Archive for March, 2018

Richardson Grove in Court: Supporters Needed!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Where will you be on March 28th?

Come show your support! EPIC and allies will be back in court on March 28th in Eureka at 1:45, defending our most recent case filed in the Humboldt County Superior Court. We should be in Courtroom 4, but due to a shortage of courtrooms, we might get moved on the day of. Please check the directory by the elevators to determine the correct courtroom.

Caltrans is trying to kill our lawsuit through a “demurrer”—arguing that we, the plaintiffs, are barred from bringing a new case because this case is too similar to a case that we have previously filed. We obviously disagree. Caltrans has materially changed the project and has seemingly increased the level of impacts of the project on old-growth redwoods. This is a BIG court date for Richardson Grove because if EPIC is successful, we have the potential to stop Caltrans from moving forward with the project. We need your support in court to show the judge that the public wants to protect Richardson Grove State Park from more asphalt and big rigs.

As a refresher, EPIC has THREE! ongoing lawsuits to protect Richardson Grove: our new federal and state cases, filed this summer and fall, and our original state court case which resulted in the ongoing injunction against Caltrans. On March 6, Caltrans moved to stop the new state lawsuit. Supporters of the Grove were there in force! Over 50 people crammed into the tiny courtroom to show their love of the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park. We are still waiting on a ruling on that case, but your presence made a difference!

EPIC and allies have held back the bulldozers and cement trucks for over a decade. We are in it for the long haul. Thank you standing by us all this time. Your support makes all the difference.

If you love the grove, please consider a donation to help with the defense of Richardson Grove. Court cases ain’t cheap!

Planning to attend? RVSP to Tom at We will likely have a friendly post-court beer to discuss next steps on what we can do to protect the sacred grove.

SOS: Save Our Salamanders!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Siskiyou Mountain Salamander Photo by William Flaxington

EPIC Files Petition to Protect Siskiyou Mountains Salamander

EPIC and our sister conservation groups KS Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a federal petition for Endangered Species Act protection for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander, a rare terrestrial salamander that lives in old-growth forests in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California.

“The Siskiyou Mountain salamander is under imminent threat from numerous timber sales,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of EPIC. “Already on the verge of extinction, the salamander needs protection now before it’s too late.”

The salamander is threatened by federal land-agency plans to ramp up logging in southern Oregon and northern California.

“This highly specialized animal can’t adapt to logging, so it will be pushed to the brink of extinction without Endangered Species Act protection,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The salamander is a unique indicator species of forest health in the Siskiyou Mountains. It deserves immediate protection in the face of accelerated logging.”

“By eliminating the ‘survey and manage’ program that required timber planners to look for salamanders before logging their habitat, the Bureau of Land Management has put this rare species in further peril,” said George Sexton with KS Wild. “Increased logging of mature forests in the Applegate Valley could jeopardize the very survival of the salamander.”

The Siskiyou Mountains salamander (Plethodon stormi) is a long-bodied, short-limbed terrestrial salamander, brown in color with a sprinkling of white flecks. The species only lives in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California; it has the second-smallest range of any western Plethodontid salamander. Its best habitat is stabilized rock talus in old-growth forest, especially areas covered with thick moss. Mature forest canopy helps maintain a cool and stable moist microclimate.

“We have to ensure this unique salamander doesn’t blink out of existence,” said Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands. “In addition to playing an important ecological role by contributing to nutrient flow and soil health, the Siskiyou Mountains salamander is a distinct part of this region’s natural heritage.”


There are two distinct populations of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander separated by the Siskiyou Mountains crest—a larger northern population in the Applegate River drainage in Oregon and a small southern population in California’s Klamath River drainage. Most known Siskiyou Mountains salamander locations are on U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands.

Conservation groups first petitioned for protection of the salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004. To prevent the species’ listing, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a conservation agreement in 2007, intended to protect habitat for 110 high-priority salamander sites on federal lands in the Applegate River watershed. In 2008 the Fish and Wildlife Service denied protection for the salamander based on this conservation agreement and old-growth forest protections provided by the Northwest Forest Plan.

Under the Northwest Forest Plan, the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service were required to survey for rare species such as the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and designate protected buffers from logging where salamanders were found. But the Western Oregon Plan Revision adopted by the BLM in 2016 will substantially increase logging in western Oregon and undermine the habitat protections of the salamander conservation agreement.

CDFW Stalls, Green Diamond Clearcuts, Humboldt Marten Looses Ground

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Humboldt Marten 6/1/17 courtesy of Bluff Creek Project.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) continues to unlawfully delay production of a status review and report to support the California Endangered Species Act listing process of the critically-imperiled Humboldt marten. The California State wildlife agency has been negotiating terms of a potential Safe Harbor Agreement with voluntary marten conservation measures from Green Diamond Resource Company, while at the same time, it has been over two years since the agency was directed by the Fish and Game Commission to complete a status review and report within one-year. Meanwhile, Green Diamond goes about the business of clearcutting on the very same lands that might support martens and marten habitat, which would be involved in any potential Safe Harbor Agreement. Sadly CDFW’s inaction on the status review and report while gambling on reaching a Safe Harbor Agreement with Green Diamond makes prognosticating about the fate of the marten in California quite clear-cut; regardless of what happens from this point forward, the Humboldt martens loose.

EPIC and allies filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to list the Humboldt marten as an endangered species in California back in June of 2015. In February 2016, the Commission found that the listing of the marten may be warranted and designated the marten as a candidate for CESA listing. The Commission also directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a status review of the marten in California, and to deliver a status report on the marten to the Commission within one year to allow the Commission to consider the evidence and render a final listing decision. In February of 2017, the Department requested, and the Commission granted, a six-month extension on the delivery of the status review and report. State law affords one six-month extension.

It is now March of 2018, and the status review and report are still not complete and have not been delivered to the Fish and Game Commission, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is not offering EPIC a timeline for completion and delivery; in fact, the Department of fish and Wildlife isn’t even responding to our phone calls and e-mails regarding the timeline for the status review and report for the Humboldt marten.

And while the Department of Fish and Wildlife works to negotiate behind-closed-doors with Green Diamond Resource Company over a potential Safe Harbor Agreement and voluntary conservation measures on its industrial timberlands for the marten, Green Diamond is simultaneously working to clearcut the vast majority of its holdings in the areas of its property that would be the subject of the Safe Harbor Agreement and that are the most critical for marten protection, habitat connectivity, and species conservation.

EPIC’s investigation into how many THPs have been filed with the Extant Population Areas and the potential Dispersal Areas for the Humboldt marten indicates that some 47 THPs have been approved in areas most critical for marten conservation since the 2016 candidacy decision. These THPs are all in the Lower Klamath River and Upper Redwood Creek area, ground-zero for marten protection and conservation. Almost all of these THPs have been submitted by Green Diamond and involve extensive clearcutting. EPIC has conducted additional investigations and discovered ten additional THPs not yet approved or incorporated into the CAL FIRE GIS shape files for THPs as of the most recent software update. All ten of which have been submitted by Green Diamond, and all involve clearcutting of extensive acres, and in portions of its property most critical to marten protection and long-term marten habitat conservation and connectivity to other suitable habitats.

Map of THPs within Humboldt marten extant population areas and potential marten dispersal areas.

And so, the combination of delays in the listing process for the marten and Green Diamond’s clearcutting of the exact same land that would be subject to any Safe Harbor Agreement for voluntary conservation measures for the marten with the State leaves the marten loosing on all fronts, and regardless of the eventual outcome of the CESA listing process of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s negotiation with Green Diamond for voluntary conservation measures.

EPIC will continue to challenge the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s unlawful delays of the CESA listing process, and will continue to advocate for listing and meaningful conservation measures for the critically-threatened Humboldt marten.

EPIC & Latino Outdoors Redwood Hike Series & Outdoor Skills Training

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) and Latino Outdoors are pleased to present a series of bilingual interpretative hikes and associated outdoor skills training workshops to connect diverse communities with nature and outdoor experiences. All events are free and open to all ages.

EPIC and Latino Outdoors are providing a series of seminars designed to expose wilderness users to a variety of skills, and knowledge, in particular for those interested in leading bilingual hikes throughout the Redwood Hikes series.

Join us February 25th for our first Outdoor Skills Training Workshop: Introduction to Interpretive Guiding. Topics to be covered include an introduction to interpretive guiding, leave no trace, basic equipment knowledge, and leadership skills. Meet at Humboldt State University, Founders Hall – Green and Gold Room 116 at 10 AM

The first hike will be lead by our newly appointed bilingual guides on April 15th through Headwaters Forest Preserve, South Fork Elk River Trail. This 3-mile trail is suitable for all levels of ability. Please meet at EPIC headquarters 145 G Street, Arcata at 10 am. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear, bring food, water, and anything else you may need to be comfortable in the forest. Lunch will be provided*

Want to help? If you have strong ecological knowledge about a subject matter and are bilingual, we’d love for you to join our team! Email to learn how you can get involved.

Redwood Hike Series 2018

April 15th Headwaters Forest Reserve: South Fork Elk River Trail
Distance: 6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 3 hrs

May 6th Johnson Camp Trail: Humboldt Redwood State Park
Distance: 10 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Time: 5 hrs

July 16th Stout Grove: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Distance: .6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 5 hrs

September 23rd Trillium Falls Trail: Redwood National Park
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Time: 4 hrs


Caminatas De Secoya 2018

15-Abril Headwaters Forest Reserve: South Fork Elk River Trail
Distancia: 6 millas
Dificultad: Facil
Tiempo Total: 3 hrs

6-Mayo Johnson Camp Trail: Humboldt Redwood State Park
Distancia: 10 millas
Dificultad: Moderar
Tiempo Total: 5 hrs

16-Julio Stout Grove: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Distancia: 0.6 millas
Dificultad: Facil
Tiempo Total: 5 hrs

23-Septiembre Trillium Falls Trail: Redwood National Park
Distancia: 3 millas
Dificultad: Moderar
Tiempo Total: 4 hrs

Fish and Wildlife Service Says Goodbye to Spotted Owl Assistance in California

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Photo by Jeff Muskgrave

So long, and thanks for all the technical assistance! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it will no longer provide technical assistance to private timberland owners in California to ensure Timber Harvest Plans and other logging plans avoid “take” of the federally-threatened northern spotted owl. The announcement closes a 19-year chapter in which the federal wildlife agency has provided private timberland owners and the California Department of Forestry (CAL FIRE) with biological review of THPs and other state-sanctioned logging permitting frameworks aimed at avoiding “take” of the spotted owl.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service originally listed the spotted owl as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1990, and began formally offering assistance to CAL FIRE and private timberland owners in California as of 1999 at the request of then-California Secretary of Natural Resources, Mary Nichols. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began to scale back its technical assistance program for private timberlands in California in 2008, handing the brunt of the day-to-day work of ensuring spotted owl “take” avoidance over to CAL FIRE, the lead agency responsible for approval of private timberland THPs and other similar logging projects that could adversely impact northern spotted owls.

The technical assistance program never received a fully-funded mandate or line-item in the agency’s budget, and with a Republican President and Congress in D.C. until the election of former President Obama, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s program was targeted and slowly began to be dismantled.

The scale-back of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 created a vacuum of checks and balances on private timberlands “take” avoidance assurance in California, and some large industrial landowners, most notably Sierra Pacific Industries and Fruit Growers Supply Company, took full advantage by conducting risky logging activities in and near spotted owl nesting sites that never would have been sanction by the Fish and Wildlife Service during the technical assistance era. With CAL FIRE alone and in the lead, it was clear the fox had been left guarding the northern spotted owl nest sites.

In 2012, EPIC took action. We filed a listing petition with the California Fish and Game Commission requesting that it list and protect the northern spotted owl under State law and the California Endangered Species Act. It took nearly five years, but the Fish and Game Commission did eventually list the northern spotted owl under the California Endangered Species Act, an action that was codified as of June 2017.

Today, our efforts to see the spotted owl listed and protected under State law could not have better timed. The most recent range-wide northern spotted owl demographic study released in 2016 showed continued and alarming declines in owl populations, reproduction, and survival, across all 16 long-term study areas throughout their range, including three study areas in California. According to the study, northern spotted owls are declining at a rate of nearly four percent per-year, and that rate of decline is accelerating.

With an even less-friendly Republican President and Congress giving away anything and everything it can to extractive industries and interests, and a new and much more top-heavy agency control policy being handed down by the President, Interior Secretary Zinke, and Congress in D.C., it has become clear that the only way to protect, restore and recover threatened and endangered fish and wildlife like the northern spotted owl is to focus on what can be done right here in California.

Now, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completely abandoning the spotted owl in California, our State wildlife agency, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is ready to step up and step in to ensure spotted owls are not only protected, but also hopefully conserved and recovered in the State.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will now be the defacto lead on protection, enhancement, restoration, and recovery of the spotted owl in California. The challenges to this are many, and seem quite daunting: past and ongoing habitat loss, continued expansion and competition from barred owls, increasing risk of second-hand toxicant exposure, climate change, small, and isolated and fragile remnant populations all demand a holistic view and approach to spotted owl management and conservation in California that does more than focus on the tired, old question of “to take or not to take.”

In 2018, EPIC will be pressing the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a Recovery Strategy for the northern spotted owl in California that addresses threats to the species and the opportunities for conservation and recovery on a holistic and state-wide programmatic basis. You can follow our spotted owl advocacy efforts at:



Richardson Grove Fight Goes to Court

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

EPIC Attorney, Sharon Duggan explaining next steps to Richardson Grove supporters.

On Tuesday, EPIC and allies were back in court to stop the highway expansion through the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park. Richardson Grove supporters packed the courtroom—an overflow-sized crowd that made the bailiff nervous and the judge pay attention. (Thank you for your help! It was so inspiring to see so many passionate community members. <3 <3 <3)

At issue was Caltrans’ attempt to discharge of the “writ of mandamus” issued by the Court of Appeals—the court order, in non-legalese, which ordered Caltrans to do a better job on analyzing the impacts to old-growth redwoods. By “discharging the writ,” Caltrans would be one step closer to starting on their destructive project.

Speaking on behalf of the trees, our hot shot attorneys Sharon Duggan and Stu Gross, made clear that Caltrans’ attempts to clarify the impact to old-growth redwoods just muddied the waters—for example, the number of old-growth trees impacted by the project has increased despite Caltrans assertions that they have shrunk the scale and impacts of the project. This failure to clarify the impacts is important because it violates what the agency was ordered to do by the Court of Appeals. Because the impacts to old-growth is still unclear—although Caltrans does admit that a significant number of old-growth redwoods would experience dieback in their canopy—EPIC argued that Caltrans failed to do what the Court of Appeals required of the agency.

The judge, Honorable Kelly Neel, was attentive and seemed to grasp the importance of the hearing. At the outset, she made clear that she would not rule immediately as she would need time to consider the briefing and the arguments.

We are confident that the facts and law are on our side. But just in case we lose here, we have backup plans. If we lose at the Superior Court, we can always appeal to the court of appeals. Further, we have two new lawsuits—one filed in Humboldt County Superior Court and one in the Northern District of California—that we will continue to press. We have held back the bulldozers and cement trucks for over ten years. We aren’t giving up the fight any time soon!

Defending Richardson Grove isn’t cheap. Please consider a donation today to help fund this lawsuit and others.

It’s Official: Humboldt County Opposes Offshore Oil Drilling!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

We are a forest group, but sometimes we get moved to work on issues a little outside of our normal stomping grounds. In January, Interior Secretary Zinke proposed issuing 47 new offshore oil leases—including two from Mendocino to Del Norte. The thought of oil derricks off our shore (and oil spilling onto our coast) moved EPIC to act!

EPIC has teamed with Humboldt Baykeeper and the Northcoast Environmental Center to take on any proposed offshore oil drilling. Together, our organizations have pledged that we will fight any attempt to open offshore oil and gas development. As we stated in our open letter:

The Trump administration announced that it would open offshore oil drilling for nearly all continental waters in the United States, including here along our North Coast. Trump will have to go through us first. Our organizations, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Humboldt Baykeeper, and the Northcoast Environmental Center, pledge that we will do everything in our power to fight offshore oil and gas development in Northern California.

We are proud to report that we’ve made progress. On Tuesday, February 27, 2017, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors issued a formal resolution opposing offshore oil and gas developing. What’s more, the Board of Supervisors have pledged to work with the California Coastal Commission to redo our “Local Coastal Plan” to ban all onshore support facilities for offshore oil as well.

EPIC would like to thank the Board of Supervisors, particularly Supervisor Mike Wilson, for taking a leadership role on this issue.

Remembering Ruthanne Cecil

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Our merry gang of misfits and troublemakers is one smaller with the passing of Ruthanne Cecil. Ruthanne was there at the beginning, organizing community members to fight the aerial spraying of herbicides. EPIC was quite different back then—a completely volunteer organization that was once based out of an abandoned step van in Southern Humboldt.

Her son, Donovan Cecil, graciously provided EPIC with this remembrance of his mother:

Ruthanne Cecil passed away unexpectedly at her home in Arcata on Feb. 13, 2018. She was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Sept. 15, 1945 to Lester and Ruth Josephs, joining her older sister, Beverly. She is survived by her son, Donovan Cecil (Annie); Donovan’s ex-wife, Alicia Renata; grandsons, AJ Mcreynolds and Devon Cecil (Amorette), as well as her sister, Beverly Galvan, of Portland. Also grieving her loss are her dear friends Cynthia Packard, Nathan Muus and Lillian Hoika.

She met Vayne Cecil when she was in college at Wheaton, Chicago, in 1965. They moved to the San Francisco Bay Area together, where they had their son, Donovan, in 1967. They separated around 1973, although she always spoke of him with love and affection. Vayne passed away in 1999.

She came to Humboldt County in 1974, fell in love with the area, as so many did, and bought property in Ettersburg. She was very proud of having built her cabin while trying to go back and forth from the Bay Area, settling here permanently in 1976.

She was a very active member of the community, serving in many organizations over the years. She was a founding member of EPIC (Environmental Protection Information Center), worked on the Redwood National Park Trails project with RCDC (Redwood Community Development Council), and published a newspaper (the Country Activist). She also served as Executive Director of CEED (the Center for Environmental Economic Development) and helped with many other groups that protected our local environment.

She earned a law degree from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1997, where Janet Reno gave the Commencement Speech. She wrote her Doctoral Thesis on Global Income Inequality, and, as a result of this, gave a talk at the United Nations on that topic. Most recently, she served on the Arcata Council Energy Commission.

Always interested in her roots, she joined several groups relating to her Finnish/Saami heritage and traveled to Finland and Sweden to explore the history of our family and culture. One of her major projects was researching the history and genealogy of the members of the Alaskan Saami Reindeer project. Ruthanne attended many North American Saami events, where she was a “valued and much loved friend with her quick wit and extensive knowledge.” She felt privileged to be an “Honored Elder” and deeply valued her friends and colleagues.

The family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support we have received. She affected so many people’s lives and was an inspiration to many, although she would never have described herself as such. She was a humble, self-effacing woman who valued her independence, and lived her life in accordance with the values she espoused. She was very much loved by her family and will be greatly missed.

If you would like to honor Ruthanne, please consider donating to the Sami Cultural Center of North America. There is also a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral expenses. Or any local charity or group of your choice.

Also be informed and vote!

A memorial will be announced at a later date.