard for several years to protect our state parks. These vital ecological and economic resources are already under extreme budget distress, and many of the park units are subject to inappropriate management and illegal activities. By the time Governor Jerry Brown announced the closure of 70 state parks in May as part of a plan to solve the state’s budget crisis, the alarm for the state parks had already sounded for the Environmental Protection Information Center.

EPIC views the proposed closures as a direct assault on the integrity of our public lands, and has taken immediate action to investigate the proposed closures. Last week EPIC filed a Public Records Act Request for the budgets of 41 of the State Parks that are on the chopping block. EPIC’s Conservation Director, Andrew Orahoske, wrote in the letter that “our members rely on the many beneficial resources offered by state parks, and thus these closures have a direct impact on them and our organization.”

In addition to providing a natural sanctuary for spiritual renewal, the economy of the redwood region relies on the state parks to draw tourism to the area. People travel from all over the world to visit our parks, and in doing so they also bring a significant amount of revenue to other businesses in the area. The economic and cultural impacts of park closures could be devastating.

There is evidence that park leadership has done a poor job of coming up with a formula for closures without violating federal and state laws. Of the 70 state parks Governor Brown has proposed to close, at least 16 parks are funded by federal grants, and are contractually bound to remain open in perpetuity.  The leading funding source for national parks in the US is the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is a federal fund that allocates royalties from offshore drilling and directs them to state and local parks to pay for land acquisition, trail building, and park infrastructure.  The funding is in place as long as the park remains open, or if a park is closed, land of an equal appraised value in a nearby location may be substituted.

Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service in Washington D. C. said recently that “this funding is a grant to the state, like a contract, it is linked directly to the deed of these lands.  It says the state makes a commitment to provide these places for public use in perpetuity.  To not do that is essentially a breach of contract.”  Furthermore, if state parks that are funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund are closed to the public, the entire California State Parks System could become ineligible for future federal park grants.

A separate issue for 11 of the state parks slated for closure is their coastal locations.  According to the head of the California Coastal Commission, state park rangers cannot legally block anyone from the shoreline.  In response to this Coastal Act requirement, the Director of California’s State Parks, Ruth Coleman, has asked if these coastal parks could remain open for only one or two days a week and still satisfy coastal access requirements.  Such ambivalence about the legal obligations of the park system to state residents is indicative of a lack of vision and responsibility on the part of park leadership.

Coleman and other park system administrators are failing in their duties to protect our state parks. It is becoming clear that closing our state parks will do more significant environmental harm than good, and leave the public with nowhere to go.  In addition to cutting us off from some of the last protected natural sanctuaries on the planet, closing our state parks will violate public access laws, breach federal funding contracts, and will cost far more money than it might save.

At EPIC, we believe that these issues demonstrate a fatal flaw in the proposal to close an important percentage of our state parks, and indicate that it is time for a change in park leadership. We insist that Governor Brown take the park closure proposals off the table, and that he bring a breath of fresh air to our state park system by appointing new talent to the park system directorship. To not do so is to further degrade one of our country’s, and the world’s, most important protected area systems. The California State Parks, and the residents of our spectacular state, deserve much more.

In just two days, EPIC has already collected approximately 625 post cards from concerned citizens to send to the Governer asking him to keep our state parks open.

CLICK HERE to send Governor Brown your own personal request to keep our state parks open.