Archive for November, 2017

Three Takeaways from the Draft California Elk Management Plan

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Rosevelt Elk photo by Rob Diperna

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife have released their Draft Elk Conservation and Management Plan. For us elk fanatics—we have a couple of them in the office, including the author—we have been anxiously awaiting this report. (Read it yourself here!) Here are four quick takeaways from the report and how they can affect our wildlife and land management decisions.

Elk Need Fire!

Elk like to graze on young brush and shrubs. Before European colonization, fire helped keep a steady supply of young, tender and nutritious browse available. The history of fire suppression has reduced the habitat quality of our lands. With fire suppression, forests have become more dense with trees and our shrubs have become more mature. Helping to reestablish fire on the landscape will benefit elk by improving their habitat. (As if we needed another reason to end the war on fire!)

Wolves Will Need More Elk!

Wolves are back in California! This is GREAT news, but to sustain wolf packs (and to reduce incidents of livestock predation), we need more elk. Wolves preferentially prey on elk over deer, when present, but will eat deer when elk are not present. Here’s the rub: we don’t have elk like we used to. California was once home to an estimated 500,000 elk; today, there are ~12,900. California’s elk populations are also significantly smaller and patchier compared to other western states where wolves have become reestablished. Wolves’ backup food option, deer, are suffering a long-term statewide decline. To help our wolves (and our elk), we need to get serious

The Elk Management Plan calls for increasing elk populations by 10% by 2028 (in areas where human-elk conflicts are expected to be minimal). The Elk Management Plan also calls for the careful monitoring of individual “Elk Management Units” to watch out for thresholds indicating a serious impact to localized elk populations, such as if a population decline greater than 25% over three years.

Connected Landscapes are Important!

Long-term viability of California’s elk requires a well-connected landscape. Large mammals, such as elk, require interconnected habitats and populations. Absent these connections, we run the risk of genetically isolated populations, increasing the susceptibility to disease and the development of genetic defects. (Think of the problems that royal families have had when inbreeding goes too far….)

The Elk Management Plan highlights that the identification of current elk movement corridors—plus envisioning what corridors the elk might need in a changing future landscape. This is key and something that EPIC has been working on for a LONG time. (Anyone out there remember EPIC’s MAP RAP project from the early 1990s?)

Passive Restoration: Protecting Our Forest-Meadow Soil Reservoirs

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

A forest meadow in the Marble Mountain Wilderness collects snows and recharges the “sponge”

Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California [i]

It is late November in the Klamath Mountains Bioregion[ii] and snow has begun to accumulate in the high country. For the next six months snow will rule the high mountains and few humans will venture there. While martens hunt in the subnivian space[iii] and the snow grows deeper, water seeps into cracks and fissures in rocks, into the many downed logs which litter unlogged forests and into sponge-like forest and meadow soil, filling the millions of tiny spaces found there with water.

With the coming of springtime warmth, the snowpack begins to melt. Meltwater swells mountain streams and the rivers below enabling Spring Chinook salmon to reach the deep, cold pools in which they will spend the summer. The springtime flood also enables Steelhead and resident trout to spawn higher in our watersheds than would otherwise be possible.

But long after the snowpack is gone, healthy forest and meadow soil continues to slowly yield the water stored in its many pores, sustaining both streamflow, salmon and the water supply on which humans depend through the long dry season. The soil acts like a sponge soaking up water, forming vast reservoirs. But like the sponge in your kitchen, forest and meadow soil can be compressed and compacted, damaging its water storage capacity, increasing flood flows and decreasing dry-season streamflow, also known as baseflow.

Logging, and particularly logging with bulldozers and dragging logs via cables to roads and landings, compacts forest soil damaging its water holding capacity. Livestock grazing can also degrade the health and water holding capacity of soil, particularly the soil underlying the wet meadows, springs, seeps, fens and willow wetlands found at higher elevation within western national forests. Because cattle grazing on public land weigh more than a ton (up to 1500 pounds), the season-long grazing without herding practiced on most western public land severely compacts meadow soil and lowers the water table, thereby reducing the water holding capacity of the meadows.

Real Restoration

The impact of bad logging and unmanaged cattle grazing on the cold baseflows on which salmon and other fishes depend throughout the summer has, for the most part, been ignored by public land managers, tribes, restoration councils and others who expend millions of taxpayer dollars each year to “restore” our streams and salmon. But so long as the water holding capacity of forest and meadow soil continues to be degraded, the active restoration these government and community organizations engage in and fund cannot successfully restore salmon and other Public Trust[iv] stream resources. For restoration to be effective, the activities causing degradation must end as well. Ending the activities which cause resource degradation is known as passive restoration.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and Regional and State Water Boards are responsible for assuring and that water supplies are protected. Yet these regulatory agencies continue to allow bad logging and poorly managed headwater grazing to damage our mountain forest and meadow soil reservoirs. That ongoing and cumulative degradation of the sponges is preventing recovery of healthy streamflow and healthy salmon runs. Until we as a society insist that those practices, including bad logging and irresponsible grazing, which are the root causes of stream degradation and poor salmon survival finally end, active restoration will continue to fail to achieve its core objectives.

That’s why EPIC, EPIC’s allies and The Project to Reform Public Land Grazing, which EPIC sponsors, focus on ending those practices which damage Northwest California’s and the West’s headwater forest and meadow reservoirs. By insisting on passive restoration, we compliment the work of tribes and restoration groups, rendering the active restoration in which they engage more effective. When you support EPIC you are supporting those efforts, including protecting the vast forest and meadow reservoirs which sustain the water supply on which humans, salmon and healthy streams depend.

Help protect healthy forests and meadows on our public lands!

Click here to donate to the Grazing Reform Project.

Thanks for your support!

Felice Pace, Coordinator


[i]  The Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California was founded in 2009 to document the bad public land grazing management that has resulted in violation of water quality standards in the very headwater streams that should have the highest water quality and to advocate for regular herding and other modern grazing management practices which, if required, would vastly improve water quality and flows in public land headwater streams.

[ii]  The Klamath Mountains Bioregion extends from Snow Mountain in the Mendocino National Forest to the Rogue and Umpqua River Divide in SW Oregon. It is also known as the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. The Siskiyou Mountains are a prominent East-West running range of the Klamath Mountains.

[iii]  The subnivian space is a thin air layer found between the covering snow and the surface of the soil and its vegetative debris.

[iv]  That water, as well as the fish and wildlife which depend on water, are the common heritage of all humans, and therefore can not be owned and must be shared, has been recognized in western law since the days of the Roman Emperor Justinian. Coming to us via English and US Common Law, the Public Trust Doctrine holds that water, fish and other resources dependent on water are the common heritage of all humans. The PTD also guarantees right of access to all streams within the mean high water level.


BREAKING: EPIC Moves to Ban Clearcutting in Humboldt!

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

EPIC has submitted a voter initiative to Humboldt County to ban the destructive forestry practice known as “clearcutting” within Humboldt County and implement well-recognized principles of sustainable forestry. Clearcutting and other evenaged management involves the removal of all or nearly all of a forest stand in a single harvest. This extreme forest disturbance harms water quality and wildlife habitat, and exacerbates climate change. Volunteers will be collecting signatures on the petition with the intention of making it on the general election ballot in November 2018.

Humboldt County would join Marin County in banning clearcutting, and would join a number of other local governments, including Berkeley, Brisbane, Daly City, Davis, Menlo Park, Monte Sereno, San Francisco, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale, in expressing their opposition to the practice. Local regulation of timber production is preempted by state law; however, the California Forest Practice Act provides that counties can recommend rules to the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. These rules must be adopted if the rules are consistent with the Forest Practice Act and necessary to protect the needs of the county.

We have a big task ahead of us. EPIC needs to gather the valid signatures of ~4,000 Humboldt County voters in order to get the initiative on the ballot. Once on the ballot, we will need to turn out voters to push the initiative to victory!

Clearcutting isn’t necessary to run a successful timber company. Humboldt Redwood Company, the successor to Pacific Lumber Company, does not employ evenaged management, for example. Neither does Collins Pine, a timber company based in Plumas, CA. Clearcutting is a relic from another era. It’s time we implement modern sustainable forestry practices in Humboldt.

Three Ways to Help!

We are going to need your help! Big Timber is set to fight us every step of the way.

  1. Spread the news! Share this with your friends and let them know that big change is afoot.
  2. Volunteer! We need signature gathers in Humboldt County ASAP! Sign up here to help collect signatures.
  3. Donate! Printing a voter petition costs lots of money. Help us get the signature gathering off the ground by donating. A donation of $100 will pay for 200 petitions, pens and clipboards.

Action Alert: Oppose Federal “Logging Without Laws” Legislation!

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Take Action Now! Last week, the House of Representatives passed the horrific “Logging Without Laws” bill, a piece of legislation that will suspend key environmental laws and push forward Trump’s radical anti-public lands agenda. The bill passed on a near party line vote: 232-188.

Now the fight moves to the Senate. Let’s let our Senators know that we can’t sacrifice our public lands for private profit. Click here to take action.

The deceptively-named “Resilient Federal Forests Act” (H.R. 2936) is the worst piece of forest legislation in EPIC’s lifetime (and that’s saying something, as previous bad bills include the ’95 Salvage Rider and the Bush-era Healthy Forests Restoration Act).

Among the carnage, the bill would:

  • Allow up to 50 square mile clearcuts without examining the environmental impact
  • Undercut the Endangered Species Act by
  • Close the courtroom door for EPIC and other environmental champions.

The Senate is our last hope. Click here to let your Senators know: Oppose the “Logging Without Laws” legislation!


Welcome Judith! Fond Farewell Dian!

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

The ballots have been counted and we have a new Board of Directors at EPIC! We are excited to welcome Judith Mayer to the Board. Judith teaches in HSU’s Department of Environmental Science and Management, and Environment and Community graduate program. She holds MS and PhD degrees in City and Regional Planning. Judith is serving a fourth term on Arcata’s Planning Commission, currently as vice-chair, after two terms on Arcata’s Economic Development Committee. An Arcata resident since 2000, Judith has lived, traveled, studied and worked extensively in the US, Europe, and Asia. A founding member of The Borneo Project of Earth Island Institute, she also served as its Director/Coordinator, and continues on its board. Her research and advocacy for community environmental planning in the US and abroad gives her a local and global perspective on North Coast concerns. Judith hopes to contribute to EPIC’s defense of the Earth, and believes EPIC’s effective public persuasion, collaborative efforts, regulatory advocacy, and willingness to sue if necessary make EPIC the North Coast’s most effective environmental advocacy organization.

EPIC is also excited to welcome back Shawnee Alexandri, Robert Shearer, Peter Martin, Mitra Abidi, Noah Levy, Tom Preble, Nate Madsen, and Tony Silvaggio for another tour of duty on the Board. We are lucky to have such a committed and engaged Board.

EPIC is sad to bid adieu to Dian Griffith. Dian has been a stalwart supporter and friend of EPIC for many years and has served EPIC for 17 years, first as EPIC’s bookkeeper before transitioning to the Board. Dian always provided a keen financial eye, ensuring EPIC’s long-term viability. She also is a good friend and her positive outlook will be missed. While Dian is stepping down from the Board, she is not leaving the community and intends to stay on as an advisor to EPIC. In recognition of Dian’s longtime service to EPIC, we have renamed our annual Volunteer of the Year Award, presented at the Fall Celebration, in her honor. Many thanks, Dian, and happy trails!

Thank You for Supporting 40 Years of Forest Defense!

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

The staff and board of the Environmental Protection Information Center would like to thank all of the attendees, businesses, sponsors, volunteers and artists who helped make the 40th Anniversary Fall Celebration a fun and successful event! Each year we look forward to this EPIC reunion where we can visit with people who make up the heart and soul of the redwood region’s environmental movement. The legacy that the EPIC community has made lives on through generations of grassroots activists and continues with the vibrant new energy of those who seek our efforts out to help keep our little corner of California the special place that we all know and love. Attendees included past and current staff, board, volunteers, colleagues, Sempervirens Award winners, and fresh new faces eager to participate in the contemporary environmental movement.

Judi Bari, Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement for Environmental Activism Award Winner

We were honored that Alicia Littletree, Dennis Cunningham, Priscilla Hunter, Polly Girvin and Darryl Cherney gave such eloquent and heartening accounts through spoken word and songs of Judi’s activism and efforts that helped build the Redwood Summer environmental movement that led to the protection of Headwaters Forest. Judi is an inspiration to us all! Considering today’s political climate and continued destruction of the Earth, nonviolent grassroots activism is as crucial as ever. Judi believed that “You cannot seriously address the destruction of the wilderness without addressing the society that is destroying it.” Over 20 years later, this analysis remains true – and is a conversation we should continue with future activists. Honoring Judi is a means to remembering the unity of the Redwood Summer – the fight for not just our environment, but for all those living within it.

Molly Gilmore, Volunteer of the Year

This year Dian Griffith will be leaving the EPIC Board after putting in over a decade of work, we thought it was appropriate to name our volunteer award the Dian Griffith Volunteer of the year award in honor of her hard work and dedication. It was with great pleasure to recognize Molly Gillmore for her ongoing dedication to environmental protection through her volunteer work with EPIC throughout the past year. Molly is a pleasure to have in the office and out in the field, with her positive outlook and cheery personality, she flawlessly handles just about every task we have asked of her. Thanks to Molly for showing up and being motivated to get stuff done, its people like her who make this organization possible!

Business, Artist and Sponsors

A huge thank you goes out to all of the businesses and artists who contributed to the silent auction, dinner, and refreshments, it definitely takes a village to pull this event off! Sincere appreciation to Mad River Brewery, Redway Liquors, Pacific Seafoods, Pocket of Posies flower Shop, Bubbles, Ramones, Wildberries Marketplace, CO-OP, Garberville Community Park, Arcata Exchange, Humboldt Distillery, Jason Lopiccolo, Pen + Pine, Joann Kelly Catsos, Chautaqua Natural Foods, Lagunitas Brewery, Disneyland, Bead Mask, Tot Mocs, Humboldt Spice Co., Mark Henson, Sierra Martin, Redwood Empire Golf & Country Club, Driftwood Designs, Hubb Caps, Myrtletown Healing Center, Endless Jewelry, Stone Leaf Jewelry, Mitra Abidi, Belle Star, Adams Ranch Olives, Flaming Pearl, Mystic Fables, Baby MaMa, Barb’s Designs, Julia Garretson, Oala Khast, Jo Stafinbil, James DeRoso, Ogres by Jam, Sprout, Marilyn Haber, Ragged Thistle, Jewell Distillery, Deja Vux Jewlery, Signature Coffee, Dias Artistry, Patagonia, Nothing Obvious, Fire Lily Ceramics, Organic Attire, Hisel Pottery, Cool Shoe, Godwit Days, Meagan Meadows, Norma Mounce, Laser Trees, Matt Jones Art, SeaPod, Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, Arcata Core Pilates, Hoot and a Holler, Kats Creation, Dandelion Herbal Center, Foodwise Kitchen, Benbow Historic Inn, Humboldt Bay Social Club, The Minor Theater, Nieves, Loise’s Finishing Salts, Plum Blossom Farm, Fungaia Farm, Witch in the Woods, Peter Martin, Tony Sylvaggio, Tom Preble, Virginia Bass, Dani Burkhart, Allen McCloskey, Sungnome Madrone, Compliant Farms, Humboldt County Growers Alliance, Heartwood Institute, Spirit Door Creations, Gypsy and Loud, Red Zola, Synergy, Funshine Daydream, and to Peter, Wyatt, Thomas Dunklin, Nate Madsen, Noah Levy, Mark Harris, Rob of the Redwoods, Turtle River Design, Hal Glick, K. Rudin and the Wheeler and Villalobos family for generously donating rentals and resort accommodations.

Dinner and Music

We have great appreciation for the bands for their contributions that made this another successful EPIC event! Casey Neill and the Norway Rats and Alice DiMicele rocked the house, keeping people on the dancefloor into the wee hours of the morning, and thanks to Joanne Rand for setting the tone with her heartfelt songs, and to Robin Krauss and Rob Siefert for handling the lights and sound. We are also very grateful to Sue Moloney and Sue’s Organics kitchen crew for preparing the gourmet, organic, locally-sourced meal that we were able to share while we dined and laughed with our colleagues, friends and the EPIC Community.


Thank you to Sue Moloney for rounding up and cooking our delicious dinner, Duff and Julian for kicking butt on the dishes, Michael McKaskle for holding down the kitchen, Molly, Bella, and Jenna for coordinating the Silent Auction, Shawnee Alexandri for hauling all the rental items, setup and cleanup, Deja for helping setup, bartend and cleanup, Emily and Serenity Wood for holding down the front entry tickets, Mitra, Tony, Anne, Morgan, and Rob Fishman for managing the bar, Tryphena for hospitality and supplies, Casey, Emily and Matt for helping create our adorable pinecone owl centerpieces, Bruce and Shohei for their assistance in arranging the table decorations, and Adam, Lexi, and Dan and Abbey for lending a hand from start to finish!

This year, Vidu documented the event with his amazing video and photography skills. Thank you Vidu! Click here to check out EPIC photos from the event.