Archive for July, 2011

Action Alert: Defend the Clean Water Act!

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Speak Up to Defend the Clean Water Act! The Clean Water Act is under attack by Republicans and few wayward Democrats in Congress. EPIC is working to defend the Clean Water Act and we need your support to push back against three damaging proposals.

TAKE ACTION and tell your federal lawmakers that you oppose industry attacks on clean water. Tell them that you speak for the salmon that are choking on sediment from logging roads, and for future generations that will look back on this time as a turning point in protecting water for all. We are witnessing an unprecedented attack on clean water, so we must act now to stop coal, timber and chemical companies from stripping the Clean Water Act of its power to protect our water. The Clean Water Act is under attack by Republicans and few wayward Democrats in Congress. EPIC is working to defend the Clean Water Act and we need your support to push back against three damaging proposals.

Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan Released

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Contributions from Andrew Orahoske and Rob DiPerna

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released a Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl, which has been listed as threatened with extinction for the past 20 years. The previous Recovery Plan was tampered with for political reasons, and turned out to be highly inadequate. Along with a coalition of groups, EPIC sued over the politically tainted version and the federal government agreed to complete a new plan.  The promised revision is a step in the right direction to protect this iconic species of northwestern forests.

The Recovery Plan addresses multiple threats.  It takes climate change into consideration and targets the barred owl, an invasive species from the East that competes for spotted owl habitat. The plan reiterates the importance of national forests and other federal lands to the survival of the owl, and recommends extensive forest restoration to speed the recovery of old-growth forests.  Furthermore, it invites private forest landowners to safeguard the spotted owl by protecting suitable habitat and proposes incentives for furthering the species’ recovery.

Old-growth forests, the owls’ preferred habitat, has been logged for decades and continues to be threatened.  While the plan uses new mapping to identify the best habitat for the owl, it does not include specific reserves.  Critical habitat will be designated when researchers complete a mapping and computer project that predicts survival rates based on the best habitat.

On the west side of the Cascades, the plan will likely result in a net benefit to old forests. But on the drier east side a massive amount of forest thinning is proposed.  The impact of thinning on owls is not well understood.  The plan is vague about how to slow down logging if it proves detrimental to the birds.  In the redwood region, some of the most important habitat for recovering the owl is held by large private interests.  The fate of the owl very much rests in the treatment of these important private lands.

Populations continue to decline from Washington to Northern California. It’s about an entire ecosystem on a downward spiral. Protecting all remaining old growth makes sense.  Older trees store more carbon than younger trees and may dampen the effects of global warming.  The recovery plan relies on how federal and state agencies administer the plan, not just for owls but for clean water, salmon and carbon storing.

EPIC Momentum Built on Membership Support

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Thanks to our new and long term members, EPIC is gaining the momentum needed to meet our ambitious environmental protection goals. We all know that the stresses on our landscape and it’s unique inhabitants are growing–to meet those growing challenges EPIC needs to build its base of financial support. With your help we can do it!

The last three months have been an exciting time at the Environmental Protection Information Center. We have been engaging with the immediate community, reaching out to the extended EPIC membership, building our cases and program initiatives, and achieving concrete advances in our legal strategies. The granting of the preliminary injunction by the Federal Court that halts progress on the inappropriate Caltrans proposal for Richardson Grove State Park is another historical moment in the trajectory of EPIC’s successes protecting endangered landscapes in Northwest California.

This momentum would not be possible without our members and significant donors. We at EPIC extend a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have contributed to our Richardson Grove Legal Fund, and to the many people that also choose to donate to support our costs for broader environmental advocacy in the redwood region. It is our membership and base of supporters that makes our work possible.

Thanks to all of the donations that continue to come in, we have nearly reached our goal of raising $5000 to afford our share of the bond that plaintiffs were ordered to post as part of the Richardson Grove injunction. We need an ongoing push of EPIC supporters to help us reach our $5000 dollar goal for the Richardson Grove Legal Fund this week! If you have not done so already, please consider donating to our Richardson Grove Legal Fund today!

Our work to protect Richardson Grove State Parks fits into a broader strategy to respond to the stewardship crisis in the California State Park system. The threat to close up to 70 parks statewide is an unprecedented attack on our public trust resources. EPIC is one of the only organizations in our region that can advocate effectively for our public lands on both a state and federal level. On top of that, we are the only group in our region that works on both public and private land issues. Our efforts to promote community forestry in the Usal while confronting egregious industrial behavior on Green Diamond/Simpson lands are uniquely coherent, and these initiatives are only possible due to the contributions of our membership and community of supporters.

If you are not already a member of EPIC, please become a member today!

The team at EPIC thanks you for your generous support, and celebrates with you the recent victory in our Richardson Grove campaign. It is only with your support that we can keep up this work. Thank you! and remember to donate today!

Green Diamond Poised to Log Mckay THP

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

On Friday, July 8th, Green Diamond filed a notice with Cal Fire that they intended to begin logging operations on the “McKay 09” THP in Ryan Creek, near Cutten, in Eureka.  This notification means Green Diamond could begin timber falling anytime in the proceeding 15 days.  Green Diamond has already begun road clearing operations in preparation for potential logging. The “McKay 09’” THP proposes to log 60 acres of mature second growth and residual old growth redwood forest that supports threatened species such as the Northern Spotted Owl. Ryan Creek is also known to support threatened Coho salmon.  Green Diamond intends to clearcut 37 acres of this forest, while selectively logging 21 acres in riparian management zones.   Behind the clearcutting and forest conversion looms the specter of permanent conversion for residential development.

According to a March 11, 2008 letter from Green Diamond to the County, the Company has 442 acres of suitable development property in the Mckay Tract, 256 of which is already zoned for that purpose.  However, a 12/15/10 article in the Eureka Times Standard indicated that Green Diamond is working with the Trust for Public Land to craft a plan to protect the 7,500-acre McKay Tract next to Cutten and virtually the entire Ryan Creek watershed from development. So now as the chain saws are set to run, the question begs whether Green Diamond wants a community forest, or residential sprawl for the McKay tract.  Resorting to clearcutting some of the last remaining mature forest in the Ryan Creek watershed would send a message of Green Diamond’s intent. Despite all its posturing of good will, it is now unclear that Green Diamond prefers development over conservation in the McKay Tract. EPIC will continue to monitor the situation in the McKay Tract closely.  Please stay connected to for more updates.

Judge Orders Caltrans to Halt Work on Richardson Grove Highway Expansion

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Please be a part of the EPIC defense of Richardson Grove, and pledge your support this week!

SAN FRANCISCO— A federal judge on Wednesday ordered California state transportation officials to stop work on a controversial plan to cut wider highway lanes through ancient redwoods in Northern California’s Richardson Grove State Park. The judge granted the injunction that was being sought by a group of plaintiffs that includes three environmental organizations and several citizens, finding the project is likely to harm trees and may violate federal law.

The judge halted plans by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to realign a section of Highway 101 that winds through old-growth redwoods in the park to accommodate large-truck travel. The work would require crews to extensively cut into the roots of towering redwoods that stand along the highway within park boundaries. The injunction prohibits all on-the-ground construction and even contract advertising, bidding, or awards until the merits of the case are heard. The case is to be heard on Dec. 1, 2011.

The court’s decision centers on the controversial project’s potentially fatal damage to the prized ancient trees, as well as harm to sensitive wildlife. The plaintiffs charged that Caltrans failed to evaluate impacts of the project in violation of environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act. Those arguments were recognized as valid in Wednesday’s court decision granting the injunction. The federal lawsuit accompanies a California state action also filed by the coalition.

This project would cause irreparable damage to one of our most prized state parks, and this decision confirms the legitimacy of our concerns,” said Gary Hughes of the Environmental Protection Information Center, a plaintiff group based in Humboldt County. “We believe that this ruling highlights the ecological importance of the state parks in redwood country, and we hope that decision-makers are beginning to understand the legal and ethical responsibility they have to steward these globally important protected areas for future generations.”

With less than 3 percent of our ancient redwood trees remaining, we cannot allow Caltrans to injure and kill the precious giants of Richardson Grove State Park,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope that with this court decision, Caltrans will scrap this misguided project that would sacrifice redwoods and the endangered species that depend on them for the sake of a few more oversized trucks speeding through the grove.”

Plaintiffs in the case (No. C 10-04360 WHA) are Trisha Lee Lotus, Bess Bair, Bruce Edwards, Jeffrey Hedin, Loreen Eliason, Environmental Protection Information Center, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Center for Biological Diversity. They are represented by a team that includes Philip Gregory and former congressman “Pete” McCloskey of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, a law firm in San Francisco.

Judge Orders California to Halt Work on Richardson Grove Highway Expansion That Would Harm Ancient Redwoods – EPIC’s Press Release

Richardson Grove Injunction Cites Inconsistencies in Environmental Review; Caltrans Stands By Project – Times Standard

Preliminary Injunction Granted in Richardson Grove Case – Times Standard

Order Granting Preliminary Injunction – United States District Court

Information Vacuum: Green Diamond in Maple Creek Part 2

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

While Green Diamond continues its onslaught of intensive industrial forest liquidation in Maple Creek, the company is doing very little monitoring or research to discern the consequences of these practices for public trust resources.  We know very little about conditions in the Maple Creek watershed, and Green Diamond Timber Harvest Plans recently submitted for Maple Creek are virtually devoid of any data or other meaningful information.  What data does exist is very limited in scope and size, thus rendering it impossible to discern any real patterns or implications from such data.

Maple Creek is known to support both resident and anadromous fisheries, but Green Diamond does not appear to be conducting any monitoring of these species in Maple Creek.  The aquatic monitoring data that does exist represents a small sample size over a small period of time, and the results are wildly variable.  No information about the conditions of habitat for resident or anadromous fish is provided in Green Diamond’s THPs, leaving a massive informational gap that hampers both agency and public evaluation. The only mention of monitoring activities conducted by Green Diamond in its THPs for Maple Creek indicates that recently-implemented headwaters stream monitoring is showing erosion impacts resulting from existing roads, though this data is also limited.

The fundamental requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act to make decisions based on substantial evidence appear to be largely disregarded by Green Diamond and Cal Fire. The virtual informational void in Maple Creek as evidenced by lack of any data or quantitative analysis in Green Diamond’s THPs makes approval of these plans as written suspect at best.  Cal Fire has systemically failed in its responsibility to make determinations based on substantial evidence in light of the record presented. This fact betrays a lack of regulatory mechanisms and controls over potential impacts to fish and other threatened species.

These disturbing information gaps are part and parcel of the ongoing liquidation practices of Green Diamond. EPIC is working hard to expose the activities of this company in order to leverage on the ground changes that protect natural resources from over-expoitation, and to foment company wide reform. The efforts that Green Diamond makes to hide their destructive practices from a forest products market that is increasingly sensitive to sustainability issues made up a big part of our last edition of the EPIC Environment Show on KMUD radio.

Support the Usal Redwood Forest Conservation Easement Project

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


Redwood Forest Foundation Inc. (RFFI) has submitted an application to the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) to place a conservation easement on the Usal Redwood Forest, which includes 50,000 acres in Northern Mendocino County stretching from the Eel River to the Pacific Ocean.   RFFI bought the heavily logged land in 2007 from the Hawthorne Timber Company.  The unique property includes the Usal Creek watershed, and several important tributaries to the Eel River.

The WCB delayed funding for the acquisition of the easement in February 2011, ordering an independent review to confirm the appraised value of the easement.  The independent review makes findings that “the appraisal meets the high standards required by WCB and the professional standards that govern appraisers.” Now, the Wildlife Conservation Board will hold a hearing in late July to make a decision regarding the easement.  EPIC has submitted a letter in support of the independent review of the appraisal, but now we need your help to urge the WCB to make a positive decision supporting the easement as soon as possible.


Meet Joan Dunning

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

On the evening of Friday, July 8, EPIC is honored to feature the work of Joan Dunning, the widely recognized children’s stories artist and author, as part of the city wide Arts Arcata! celebration. From 6 until 9 PM the staff of EPIC will host a reception in our office at 145 G St Suite A, in Arcata, down by the marsh, and we invite everyone to come by! Ms. Dunning will have paintings and other work on display in our office, and the EPIC crew will be excited to receive visitors, adults and children alike. This gathering will provide us an opportunity to speak of Ms. Dunning’s art, and of EPIC’s work to protect the wild nature of Northwest California.

Joan Dunning: Magnetizing Children to the Natural World

In anticipation of the showing, we asked Joan a few questions about her art and her activism. We think this interview captures an important glimpse into a creative talent who has demonstrated a tremendous dedication to expressive creativity, and who is contributing to a bioregional community awareness that endeavors to maintain a balanced relationship with the landscape that provides us spiritual and physical sustenance.

Enjoy this brief interview with Ms. Dunning, and be sure to join us this coming Friday evening for Arts Arcata!

What can you say is the seed of your artistic inspiration?

I am both and artist and a writer and have been since I was a little girl.  I have always wanted to do illustrated books on natural history topics and this is my fifth (see my website: or do a search of my name on Amazon.) This book, Seabird in the Forest, is very special to me because I have always wanted to do a children’s book that I illustrated in oils.  This is my first  book in oils and people love it!  Also, I think the topic: the marbled murrelet and the canopy of the ancient redwood forest, is mysterious and fascinating.  

How did you decide to dedicate your artistic and professional energies to teaching children (and adults!) about nature, and specifically the redwood forest?

My father was a wanderer of California, Arizona and Nevada.  By example, he taught me to love California as my only religion.  I have lived other places and felt extremely claustrophobic because I am so used to California’s wealth of public land.  It was actually kind of a shock, as I was growing up, to realize the uniqueness of my personal heritage. I gradually realized that not everyone shares my impassioned feelings about the natural world of California.  When I teach a classroom full of city children to draw a marbled murrelet chick coming out of its egg, a lot of kids are hatching too.  When I was a child, someone came to my fourth-grade classroom and taught me how to draw a redwood.  I remember every minute of it, and it was life-changing.  

What is the role of art, and especially art designed for children, in todays environmental politics?

I have an idea to help save the parks called Art Saves a Park (ASAP).  When children receive guided instruction in drawing a simple image from the natural world, they can experience that “form follows function.”  We can talk about why the marbled murrelet only lays one large egg instead of four small ones like a similarly-sized robin.  In the process, the child learns, becomes involved in an artistic expression, and, ultimately, this piece of art can be “sold” in an exhibit in a school “gallery,” perhaps with refreshments and a drawing lesson or other presentation for the parents by the children.  Everyone learns, and the proceeds can go to a special fund for the state parks.  

Can you describe how you balance art with science in your books?

I believe that children deserve a good story.  I like fuzzy, lovable, appealing images.  I believe they are good for children’s souls.  I do not believe in overloading children with “hard facts” or “hard realities.”  It is not their fault that previous generations have neglected their window of stewardship of the earth.  On the other hand, I am devoted to the elegance and discipline of science;  I love the reality of nature and the challenge of walking that fine line between anthropomorphizing and presenting delicious information and images that instantly magnetize children to the natural world.

How is a group like EPIC important in the year 2011? Why would you suggest that people support EPIC?

Because it exists!   It is a tool, nothing more, nothing less and it is there for us to use by offering time, new ideas and financial support.  EPIC has a proud history of effectiveness against MAXXAM Corporation in the days of “Headwaters.”  Few people who did not live through the period that began in 1985 with the hostile take-over of Pacific Lumber Company, can imagine the fierce struggle that engulfed Humboldt County.  EPIC was a key player, organizing and winning countless lawsuits that held off the liquidation of precious fragments of the vast ancient forests once stewarded by the exemplary, family-owned Pacific Lumber Company.  You can read about this struggle in my book for adults, From the Redwood Forest, which is out-of-print, but which you can order , new or used, on Amazon for just a few dollars.  

Any special reasons to come out to the EPIC Arts Arcata! event featuring your art?

To have some fun in a warm, similarly committed group of people; to purchase a signed, personally inscribed copy of Seabird in the Forest; to see original art from the book; to learn, first-hand, about my process in creating Seabird and my other books; to ask me any questions you may have; to purchase a print of the original art; to have some wine and good conversation; to meet new friends and see old ones; to support EPIC; and maybe I will even teach you how to draw a marbled murrelet chick hatching out of its egg if you bring a pencil, an eraser and a piece of paper and wait till I have a moment (this is for children and for adults, including all those people who “can only draw stick figures.”)

Come out and join us for Arts Arcata! from 6-9 PM on July 8 at the EPIC office, 145 G. St. Suite A, down by the marsh!