Archive for April, 2014

2013 Annual Report Now Available

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

annual reportWe are proud to share with our members, supporters and extended family the 2013 Annual Report, which contains a wealth of information about what our grassroots environmental activist organization has been up to in the past year. For 36 years, our staff has worked tirelessly to advocate for the protection of the wild places and creatures that make up the unique redwood bioregion of wild California.

Since 1977, using an integrated science-based approach that combines public education, citizen advocacy and strategic litigation, EPIC has been working to ensure that state and federal agencies follow their mandate to uphold environmental law. If you are not already a member, please support our work by making a donation to help us protect and restore the ancient forests, watersheds, coastal estuaries and endangered species in Northwest California. Our organization has survived this long thanks to the support of our dedicated members who have continually believed in our work and ability to protect the environment that we all depend upon.

Click here to download the 2013 Annual Report

Wolf Recovery an Imperative for Ecosystem Restoration

Monday, April 28th, 2014
Remote camera photo from July 21, 2013, documenting three pups in the newly formed Mt Emily pack. -Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Remote camera photo from July 21, 2013, documenting three pups in the newly formed Mt Emily pack.
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

The importance of recovery of viable populations of wolves on the landscapes of Northern California has been clear to EPIC since before the first time the famous lone wolf “Journey” crossed over into California two years ago. Since that moment, EPIC has dedicated important time and resources to engaging in stakeholder processes and endangered species advocacy in order to contribute to a broadly shared conservation community objective of seeing wolves return to the wild and thrive in California. Our organization is part of a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to have the gray wolf listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), and North Coast wildlife advocates will have an unprecedented opportunity to provide public comment in support of CESA protections for the Gray Wolf when the Fish and Game Commission meets on Wednesday, June 4th at the River Lodge in Fortuna. EPIC has also had an active role in a nationwide coalition challenging the scientifically unfounded and clearly untimely proposal to remove Federal Endangered Species Act protections for the wolf throughout the majority of the predator’s current and potential range in the continental United States.

These advocacy actions for the wolf are imperative. At EPIC we see wolf recovery as an important goal of its own accord, as well as being an indispensable watermark for measuring progress towards objectives of true restoration of ecosystems in Northern California. What has become clear to those of us working for the wolf is that wolf recovery is an absolute necessity in California because bringing back the wolf would be one of the most attainable landscape level wildlife restoration accomplishments for working towards the reestablishment of natural processes, including predator-prey relationships, in our extended bioregion.

When comparing wolf recovery with the recovery of wild salmon runs, we believe that there is strong evidence that getting the wolf back onto the landscape is probably going to be much easier than bringing back the salmon. Thus, if we cannot as a society bring back the wolf it is highly unlikely that we will bring back the salmon. And taking this a step further, if we cannot bring back the wolf, and thus cannot bring back the salmon, it is pretty much impossible to contemplate a time in the future when we will be able to restore populations of grizzly bear to California wildlands.

Bringing back the griz would certainly require an amazing amount of preparation and planning, as well as commitment and willpower, on a cultural and political level. We now understand better than ever before, however, that if we cannot succeed in bringing the wolf back to California, then it is impossible to even contemplate bringing back the griz. Thus, wolf recovery is the moment of reckoning for Californian’s, because as goes the wolf so will go the grizzly. With the icon of the grizzly an integral part of state symbolism, especially with the grizzly is so prominently displayed on the state flag, this is not an irrelevant matter. What does it mean to have a world renowned symbol of wildlife on our flag when there is a total absence of vision or commitment on the part of California residents and our state government to make the griz more than just a colorful symbol and to restore the great bear to it’s rightful place on the landscape? This is why at EPIC we believe that recovery of the wolf is so important, because it comes at the crossroads of the myth vs. the reality of our wild California, one in which wildlife is glorified, but little is done to rectify the disappearance and absence of that wildlife from our ecosystems.

It is with a wry smile that we say then that we must bring back the wolf, we must bring back the salmon, and we must bring back the griz — and if we cannot commit to bringing back the griz, let’s get it off our flag! Let’s stop playing make believe games about how wild our state really isn’t. Now is the time. Bring back the griz– or get it off the flag. And the first step to keeping the grizzly on our flag and eventually someday back on to our landscapes is to show our commitment to having top predators in the wildlands of our state, and to commit fully to wolf recovery now. There is not a moment to lose.

SAVE THE DATE! California Fish and Game Commission will take public comment regarding the petition to have the Gray Wolf listed as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act when the Commission meets at the River Lodge in Fortuna on Wednesday, June 4. Plan now to come out on June 4th in Fortuna and “howl” for restoring wolves to California wildlands!

Historic Agreement Reforms Trinity River Fish Hatchery

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Trinity_hatcheryToday a federal court approved the settlement agreement in a lawsuit challenging operations at the Trinity River Fish Hatchery. The agreement between EPIC, state agencies and Tribes allows the hatchery to continue to operate, but with needed reforms to restore imperiled wild coho salmon.

The suit alleged that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) operated the hatchery illegally because it lacked an approved plan from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The suit also alleged that the millions of hatchery fish released into the Trinity harm threatened wild salmon runs.

“This settlement shows the commitment of a broad array of stakeholders in the Trinity basin to insure that hatchery operations support recovery of wild salmon,” said Gary Graham Hughes, Executive Director at EPIC. “There is still a long road to travel,” said Hughes, “yet this agreement is an historic moment in the process of bringing back our wild salmon.”

Represented by the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) in Eugene, Oregon, EPIC filed suit last year to curb the number of hatchery fish released into the Trinity, alleging that they harm naturally producing coho salmon, listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as threatened with extinction. On the eve of a motion to the court, the parties – EPIC, CDFW, the Bureau, and the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes – reached agreement that the hatchery could continue to operate, but in 2015 would release fewer hatchery-bred coho salmon and steelhead trout, and release the trout later in the season, so they do not prey on young coho. The agreement also requires the Bureau to submit to NMFS a new plan for hatchery operations by May 31, 2014.

“After decades of saturating the Trinity with hatchery fish, this agreement is a first step toward recovering wild coho runs that are so important in the system,” said Pete Frost, attorney for EPIC.

Principle amongst the terms of the settlement agreement is that the Bureau will consult with NMFS to develop in a timely manner a long-overdue Hatchery Genetic Management Plan (HGMP), which the agency must complete as a requirement of fish hatchery management under the ESA. Genetic considerations are of great importance in fish hatchery management. 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 can also have harmful ecological effects on wild coho salmon and their habitat. Hatchery fish prey on wild coho salmon. Hatchery fish can introduce and transmit disease 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.

To address these impacts the settlement agreement requires the timely development of the HGMP, and also includes terms that address the timing and number of the release of hatchery coho salmon and hatchery steelhead trout in order to best manage the resultant ecological interactions between hatchery and wild fish in a manner that promotes the recovery of wild Coho salmon.

Background on the Trinity River Fish 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 one of the longest undammed stretches of 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.

The Trinity hatchery is located at river mile 110 immediately downstream of the Lewiston Dam. It was built to mitigate for 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. The Bureau funds the hatchery and CDFW runs it.

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) and 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.

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, of which several have been incorporated into the settlement regarding the Trinity River fish hatchery.

The consultation process for the HGMP for the Trinity fish hatchery under the ESA will result in hatchery operations that promote restoring genetic viability of wild fish.  This will further advance natural recovery of native fish species to their historical abundance. EPIC and WELC will continue to be engaged on crucial water and endangered species management issues on the Trinity, Mad, and Klamath Rivers, as well as other rivers in our bioregion.


EPIC-WELC Trinity Fish Hatchery Reform Press Release

Trinity Fish Hatchery Settlement Consent Decree

Connecting Wild Places

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Journey LOGO selected finalSign the petition to Protect and Connect Wild Places!

How much more evidence do we need until entrusted representatives and forest, wildlife and water managers work together to change the direction of this crisis we are in? How many decades do we need to learn the same lessons? We can and we must act now to protect and connect wild places!

Conserving and connecting habitat is the number one goal of the National Fish, Animal and Plants Climate Adaption Strategy, “Sustaining a diversity of healthy populations over time requires conserving a sufficient variety and amount of habitat and building a well-connected network of conservation areas to allow the movement of species in response to climate change.” Establishing wildlife corridors and linkages that are providing vital habitat connectivity is key to species survival and should be a priority.

With 25 National Park units, 18 national forests, more than 15 million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands and 270 state parks and beaches California offers an amazing opportunity to establish an interconnected intact landscape, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Roadless areas, rivers and ridges linking wilderness and core habitat areas, not only provide for wildlife but are also a key to clean water and air in this rapidly changing climate.

Our forest ecosystems of are astoundingly beautiful and globally significant.  They serve as massive carbon banks and are refuge for increasingly rare plants and animals.  California is the wildlife state with unparalleled biological diversity. We have more species and endemic species than any other state in the nation. Alarmingly, according to the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s 2011 Special Animals List, the majority of our wildlife needs help: 88% of amphibians, 87% of native fish, two out of three mammals, and nearly half of all birds and reptiles are “at risk.” This decline of wildlife is indicative of the failing health of our ecosystems, of which we depend.

Logging, grazing, agriculture and multiple other stressors continuously threaten our watersheds and come with devastating ecological costs. It is time for change. California will soon be welcoming wolves and they need room to roam. We need wild places. Tell your entrusted leaders to Protect and Connect Wild Places now!

Our goal is to reach 10,000 signatures by June 1st and >50,000 signatures by the 50th Anniversary on the Wilderness Act on September 3rd. Please sign the petition and share with your friends and family.

The petition will go to:

  • President Obama
  • Secretary of the Interior- Sally Jewell
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Chief of the Forest Service- Tom Tidwell
  • Chief of Bureau of Land Management
  • US Fish and Wildlife
  • California US Forest Service Supervisors
  • CA Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • CA Fish and Games Commissioners
  • All of the CA House of Representatives and Senate
  • Governor Brown
  • Others TBD

Links for additional resources:

Comments Submitted to Navy Opposing Harm to Marine Mammals

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

OrcasandboatNOAAOn behalf of our thousands of members, supporters and activists, EPIC submitted public comments on the U.S. Navy’s Northwest Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement, which if approved would authorize the “take” of more than 500,000 marine mammals over the course of the next 5 years.

The original public comment period was scheduled to close on March 26, 2014, but due to the requests of EPIC and others, the Navy extended the public comment period until April 15th.  In that time, EPIC alone was able to gather 6,203 comments and petition signatures from individuals to protect marine life from Navy Sonar and weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean.

The public will have the opportunity to review the Navy’s responses to comments when the Final EIS is available, which is expected in the summer of 2015.

The public will have another opportunity to provide public comments later this year when the National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to issue a proposed rule to authorize the Navy’s training and testing operations.  At that time, we will call upon our supporters once more to speak up for all species that depend on safe clean ocean water for survival.

Click here to view a copy of the comment letter that EPIC sent to the Navy.

To view a copy of a more in-depth group comment letter that EPIC and other organizations collaboratively composed, click here.

Author Kim Stanley Robinson speaks in Arcata

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Wednesday, May 7th EPIC hosts author Kim Stanley Robinson KSRat Humboldt State’s Kate Buchanan Room from 5-7pm, and later that night at Northtown Books (957 H St. in Arcata) from 8-10pm. Meet and greet & enjoy wine and cheese. Robinson is a well-known political science-fiction writer, teacher, and stay-at-home parent who enjoys inserting personal life experiences or autobiographical elements in his works. His books such as the “Mars” trilogy ask the question of How Things Should Be and brings awareness to the burgeoning global conflict between democracy and capitalism. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information call 707-822-7711.



KSR Poster


Gray Wolf Told to Wait

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt its April 16th, 2014 meeting in Ventura, California, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to delay its decision whether or not to list Gray Wolves as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) for an additional 90-days in order to further consider evidence and testimony.

Recent legislation modifying the California Fish and Game Code allows the Commission to delay its decision-making for 90-days if it is necessary for the Commissioners to further consider its decision.

The Commission will hear further testimony and accept additional comments on the Gray Wolf listing decision at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on June 4th, in Fortuna, California. The Commission will schedule a special hearing date for July, prior to the expiration of the 90-day deadline, to make a final decision whether or not to list the wolf under CESA.

EPIC, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and others filed a petition to list the Gray Wolf as “endangered” under CESA in 2012. In February 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued its Status Report for the Gray Wolf, recommending that the Commission not list the species under CESA, citing a lack of scientific certainty. Comments from EPIC and others have challenged the Department’s findings and have encouraged the Commission to list the wolf as “endangered’ under CESA.

Listing of the Gray Wolf under CESA is essential to the survival and recovery of the species in California. With a lack of state protections, and the looming potential of de-listing the wolf at the federal level clearly drives home the urgent need to protect Gray Wolves under CESA.

The Commission has indefinitely extended its public comment period regarding the Gray Wolf CESA listing. Please consider supporting the listing of the wolf under CESA by sending letters to the Commission at:


Growing Green Workshop Interview with Dave Feral of Mad River Alliance

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Dave FeralThis interview with Dave Feral of Mad River Alliance gives an overview of the Green Growers Workshop, which will be held at the Arcata Theatre Lounge on Saturday, April 26 from 11am-5pm. The workshop is designed to provide farmers with the tools necessary to use best management practices in a time when our scarce water resources must be utilized in the most sustainable manner possible because the health of our watersheds and communities depend on it.

What was the impetus for the Mad River Alliance working to organize this workshop?

Mad River Alliance organized the Growing Green in 2014 Best Management Practices Workshop because cumulative negative impacts of human land use occurs in almost every watershed across the North Coast including the Mad River.  These negative impacts are not necessary, and with the use of best management practices and adaptive management, we believe the majority of these negative impacts can be reduced or eliminated.

Important land management topics covered in the workshop are: water conservation, erosion control & road management, pest control without poison, soil and amendments, legal compliance, and how to take action to reduce potential threats to watershed health.

What are the specific stresses to the Mad River watershed that you are most hoping can be alleviated by the workshop? 

The three main stressors affecting the Mad River watershed are: excess sediment, high water temperatures, and limited tributary connectivity due to reduced flows. Other stressors that may contribute to watershed degradation include: use of pesticides, rodenticides, herbicides, excess fertilizers, and other chemical amendments.

The Mad River is a 500 square mile watershed listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as sediment impaired. A current sediment source analysis show that over 60% of that sediment comes from roads.  The Mad River watershed has over 2,000 miles of gravel road, much of which, due to lack of funding, neglect, or little oversight, has been poorly planned and under-managed, causing un-natural rates of erosion, which further aggravates our presently sediment impaired river. As Tom Leroy of Pacific Watershed Associates explains: “There are two property site locations where erosion occurs most frequently but can be controlled with proper planning, construction, and maintenance: (1) roads and skid trails, (2) landings and building pads.”  Tom will be sharing his expertise at the Growing Green in 2014 workshop on April 26th.

The Mad River was also listed by the EPA as temperature impaired in 2006.  The mainstem Mad River receives its year round water supply from 40 tributaries, and also receives augmented summer water flows from Matthews Dam at Ruth Lake, 84 miles upstream of the river mouth.  Though it may be beneficial to have water released from the dam, the dam water slowly heats up due to hot inland air temperatures. It is essential for water temperatures to be maintained below 68 degrees Fahrenheit or it becomes difficult for salmonids and other aquatic wildlife to survive.  Some of the factors that affect water temperature of the mainstem Mad River include: amount of riparian canopy cover, ambient air temperature, cool water infiltration and tributary flow.  The water session of the Growing Green in 2014 workshop is designed to help landowners learn the actions necessary to keep our river flowing cool!

Recent human development in the mid and upper sections of the Mad River watershed seem to have compromised the historic flow conditions for many tributaries.  It is estimated that the flows from tributaries of the Mad are reduced by up to 25% and many small creeks that once flowed in the summer are now dry or reduced to just a trickle during the dry season due to water diversions and landscape changes.

Permaculture expert Dan Mar explains: Water is an infinite resource that regulates atmospheric temperatures, shapes the Earth’s surface, passes through every living creature, transports nutrients, and creates spectacular visual displays. However, within constructed environments and land-use practices water has become a utility which makes it a finite resource. An integrated design approach reduces overall project cost, reduces maintenance, increases yields, and protects environmental integrity.”  Dan will share his a 4-tier approach to designing an integrated water system for rural growing environments that reduces the need for stream or river diversions.

Conventional Rodent Control is another potential threat to Mad River and other watersheds across the North Coast. As one of our speakers Brad Job points out: Many pesticides do not readily break down when released into the environment and tend to bio-concentrate or bio-magnify in predatory fish and animals. The most contentious pesticide lately is brodifacoum, which is the active ingredient in most common brands of rodenticide. Brodifacoum was clearly tied to excess mortality of Pacific fishers by Dr. Mourad Gabriel in 2011. Brodifacoum is chemically similar to its commercial predecessor, warfarin, except that it is much more persistent in the environment. These and similar chemicals prevent coagulation of blood and cause exposed animals to hemorrhage internally and die. Due to the persistence of rodenticides, a healthy red-tailed hawk, which can consume over 10,000 rodents in a lifetime, can be killed by consuming one or two rodents poisoned by brodifacoum. Over 25 non-target species have been inadvertently killed by ingesting rodenticides. For this reason, any means of rodent trapping, repelling, or avoidance is preferable to the use of rodenticides.”  Brad Job and Kristin Nevendal will be sharing their expertise on the cumulative negative impacts of conventional rodent and pest control, and inform workshop participants of ways to manage these pests without causing harm to the environment.

Are best management practices a long-term solution, an attempt to make some immediate change, or some mixture of the two?

Some best management practices do show both short and long-term gain, for example:  improvement on a road system can reduce sediment delivery in the first year, and in total road decommissioning entire slopes can re-stabilize to reduce sediment inputs almost entirely. However, some results are variable, and that is why adaptive management and reviews of BMP’s are a crucial component to any best management plan.

Who are the workshop presenters and what kind of material will they cover?

Presenters include:

Hezekiah Allen  HAllenBorn and raised in Southern Humboldt County. He has a deep understanding of the environmental challenges facing the North Coast. He works with several local non-profits as a tireless advocate for the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of our regions forests, water, and fisheries. He recently worked as the Executive Director of the Mattole Restoration Council, an organization in Southern Humboldt County with more than thirty years of experience in community based watershed restoration.  Hezekiah was part of the team that developed the widely distributed best practices guide for Northern California farmers. 

Neal Latt  NLattNeal is an attorney focusing on land use, property law, water rights, marijuana defense and local compliance issues.  Prior to practicing law, he was an organic farmer for fifteen years, producing eighty tons of mixed vegetables a year from atop a ten acre riverbar in Orleans.  He can be reached at Mathews, Kluck, Walsh & Wykle, LLP, 442-3758, across from the Carson Mansion in Old Town, Eureka.

LJobLeonard (Brad) Job, P. E. (CA Lic. #C55699)  Brad received his BS in Environmental Resources Engineering from HSU in 1993. His past occupations include worker on his family’s cotton farm in TX; photographer for the US Navy and the North Coast Journal; student researcher on climate change at Battle – Pacific Northwest Laboratories; and water/earth/mud related engineering for the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Geomatrix Consultants, and the Arcata Public Works Department. For most of the last 12 years he has worked in the BLM Arcata Field Office as a general civil engineer. His current professional interests are surface and subsurface hydrology; water and sediment pollution; and stewardship of public lands, water resources, and wilderness areas.

TLeroyTom Leroy  M.S., P.G., Associate Geologist, Tom specializes in watershed analysis and erosion control, Holocene stratigraphy, and coastal geomorphology. His experience with Quaternary geology and geomorphology studies also includes Seismic hazard assessment, neotectonics, landslide and sediment source inventory, and environmental restoration.

RLindermanDr. Robert Linderman  A retired Research Plant Pathologist and former Research Leader at the USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon.  An Emeritus Courtesy Professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University. He has conducted research on diseases of  nursery and other horticultural crops for over 45 years, emphasizing the epidemiology and control of soilborne fungal plant pathogens, and the biology and application of beneficial microorganisms, especially mycorrhizal fungi and antagonistic and other plant growth-enhancing rhizobacteria. Currently he is Plant Pathologist and Founder/Owner of Plant Health, LLC, His research projects are focused on the development of technology needed to provide microbial/organic products to enhance crop plant growth and health. 

DMarDan Mar  Lives locally with his wife on a quarter acre suburban homestead and is the owner of High Tide Permaculture, a regenerative land-use design company specializing in rainwater catchment, harvesting and mitigation, suburban homesteads and edible forest gardens.  He is a retired high school science teacher and founder of the Cultural and Ecological Stewards Program which works with teachers and administrators to provide middle and high school students with cross-curricular learning opportunities while developing leadership skills through the design, implementation and maintenance of campus-wide systems.  Dan is an instructor for permaculture design courses with Klamath Knot Permaculture as well as workshops throughout the state.

KNevedalKristin Nevedal  Kristin is a co-founder and board chair of the Emerald Growers Association whose mission is to promote the medicinal, environmental, social, and economic benefits of lawfully cultivated sun-grown medical cannabis from California’s Emerald Triangle region by advocating for public policies that foster a healthy, sustainable medical cannabis industry.  A longtime Humboldt County resident and homesteader, she has spent over 15 years specializing in organic no till farming techniques, non-toxic disease and pest management, agricultural compliance, and nursery operations. Kristin’s broad policy and advocacy experience also includes serving as a board member for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM), and Americans for Safe Access’s Patient Focused Certification Program, and the 420 Archives.

 Workshop Presentations


What are you doing to be sure that this important information can be available to folks who can’t make the April 26 workshop? 

The Growing Green in 2014 workshop was inspired by the Northern California Farmers Guide to Best Management Practices, which is available as a free down load here:

There really is no substitute for the physical workshop, especially for people who learn through experience this is a great component that shouldn’t be missed.  We do hope to develop an educational program that can be repeated in the future at other locations.  If your watershed could use a workshop similar to this one we encourage you to contact us at

What are your next steps after this workshop for addressing the impacts of the demands on the Mad River of expanding agriculture activities?

More outreach and education to those who may not be on board yet will be an ongoing part of Mad River Alliance’s plan.  We hope to work with landowners for as long as it takes to help them understand why following suggested best practices will help reduce cumulative negative impacts in the watershed.

Knowledge is not really power, as much as it is a responsibility and I have faith that most people want to do the right thing once they are aware of what that is.  As the State of California moves toward legalization, the market and regulation may play a role in determining land practices.  As consumers learn more about the positive side to growing green, they will most likely prefer a product that is watershed friendly, and we will continue to encourage any movement in that direction.

What is your ideal outcome from this effort?

Ideally, for the Mad River watershed, the people, and the planet, the majority of North Coast agriculturalists will adopt these suggested best management practices and over time these workshops will become routine annual updates on the most recent practice improvements. Over time we hope improved management practices will keep our tributaries flowing, our aquatic wildlife populations thriving, and our rivers ecology in balance.

The immediate goal is to use this year as a learning year and build from here, and by 2016 we should have a full educational program that reaches across the state to the array of key players providing them with tools and management practices to live and work in balance with the environment they choose to live and work in.

Any last words about this workshop?

In the end, it comes down to each person choosing what kind of world they want to live in.  Do we choose a world that may require a little bit more physical work and allows room for the widest array of biological diversity possible?  We hope so.  The Growing Green in 2014 Best Management Workshop is our attempt to help those that want to do the best they can to reduce negative impacts to our environment and continue to live and grow in these sensitive, beautiful, life giving watersheds.

MRA growing green 2014-FINAL-print


Is d-Con Our Next DDT?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Photo by Franklin InstituteLast month, the State of California took a step in the right direction by trying to ban over-the-counter sales of dangerous anticoagulant rat poisons that are harming children, killing pets, and devastating wildlife, including endangered species. But within days after California announced the new regulations—which are meant to take effect on July 1—Reckitt Benckiser, the $37.5 billion multi-national corporation that manufactures and sells d-Con, filed a lawsuit against the state.

While the new rules are not strong enough to prevent all poisonings of wildlife and pets—the pest control industry was exempted from the ban—they would take some of the products that are currently poisoning an estimated 10,000 children per year off retail shelves, a bold step which would also greatly reduce the number of pet and wildlife victims.  The impact on wildlife from these poisons cannot be understated. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has over 800 pages of at least 350 incidents of wildlife poisonings (and these are only the animals that have been found and turned in). Biologists believe many animals perish and are never found, meaning that what we are seeing is probably only the tip of the iceberg. WildCare, a wildlife rehab facility in San Rafael, found that over 76 percent of the animals it tested for rat poison in 2013 were contaminated with rat poison. Many wildlife rehab facilities are receiving animals with the symptoms of rodenticide poisoning but cannot afford to test them (each test costs over $100 and most rehab facilities are operating on slim budgets). If the animals do not die immediately from rodenticide exposure, their behavior can suffer, with fatal consequences.

It is not just the groundbreaking new rules in California that the makers of d-Con are fighting. Reckitt Benckiser has been fighting federal regulations too. In 2008, the US EPA gave all rat poison manufacturers three years to make their products safer—including making them tamper-proof for children. All of the poison manufacturers agreed—except for Reckitt Benckiser, which now holds the EPA hostage while it engages in legal maneuvers.

Much as DDT nearly resulted in the extinction of an iconic species like the Bald Eagle, this company’s rat poison products are causing the next “silent spring” for birds of prey such as hawks, barn owls, and the increasingly endangered Northern Spotted Owl (among many others). These poisons are also clearly presenting mortal threats to endangered mammals like the San Joaquin kit fox and the Pacific fisher. There is something seriously wrong when a corporate bully can tie the hands of both federal and state regulatory agencies in bureaucratic legal maneuvers while children are poisoned, pets and wildlife continue to perish, and the food web continues to be contaminated.

This article was co-authored by Lisa Owens-Viani of Raptors are the Solution.

Earth Day Beach Clean-up and Hoedown

Monday, April 7th, 2014

hoe down poster2014-EN ad3-web-revised-01In a cooperative effort Mad River Alliance, North Coast Environmental Center, Friends of the Dunes, Environmental Protection Information Center, Humboldt Baykeeper, Friends of the Eel River, Trees Foundation, Surfrider Foundation and Dell’ Arte International, are gathering for a day of restoration, Earth clean-up, and fun!

Saturday April 19th from 9 am till noon, work to clean-up and restore the earth, later from 3-7pm  put your hoe down to dance and celebrate!

EPIC and the Mad River Alliance are joining forces to clean-up the Mad River. Meet at Stardough’s in (448 Railroad Ave. Bluelake) at 9am.  Bring work gloves, mud boots and some friends! Click here to RSVP.

Later that same day… enjoy the Second Annual Earth Day Hoedown, April 19th from 3-7pm, at the Coastal Nature Center!

 Hoedown Featuring: Striped Pig String Band and Lindsey Battle Band and square dance calling by Nigela Mahal!

Who Will Stand Up for the Northern Spotted Owl?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

9-OwlBanding-FWSIn the remote forests of Northwest California dwells an iconic raptor seemingly from a bygone era. The Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) stealthily inhabits old growth and ‘mature’ forests, preying on wood rats, flying squirrels, and other small mammals in the dead of night with its keen vision and devastating talons.

Once an abundant and prosperous species, the Northern Spotted Owl has been in decline since at least the 1970’s and 80’s, primarily resulting from the logging of its old growth and mature forest habitat on both public and private lands. The Northern Spotted Owl was listed as a “threatened” species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in June of 1990, thus becoming the poster-child for the ongoing timber wars in the Pacific Northwest.

In May 1991, Federal Judge William Dwyer ruled in favor of environmentalists who challenged the adequacy of the U.S. Forest Service’s 1986 Forest Management Plan, enjoining 75 percent of the proposed timber sales on public lands in spotted owl critical habitat, and ultimately leading to the development of the Northwest Forest Plan. While the Northwest Forest Plan has somewhat curtailed logging of suitable owl habitat on public lands, habitat loss on these lands is still ongoing, while habitat loss for the owl on private lands continues virtually unabated to the present day.

When the Northern Spotted Owl became a federally-listed species, the State of California’s Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board of Forestry) scrambled to enact Forest Practice Rules that would avoid “take” of the owl as defined under the federal Act on private forestlands in the state. In the beginning, the implementation and enforcement of the Forest Practice Rules by CAL FIRE was augmented by consultation with the then-California Department of Fish and Game (now the California Department of Fish and Wildlife). In 1999, CAL FIRE requested that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) provide “technical assistance” to the Department and private landowners to ensure that implementation of the Forest Practice Rules would not result in “take” of the owl.

The Service provided technical assistance to CAL FIRE and private landowners until 2008. At that time, the Service determined that it did not have the budget to continue providing technical assistance to CAL FIRE and private landowners, and requested that the budget-strapped state pay for the technical assistance program. When the state declined, the Service dropped out of providing technical assistance, and left the entire burden of review, implementation, and enforcement of individual timber harvest plans up to CAL FIRE.

In 2009, the Service provided CAL FIRE with a scathing review of existing Forest Practice Rules and the ability of the Rules to avoid “take” of the owl as defined under the ESA. This document, entitled Regulatory and Scientific Basis for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Guidance for Evaluation of Take for Northern Spotted Owls on Private Timberlands in California’s Northern Interior Region” provided a review of the best available science related to the owl, and detailed the Service’s years of experience with providing technical assistance to CAL FIRE and private landowners. The Service concluded:

…our combined experience with hundreds of THPs indicates that the cumulative effects of repeated entries within many NSO home ranges has reduced habitat quality to a degree causing reduced occupancy rates and frequent site abandonment. In a large proportion of technical assistance letters to CAL FIRE and industrial timberland owners during the past five years, we noted the lack of NSO responses at historic territories, and described habitat conditions considered inadequate to support continued occupancy and reproduction”(emphasis added).

The Service also provided CAL FIRE and private landowners with “take” avoidance guidelines that the agency believed would serve the needs of the owl better than existing Rules. This guidance, however, is only voluntary, and is not codified in existing regulation. Thus, private landowners have the alternative of relying on the existing and inadequate Rules.

Meanwhile, CAL FIRE, an agency with virtually no biological expertise, and virtually no independent biological experts, has been left to navigate the treacherous landscape of ensuring “take” avoidance on its own, knowing that existing Rules are not be adequate, but that the guidance provided by the listing agency is only voluntary. CAL FIRE thus finds itself in the precarious position of needing to determine that “take” has been avoided, while not having the expertise or authority to determine the likelihood of whether or not “take” will occur. What’s more, CAL FIRE has been left without the input of either the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The latter agency has virtually abandoned its review of projects that may affect the Northern Spotted Owl since the late 90’s.

While most private landowners have voluntarily shifted towards compliance with the Service’s “take” avoidance guidelines, some landowners, most notably Sierra Pacific Industries, have stubbornly clung to the old, and largely out-of-date existing Forest Practice Rules. Since the Service transitioned out of providing technical assistance, SPI has continued to clearcut log thousands of acres of suitable NSO habitat without the benefit of independent scientific expertise reviewing its projects.

The latest and best available science on the condition of Northern Spotted Owl populations indicates that the species is reeling from a precipitous decline in recent years, both in California and across the species’ range. In particular, apparent survival and reproductive rates are alarmingly low. Here on the redwood coast, as with elsewhere in the owl’s range, the incursion of the aggressive and invasive barred owl has likely contributed to these declines. In addition, the advent of increased use of rodenticides in egregious cannabis agriculture operations and other rural residential and industrial activities is now documented to be a significant problem for the owl. Meanwhile, habitat loss through timber harvest and fire continue to confound owl conservation and recovery efforts.

The science shows that the Northern Spotted Owl is in increasing peril. The decline of the owl is indicative of over a century of intensive forest management that has depleted our forests and inexorably altered the landscape that the owls once knew.

EPIC Steps Up To Advocate for the Owl

In 2010, EPIC launched its Northern Spotted Owl Self-Defense campaign. This campaign aims to use a multitude of tactics to conserve the owl. These tactics include monitoring, commenting on, and challenging logging projects that may affect the owl on both public and private lands, engaging with the Board of Forestry to improve rules regarding owl protections, and launching a campaign to end the use of “super-toxic” rat poison in cannabis agriculture operations. EPIC has also filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) requesting that it list the owl as either “threatened” or “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), parallel to filing a petition with the Service requesting that it “reclassify” or “up-list” the owl from a “threatened” to an “endangered” species under the federal ESA. Few organizations in the Western United States are as active in working for better protections for the owl than EPIC has been in recent years.

The politics around conservation of the Northern Spotted Owl remain fraught with a reluctance on the part of both the Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to ‘rock the boat’ in terms of enforcing the tenants of the ESA and CESA on private forestlands in California. The Service has thus far failed to provide us with an initial 90-day finding on our petition to “reclassify” or “up-list” the owl, despite the fact that the petition was filed over a year and a half ago. Meanwhile, the Commission, after much delay, voted to accept EPIC’s petition to list the owl under CESA in August 2013, with a one-year CESA “candidacy” period initiated in December 2013. Despite the “candidacy” for the Northern Spotted Owl under CESA, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has informed CAL FIRE that it intends to rely on existing rules and regulations to protect the owl against illegal “take” resulting from timber harvest activities on private lands.

So, who will stand up for the Northern Spotted Owl? With both responsible agencies either unwilling or incapable of reviewing plans for proper implementation and enforcement of CESA and the ESA, and CAL FIRE left virtually on its own to ensure that these laws are enforced, business as usual seems to be the mantra of the day for the timber industry. Meanwhile, the owl, faced with a wide-array of threats to its survival in the wild, hangs on the precipice, a precarious ledge, from which there may be no return.

The health of the Northern Spotted Owl is indicative of the health and condition of our forests, and indeed our watersheds. EPIC will continue its multi-faceted approach to owl protection and conservation, with the goal of seeing larger, older trees on the landscape, an elimination of the use of “super-toxic” rat poisons in our communities, and a return ultimately of more owls in the forest. EPIC aims to protect, conserve, and restore the owl in California and beyond.

Please join our efforts to protect, conserve, and restore the Northern Spotted Owl and our forest landscapes. The plight of the owl is a harbinger of peril for all of us. We must all work together to restore our forests and protect our wildlife.

EPIC in review

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Holm_Fay_date2008-04-09_time16.02.45_IMG_8035 copyMuch of EPIC’s work involves staying up-to-date with local, regional and statewide natural resource management decisions and providing public comments to guide decision making in the interest of the best available science and with conservation in mind.

EPIC staff members have contributed the following comments and letters of support in the local, state and national environmental movements over the last few weeks:

*Letter to support the listing of Gray Wolves under the California Endangered Species Act

*Comments regarding waiver of waste discharge requirements related to timber harvest activities

*Letter urging agencies to end ongoing rollbacks of state and federal environmental protections for the Bay-Delta ecosystem

*Letter seeking to improve transparency and develop ecological performance measures for Timber Harvest Plans

*Letter to support a ban to keep super toxic rat poison out of environmentally sensitive areas

*Letter supporting bill that would free Orca Whales from California Amusement Parks

*Letter to ban fracking in Humboldt County

*Comments on Timber Harvest Plan that would log Spotted Owl Habitat

*Letter urging the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to uphold the California’s Ban on Hound Hunting