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EPIC Is Hiring: Director-Level Legal Staff Position

Monday, December 2nd, 2019
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Position Title: Conservation Director

Reports to: Executive Director

Supervises: Interns and Volunteers

Position Type: Full time, salary + benefits

Location: Arcata, California

Salary and Benefits: Depending on experience ($35,000 to $41,000/yr)

Application deadline: December 31, 2019

Are you an energetic and outgoing person who loves to work in teams? Do you have a love for nature and want to advocate for its protection? The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) is looking to find the newest member of our team! EPIC has worked for the protection and restoration of Northern California’s forests since 1977. You would join a professional team of lawyers, policy experts, and activists to protect forests, wildlife, and clean water.

EPIC is looking for a Conservation Director to maintain an organized and robust conservation program and advocate for improved resource management in the forest ecosystems of Northwest California. At EPIC, you would coordinate and manage campaigns and initiatives, review and comment on upcoming project proposals, and represent EPIC before members and the public.

Qualified and motivated applicants should submit a resume and cover letter before and by December 31, 2019 to Tom Wheeler at tom@wildcalifornia.org. Applications will not be reviewed until after the December 31st deadline.

Position Summary:

The Conservation Director (title negotiable) will make significant contributions to EPIC advocacy initiatives and will be one of the key staff responsible for organizing and managing the policy actions that make up EPIC’s core conservation program areas — Public Lands, Industrial Forestry Reform, Endangered Species and Biodiversity Defense, and Clean Water and Healthy Rivers—as well as coordinating, and potentially contributing to, EPIC’s litigation docket.

The Conservation Director position is a director-level legal staff position that requires extensive collaboration with other staff and is supervised by the Executive Director. The Conservation Director must work both independently, and in close collaboration with, other EPIC staff and the EPIC Board of Directors.

Responsibilities:

The Conservation Director will have extensive responsibility in the following areas: strategy, science, law, advocacy (grassroots organizing, legislation, and public policy), and communications (written and oral). These responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring and responding to key proposals and initiatives, maintaining an organized program and legal/litigation docket and calendar, tracking comment and briefing deadlines, and optimizing opportunities for public participation.
  • Staying up to date on key issues and developments in county, state, and federal environmental policies, planning, regulations and laws; local and regional governmental and private projects; and science, as it relates to core conservation and programmatic work.
  • Advocating for improved resource management, supporting appropriate proposals, and contributing to the design of strategies for stopping or mitigating inappropriate project proposals.
  • Commenting on projects, exhausting administrative remedies, and preparing for litigation where necessary.
  • Coordinating with allied groups and advocates, bridge organizing and networking with diverse stakeholders.
  • Researching, developing, and orchestrating EPIC’s campaigns and initiatives, independently and in coalition with other EPIC staff and partner organizations, as well as non-traditional allies.
  • Representing EPIC in public events and intimate community gatherings to media, members, and the public; allies and partners; key regulatory venues, public officials, elected representatives; and other diverse stakeholders.
  • Creating content for media and public education efforts, and contributing to online organizing and web publishing efforts.
  • Supervising interns and volunteers
  • Coordinating with other EPIC staff and the EPIC Board of Directors on EPIC organizational logistics including strategic planning, and selection and prioritization of EPIC projects, campaigns, media strategies, and litigation.

Position Requirements:

The Conservation Director must be a team player, professional, and well-spoken. You must also be highly organized and detail-oriented, with the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously. It is also important you display excellent verbal and written communication and interpersonal abilities as you will often be the “face” of the organization.

  • J.D. degree and California bar license preferred, or ability to obtain California license in a timely manner; or other relevant experience or education in environmental or public policy.
  • Expertise in forest, clean water, clean air, wildlife, public lands law, and land use/planning law.
  • Highly organized, detail-oriented, high level of initiative and ability to work independently and collaboratively.
  • Experience participating in environmental or advocacy campaigns.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and consensus-building skills, including the ability to work collaboratively with clients and colleagues from diverse backgrounds.
  • Initiative, good judgment, good time management skills, and a strong work ethic.
  • Demonstration of a commitment to equity, inclusion, and justice.
  • Ability to multitask and manage multiple projects simultaneously.

Compensation And Rewarding Benefits

Salary range is $35,000 to $41,000 per year depending on qualifications and experience.
At EPIC, you will be part of a small but powerful team of activists. We place a high priority on our team members and prioritize flexible schedules and a sane work/life balance. We will ask you to give us your very best every day, and will challenge you with interesting work, stretch assignments, a collaborative and supportive work environment and plenty of learning and growth. In additional to our flexible schedule and living wage pay, EPIC will also provide the following benefits:

  • Medical/Rx and Dental insurance
  • Paid parental leave
  • Paid time off including holidays, vacation, personal, sick time, bereavement and pay for jury duty
  • Opportunity for travel

To Apply:

E-mail a cover letter and resume to tom@wildcalifornia.org. Position open until filled. No phone calls please.

The Board of Directors of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) recognizes that issues of social justice, human rights, and environmental justice are inextricably linked to our mission to protect and restore Northwest California’s environment. In recognition of this interrelation, EPIC will work with local marginalized communities to stand up for environmental quality and social justice, to expand the conservation movement to include communities that have been historically excluded, and to promote dialogue and increased understanding. EPIC will further make efforts to maintain a Board of Directors that reflects the broad environmental concerns and issues affecting Northwest California, particularly those of marginalized communities.

Next Week is #GivingTuesday: Give Back To Local Non-Profits

Monday, November 25th, 2019
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Giving Tuesday is coming up on Dec. 3rd—the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving—and this is your friendly reminder to donate. Giving Tuesday is the quaint alternative to the wanton consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Instead of binging on things that you don’t need and only momentarily distract you from the void inside—speaking from personal experience—you can give back to the local institutions that shape our communities and make Humboldt, and the world, a better place.

Giving Tuesday is an international movement. Founded in New York in 2012 as a response to the commercialization and consumerism, the event has spread worldwide. Having a single day of concentrated giving has been important to nonprofits. Last year, American nonprofits were given an estimated $400 million on this single day—the largest single day of donations in the year.

And filling that gnawing emptiness inside is also easier with giving. Research shows us that we obtain far greater happiness by giving than receiving and that giving to charity promotes greater inner peace than buying yourself another doodad. It’s true! Here’s the science.

Not only does Giving Tuesday help nonprofits keep the doors open, it is also helping to expose a new generation to charitable giving. The largest demographic who participates in Giving Tuesday are those 18-34. Of this group, 67% who are aware of Giving Tuesday participate in some way. This is the flip of the usual demographic of nonprofit organizations: the silver-haired and long in the tooth.

Thinking about giving? Ask about whether your company has a matched giving program. Or take advantage of any matched giving program sponsored by other groups. (All donations through Patagonia’s Action Works, for example, are matched between November 29 and December 31.)

Don’t have money? Give your time. Volunteerism is the backbone of most nonprofits, and whether it is petting cats (and scooping litter) at the Humboldt Animal Rescue Team or help with the holiday food drive at Food for People, local nonprofits would love to have your help. Volunteerism is linked to good health (people who volunteer actually live longer) and improved mental health (volunteering is a good kind of antidepressant).

As the Executive Director of EPIC, I think way too much about how to wrest money from supporters. And, duh, I’d be thrilled if you donated to EPIC. But I’d be happy if you gave to any local organization that shared your beliefs. The point is to give—be generous, be larger than yourself.

If you are giving to a favorite charity this week, join our community campaign and encourage others by using the hashtag #HumboldtGives. We know it may sound corny, but the light amount of social pressure that you get when you see your friend’s Facebook post is also linked to increased giving.


2019 EPIC Fall Celebration Highlights and Thank You’s

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
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The EPIC Fall Celebration at the Mateel Community Center was a great success thanks to all of our incredible volunteers who were on the ground making the event a smooth and fun experience, our awesome attendees, and of course, the many wonderful and talented community members and businesses that donated this year. We extend our gratitude and blessings to all mentioned and especially to Dennis Cunningham for making the long trip up to accept the Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award.

Some highlights include a fantastic meal catered by Natalia Boyce with vegetable donations from Luna Farm and Misty Meadows Farm. Luna Farm also donated all of our seasonal table decorations of bright cayennes, decorative gourds, magnificent persimmon branches, and corn stalks.

Our Silent Auction this year was one to write home about with all of the local items and getaways donated by such a generous community. We hope you came home with something fantastic!

Dennis Cunningham gave an awe-inspiring speech and many younger people in the crowd were excited to hear about his legacy of civil rights protection. Delhi 2 Dublin had many people on the dance floor and gave a fun performance to all. We greatly appreciate all that attended and would love to see more pictures if you took some. Feel free to e-mail your pictures to rhiannon@wildcalifornia.org or tag us on FB or Instagram.

Dennis Cunningham accepting Sempervirens Award. Photo by Paul Mason.


Giving Tuesday Coming Up: Give the Gift of Healthy Forests

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
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This Thanksgiving holiday, after you’ve gorged yourself on turkey or tofurkey, after you’ve been trampled for door buster savings on Black Friday (or righteously protested mass consumerism by strolling through a park instead), and after Cyber Monday is just a fleeting electron, give big on December 3rd for Giving Tuesday!

There is a long tradition in Humboldt County of supporting locally owned businesses and artisans. We know to buy local and to support local businesses because we care about the vitalizing effects of investing locally. We subscribe to this practice because we know it is good for our economy, our environment, and our community. By adhering to these beliefs we are tangibly improving Humboldt County’s resiliency and sustainability into the future.

Giving Tuesday is a nationwide movement to support local institutions, which help to make your world a better place. This Giving Tuesday, give big to support EPIC and its critical work to protect Northwest California’s forest ecosystems. As a membership organization, EPIC is dependent on its network of small donors. We are your voice, slogging through dense government documents and attending tedious meetings in far-flung corners of the state to make sure your interests are heard. (The environment does not have a lobbyist, unlike Big Business).

We all have a choice in how we spend our hard-earned money; during this season of thanks and generosity, please give to your local public interest organizations like EPIC because you value and benefit from their mission, and because you believe in humanity’s ability to positively impact the world.

Click here to donate and help the people-powered EPIC.


EPIC Petitions for Better Beaver Regulations: Proposed Rules Would Clarify Rules for Trapping

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
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Photo by Bob Greenburg, Yellowstone NPS.

Last week, EPIC filed a rulemaking petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to ensure greater protections for beavers and to clarify existing legal rules concerning their trapping. Together on the petition were the Center for Biological Diversity, the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and the Northcoast Environmental Center.

The proposed regulations would impact the 700+ beavers killed each year because of conflict with the human environment, and would require individuals to exhaust non-lethal methods to deter or diminish conflict before a permit could be issued that would allow their lethal removal. It further codifies federal law prohibiting the removal of beavers if that removal would harm a species protected by the Endangered Species Act.  

The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is native to California. Accordingly, the flora and fauna of the state have co-evolved with the beaver, developing unique and complex interwoven relationships. Beavers, however, are currently missing from much of their historic range and the effects of their absence are felt by the species that co-evolved with beavers. Beaver create freshwater habitats used by a variety of wildlife, including fish, birds, and other mammals. Their dams filter stream water, improve water quality, raise the water table, increase water storage, and repair eroded riparian areas. 

“Beavers play an outsized role in creating healthy aquatic habitat,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of EPIC. “Today’s rulemaking petition recognizes this important ecosystem role and affords greater protections for the beaver. We need more beavers, not more beaver trapping, to have healthy watercourses.”

Today’s petition will go before the Commission at the next scheduled hearing.  There, the Commission will consider the petition, together with staff’s recommendation as well as the evaluation of the Department of Fish and Wildlife together with all public comments received. If the Commission finds that the petition lacks sufficient information or is functionally equivalent to a regulation change in the past 12 months, the Commission may deny the petition. If the Commission finds that the petition may be warranted, then it may add the petition to its rulemaking schedule for future consideration.

A copy of the rulemaking petition can be found here


Action Alert: Planning Commission Meeting for Terra-Gen’s Proposed Wind Project This Thursday

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
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Monument Ridge, one of the sites proposed for the Humboldt Wind Project. Photo by Rob DiPerna.

The Humboldt Wind Project, proposed by Terra-Gen, is rightfully drawing significant controversy and public attention. Proposed outside of Scotia, California, the project seeks to place 47 turbines in a remote and ecologically important area. Home to rare and federally-protected flora and fauna, the project site has been described by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as “inappropriate” for wind energy development given the potential impacts. 

EPIC appreciates the need to take action on climate change, and industrial-scale renewable energy development is one of the kinds of actions necessary to actually minimize the harm associated with our climate crisis. That said, the proposed Humboldt Wind Project is in a poorly sited location and accordingly, is likely to result in significant impacts to wildlife and to Wiyot cultural resources. For that reason, EPIC has been intimately involved in the project throughout its development. Our goal has been—and this has not been without controversy from many of our friends both in favor of the project and opposed—to avoid, minimize and compensate for impacts to the maximum extent possible under the law. You can read EPIC’s comments on the DEIR here

Previously, we have said that we do not believe that the company or the county has met this threshold, and absent significant project changes, we opposed approval of the project. As a result of EPIC and other’s participation, some meaningful project changes have occurred—yet still not enough to satisfy our expectations. You can read a press release sent from EPIC, American Bird Conservancy and the Northcoast Environmental Center about our position here.

The last opportunity for Humboldt County to meet its legal obligations before the Planning Commission is this Thursday, November 21, at 4pm. At that time, the Commission is able to either deny, approve, or approve with additional conditions of approval. EPIC has recommended a suite of additional mitigation measures that the Planning Commission add as a condition of approval. EPIC’s letter with suggested additional conditions of approval is available here.

EPIC appreciates that ours is only one voice in this community dialogue, and we respect that this project requires a difficult and careful balancing of values. Significantly, there is a voice of particular importance and that is that of the Wiyot tribe and they have been firm in their statements that this project will irreparably damage a sacred and culturally important place to their people. On one hand, the many site-specific impacts mentioned are of great concern. On the other, the project is able to produce low-carbon energy and could potentially reduce our reliance on the local natural gas-powered Humboldt Bay Generating Station. EPIC encourages everyone to read about the project, consider these difficult questions for themselves, and present their conclusions at the meeting.

See you at the Planning Commission this Thursday at 4pm. 

What: Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting regarding the Humboldt Wind LLC, Conditional Use Permit and Special Permit.

Where: Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 5th Street, Eureka

When: Thursday, November 21, at 4 p.m.

 


Loophole-ridden Proposal for Pacific Fishers Fails to Protect Forest Habitat

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019
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Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In response to a petition and lawsuit from conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to protect Pacific fishers under the Endangered Species Act. Conservation groups are decrying loopholes in the proposal under a special “4(d)” rule that will allow ongoing logging of the forest-dependent carnivore’s habitat.

“Fishers deserve actual safeguards under the Endangered Species Act, not this weak proposal that doesn’t fully protect their habitat,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The exemptions to their protection are fuzzier than fishers themselves.”

The Service proposed protection for the fisher in 2014 but then arbitrarily withdrew its proposal in 2016. Groups then filed suit, asserting that the denial ignored science in a politically motivated bow to the timber industry. In September 2018 a judge in the Northern District of California ruled that the Service had to reconsider the denial of Endangered Species Act protection for Pacific fishers. Today’s proposed listing is a revision of the 2014 rule with exemptions from protection for forest-management activities.

“Once more the Fish and Wildlife Service is failing to implement the protections that fishers need to recover. They are clearly relying on politics instead of science, so we will continue to push for full protection for fishers,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director at the Environmental Protection Information Center.

A relative of minks and otters, Pacific fishers once roamed forests from British Columbia to Southern California. But due to intense logging and historical trapping, only two naturally occurring populations remain: a population of 100 to 500 fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada and a population of between 250 and a few thousand in southern Oregon and Northern California. Fishers have been reintroduced in Washington state.

“This rare forest carnivore still isn’t getting the protection it needs to be safeguarded for future generations. We urge the agency to issue a final listing that does not buckle to pressure from industry and that protects the fisher fully from logging activities,” said Susan Britting, executive director of Sierra Forest Legacy.

Pacific fishers continue to be threatened by loss of habitat due to logging, use of toxic rodenticides by marijuana growers, and increasing fire severity exacerbated by climate change. In a 2015 study, scientists conducting necropsies on fishers found that 85 percent had been exposed to rodent poison.

“These days it’s rare to find a fisher in southern Oregon that hasn’t been exposed to poisonous rodenticides,” said George Sexton, conservation director at KS Wild. “If we can’t get a handle on the widespread poisonings the future of the species is pretty bleak. We are appreciative that the Fish and Wildlife Service now recognizes that fisher populations are threatened and need protections. Hopefully we can all work together to strengthen the safeguards that fishers need if they are to survive into the future.”

Efforts to gain federal protection for the fisher now span decades. The Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned to protect the animal in 1994, and again in 2000 with the Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Sierra Forest Legacy. Earthjustice represented the groups in challenging the 2016 withdrawal of the proposed listing. The Service first put the fisher on a waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection in 2004.

“The Endangered Species Act is our nation’s bedrock environmental law, but sadly the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is sacrificing our most imperiled wildlife to appease industry interests with this loophole-ridden proposal,” said Elizabeth Forsyth, an Earthjustice attorney.

Click here for the press release.


A Peek Into the Forest Cauldron: Witch’s Butter

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
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Black witch’s butter, Exidia glandulosa. Photo by Kevin Lewis.

What could that globular, oozing, alien-like substance be emerging from that dead tree or log you are passing? There’s a good chance that it is one of the spookiest condiments of the forest: witch’s butter, known also as jelly fungi. 

Is it orange, black, white, yellow? There are a variety of types of jelly fungi which are umbrellaed under the common name of witch’s butter. These fungi have slightly different characteristics, ranging from parasitic to edible, but all share the commonality of revival. They can survive for months without any water, conserving their energy by drying up into a hardened ball, but within two hours of rain, they begin reconstitution and start reproducing spores. These are the zombies of the woods, their ability to come back to life within hours is creepily impressive.

The most well-known type of witch’s butter is the yellow witch’s butter, Tremella mesenterica, which translates directly to ‘trembling middle intestines.’ It is mainly found on dead angiosperm hardwoods and does not decompose the wood, but rather parasitizes on actual wood-decomposing fungi. 

Tremella aurantia parasitizing on Stereum hirsutum. Photo by Thomas Lodge

Commonly mistaken for Tremella mesenterica is its close relative Tremella aurantia, which parasitizes Stereum hirsutum (commonly known as false turkey tails), often growing directly out of the Stereum fruiting bodies.


The Horrific Tale of Timber Targets

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
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This photo from the Klamath National Forest courtesy of KS Wild. Trucks of logs are being sold for only a measly $2.50

Taxpayers lose nearly $2 billion a year to subsidize logging on public lands! Despite this loss, there are plans to increase logging by 40%. Congress sets timber targets for national forests and each forest is financially rewarded for reaching those targets. Thus, there is always an incentive for cutting down the big pumpkins a.k.a. the big old fire resistant carbon storing trees. The scary truth is that US Forest Service timber sale program is a net money loser yet timber companies profit, most often at a cost to the public, wildlife and water quality.

Frighteningly, timber sales on the Klamath and Mendocino National Forests offer thousands of log-truck loads of trees for $2.50 each or the amount of a good chocolate bar. While some districts are better than others, the agency often tries tricking the public by masquerading logging as fire risk reduction while sweetening the pot with mature and old-growth trees that have withstood decades, even centuries, of fire. To make deals even sweeter, road maintenance and slash (left over limbs and tree tops) disposal costs are dropped or offered at spine-chilling prices.

As the danger of the climate crisis and mass extinction loom, it is time to stop footing the bill for slicing and dicing what’s left of our national forests. Put the chainsaws away and start using scalpels. Congress can remedy this grave situation by using federal forest funds on ecological restoration decoupled from commercial logging and getting rid of timber targets all together. To truly serve the land and the people the Forest Service should focus on carbon storage, water quality and wildlife recovery. Our public lands provide priceless and supernatural life essential services.


Bee a Zombie this Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
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Photo by Wildwise studios

Looking for a spooky Halloween costume? Look no further! Bee a Zombee this Halloween and share a cool ecological story as you trick-or-treat.

Zombie bees, or zombees, buzzing through the neighborhood on a cold Halloween night. Sounds like fiction (or a great Halloween costume!), but it’s real. While not undead, the bees are controlled by a parasite growing inside their bodies. It starts like this: A parasitic fly about the size of a fruit fly, Apocephalus borealis, lands on a bee. Quickly it deposits its eggs in cracks in the bee’s abdomen. As the eggs hatch, they migrate deeper into the bee, feeding on its muscles. As the parasite continues to grow, the bee will exhibit weird behavior. It may venture out on cold, dark nights in search of artificial light. (Why? Scientists are not sure but speculate that the parasite is controlling its host, causing it to look for a more-suitable place to complete its incubation.) Other strange behavior includes loss of normal muscle function (look for bees that are falling over or having trouble standing) or disorientation (look for bees walking aimlessly in circles).

This parasite is native to North America, although its infection of European honeybees is thought to be recent. Some have speculated that the parasitic fly may be a vector for colony collapse disorder. Our knowledge of zombees is still evolving, as this phenomenon was only discovered in 2008.

See any bees acting funny? Become a citizen scientist and record your sightings at zombeewatch.org. Place bees found near artificial light sources in a sealed container (one bee per container) and wait. Small, pill-shaped fly pupae may emerge (usually somewhere around 5-14 days later). Take a photo of your results and share with the world! One zombee was already recorded in Fortuna, CA, so they may already bee in your backyard.


Scare-O-Trauma: A Hoary Bat Story

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
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Original Photo by Daniel Neal, Oregon State University. Edits made by Kendall Burke.

Halloween is just around the corner and with it comes all of the bloodcurdling terrors of the night. So it’s time to put on your bat wings and hit the streets to show that you are the most adorable of them all: the small but helpful hoary bat. 

The hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) is a small migratory tree bat that ranges throughout the entirety of North and South America. Being a non-colonial tree bat, the hoary bat lives in isolation during its spring and autumn migratory period, where it pursues resources such as roosting locations, prey (primarily moths), and mating opportunities. During its wintering period a significant segment of the population aggregates along California’s coast.

The development of wind turbine facilities throughout the United States has generated a substantial issue for the hoary bat and other migratory bat species. Recently published studies have directly linked wind turbines to an exponential increase in mortality of hoary bat populations, with expert opinion establishing the species may become extinct within the next 50 years. Hoary bats are susceptible to colliding with turbines due to their roosting and migratory behavior, which causes an attraction to tall objects like wind turbines. Fatalities occur due to either direct collisions or a condition brought on by a rapid change in pressure, which results in mortality called barotrauma. Luckily, there’s a solution. Hoary bats are most at risk during a very small window of time: during their migration period, particularly at dawn and dusk with low wind speeds. If we don’t spin turbines at these times, studies have shown a radical reduction in bat mortality (between 50-90%!) with only minimal losses of power (1-3.5% of total energy generation). 

Sounds like an easy solution, right? Despite a clear way to mitigate impacts upon the population there is a distinct lack of implementation. The wind energy industry has balked at voluntary protection measures because the bat is not yet listed under the Endangered Species Act.

So in the spirit of Halloween, support our little friend and put on your wings. You and your hoary friends don’t have a sweet fang for candy, hopefully there are king size moths handy.  With the arrival of Autumn means it’s time to migrate, so travel safe and don’t forget to echolocate! And be careful around wind turbines, because you don’t want any scare-o-trauma. 


BREAKING:EPIC Litigates Mendocino National Forest’s Latest Attempt To Evade Environmental Review

Thursday, October 17th, 2019
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Mendocino National Forest bulldozer lines are linear clearcuts harmful to wildlife and ecosystems but are ineffective at stopping the fire. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Baker

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) is suing the U.S. Forest Service for approving a series of timber sales on the Mendocino National Forest that shortcut public participation and environmental review in violation of federal law. In a complaint filed today, EPIC alleges that the Forest Service expedited seven timber sales, totaling up to 7,000 acres, by mislabeling the logging as a “road maintenance” project. At risk from the logging are clean water, northern spotted owls, and increased fuel conditions.

All Forest Service timber sales are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The core of NEPA is a requirement that agencies take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of their proposed actions, typically done through an environmental impact statement or environmental analysis. The timber sales were approved using what is called a “categorical exclusion.” Categorical exclusions do not require environmental impact review or public comment.

Unnecessary bulldozer line the fire never reached fragments intact wildlands. Photo Courtesy of Kimberly Baker.

Here, the Forest Service argues that a commercial timber sale is “road maintenance” because the logging would remove dead and live trees affected by the 2018 Ranch Fire along roads, reducing the odds that the trees may fall and block the road. A separate categorical exclusion exists for post-fire logging, although that is limited to 250 acres, as anything larger in scale is assumed to be able to produce significant impacts to the environment. All timber sales in this proposed project are larger than 250 acres. Furthermore, many of the roads proposed for logging are closed to motor vehicle use.

“The Mendocino National Forest is taking a page from Trump’s playbook,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of EPIC. “Calling a timber sale ‘road maintenance’ is a stunning way to stifle public participation and ignore environmental impacts.”

Science has widely recognized that post-fire logging is especially impactful, as logging adds an additional disturbance on top of the effects of the fire. Post-fire logging often results in degraded water quality, the spread of invasive plants, and loss of habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species. It can also increase the risk of high-severity fire since logging leaves behind a buildup of slash and finer “fuels.” If allowed to use a categorical exclusion instead of an environmental impact statement, these impacts may never be adequately examined and mitigation measures to reduce harm through better project design would not be incorporated.

“This is a massive project covering thousands of acres,” asserted EPIC’s Public Land Advocate, Kimberly Baker, “the Mendocino National Forest is breaking the law to meet timber targets and benefit timber corporations at a cost to fragile post-fire watersheds and threatened species. Public safety could be achieved in a more benign manner.”

EPIC is represented by René Voss of Natural Resources Law and Matt Kenna of Public Interest Environmental Law. The case will be heard in the Northern District Court of California.

To carry out this legal challenge to preserve owl habitat, clean water, fire resilient landscapes and our right to participate in public land management decisions, we need to raise substantial funding. Please help us see this case through by making a substantial donation today.

Click here for press release and contacts.


RCEA Biomass Meeting Friday

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
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The Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) is considering what role biomass should play in Humboldt’s energy future. RCEA’s decision was prompted by the community’s proposal, supported by EPIC, to require that 100% of our power come from clean, renewable energy by 2025. RCEA will be examining the future of biomass at a special forum at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center this Friday (10/18) from 1-4pm. EPIC encourages our members to attend and let their opinions be known. (But if you can’t make it, we will take notes and keep you up to date on the topic.)

Biomass in Humboldt is a complicated subject, largely because most of the scientific literature is from elsewhere and the particulars of our biomass production is unique. Here, nearly all of the fuel stock comes from “mill waste,” the chips, sawdust, and unmerchantable wood that is a leftover from timber production.

From the narrow perspective of utilizing a “waste” product, biomass as it exists makes some sense: we are able to put to economic use something that would otherwise cost money to dispose of. But biomass is not “clean” in the ordinary sense. Through combustion, biomass produces, among other things, fine particulate matter, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone, dioxin, benzene and formaldehyde. These are often released in amounts rivaling or exceeding other combustion-based energy production, like coal power plants. And biomass also produces greenhouse gases—and in large amounts. (There while there is a scientific debate over whether the total carbon saved through forest sequestration outweighs the carbon emitted in burning, it is also clear that this is based on the long lives of forests. In the immediate term, biomass produces a sudden pulse of carbon that was once safely stored in the wood. If we have a short time to turn our emissions around before running off a climate cliff, these immediate impacts, even if balanced against long-term savings, are deadly important.)

What to do? Biomass is burned because it can return some value for what would otherwise be a waste product. If we change the economics—that is, if we can utilize that same biomass for a higher and better use—we can both provide a better market for forest products and sequester the carbon imbedded in that biomass. We could create new timber products, either by more efficient utilization of raw logs or by creating secondary product markets, like chipboards. Doing so would not only put that embedded carbon to a high and better use, creating more value for timberland owners per tree, but it could also better sequester that carbon, and could work to fill timber demand, resulting in a less overall logging. A triple win. Or we could create new biomass plants that produce some heat/energy and creates biochar, which can be sold as a soil amendment.

But this future isn’t possible without vision. RCEA should utilize its purchasing power to provide both a carrot and stick to get Humboldt moving into the future. The worst case scenario is that we just do more of the same: continue to subsidize old and inefficient biomass plants at the expense of taxpayers health and wallets.


Volunteers Needed: EPIC Fall Celebration

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
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The seasons have changed, the crisp air of October has come upon us, and our Annual Fall Celebration is just around the corner. We have a growing inventory of incredible items for our silent auction from so many lovely businesses around town, a delicious locally-sourced Indian Feast growing on the vines, and a great array of local beers and wines for your imbibing pleasure. We are getting excited to celebrate and share a merry evening with you all. The Fall Celebration is our biggest annual fundraiser of the year and it is made possible by all of the great support we receive from our community!

Are you looking for a way to plug into that community and give back before the holidays while having fun? Support EPIC by volunteering for our Fall Celebration this November 9th, at the Mateel Community Center in Redway. We ask that volunteers give 3-4 hours of their time for a shift. Volunteering comes with free entry, dinner, and ample time to boogie! Don’t have a ride or need more passengers? We have set up a carpool page here where you can register your vehicle or catch a ride with someone else.

Some examples of volunteering positions available:

Set-up 12pm-3pm
Set-up 3pm-6pm
Mixed Drinks Bar Helper 6pm-9pm
Mixed Drinks Bar Helper 9pm-12am
Clean-up 11pm-1am
Check-in Table 8:45pm-11pm
Check-in Table 8:45pm-11pm
Photobooth Helper 6pm-9pm
Photobooth Helper 9pm-12am
Dessert and Coffee Shift 2 10pm-12am

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Rhiannon at rhiannon@wildcalifornia.org or call (707) 822-7711. For more details about the event, check out our Event Page on our website to get tickets, or our FB Event page. Please share this with friends, colleagues, or family members who may be interested. We look forward to hearing from you!  


Econews Radio Show is Back!

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
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The newly revamped Econews Report radio show will be aired every Saturday at 10am and will have a slightly different layout, featuring roundtable discussions with representatives of local environmental organizations. EPIC’s Tom Wheeler, Humboldt Baykeeper’s Jennifer Kalt, Northcoast Environmental Center’s Larry Glass and Friends of the Eel River’s Scott Greacen will host each show together.

You can listen live, subscribe to the podcast or check out previously aired episodes in the Lost Coast Outpost’s archives, where you can find all of the shows that we have recorded so far:


Action Alert: Gov. Newsom Vetoed SB1 – Ask Him to Protect People, Wildlife and Wild Places!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
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On September 27th, Governor Gavin Newsom sided with the Trump administration and industry lobbyists when he vetoed SB 1, which would have safeguarded California’s wildlife and wild places from federal efforts to dismantle bedrock environmental laws. SB1 was passed by the California senate and assembly in a recent attempt to prevent the federal rollbacks of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. Beginning in 2017, the Trump Administration has launched a series of challenges to these federal laws and the protections they have provided for decades.

Agricultural water districts and wealthy farming interests spent endless resources to lobby against SB1, because it would have required the Central Valley Project to comply with the Endangered Species Act – a requirement that would have prevented big ag from taking too much water from the Bay Delta ecosystem and Northern California’s rivers, which could result in lethal temperatures in these watersheds where endangered salmon are already on the brink of extinction.

Click here to take action! Please take a moment to personalize a message to Governor Newsom expressing your disappointment in his actions of putting industry before endangered species, the environment and communities.


Furry Friends, Never Fear: New Protections for Martens and Other Critters Coming!

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019
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EPIC is happy to report two BIG wins!

First, based on a petition submitted by EPIC and others, by a 4-3 vote the Oregon Fish and Game Commission baned the trapping of Humboldt martens in Oregon. This is a big move for Oregon, particularly considering that we had to fight the industry-aligned Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to get the trapping ban passed. (ODFW recommended only banning trapping in one of the two known populations.)

Second, in a first-in-the-country move, California has banned all commercial trapping of fur-bearing mammals. The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019, signed by Governor Newsom on Sept. 4th. EPIC supported the law and sent our endorsement to the legislature and governor.

The Wildlife Protection Act follows on the successful efforts to ban the trapping of bobcats, which EPIC helped rally the troops for in 2015.


EPIC Collaborates on Fire Story

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019
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Fire season has kicked in with multiple wildfires in the northern CA region. The public only gets a fraction of the wildfire suppression story in the media. To shed some light on the subject EPIC is proud to share this story map, created by our partners at Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology (FUSEE), which provides details on California’s largest wildfire, the Mendocino Complex. EPIC’s contribution provides a small glimpse of the nearly 700 miles of bulldozed fire line that was constructed during the fire. That’s over a mile of bulldozer line for every square mile of the fire. We have great appreciation for all that firefighters do for us, yet the decisions made by incident commanders are often dangerous, ineffective and deleterious.


UPDATED: CA Governor Newsom Sides with Industry, Vetoes SB1

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019
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By Matthew Fingerett

On September 27th, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed SB 1, a bill that had passed by the state senate and assembly in their most recent attempt to prevent the federal rollbacks of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA).

The bill would have adopted the Clean Water Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and other regulations into California law without the changes made to the acts by the current administration.

Last month, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a press release in an attempt to explain the Trump administration’s alleged improvements to the ESA. “The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal—recovery of our rarest species” explained DOI Secretary David Bernhardt, former oil industry lobbyist with a history of suppressing science.

At the top of the Trump administration’s agenda is not to recover or protect any species, but to ravage public lands for fossil fuel extraction and corporate profit at their expense. The DOI and the Department of Commerce suggested one of the new provisions in the ESA that would allow for the consideration of economic consequences to take precedence over protecting the environment. The change limits the ability for climate crisis to be considered in determining what species make it on or off the endangered list, effectively gutting the ability to consider context beyond capital – morality be damned; the ecosystem that sustains both human and animal life be damned.

One of the champions of protecting capital above life is Richard Pombo, a mining and water management lobbyist who was formerly a California congressman. Richard Pombo has been an advocate for weakening the ESA for a long time and his desire is disappointingly becoming a reality. One of the more battled issues revolves around pumping more irrigation water from the vulnerable Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, host to endangered species like the chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Private interests have a history of extracting water from California – including during droughts – then commodifying it and selling it back to us in bottles.

Newsom has decided to side with corporate interests, mining and water management companies, David Bernhardt, Richard Pombo, and the Trump administration in his potential decision to veto a bill that was passed by the senate 26 to 14 and the assembly 43 to 21. Newsom said the bill “does not provide the state with any new authority to push back against the Trump administration’s environmental policy.”

Ultimately, the bill would have allowed California to have new authority to push back against the Trump administration’s environmental policy. The policies of SB 1 were aimed to protect our supply of natural resources, clean water, air, and endangered species that depend on them. Newsom claims to support the principles behind the bill, but the action of vetoing it is a more powerful indicator of where his loyalty lies than any words coming out of his mouth.

While the future is uncertain, an SB 1 coalition of environmental justice groups as well as individual activists remain committed to protecting our environment.


Action Alert: Rare Tule Elk Need Our Help!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
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by Matthew Fingerett

The small, mostly isolated population of Tule elk are in danger due to the National Park Service’s (NPS) commitment to cattle ranching at Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes is currently the only national park in the country that hosts this subspecies of elk. Today, there are around 4,000 Tule elk in total, all residing in California; this is a stark contrast to the population of 500,000 that existed in California in 1880.

According to the NPS, in 2017 the number of Tule elk at Point Reyes was roughly 660, split between Tomales Point, Drakes Beach, and areas around Limantour Road.

The National Park Service’s mission statement includes the claim that it “cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.” However, the preferred plan of the NPS regarding the Tule elk in no way benefits natural and cultural resource conservation. The preferred plan of the NPS includes culling the already low population by encouraging shooting Tule elk that cross into areas specifically designated for ranching.

In this case, it appears the only partners to the NPS are those in the dairy or cattle grazing business. In 2017 the NPS settled a lawsuit whereby it became a requirement for the NPS to plan for any impacts as a result of cattle ranching, which includes over 26,000 acres of land at Point Reyes. It does not appear that the NPS is honoring this requirement.

The plan would allow for grazing of 2,400 beef cattle and 3,130 dairy animals. This is at a time when both beef and dairy consumption are in decline. In addition to the reduction of public access to recreation – another commitment claimed by the NPS in its mission statement – the impact from cattle ranching leads to soil erosion, water pollution, invasive plants, declines in fish and bird populations, conflicts with wildlife, and even more greenhouse gas emissions.

We are at a point where the climate crisis is a top priority and should be particularly so for a federal agency like the National Park Service that is widely relied upon to maintain healthy environments and natural resources. Disappointingly, the priority of this agency appears to be profit over the protection of the Tule elk, and therefore other wildlife populations as part of the cascading effect of using lethal means to decrease the already small number of Tule elk we have left.

Click here to Submit Comments Online!

The Point Reyes National Seashore General Management Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement is proposing to dedicate one third of Point Reyes National Seashore to cattle ranching and includes plans to kill off Tule elk that frequent the area. This plan only benefits twenty-four cattle ranchers who sold their land to the public 60 years ago, but still use the national park to graze their cattle. The 45-day public review and comment period is open until 10:59pm on September 23.

Comment Letter Talking Points:

NPS will not be accepting bulk or identical comments, so you must create your own unique letter. Below is a list of talking points that were created from our colleagues at the Center for Biological Diversity. Please personalize your letter and include some of the following talking points:

  • Discuss how wildlife and natural scenery motivate you to visit Point Reyes and other national parks.
  • Point Reyes National Seashore is supposed to be managed under the Point Reyes Act for “maximum protection, restoration, and preservation of the natural environment.” There’s no mandate for prioritizing commercial agricultural leases on these public lands.
  • Natural values, native wildlife, public access and enjoyment should take priority over commercial activities at Point Reyes.
  • Tule elk are an important part of the landscape at Point Reyes. Their recovery is a result of successful native ecosystem restoration, which is a key element of the Park Service’s mission. It’s taken a lot of time, money and effort to restore tule elk to Point Reyes, the only national park where they live. Tule elk should be allowed to roam free and forage in the park — not shot, removed, fenced or treated as problem animals.
  • Right now the Point Reyes ranches enjoy not only subsidized grazing fees and housing, but also taxpayer-funded infrastructure and road improvements, and publicly funded projects. But commercial activities at Point Reyes should be required to accommodate native wildlife — not the other way around.
  • The Park Service shouldn’t allow any new agricultural activities at Point Reyes. Planting artichokes or other row crops will attract birds. And introducing sheep, goats, pigs or chickens will attract native predators such as coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Expanded ranching would only create new wildlife conflicts.
  • Cattle ranching should only be allowed if it’s consistent with preserving the natural environment. And agricultural activities such as mowing shouldn’t be allowed in park areas where they harm endangered species or wildlife habitat, impair water quality, cause excessive erosion or spread invasive plants/diseases.
  • Cattle are the seashore’s primary source of greenhouse gases. So the Park Service’s preferred alternative is inconsistent with its own “Climate Friendly Parks” plan.