Archive for May, 2013

Lawsuit filed to Protect Wild Coho Salmon in the Trinity River from Harmful Fish Hatchery Operations

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Trinity River Fish Hatchery
Photo Credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) recently filed a lawsuit aimed at reforming the antiquated and harmful operations at the Trinity River fish hatchery in order to protect wild coho salmon.  The suit challenges the actions of officials at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for funding, administering, and operating the Trinity River fish hatchery in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The hatchery produces and releases hatchery Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout to mitigate for the loss of wild Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout due to construction of the Trinity and Lewiston dams and operation of the Central Valley Project. Hatchery Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout compete with, prey upon, and interbreed with wild coho salmon that are listed as threatened with extinction under the ESA.


Egg Extraction from Hatchery Fish
Photo Credit: USFWS

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has violated the ESA by “taking” wild coho salmon by collecting them for use as broodstock in the Trinity hatchery without the explicit approval of the National Marine Fisheries Service.  The Department has also violated the ESA by releasing hatchery Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout that compete with, prey upon, or interbreed with wild coho salmon, and thus cause “take” of the ESA-listed fish.  The Bureau of Reclamation is liable under the ESA for failing to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service as to the effects of its choice to finance the hatchery, and by jeopardizing the continued existence of wild coho salmon and adversely modifying their critical habitat.

“It is long past time for these hatchery operations to comply with the law, and work towards actually recovering wild salmon,” stated Andrew Orahoske, conservation director at EPIC.  “Misguided bureaucrats at state and federal agencies continue to ignore the best available science and advice of experts, so this lawsuit is designed to shine a light on failed policies and open up a public process that is focused on the recovery of wild runs of salmon and steelhead.”

EPIC is represented by attorneys Pete Frost, from the Western Environmental Law Center, and Sharon Duggan.

Background on the Trinity River Hatchery

The Trinity River flows north-northwest 165 miles from the California Coast Range Mountains to its confluence with the Klamath River at Weitchpec, approximately 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The South Fork Trinity River, which enters the mainstem Trinity River below any impoundments, is the longest undammed river in California. Before reaching its confluence with the South Fork, the mainstem Trinity River flows into Trinity Lake, an impoundment created by the Trinity Dam, which stores water for the Central Valley Project. Seven miles downstream of the Trinity Dam is Lewiston Lake, an impoundment created by the Lewiston Dam, where stored water is diverted into the Sacramento River basin.


Hatchery Egg Tray
Photo Credit: USFWS

The Trinity hatchery is located at river mile 110 immediately downstream of the Lewiston Dam. The Trinity hatchery was built to mitigate the loss of salmon and steelhead habitat due to the construction of the Trinity and Lewiston dams and the operation of the Central Valley Project. BOR funds the Trinity hatchery. California Fish and Wildlife operates the Trinity hatchery.

Each year the Trinity hatchery produces approximately 4.6 million juvenile Chinook salmon, 500,000 juvenile coho salmon, and 800,000 juvenile steelhead trout. Each year the Trinity hatchery releases approximately 2.6 million Chinook salmon in June and 2 million Chinook salmon in October. Each year the Trinity hatchery releases 500,000 coho salmon between March and April.  Each year the Trinity hatchery releases 800,000 steelhead trout in March. Fish are released from the Trinity hatchery into the Trinity River.

The Trinity River provides habitat for wild coho salmon. Wild coho salmon in the Trinity River and its tributaries are part of the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast (“SONCC”) evolutionarily significant unit (“ESU”). SONCC coho are listed as threatened with extinction under the ESA. Critical habitat for the SONCC coho ESU includes all accessible reaches of the Klamath River and the Trinity River and the tributaries to each.

Wild coho salmon have a three-year life cycle divided equally between fresh and salt water. Wild coho salmon spawn in their natal streams between mid autumn and early winter. However, in times of water shortage, wild coho salmon will wait to enter fresh water, sometimes delaying spawning until the early spring. Wild coho salmon typically construct redds in the substrate of smaller tributaries to mainstem rivers. Wild coho salmon die after they spawn.


Naturally Spawning Coho Salmon Photo Credit: Andrew Orahoske

Naturally Spawning Coho Salmon
Photo Credit: Andrew Orahoske

Juvenile wild coho salmon emerge as fry from redds in the late winter and spring, and move to relatively slow waters to rear. Juvenile wild coho salmon typically remain in fresh water for one year. Some juvenile wild coho salmon remain close to their natal sites, while others disperse throughout the watershed. Juvenile wild coho salmon undergo smoltification during their second spring season, approximately 18-19 months after egg fertilization, and outmigrate to the ocean.

Outmigration typically occurs between the beginning of March and the end of May, although timing patterns can vary year-to-year depending on environmental factors. Juvenile wild coho salmon do not migrate downstream continuously, but rather continue to forage and hold as they travel. After 16-17 months in the ocean, adult wild coho salmon return to their natal streams to spawn.

Historically, wild coho salmon were widely-distributed throughout the Trinity River system.  The Lewiston Dam blocks upstream fish passage to 109 miles of historical spawning habitat. This mileage is approximately fifty percent of historic spawning habitat. In the remainder of the Trinity River basin, wild coho salmon populations have declined to a small fraction of historic levels.  Currently, approximately fifteen percent of coho that return to the Trinity River are of wild origin.

California Fish and Wildlife collects wild coho salmon from the Trinity River to use as broodstock in the Trinity hatchery. California Fish and Wildlife collects broodstock using a fish ladder leading to a gathering tank located at the base of the Lewiston Dam. The Trinity hatchery collects a minimum of 500 adult female coho salmon and 500 adult male coho salmon for broodstock, about twenty percent of which are of wild origin. California Fish and Wildlife does not have a permit or authorization from NMFS to collect wild coho salmon. BOR does not have a permit or authorization from NMFS to finance the collection of wild coho salmon.

California Fish and Wildlife releases juvenile hatchery coho salmon from the Trinity hatchery into the Trinity River. All hatchery fish are fin-clipped for identification. Hatchery coho salmon harm wild coho salmon when the two populations interbreed. Hatchery coho salmon alter the genetic composition, phenotypic traits, and behavior of wild coho salmon. Genetic introgression—the transfer of genetics from stray hatchery fish to wild populations—lowers the fitness and genetic variability of wild coho salmon populations, decreasing productivity and abundance.  The release of hatchery-raised Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout have harmful ecological effects on wild coho salmon and their habitat. Hatchery fish prey on wild coho salmon.  Hatchery fish introduce and transmit diseased to wild coho salmon. Hatchery fish compete with wild coho salmon for food and spawning and rearing habitat. These ecological effects decrease the fitness and abundance of listed wild coho salmon.

EPIC Takes on Fish Hatcheries that are Harmful to Wild Salmon


Fertilized Egg Trays
Photo Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorize federal funding to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to operate fish hatcheries on the Mad River, Trinity River, Klamath River and numerous other rivers in California.  In addition, a private hatchery operates on the Smith River, which is also funded by the State of California.  Annually, these hatcheries produce millions of fish that are released into the wild.  If not properly operated, hatcheries can cause harm to wild fish.  Recent studies find that hatchery fish that stray and mix with wild populations reduce the overall fitness of wild fish through genetic hybridization and domestication.  In addition, hatchery fish directly compete with and depredate wild fish.  All of this can add up to serious threats posed by hatchery operations that add to other stressors like water pollution, habitat destruction, dewatering, and the impacts of climate change.

Recently, the California Fish Hatchery Review Project completed a comprehensive statewide review of fish hatcheries and found major problems in current operations throughout the state of California.  The leading scientific experts in this project recommended many important changes.  Unfortunately, these changes are coming slowly or not at all.

EPIC’s advocacy efforts for restoring wild fish populations includes many years of work defending forests and headwaters that provide clean water and valuable habitat for wild fish.  Now, EPIC is undertaking a new initiative to reform fish hatcheries that have operated for too long without proper oversight.  EPIC demands that state and federal agencies incorporate the best available science into updated management plans for all fish hatcheries, and to specifically develop Hatchery Genetic Management Plans, which has not yet occurred at North Coast hatcheries.  In addition, the operations will have to ensure compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws.

By forcing state and federal agencies to abide by the law, incorporate the best available science, and respond to public concerns, everyone will benefit in the long run.  The consultation process under the federal Endangered Species Act will result in hatchery operations that promote the restoration and genetic viability of wild fish populations.  This will further advance natural recovery of native fish species to their historical abundance and beyond, eventually making fish hatcheries unnecessary and obsolete.

EPIC Vigilance Gets Results

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Pictures from the Department of Fish and Wildlife showed old-growth trees marked with blue paint.   Not only were Northern Spotted Owls in harm’s way, but the structural components of the forest stand are also suitable for the extremely imperiled Marbled Murrelet, a small seabird that only nests in old-growth forests.

Pictures from the Department of Fish and Wildlife showed old-growth trees marked with blue paint. Not only were Northern Spotted Owls in harm’s way, but the structural components of the forest stand are also suitable for the extremely imperiled Marbled Murrelet, a small seabird that only nests in old-growth forests.

A productive pair of Northern Spotted Owls living in the Mad River watershed can rest a little easier—for now anyway.  The withdrawal of the “Nacho Libre” Timber Harvest Plan comes on the heels of another recent victory for owls and murrelets after Sierra Pacific Industries withdrew the “Hiker’s Parade” THP in the Redwood Creek watershed.

Green Diamond Resource Company and Sierra Pacific Industries plotted, joined forces and filed the “Nacho Libre” timber harvest plan (THP) in late 2012, a cynical attempt at humor that fell flat in the face of ecological reality and clear legal precedent.  The plan proposed to target old-growth trees for removal and to directly harm a breeding pair of Northern Spotted Owls by destroying important habitat within their immediate nesting territory.  EPIC sounded the alarm over the “Nacho Libre” THP earlier this year and mobilized available resources to contest the plan.

EPIC formally notified GDRC and SPI of our intent to sue the the CEOs and their corporations for violations of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  EPIC charged that the proposed plan would cause illegal “take” of Northern Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelets in violation of the ESA and demanded the plan be withdrawn.

EPIC Conservation Director, Andrew Orahoske, observed: “the display of ecological arrogance by two behemoth logging companies is not that surprising, despite many attempts at greenwashing harmful business practices.  In fact, many old-growth trees in the Redwood Coast region are still threatened with destruction by these big companies.”

Caught in the act, GDRC and SPI officially withdrew the “Nacho Libre” THP. EPIC’s continued vigilance in monitoring and commenting on industrial timber operations is absolutely essential to upholding the law and recovering endangered species.

Please donate generously to support more EPIC vigilance that gets results.

nacho 3



EPIC Annual Report 2012

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

2012ARIt is with great appreciation and satisfaction that we share with our extended family of supporters the 2012 EPIC Annual Report.  This past year has been an amazing year in the history of EPIC!  We have increased momentum that has resulted in a series of concrete advances for defending our Wild California.

2012 was very significant for EPIC in that we have confirmed the existence of an exuberant, dedicated, and growing membership and donor base that is willing to invest in innovative legal advocacy for the Northwest California environment.  Since the founding of the organization 35 years ago, EPIC has been a power packed organization with broad community support that gets results disproportionate to our size and resources.

Click here to download the 2012 Annual Report

Suit Filed Against Destructive Caltrans Highway-widening Project in Remote Del Norte County

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Smith River NRA

Smith River National Recreation Area
Photo Credit: Amber Shelton

Caltrans Oblivious to Public-safety Concerns, Rare Ecological Values Along Scenic Smith River Canyon

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging a California Department of Transportation highway-widening project that threatens ancient redwoods, endangered salmon runs and public safety along the wild and scenic Smith River Canyon in remote Del Norte County. Caltrans approved a project to widen existing narrow sections of highways 197 and 199 to provide access for oversized trucks, without adequate environmental review of the impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“For more than five years our organization has been identifying water quality and safety issues with this ill conceived project,” said Don Gillespie of the local conservation organization Friends of Del Norte, “but our comments have fallen on deaf ears. It is really a sign of Caltrans intransigence that public interest organizations have to resort to the courts to protect motorist safety and our treasured Smith River.”

Friends of Del Norte, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) filed suit in state court challenging the $26 million “197/199 Safe STAA Access Project.” The project would increase unsafe heavy and oversized truck use on narrow roadways along the designated “wild and scenic” Smith River Canyon, increasing the likelihood of deadly accidents and toxic spills, especially in dangerous winter conditions. The project would harm old-growth trees and habitat for protected salmon runs and hurt tourism and local residents.

“The North Coast has been under assault by massive Caltrans projects that the agency refuses to examine for their cumulative impacts on local communities and sensitive environments,” said Gary Graham Hughes, executive director of EPIC. “For Caltrans to barge ahead with this huge project on the precious Smith River after the explosion of controversy around the Willits Bypass project in Mendocino County shows that the agency is completely oblivious to concerns of North Coast residents.”

“Another bad idea by Caltrans, trying to jam an unnecessarily wide highway into a narrow canyon despite the impacts,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Public distrust of Caltrans is at an all-time high with revelations of Caltrans quality-control issues on the new Bay Bridge, conflict over the massive Willits Bypass project, the need for court and federal intervention to resolve Caltrans problems with the Niles Canyon project, and the agency’s proposal to needlessly vandalize the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park.”

Caltrans seeks to widen highways 197 and 199 at seven different locations, including major realignment and reconstruction of a bridge at one of the most sensitive sites along the pristine Smith River. Under the California Environmental Quality Act, all the environmental impacts of a project must be publicly disclosed and evaluated, reasonable alternatives with less damaging impacts must be considered, and mitigation measures must be developed to minimize environmental harm.

Caltrans has failed to take into account threats to salmon habitat and water quality along the Smith River, as well as increased safety hazards, and avoided looking at the cumulative impacts of numerous associated Caltrans highway-widening projects in Northern California for oversized truck access. Caltrans refused to consider alternatives besides highway widening, adopted unsubstantiated findings about impacts and mitigation measures, and failed to develop a monitoring program to ensure mitigation measures are actually followed.


Route 199 is a scenic byway along the Smith River canyon, through the Six Rivers National Forest and the Smith River National Recreation Area. It provides access to Redwood National and State Parks, one of only two UNESCO World Heritage sites in California. Route 197 is a country road that parallels the lower Smith River, the only undammed river in California, with the longest stretch of designated “wild and scenic” river in the lower 48.

The project was first announced to the public in 2008. Conservation groups have been fighting misguided Caltrans attempts to widen Highway 101 through ancient redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park for oversized trucks. A lawsuit challenging that project resulted in a federal court sending Caltrans back to the drawing board for basing its project design on “faulty data.” Despite efforts by Caltrans to keep the Smith River project out of public scrutiny, hundreds of letters outlining concerns about impacts of the project on rare ecological resources and highway safety have been submitted.

A Caltrans internal report prepared in 1989 acknowledged the physical constraints of the narrow, steep and rocky Smith River Canyon and concluded that environmental concerns make Highway 199 “a poor candidate for extensive upgrading.” There will be significant threats to motorist and bicyclist safety if oversized trucks are routed to these roadways during winter, when Interstate 5 can be closed by snow and ice. These roadways already have a history of truck accidents. Caltrans is not even proposing operational modifications at the sites of two major recent truck accidents on Highway 199, revealing the inadequacy of the project for addressing motorist safety concerns.

The conservation groups are represented in this legal action by private attorneys Stuart Gross and Sharon Duggan, and the nationally recognized firm of Cotchett, Pitre, and McCarthy.

For more information contact:  Gary Graham Hughes, EPIC, (707) 822-7711

Click Here for Official Press Release: Suit Filed Against Destructive Caltrans Highway-widening Project in Remote Del Norte County

Click here to view the Petition for Writ of Mandate and Injunctive Relief

To learn more visit our webpage:  Wild and Scenic Smith River, the 197/199 Project




Highway 199 Along the Smith River
Photo Credit: Amber Shelton

EPIC Supports the Creation of Publicly-Owned Forests in the Redwoods

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

community forestThe vast majority of the Redwood Temperate Rainforest is in private hands. Some of those lands are managed better than others, but ultimately the general public has very little input over the restoration and recovery of California’s great Redwood forests. National and state parks cover a significantly smaller area than private lands in the Redwoods and opportunities for restoration are limited. Every once in a while the public has the opportunity to acquire more forested lands, but rarely does this occur in productive Redwood forests. EPIC is proud to support two recent initiatives that will hopefully result in the creation of two new publicly-owned Redwood forests in Humboldt County.

First, EPIC recently sent a letter to the California Wildlife Conservation Board in support of a grant for the Humboldt State University Forest/Arcata Jacoby Creek Forest Expansion. This project proposes to transfer 10 parcels totaling 978 acres from Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc. to the City of Arcata and Humboldt State University. The tremendous success of the City of Arcata’s community forests and parks in offering recreational opportunities and leading the way in restoration forestry methods is well recognized. This exciting new public forest will be contiguous to existing public lands managed by the City of Arcata and will further solidify protections for the headwaters of Jacoby Creek, a critical watershed for Coho Salmon, Pacific Fisher and Northern Spotted Owl.

Second, EPIC recently attended a meeting with a large number of community members to express support for the creation of a new community forest outside of Eureka, CA in an area locally known as the McKay Tract. The County of Humboldt is beginning a public process that will hopefully result in a strong community supported management plan. The County is maintaining a webpage for posting public documents and is encouraging input from community members. EPIC will be engaged in this process to ensure that the lands to be acquired will be managed in a respectful way, moving the industrial timberlands to a more structurally complex and older forest over time, while providing critical open space for nearby residents.Proposed-HSU-JCF-Expansion-3dviewshed

CAL FIRE and Water Board to Approve Green Diamond Clearcuts in Elk River

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

GDclearcut2The California Department of Forestry (CALFIRE) has recently indicated that it will move to approve Green Diamond’s plans to conduct damaging clearcut logging in the heavily impaired Elk River watershed.  Timber Harvest Plan 1-12-113HUM “McCloud Creek East #5” was recommended for approval at the local level on Thursday May 2nd.

Unlike other land managers in the Elk River watershed, Green Diamond continues to propose intensive clearcutting, road construction, and potentially the use of toxic chemical herbicides.  Clearcut logging as proposed will result in decreased canopy interception and transevaporation, resulting in increased water production and sediment transport to a watershed already suffering from intensive sediment impairment.  Please refer to our December 18th blog post for greater detail about the plight of Elk River and the destructive details of Green Diamond’s new McCloud Creek Timber Harvest Plan.

The recommended approval of the “McCloud Creek East #5” THP comes as a result of the near complete capitulation of the Regional Water Quality Control Board to Green Diamond’s contentions that the Company’s Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and property-wide waste discharge requirement waiver agreement will ensure that no adverse impacts occur as a result of the proposed logging.  The Regional Board’s staff had requested that Green Diamond provide quantitative data to address how the harvest plan will avoid contributing to the ongoing significant adverse and cumulative watershed effects in the Elk River watershed.  Green Diamond failed to provide any data, and instead simply provided a narrative argument describing how its HCP and WDR order would avoid significant impacts to beneficial uses of water and water quality.

The recommended approval also comes in light of the impending release of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) document by the Regional Water Board.  A TMDL is required by the federal Clean Water Act when water quality and beneficial uses of water are impaired due to some anthropogenic cause.  In the Elk River, excessive sediment generated as part of intensive timber harvest and other timber management activities has resulted in significant impairment and has lead to substantial increases in nuisance flooding of downstream residents’ property.

Once again, the State of California and its regulators are found to be complicit to the likelihood that the “McCloud Creek East #5” THP will add to the already impaired conditions of Elk River, and will likely continue to impede the slow recovery of the system.

EPIC will continue to challenge this damaging THP and others like it, and will continue to advocate for restoration and recovery in the Elk River watershed.

EPIC and Humboldt Baykeeper Comment Letter


Action Alert: Protect Trinity Alps Wilderness from Damaging Livestock Grazing

Monday, May 6th, 2013

grazing 4Take Action:  The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to re-authorize commercial livestock grazing on over 33,453 acres of the Six Rivers National Forest, mostly within the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area.  The grazing allotments are located east of the Hoopa Valley within the headwaters of Mill, Tish Tang and Horse Linto Creeks.  These Trinity River tributaries are designated as “Key Watersheds” meaning they are critical for salmon recovery.  This sensitive area contains wet meadows, lakes and streams that have been degraded, trampled and compacted by grazing for decades. 

The Trinity Summit Range Assessment includes an amendment to the Six Rivers forest plan that adds 225 acres to the grazing allotments at Water Dog Lakes within the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area.  In fact, over two-thirds of the allotments are within the wilderness.  The remaining portion is within Late Successional Reserves, which must be managed to maintain and restore old-growth forests and species that depend on older forests for survival.  

Monitoring by the U.S. Forest Service shows a long history of unsatisfactory and degraded conditions in the Trinity Summit Allotments.  In order to facilitate the continuation of damaging livestock grazing, the U.S. Forest Service is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement, an admission that the proposed reauthorization is expected to have significant impacts on this critical area. 

Science illustrates grazing has a long list of deleterious impacts on the landscape:

  • Competition with native species such as elk and deer for forage
  • Degradation of aquatic ecosystems negatively affecting water quality and harming salmon, frogs and salamanders
  • Damage and elimination of native plants and grasses
  • Soil erosion and compaction
  • Spread of E. coli bacteria
  • Spread of invasive and noxious weeds
  • Harm to rare bird species, such as Willow Flycatcher, that nest in riparian willow stands
  • Negative affects to recreational and wilderness values.

The Six Rivers National Forest contains over 250,000 acres that are available for grazing, which is no small amount of our public lands.  It is clear that stricter management as well as limiting and retiring some of these allotments, would benefit a multitude of public resources, such as clean water necessary for recovering salmon populations and wilderness values cherished by many recreationists in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. 

Please act now to protect the Trinity Alps Wilderness.

Click here to submit comments to protect salmon and the Trinity Alps Wilderness.


Take Action: Wolves in the Lower 48 Need Your Help

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

In the next 2-3 months, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across nearly the entire lower-48 states. This would be disastrous for gray wolf recovery in the United States.

Help convince the Obama administration to not prematurely delist the gray wolf across the U.S.!

The recovery of gray wolves is an American success story, from their reintroduction in the northern Rocky Mountains to their comeback in the western Great Lakes states. But there are few, if any, gray wolves in the vast majority of their former range. If the Fish and Wildlife Service removes federal protections, wolves in the Pacific Northwest, California, the southern Rocky Mountains, and the Northeast will face even more difficult odds than they do already.

In 2011, Congress stripped federal protections for gray wolves in most of the northern Rockies. The brutal assault on wolves that commenced in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho highlights the increasingly hostile anti-wolf policies of states now charged with ensuring the survival of gray wolf populations.

  • Idaho, Wyoming and Montana Total Reported Killed This Season: 622
  • Idaho, Wyoming and Montana Total Reported Killed Since Delisting: 1,170

Maintaining federal protections for wolves across the lower-48 states is important for preserving already limited opportunities for wolves to recover in additional parts of the United States.

Take action now to press for continued federal protections for wolves across the lower-48 states.


California’s famous lone wolf, OR-7—also known as “Journey,” has spent the past six weeks traveling in Oregon before doubling back and returning briefly to California, where he flirted with Interstate 5 near Yreka, California for the first time.

Each time he enters California OR-7 reclaims his stature as the only known gray wolf since 1924.
Without federal protections, and no certainty of state protections, Journey may have a target on his back! In 2012, EPIC joined with several conservation allies in petitioning to add the gray wolf to the list of protected species under the California Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Game Commission voted to move forward with a full status review for the Gray Wolf under CESA, to determine whether to protect the species.