Archive for October, 2013

Recent EPIC Advocacy Success Adds Spice to Annual Fall Celebration

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Coup Poster no textThis coming Friday, November 1, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) is throwing it’s 36th birthday party with the annual EPIC Fall Celebration at the Mateel Community Center, in Redway, California. This is going to be a lively North Coast and harvest spiced community gathering that no one will want to miss. The EPIC Fall Celebration is one of the cornerstone fundraising and community outreach events for EPIC, and it is always a fun and engaging way to see friends and get to know the EPIC staff and board. The doors of the Mateel Hall will open at 6 PM for cocktails and snacks. A scrumptious Día de los Muertos style dinner will be served starting at 6:30 PM, followed by the evening program featuring the Sempervirens lifetime achievement award starting at 7:30 PM. At 9 PM a fantastic contemporary music line up will take the stage, starting with dub and reggae acts New Kingston and Indubious, followed by the acclaimed conscious hip-hop group The Coup.

This upbeat gathering to celebrate and support EPIC public interest conservation advocacy has become an annual tradition of festive proportions, and this year there is a particular excitement surrounding the celebration due to the massive public support for EPIC work to protect Richardson Grove State Park from the insatiable highway development agenda of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). In late September 2013, more than 16 months since the federal court in San Francisco had found Caltrans to be “arbitrary and capricious” in their use of “faulty data,” Caltrans came forth with the release of new documentation for the Richardson Grove project in the form of a “Supplement to the Final Environmental Assessment.” The release of this documentation required an agile and speedy response from the broad community of North Coast residents and California conservation advocates that have questioned the purpose, need, and design of the highway widening project that Caltrans is proposing for Richardson Grove. Within weeks EPIC and partners, including our invaluable ally the Center for Biological Diversity, were able to decipher and break down the new project documentation, and prepare a succinct action alert that was circulated broadly by email and social media and that facilitated the submission of comments by nearly 10,000 people from around the state, the country, and the world. The message from this incredible movement of active citizens is that Caltrans either drop the Richardson Grove project altogether, or do a proper analysis of the impacts of the project, including a robust examination of potential alternatives, in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The completion of an EIS for the project was implicitly suggested by the judge in the April 2012 court order that sent Caltrans back to the drawing board for the Richardson Grove project. Unfortunately the agency chose to ignore the court order and provided legally questionable and technically deficient documentation that will only lengthen the stalemate around the project and postpone the identification and design of comprehensive and community supported solutions for transportation planning, goods movement, and State Park protections. One of the triggers for an agency needing to complete an EIS is that a project generate a significant level of controversy. Clearly, the response of many thousands of people voicing opposition to the project, as well as a clear federal court order remanding the project to the agency for review “under a corrected lens of analysis” is an undeniable indication that this is a controversial project. It is obvious at this level that Caltrans must do a full EIS.

“The tremendous response of online activists, local community members, and statewide residents to our call to action to ‘Rein in Caltrans’ has been very exciting and inspirational,” said EPIC executive director Gary Graham Hughes. “Getting everyone together at our Fall Celebration this Friday will be a wonderful opportunity for like minded folks to relish this phenomenal level of citizen participation in efforts to promote a healthy human relationship with our landscapes here on the North Coast,” continued Hughes.

Whether it be working to eliminate the toxic damage from egregious cannabis agriculture operations, challenging the ongoing logging of the remaining old wild forest in our bioregion, or reforming the outdated and archaic Caltrans vision of perpetual development in an age of rapidly evident global climate change, EPIC is there as the guardian of your wild backyard. Joining the fun at the EPIC Fall Celebration is great way to support grassroots public interest advocacy in Northwest California, and a wonderful way to party with your friends and the team at EPIC. Come on out on Friday, November 1, to the Mateel Community Center and be part of the EPIC 2013 Fall Celebration.

36th Anniversary Fall Celebration

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

EPIC fall2013 final4 RGBJoin us for our 36th Anniversary Fall Celebration Friday November 1st at the Mateel Community Center in Redway!

*Featuring music by Bay Area political hip-hop group The Coup with special guest performances by reggae revolutionaries: New Kingston and Indubious.

*With “Supper of the Souls: A Dia de los Muertos-Inspired Menu” created and served by Tryphena Lewis, including specialty cocktails, fine regional wines and beers and after-dinner drinks.

*Silent auction offering original art, getaways, gift baskets & more!

Purchase your tickets here to be part of the festivities. Tickets are $50 adults /children under 12 free, and include dinner, award presentation and concert.  (Please Note: There is limited seating capacity for dinner. Dinner will be served promptly between 7:00-8:00pm and is expected to sell out. Please purchase tickets in advance to ensure your place at the table).

Purchase your tickets here for an amazing show and dance celebration! Tickets are $25 for the concert. Doors open to the general public at 8:30pm.

Hard-copy tickets are available at the EPIC Office (145 G Street Arcata).

If you are unable to attend please consider a tax-deductible donation to EPIC.

The Coup

CoupGreenWeb The Coup is a musically and politically insurgent band long ranked as the Bay Area’s best hip-hop group. Fronted by celebrated vocalist-writer and activist Boots Riley and backed by a cadre of talented musicians and collaborators.

The group first exploded on to the scene in 1993 with a beautifully subversive blast of hip-hop utilizing Riley’s gifted wordplay to address topics ranging from racism, police brutality and class warfare. Called one of their “10 most influential people” by Vibe Magazine, Riley has collaborated over the years with Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), New Orleans band Galactic, Atari Teenage Riot and more.

Since The Coup’s formation, they have released five visionary and incendiary albums, each forging a different and equally inventive sound. The constants throughout being Riley’s shrewd social observations and the group’s relentless sonic energy exemplified in studio and on stage by the strutting electrifying hip hop influenced Tina Turner like stylings of long time singer Silk-E.

“Every Coup album sounds different from the previous one,” Riley explains.  “We don’t fit into any one genre but if you’re open to aggressive and danceable music that sounds hopeful, then you’ll be into what we do.”


Rising up out out of the fertile soil of Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, the group of Intergalatic Reggae Revolutionaries known as Indubious come to spread high vibes through their earth-shattering sound. Described as an eclectic mix of reggae, dance hall and new roots reggae, visionary lyrical messages and wordplay, 2 and 3 part harmonies, and electro funk fusion jams, Indubious creates a sound destined to change the face of music. Leaving audiences stunned and downright amazed, this genre-bending reggae power trio comes pumping a positive message, and wielding impressive instrumental skill. Their infectious reggae driven sound has exploded both national and international markets, leaving in the wake the makings of a conscious revolution.

They have adopted the unofficial motto of “Live Indubiously,” meaning living life without doubt and fear and a full respect for all things, good and bad. “Our mission is to reconnect the people of the world with rightful living, rightful speaking through teaching the everlasting blessings of service to humanity, of service to our higher purpose and higher selves. Our gift is music – and through our music we wish to speak the truth in an effort to inspire others to do the same, to change the vibration of our planet and help others express the true loving nature within us all.”

New KingstonNew Kingston

Hailing from Brooklyn New York, three brothers led by their father Courtney Panton Sr, who also plays bass on stage with the group call themselves “NEW KINGSTON.” Together they incorporate R&B, Hip-Hop and Jazz with their heritage genre Reggae to form their sound. They have released: two full-length albums, In The Streets (2010) featuring Collie Buddz, & Mr. Vegas and Kingston University (2012) featuring J. Boog
Fall of 2013 will see New Kingston cross the United States yet again on their first major solo tour. Joining the band on their “Madd Tour 2013,” will be Indubious, Thrive, & Spread The Dub on select dates. Also they will be supporting Soja, Easy Star All-Stars & John Brown’s Body on select dates. The tour starts in Austin, TX heads west then back east and ends in Washington D.C.
Formed in 2006 in the basement of their Brooklyn home before they took to the outside world, brothers Tahir (keys), Courtney Jr. (drums) & Stephen (guitar) jammed over and over to Bob Marley, Earth Wind & Fire, Dennis Brown, Michael Jackson, The Whispers and many more until it sounded right to Courtney Panton Sr. He wanted their vocabulary of music to be very eclectic before they hit a stage! “If you ask New Kingston if we still know all those songs, the answer is yes lol” says drummer Courtney Jr. “But they were all favorites that we loved and forever listened to”
Afterwards, they have performed to other basements and backyards around town to clubs to Festivals worldwide such as; California Roots Festival, Monterey Bay Reggae Festival, Reggae On The River, Summer Jam Germany, Uppsala Reggae Festival and many more…. Starting a heavy touring cycle supporting Reggae stars such as Collie Buddz, The Green, Soja, Beres Hammond and much more… “Only thing left to come is more touring and more music” says keyboardist Tahir
New Kingston promotes through their music and their live show Family, Love and Harmony. “One Love” from NK

Click here to become a member of EPIC today! By sending a minimum annual membership of $35 to EPIC you’ll help to ensure that the ecosystems of Northwest California receive the protection they deserve.

Over the last 35 years, the Environmental Protection Information CenterEPIC has diligently worked on behalf of the wildlife and wild places of Northwest California. These efforts have led to the permanent protection and restoration of thousands of acres of ancient forests, and strengthened the interpretation and enforcement of environmental laws and protections throughout the state and nation.

Aerial Tour of Summer 2013 Fires

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Aerial Tour of Summer 2013 Fires

In September, as Public Land Advocate for EPIC, I was provided the opportunity to do an aerial tour of this summer’s wildfires.  As with most fires in Northern California, a majority of the fire areas burned at low and moderate severity.  Over 50 miles of bulldozer lines were constructed and estimated costs for suppression efforts reached up to one million dollars per day.  EPIC advocates for appropriate land management in order to restore fire on the landscape and to protect communities rather than continuing the expensive chaotic military style of fire suppression.

There are always lessons to learn after an active fire season.  This year, local river communities and tribes worked closely with fire and Forest Service personnel, unlike years past.  These small changes over time may one day find us well-prepared and ready to welcome fire.  (All photos courtesy of Kimberly Baker, unless otherwise noted.)

Salmon River Complex


Salmon River Panoramic: Butler Fire on left, Forks Fire on right – photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin


The human caused Butler Fire on the main stem Salmon River reached over 22,000 acres and burned for nearly two months.  The estimated cost for suppression was $36,000,000.  Approximately 27 miles of bulldozer lines and approximately 10 miles of hand fire lines were constructed.


Surrounding Butler Flat – Photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin


Overview of mosaic burn patterns

Overview of mosaic burn patterns


Fire line near Orleans Mt. summit - Photo courtesy of Kimberly Baker

Fire line near Orleans Mt. summit



Fire line Somes Mt. summit



Extensive 5 mile bulldozer line on Hotelling Ridge


Forks (North Fork)

The human caused North Fork Salmon River Fire reached nearly 15,000 acres.  It burned for the month of August with suppression costs of $23,000,000.  Over 8 miles of hand fire lines were constructed as well as over 5 miles of bulldozer lines. Overall, a vast majority, 10,658 acres of the fire burned at low severity, 3,250 at moderate and 802 acres burned at high severity.


Complete overview North Fork Fire – Photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin


Downstream Forks Fire - Photo courtesy of Kimberly Baker

Downstream Forks Fire


Fire line burnout - Photo Courtesy of Kimberly Baker

Fire line burnout


 Dance Fire

The Dance Fire in the town of Orleans reached 650 acres and burned for nearly a week.  Tragically a home belonging to a Karuk elder was completely lost.


Dance Fire



The naturally ignited Corral Fire outside the Hoopa Valley and Willow Creek burned entirely within the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  The fire reached over 12,000 acres and burned for nearly two months. Approximately 21 miles of bulldozer line was constructed and approximately 18 miles of hand fire line was constructed.

Trinity Alps Wilderness

Corral Fire in Trinity Alps Wilderness


Corral fire with Megram Fire of 1999 in background

Corral Fire with Megram Fire of 1999 in background



Mosaic burn patterns


Mosaic burn patterns

Mosaic burn patterns


Corral Fire lines

Corral Fire lines


Bulldozed fire line

Bulldozed fire line

The Dance, Butler and Salmon Fires were all intentionally set. There is a $20 000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for starting the Salmon River Complex and Butler Fires. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Arson Tip Line at 1-800-842-4408.

Forest Stewardship Council Audits Green Diamond’s Certification

Monday, October 14th, 2013

IMG_1583The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) audit team (Scientific Certification Systems – SCS Global Services (SCS)) was back in Humboldt County recently conducting its first annual surveillance audit of Green Diamond Resource Company’s (GDRCO) certification award.

GDRCO was certified as a FSC ‘sustainable’ timber operation in 2013, despite overwhelming community outcry and grave concerns over how the Company conducts business.  SCS and FSC have argued that GDRCO meets or exceeds certification standards, leaving substantial questions about the integrity of the audit process and concerns about the integrity of the FSC certification scheme itself.

Since receiving FSC certification in early 2013, GDRCO has continued to engage in practices that confound logic and would seem prima facia, to violate the intent of the FSC standards. At the heart of the conflict is that GDRCO continues to practice intensive evenaged management (i.e. clearcutting), while maintaining the bare minimum of trees required by FSC’s certification standards.  What’s more, GDRCO is concentrating its tree retention in areas such as watercourse buffers and unstable areas that are largely off limits as a result of its Aquatics Habitat Conservation Plan (AHCP).  Thus, GDRCO has changed little, if anything, in the way of its silvicultural and business practices in response to acquiring certification by FSC.

In addition to this, shortly after receiving FSC certification, GDRCO jointly filed a Timber Harvest Plan (THP) with Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), California’s largest private industrial forestland owners and one of California’s worst timber industry actors. The “Nacho Libre” THP proposed clearcutting of old growth within a known Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) nesting area.  Shortly after the plan was filed, EPIC filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue GDRCO and SPI alleging that “take” of Northern Spotted Owls would occur if the plan were to be clearcut as proposed. GDRCO immediately withdrew the THP, but reserved the right to re-file the plan if it could determine that the operations proposed were consistent with its newly acquired FSC certification.

There are lingering social concerns about the impacts of GDRCO practices as well. Shortly after receiving FSC certification last February, GDRCO held a public meeting to announce the certification, and to hear the concerns of the greater community about its management practices.  The February 2013 meeting amounted to little more than a ‘dog ‘n’ pony’ show, with GDRCO failing to follow up with any community members, and failing to change any of its practices in response to feedback received from the community.  Indeed, the fact that GDRCO has filed plans to clearcut in the heavily impaired Elk River watershed, as well as adjacent to the immensely popular hiking spot at Strawberry Rock, despite outcry from local residents and the larger community, exposes the truly hollow nature of GDRO’s commitment to achieving a socially sustainable operation.

Finally, very serious economic concerns remain outstanding.  GDRCO continues to manage on short, intensive, evenaged rotations that fundamentally undercut the value of redwood forest products in markets nationally and internationally.   Furthermore, GDRCO continues to extract a great deal of wealth from Humboldt County that is hence funneled to corporate offices in Seattle rather than put back into the company or the local community.

EPIC submitted comments to SCS on September 30th 2013 raising these and other points, while reiterating our concerns that FSC’s indicators, standards, and overall audit process have been greatly devalued by the certification of GDRCO.  In sum, FSC standards allowing for evenaged management in the Pacific Northwest under certain conditions has opened the door for certification of GDRCO, and leaves substantial questions about what can truly be considered ‘sustainable’ in the context of industrial forestry operations.

EPIC will continue to monitor GDRCO and participate in the audit processes as they occur annually, as well as developing more integrated strategies for engaging with the FSC governance processes to bring our concerns to light and to have greater influence over the design of FSC standards and guidelines. EPIC maintains the position that clearcutting has no place in the redwoods, and that certification of such practices leaves a substantial stain on the FSC label.

Wildlands Civics as an Expression of the EPIC Mission

Sunday, October 13th, 2013
Caribou Fire Salvage Sale: these four foot snags were saved by EPIC.

Caribou Fire Salvage Sale: these four foot snags were saved by EPIC.

A recurring theme in all of the work that EPIC develops, to advance protections for the web of life in Northwest California, is the concept of environmental democracy. Whether it be advocating for an increased inclusion of stewardship land ethics in natural resource based economic sectors in our bioregion, challenging state agencies to do adequate review of the major infrastructure projects that are proposed in sensitive landscapes, or leveraging the online activism of our supporters to secure conservation oriented management regimes on our public lands, EPIC strives to be a conduit for meaningful public participation by our community on the issues that can have an impact on our rural lives. Environmental democracy is one way to describe the involvement of the citizenry in these crucial processes around natural resource exploitation on the North Coast—our team at EPIC also refers to our authentic grassroots activism as an expression of “Wildlands Civics.”

The idea of Wildlands Civics is captured in the mission statement of EPIC. Ancient forests, watersheds, endangered species; these elements of the biosphere are all included in our mission. EPIC has a far-reaching objective to protect natural and human communities on the North Coast of California. To understand how the concept of Wildlands Civics influences the development of EPIC advocacy strategies it can help to look further at the mission of EPIC: EPIC uses an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.

Breaking these elements down further illuminates how the active participation of EPIC and our base of supporters in a multitude of public decision-making processes is in its purest form a practice of civics with the overarching intent of protecting the wildlands that provide habitat for wildlife and essential environmental services for human kind—hence, Wildlands Civics.

Public Education

Any effort to mobilize and galvanize the public to engage on a particular issue requires a concentrated effort at Public Education. As an example, the Public Lands Program at EPIC has a long-term conservation advocacy vision of Returning a Natural Cycle of Fire to Our Landscapes. Clearly, the best contemporary science shows that fire plays an essential role in the maintenance of a healthy forested landscape, yet there are major impediments to achieving a reestablishment of natural patterns of wild fire disturbance regimes across Northwest California. As our organization engaged with land managers and stakeholders on this issue we knew immediately that informing California residents about the benefits of wildfire would take some degree of Public Education to ensure that our goals regarding fire would be understood, and to get people involved in a proactive manner with the issue. The evolution in the policy discourse around wildfire is resulting in an increased understanding by the public that fire is as natural, though less frequent, than rain in our diverse North Coast forests. This is an encouraging sigh that our public education efforts at EPIC are contributing in a positive way to a broad movement of diverse stakeholders that aspires to change the way our society perceives our relationship to the land and the natural processes that provide for ecological resilience and the maintenance of biodiversity.

Citizen Advocacy

EPIC was formed in 1977, and technology has changed a great deal since the founding of the organization. This change in technology has spurned an increase in the ability of public interest advocacy organizations like EPIC to provide a means to gain standing in a public process, and to provide comments to address shortcomings and inadequacies in project design and environmental review. A substantial amount of EPIC’s practice of Wildlands Civics is built around proven methodologies of forest watch and agency monitoring, in which systematic attention is paid to the process by which projects are announced and how documentation concerning economic activities is presented to the public. Wildlands Civics is in this way predicated on the tactics of an environmental watchdog group, and the mobilization of a concerned constituency of local, state, and national residents who stand behind our organization’s policy positions provides EPIC the leverage to be an effective guardian of your wild backyard. Another important aspect of Citizen Advocacy is that some of the most severe threats to landscape integrity in our bioregion, such as egregious cannabis agriculture operations, are still outside of the purview of regulating agencies. By getting the public involved on complex and unorthodox issues we can create a vocabulary that describes the standards of sustainability that our landscapes require of us, and through Citizen Advocacy EPIC can participate in the community drive to find workable solutions to complex challenges.

Strategic Litigation

Even as global alarm bells are ringing with an increasing urgency, many environmentally harmful projects and economically unsustainable natural resource exploitation schemes are approved by government agencies across our region. In some instances, well thought out and strategic litigation is necessary to protect public trust resources and the rights of the citizenry to have influence over how our tax dollars are spent. A citizens organization only has the right to litigate after having established standing through early participation in a decision making process. Public interest litigation is an action of last recourse, when the concerns of the public have been disregarded after a long process, and is enshrined in our laws as a justified exercise of our democratic rights. EPIC has a well-earned reputation for cutting edge and strategic litigation that can shape the content of public policy for decades to come. Our organizations successful actions before the courts in order to protect our communities and rare environments is an authentic expression of EPIC’s effective mission and expertise in Wildlands Civics.

Take Action to Protect the Irreplaceable Treasure of Richardson Grove

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Save Richardson Grove DonateClick Here to Take Action Now!

The fate of Richardson Grove State Park is in your hands. Caltrans is now accepting comments on the newly released Supplement to the Environmental Assessment for the Richardson Grove highway-widening project during a 30-day public comment period that will end on October 21, 2013. After a very serious remand from the federal court in April 2012, in which Caltrans was determined to have been “arbitrary and capricious” in their use of “false data,” Caltrans has defied the federal court order and has come back with inadequate documentation for the Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project. Caltrans is now communicating to the public that they will begin construction on the Richardson Grove project in mid-2014. This current public comment period is a critical juncture in the ongoing community supported campaign to stop Caltrans from conducting destructive activities amongst the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove, which were to be protected in perpetuity under the California State Park System. Caltrans continues to downplay and ignore how road construction activities, tree thinning, old-growth root cutting, and long-term impacts of highway expansion will impact the irreplaceable old-growth ecosystem protected in the park.

Now is your chance to speak up for the trees. There is less than 3% of the original ancient redwood temperate rainforest left after more than a century of intense human economic development in the redwood region. Most all of the ancient redwoods that remain are held in isolated pockets of park-protected forests.  We can’t risk losing any of these last redwood giants. Don’t let Caltrans degrade this public trust resource when other viable alternatives are possible. Please take action now to ensure that this sacred and magical place is protected for future generations.

Why it is Important to Stop Caltrans from Destroying the Irreplaceable Public Trust Resource that is Richardson Grove

Richardson Grove is an irreplaceable ecosystem consisting of one of the world’s last remaining stands of old-growth redwoods. The Grove was designated as a heritage park and protected in the California State Park system, and is one of the state’s oldest and most popular state parks. Richardson Grove sits alongside the wild and scenic Eel River, and is a place that is of incredible value to a multitude of people from around the region, the state, the country, and the world. Richardson Grove has irreplaceable spiritual and cultural qualities and is known to contain important Native American archaeological sites. If Caltrans moves forward with the proposed project it will result in significant impacts to the state and federally designated wild and scenic Eel River, to known Native American cultural sites, to an irreplaceable old-growth redwood ecosystem, to habitat that is suitable for old-growth dependent species, and to the experience of visitors to the protected Richardson Grove State Park.

Caltrans should withdraw the Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project as it currently stands, and look to identify viable solutions that can effectively meet the needs and interests of the broad variety of stakeholders on the North Coast of California. If Caltrans does not drop the project, the agency must complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project. The new Supplement to the Environmental Assessment is inadequate, and it does not fulfill the Court’s order to prepare a revised Environmental Assessment or conduct an Environmental Impact Statement. The Tree Decisions Final Report fails to provide adequate analysis for individual trees, and completely fails to assess cumulative effects on the entire old-growth redwood grove that will be affected by the proposed project, as well as the region wide impacts of increased STAA truck traffic. Richardson Grove deserves better, take action now to express your concerns to Caltrans.

Over the past year, community concerns that Caltrans will have no regard for cultural and environmental resources at Richardson Grove have been confirmed by the manner by which the unnecessary and overbuilt Willits Bypass Project has been implemented. The destructive implementation of the Willits Bypass Project is relevant to the discussion, as there is ample evidence that Caltrans does not follow state or federal regulations that are in place to protect cultural or environmental resources. Caltrans installed wick drains and 3 feet of fill in an area that contained an archaeological site sacred to the Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians.  Caltrans was aware of the location of the site, and still destroyed it. Additionally, Caltrans has violated conditions of the wetland fill permit that was issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, and also had a nearly 900,000 cubic yard quarry and fill permit revoked by Mendocino County when irregularities for the fill permit came to light due to legal action by concerned citizens. With these clear and ongoing violations of the law, Caltrans has lost legitimacy in the eyes of thousands of North Coast residents. Caltrans insistence on pushing forward with the Richardson Grove project without doing the analysis required by the April 2012 court order reaffirms the concerns of conservation advocates regarding Caltrans ability and competence to implement projects appropriately in sensitive and rare environments.

Another ongoing concern is that Caltrans has failed to analyze and provide information about how the cumulative effects of the Richardson Grove project, along with the proposed widening of Highway 197/199 along the wild and scenic Smith River and the massive STAA highway-widening project on Hwy 299 at Buckhorn Summit, will impact our communities. An adequate analysis of the STAA access projects proposed and being currently implemented by Caltrans would take the necessary hard look at how highway development will affect not only the irreplaceable old-growth redwood ecosystem within Richardson Grove State Park, but how it could jeopardize the health of the entire redwood region: our safety, our environment, our roads, and our economy will all be impacted by this region wide STAA truck transportation project. Our community deserves an honest, transparent, and open discussion about the impacts of highway development, the costs and the benefits of such infrastructure development, and what viable alternatives are possible that will meet needs for goods movement and transportation, as well as protect the rare and sensitive environments that make Northwest California such a special place. Unfortunately, Caltrans continues to disregard state and federal law regarding transparency and access to information. We demand that the agency be forthcoming with an analysis of these region wide impacts resulting from the implementation of a variety of related STAA projects.

Unless an EIS is completed to analyze the full scope and effects of the proposed project, including an assessment of less environmentally damaging alternatives, this project should not go forward. Richardson Grove State Park is part of an irreplaceable, unique, and fragile ecosystem that is protected under state and federal laws. A federal court has already ruled once against Caltrans for their failure to provide adequate documentation for this project. A project of this nature and magnitude must be carefully analyzed to minimize impacts to this public trust resource. Caltrans needs to be prepared to work with a diverse group of stakeholders on the North Coast who want to work towards cost effective and environmentally sound solutions to our transportation and state park protection challenges.

Take Action Today! Rein in Caltrans! Protect the Irreplaceable Treasure of Richardson Grove!

EPIC Joins 67 Groups to Urge California to Ban Super Toxic Rat Poison

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

poisonOver 11,000 Comments Warn of Risks to Wildlife, Pets and People. 

A Coalition of 67 conservation, environmental justice, public health, worker’s rights and sustainable farming groups joined more than 11,000 Californians in submitting comments today urging the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to ban super-toxic rat and mouse poisons. These highly toxic rodenticides — known as “second-generation anticoagulants” — have been linked to the poisonings of wildlife, pets and children. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has proposed reducing consumer use of super-toxic rodenticides while simultaneously increasing their use by certified pest-control specialists.

“Iconic wildlife like the golden eagle, endangered San Joaquin kit fox and many others are literally bleeding to death from the ‘worst of the worst’ poisons on the market,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are safe, cost-effective options readily available that don’t threaten the health of our children and indiscriminately kill wildlife.”

The harm to wildlife is widespread. Researchers at the University of California found second-generation anticoagulants in 70 percent of the mammals and 68 percent of the birds they examined. Wildlife officials have documented poisonings in numerous animals, including raptors (eagles, hawks, falcons and owls), bobcats, mountain lions and endangered wildlife such as the San Joaquin kit fox and Pacific fisher.

“These super-toxic rat poisons are a completely unnecessary hazard for children and families when better, safer alternatives for rodent control exist to address current and future infestations,” said Medha Chandra, campaign coordinator for Pesticide Action Network. “The best fix for rodent problems is to address the underlying environmental and deficient housing conditions that give them access to food, water and shelter — the things that attracts them in the first place.”

Data from state pesticide regulators and the federal Environmental Protection Agency document that approximately 15,000 children under age six are accidentally exposed to rat poisons each year across the country. The EPA says children in low-income families are disproportionately exposed to the poisons. Thousands of incidents of pets being poisoned by rodenticides have been reported, many resulting in serious injury or death.

But the powerful poisons have their greatest impact on wildlife.

“The most remote corners of our public wildlands are being contaminated with super-toxic poisons due to their use in egregious trespass marijuana grow operations,” said Gary Graham Hughes of the Environmental Protection Information Center. “It is imperative for our endangered wildlife that these dangerous materials are removed from the market as soon as possible.”

“California’s proposal to limit retail sales is a good starting point,” said Cynthia Palmer, pesticides program manager at American Bird Conservancy. “But unless stronger action is taken, owls, eagles and household pets will continue to die when they prey on sickened and disoriented rats and mice — a sad and tragic fate for wildlife and pets alike.”

A separate coalition of nonprofit organizations, municipalities, businesses and scientists formed the Safe Rodent Control Coalition earlier this year to promote effective, affordable rodent-control strategies that protect children, pets and wildlife. Effective alternatives include rodent-proofing of homes and farms by sealing cracks and crevices and eliminating food sources; providing owl boxes in rural areas to encourage natural predation; and utilizing traps that don’t involve these highly toxic chemicals.

Anticoagulant rodenticides interfere with blood clotting, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding that leads to death. Second-generation anticoagulants — including brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum — are especially hazardous and persist for a long time in body tissues. These slow-acting poisons are often eaten for several days by rats and mice, causing the toxins to accumulate at many times the lethal dose in their tissues, which subsequently results in the poisoning of animals that feed on their carcasses.

The exposure and harm to wildlife from rodenticides is widespread. Poisonings have been documented in at least 25 wildlife species in California alone, including: San Joaquin kit foxes, Pacific fishers, golden eagles, bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, gray foxes, red foxes, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, kestrels, barn owls, great horned owls, long-eared owls, western screech owls, spotted owls, Swainson’s hawks, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, turkey vultures and crows.

California’s action follows steps at the national and local level. The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to ban hazardous d-CON rat and mouse poisons nationwide after d-CON refused to remove super-toxic rodenticides from the residential market. Sixteen California jurisdictions have also passed resolutions urging the public and pest control operators to avoid the most harmful rodent poisons. Those jurisdictions include San Francisco, Marin County, Berkeley, Richmond, Albany, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Belmont, San Anselmo, Brisbane, Foster City, Malibu, Whittier, Fairfax, Calabasas and Humboldt County.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN North America, or PANNA) works to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) works to protect and restore ancient forests, watersheds, coastal estuaries, and native species in Northern California.