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Richardson Grove Court Update

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
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On Monday, EPIC was back in court for what felt like the millionth time to defend the ancient old growth Redwood trees of Richardson Grove State Park from Caltrans’ proposed highway widening. Sharon Duggan, longtime attorney and friend of EPIC, represented EPIC and allies in court before Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Kelly Neel. As the plaintiff, EPIC was allowed to argue first. In her defense of the grove, Sharon was masterful.

At the heart of the case are two important arguments. First, Caltrans substantially changed the project—increasing the amount of cut and fill—earthwork, involving heavy machinery across sensitive shallow roots—and the public should be afforded the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes. Second, the “addendum” provided by Caltrans that describes the new changes contained numerous and substantial errors, such that no reasonable person could understand what the heck the agency is proposing to do or what the impacts would be. (I can confirm that trying to figure out what Caltrans is doing or what the impacts might be is like trying to learn Trigonometry from a textbook written in Phoenician.)

In its rebuttal, Caltrans dismissed our claims with sophisticated sophistry. To our first issue, Caltrans responded: “Why should we offer new public comment, when we allowed public comment back in 2008-2009?—that should be enough.” (Seriously, that was their argument.) The judge appeared to doubt the agency’s case. After Caltrans’ attorneys concluded their argument, the judge asked, “What’s the harm in allowing new public comment?” To which Caltrans had no argument other than it didn’t think it was necessary. The truth of the matter is that Caltrans wants to keep the “administrative record” for the project closed and not allow another opportunity for EPIC and the public to poke holes in their arguments.

To the second issue, Caltrans admitted that there were errors and discrepancies, but instead of owning up to their mistakes, Caltrans pointed to all of the paper that it had created in developing the project, some 19,000 pages. Their argument: Yes, there may be errors in some places, but that’s to be expected when you have a big project. This trick—to bury a court under a heaping mound of paper—is a common one used by any party that wants to make it look like it did a thorough job and make an overburdened judge’s work more difficult by forcing her to sort the wheat from the chaff. But it masks a fatal flaw. While there are a lot of pages, not all pages have the same weight. Where it matters—the most consequential documents—are where those errors and internal discrepancies matter. Throughout the project’s development, Caltrans has failed to generate public support because of their sloppy work. How can we trust an agency that no old growth will be adversely impacted if the agency can’t keep their facts straight?

The case is now in Judge Neel’s hands. She stated that she would take the case seriously and appreciated the broad public show of support for Richardson Grove. Cross your fingers and think good thoughts. And when you are traveling through Richardson Grove, Go Slow for the Grove!


Help Save One of California’s Rarest Plants

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
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Save the date! There are only 20 know populations of Shasta snow-wreath on the planet. Come join EPIC April 25-26 at Packers Bay on the Shasta Reservoir to help protect this beautiful plant from being invaded by Scotch broom. EPIC volunteers will be pulling the invasive non-native Scotch Broom and helping to protect stream sides from being sprayed with toxic glysophate.

The Shasta snow-wreath (Neviusia cliftonii) is endemic to the shores and canyons around Shasta Reservoir. Neviusia have existed for over 45 million years; however it was not discovered until 1992! The Eastern Klamath Range is an ancient landscape, neither glaciated nor overlain by volcanic material, as were the surrounding mountains. The area is rich in biodiversity and is home to other endemic species such as the Shasta salamander (Hydromantes shastae) a state-listed threatened species and the Shasta Chaparral snail.

Many Shasta snow-wreath populations were lost when the reservoir was created and others are threatened by the proposal to raise the dam. Scotch brooms are another threat and have infested multiple areas near Packers Bay. Last year EPIC protected a few of the most sensitive populations from the possible drift of herbicides and we plan to do it again every year till the broom is gone from the creek side location. Working together demonstrates that people power is the best alternative.

Stay tuned for more details coming in April.


Logging Companies are Cutting Down California’s Forests—So That You Can Throw Them Away!

Monday, March 18th, 2019
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There’s little doubt that California’s forests are under siege; the problem is, we are told that California’s forests are under siege from things like wildfire, “pests,” pathogens and mortality. However, the reality is that the biggest threat to California’s forests has been and continues to be logging, the logging industry, agency enablers of logging, and the lies and misconceptions these folks spin.

A recent report produced by the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana provides an assessment of carbon storage in forest ecosystems in California and of carbon storage in wood products produced in California.

While the report indicates that California’s forests are sequestering (storing) carbon dioxide at approximately 27 million metric-tons of carbon dioxide per-year, slightly exceeding the 20 million metric-ton objective established by the California State Legislature in 2010 (Assembly Bill 1504, Pavely), a closer look at the numbers shows some alarming trends.

According to the AB 1504 Forest Ecosystem and Harvested Wood Products Carbon Inventory Report, over half of the carbon being stored in California’s forests is stored on our Federal lands, in our National Forests, Wilderness Areas, and in our BLM lands, while our wood products are storing less carbon dioxide, and the wood products we produce are being thrown into landfills, resulting in additional carbon dioxide storage losses.

The Harvested Wood Products Carbon Inventory looked at wood products used and the end use outcomes of harvested wood products from California’s forests on Federal and Non-Federal lands, and shows a sharp decline in carbon dioxide stored in harvested wood products, and a dramatic increase in the amount of carbon dioxide being lost from wood products that end up in landfills where no energy capture is created from combustion as biomass or hog fuel.

What’s happening to our harvested wood products, why are they not storing carbon, and why are we throwing them away? Logging of native forests and the creation of even-aged, monoculture, short-rotation industrial tree plantations on private industrial lands and on our National Forests, means harvesting of increasingly younger forests in an unnatural plantation setting that translates into quick growth of fiber, but not carbon dioxide-storing heartwood.

The majority of the harvested wood products from our private industrial timberlands in California are young, even-aged, mono-culture plantation-grown, and grown for the quick production of wood fiber, most of which turns out to be sapwood, and the trees simply are not allowed to grow long enough, slowly enough, or under the most optimal conditions to produce heartwood fiber, tighter growth rings, and thereby store greater amounts of carbon dioxide.

These young, plantation-grown, sapwood harvested wood products are far less structurally sound and far more prone to rot, decay, mold, and to eventually, end up in the neighborhood landfill.

The findings of the AB 1504 Forest Ecosystem and Harvested Wood Products Carbon Inventory Report shows that our wood products are losing carbon sequestration both in the products themselves, and through an eventual end-outcome of landfill waste. Loss of carbon storage debunks the false narrative being spun by the logging industry and its lobbyists that carbon dioxide stored in a board-foot is just as good as carbon dioxide being stored in living trees, roots, soil, and plants in native, diverse forests.

As always, the timber industry and its apologists would have us pay attention to anything, and everything other than the men behind the chainsaws.


Another Attack on Wolf Recovery

Thursday, March 14th, 2019
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OR 54 of the Rogue Pack

By Joseph McDonald

Once again the federal government is trying to ease its responsibility to protect America’s wildlife, and once again wolf recovery is targeted. On March 14, the US Fish and Wildlife Service formally announced its plan to delist gray wolves across the country. Ten years ago the Obama Administration tried to remove Gray Wolves from of the Endangered Species Act, and ten years ago enough lawsuits and complaints from wolf advocates, including EPIC, stopped the administration from proceeding. It seems that history is doomed to repeat itself, now ten years later the antagonistic Trump Administration, which has shown that it is no friend to the environmental movement in this country, is trying to do the same thing that the Obama Administration failed to do.

The history of gray wolves in America has been exceedingly dark and destructive. Their habitat has been increasingly encroached upon and in the Northwest, wolf populations were completely eradicated or driven out. Wolves were in the midst of a crisis and it was only through advocacy from environmental organizations and grassroots movements that the wolves were protected under the Endangered Species Act, both the federal and California state versions of it. It has been many years but the hard work of caring people has shown progress for wolf populations. In 2011, Gray wolves were spotted in California for the first time in decades, marking that the population is in the very early stages of recovery.

The return of the wolves should be celebrated and fostered, but the federal government sees the budding wolf populations as an excuse to abandon the commitments that it made to protect them, which would leave wolf families vulnerable to trophy hunters, ranchers and state governments. Here at EPIC we are striving to protect and restore wolf populations and their native habitat in the northwest and throughout America. We will fight with everything we have to convince US Fish and Wildlife Service, either through lawsuits or petitions, that wolves deserve a place in this country just as much as we do.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service will accept public comments until early May.

Stay tuned for future EPIC action alerts.


Richardson Grove Back in Court: Help Fill the Courtroom!

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
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Photo by Jeff MusgraveEPIC is back before the Humboldt County Superior Court to defend the ancient groves of Richardson Grove State Park from Caltran’s bulldozers. This is a major hearing and we need your support. Help us pack the courtroom to show the people’s support of the grove! Join us on March 18 at 1:45 p.m., Humboldt County Superior Court, 525 Fifth Street, Courtroom 4 (Hon. Kelly Neel). We do not anticipate the hearing to take more than two hours.

According to the legal brief:

“This case challenges the May 22 2017 approval of the Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project (“Project”) by the California Department of Transportation (“Caltrans”), and its accompanying certification of a 2010 Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) and approval of a 2017 Addendum. Intent upon allowing large trucks through the Richardson Grove State Park, Caltrans continues to pursue its realignment of State Highway 101 within the State Park, placing at risk the destruction of California’s most irreplaceable public resources: ancient redwoods and the habitat they provide. Caltrans refuses to satisfy its legal obligation to adequately disclose and evaluate the Project’s environmental effects on these resources – effects which threaten the loss of these scarce resources and directly impact the Park.

This case follows a successful 2010 action challenging Caltrans’ initial approval of its project to alter the road to allow the big trucks. In response to that action, in 2014 Caltrans set aside its approvals, and then in May 2017, without notice, or invitation to review, approved the Project, relying almost entirely on its invalidated 2010 EIR and an improperly approved addendum. At issue now is Caltrans’ failure to comply with CEQA in its certification and use of the 2010 EIR and approval of its 2017 Addendum.”

For those who want to come prepared, you can find the briefings for the hearing here, here, and here. Check out our archives here for more on the struggle to save Richardson Grove.

 


Darryl Cherney Fundraiser for Gypsy Scholarship

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
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On the 20th anniversary of the controversial agreement that established the Headwaters Forest Reserve in Humboldt County, legendary songwriter, singer, and activist Darryl Cherney will raise awareness and memories on March 10, at the Arcata Playhouse to benefit the new David Nathan “Gypsy” Chain Memorial Scholarship fund.

On Sunday, March 10th Cherney will take the stage at the Arcata Playhouse to entertain and educate with his political songs and stories from his years as an organizer with Earth First!  The event is a benefit for the David Nathan Gypsy Chain Memorial Scholarship Fund. Admission is $ 20 (with additional donations appreciated), but FREE to students. Doors open at 7:00, and the program begins at 7:30.

Naomi Steinberg, one of the event organizers, comments, “Darryl is just the right person to lead us in a reflection on the Headwaters deal concluded 20 years ago.  His songs are as powerful, passionate and funny as ever. On March 2 a new generation of HSU students will get to learn about an important piece of Humboldt County history, and on March 10 we can enjoy a reunion of old activists and hopefully inspire some young ones.”

The David Nathan Gypsy Chain Memorial Scholarship was established to remember a young activist killed in 1998 while protesting illegal logging in the Grizzly Creek watershed.  Make a tax-deductible donation online or by mail through the Humboldt Area Foundation, which administers the scholarship fund. For information, see http://www.davidgypsychain.org or http://www.hafoundation.org/GypsyChain .

Student applications are now open for the $1000 scholarship, until March 15, through the Humboldt Area Foundation’s scholarship website at http://www.hafoundation.org/GypsyChain or https://www.hafoundation.org/Grants-Scholarships/Scholarships-Apply-Now . Students can also learn more about the scholarship and how to apply for it at https://hafscholar.fluidreview.com/p/a/19205 .

The scholarship will be given to a student graduating from a Humboldt high school and planning to attend HSU or CR, or to a continuing first year HSU or CR student, who demonstrates commitment to environmental protection through study and activism.


EPIC is Hiring!

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
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Position title: Development and Communications Coordinator

Position type: Full time, salary ($31-35K) + benefits

Location: Arcata, California

Application deadline: April 1, 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 Communications and Development Coordinator (“Coordinator”) to help better tell our story to both the public and funders. At EPIC, you would develop media content for numerous platforms, produce exciting and engaging events, represent EPIC before members and the public, and advocate for the conservation of our forest ecosystems.

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

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The Coordinator develops and implements strategic, creative and effective marketing and communications programs to inform and engage members, stakeholders and other audiences; support fundraising; and grow the organization’s membership base—all to advance EPIC’s conservation objectives. Specific responsibilities include:
• Develop and create media for EPIC’s website, newsletter, social media, and other platforms and venues.
• Represent EPIC at events, engaging and informing EPIC members and the general public on the work of the organization.
• Design engaging events and fundraisers for the organization, including our annual Fall Celebration fundraiser.
• Maintain and manage our member database.
• Develop and coordinate bulk mailers.
• Other related duties as identified.

POSITION REQUIREMENTS
As the Coordinator, you 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.
• Bachelor’s degree desired.
• Excellent oral and written communication skills, including proficiency in grammar, editing, and proofreading.
• Prior event planning experience.
• Ability to synthesize information and translate it into engaging written work.
• Highly organized, detail oriented, high level of initiative and ability to work independently and collaboratively.
• Ability to multitask and manage multiple projects simultaneously.
• Collegial, upbeat, personable team-oriented working style, able to thrive in a small office environment.
• Knowledge of social media platforms and strategies.
• Experience working with WordPress, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Creative Suite
• The successful candidate will be a hard worker, and creative problem solver.
• Ability and willingness to work some evenings and infrequent weekends due to attendance at special events including occasional travel.
• California driver’s license and personal auto insurance.
• Ability to stand on feet up to eight hours per day.
• Ability to lift and carry boxes weighing up to 40 pounds.
• Must embrace EPIC’s mission and programs to protect and restore the forests of Northwest California.

COMPENSATION AND REWARDING BENEFITS
Salary range is $31,200 – $35,000 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.


Happy 20th Birthday to the Headwaters Forest Reserve

Thursday, February 28th, 2019
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Happy 20th Birthday to the Headwaters Forest Reserve! The 7,472-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve is located just south east of the City of Eureka, CA., and was established on March 1, 1999 as part of the landmark Headwaters Forest Agreement between the U.S. Government, the State of California, the MAXXAM Corporation, and its subsidiaries, the Pacific Lumber Company, the Salmon Creek Corporation, and the Scotia-Pacific LLC.

The Headwaters Forest Reserve was created to protect the last large, intact, old growth coast redwood forest on the planet that remained in private ownership, punctuating a 13-year campaign that involved mass demonstrations and acts of non-violent civil disobedience, lawsuits filed by EPIC and others, and a huge network of groups and volunteers working to get the word out and influence lawmakers.

Only about 40 percent of the 7,472-reserve contained old growth or residual old growth at the time of the land transfer in 1999. There were clearcuts, landslides, and thousands of miles of roads and skid roads, hundreds of old, failing stream crossings, and millions of tons of earthen material to stabilize. Most of the previously-logged areas now contain evenaged stands thirty-years-old or less.

In addition to the congressional mandate to maintain existing old growth forests in the Reserve in an Ecological Reserve status, a mandate also exists to restore landscapes, watersheds, and forests previously damaged by logging. The BLM has removed roads, restored stream channels, fixed stream crossings, thinned over-dense previously-logged stands, while it simultaneously monitors the endangered fish and wildlife that utilize the reserve as a last refugia, all as part of its Resource Management Plan for the Reserve.

Marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, coho salmon, Pacific fisher, black bear, mountain lions, black-tailed deer, great horned-owls, tree-voles, and woodrats, just to name a few, call the Headwaters Forest Reserve home. The Reserve boasts flowers of spring Western trillium, and the serpent-like feted adder’s tongue. Douglas Iris, rhododendrons, and a barrage of berry blossoms and fruits also call the Headwaters Reserve home.

Twenty years later, the Headwaters Forest Reserve receives thousands of visitors each year. The South Fork Elk River Trailhead, located at the end of Elk River Road, south of Eureka, hosts hikers, runners, bicyclists, baby strolling and roller-blading as it follows the South Fork Elk River through the old logging ghost-town of Falk to the Headwaters Education Center.

The Headwaters Forest Reserve currently only contains two public hiking trails in keeping with the designation as an Ecological Reserve and part of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Lands Network.

The South Fork Elk River Trail is open for public day-use access, with a trail that runs nearly 11-miles round-trip. The Salmon Pass Trail is restricted access and is only open seasonally with reservation made for tours through the BLM. The Salmon Pass Trail is an approximately 3-mile loop that accesses the Salmon Creek side of the Reserve.

The existence of relatively few trails doesn’t translate into a lack of visitation in the Headwaters Forest Reserve. The Reserve’s proximity to Eureka and the open-access on the South Fork Elk River Trail and the flat riverine nature of the trail for the first three miles makes it a perfectly-suited location for all levels of visitors.

It is a real work-out, no matter which trail one chooses, to be able to experience the majesty of the old growth redwood forest at the Headwaters Forest Reserve; this is all too fitting, and very much the spirit of the place, and all those that dedicated parts of their lives to its creation. This is a spirit very much like that the old growth forest itself, stout, strong, tenacious, precious, and rare.


Fight Climate Change Through Community Forests!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
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Arcata Community Forest Trail

To help combat climate change, Humboldt County must do something bold: invest in its forests through the creation of a Humboldt County Community Forest. Humboldt County’s renowned redwood trees are the most carbon-dense in the world, capturing and sequestering more carbon per-tree than any other on the planet. Because these trees are long-lived and not prone to fire or disease, they make excellent carbon storage devices. Beyond carbon, our forests offer so much more: clean water, wildlife habitat, recreation, and jobs. Through the creation of a Humboldt County Community Forest we could manage local forests to maximize all of these local benefits, instead of sending away our timber and profit out of the area.

The idea of a community forest isn’t radical or new. In EPIC’s backyard, the Arcata Community Forest has been managed for both values since its creation in 1955. The Arcata Community Forest has been a resounding success—paying for its management and expansion through timber revenue, but cutting so little that the forest continues to accrue far more biomass per year than it loses. And if you ask any resident of Arcata, the forest is something more: a community backyard that is the pride of the city. Since 1955, the city has added to the forest, helping to preserve wild places just minutes from the front door of the county’s second largest city.

At the county level, the concept is also not new. The McKay Tract, a 1,000 acre parcel on the outskirts of Eureka, was purchased by the county in 2014 with state grant money. In late January, the county released its draft management plan for public comment. (Comments on the draft plan can be submitted by 5 pm, March 1, 2019, to Hank Seemann via e-mail (hseemann@co.humboldt.ca.us) or hard-copy (Humboldt County Public Works, 1106 Second Street, Eureka, CA, 95501).)

Why now? Humboldt has a tremendous opportunity that it can’t let go to waste. We have started to see a cannabis cash out, where one-time growers are abandoning their property, resulting in heavy fines and a backlog. In November, over $4.5 million in fees were assessed against just five properties for violations of the county’s cannabis land use ordinance. Other people have stopped paying their property taxes and the county may come to own their lands too. Typically, the county sells at auction whatever lands it comes to possess. But what if the county started to hold onto these lands instead?

As the Arcata Community Forest has proven, sustainable forest management is possible and profitable. We can manage our forests, according to Humboldt County values—not those of distant, rich owners of industrial timber companies.


EPIC Holds Southern Humboldt Community Meeting on Green Diamond Sproul Creek Property Purchase

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
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Thirty Southern Humboldt community members came out on a wet and stormy Wednesday night to attend an EPIC-sponsored Community Meeting to discuss the recent purchase of 9,200-acres of timberlands in the Sproul Creek Watershed by Green Diamond Resource Company.

The event took place at Ganas in Garberville, and featured presentations by Dan Ehresman, Executive Director of the Northcoast Regional Land Trust addressing the Conservation Easement on the property that prohibits sub-division, and by EPIC staff, introducing Green Diamond and its practices to the local community. The Community Meeting was live broadcast over the airways of KMUD, Redwood Community Radio.

After presentations, community question and answer and community brainstorm sessions were held to address concerns, and gather input from the community on how best to engage with Green Diamond as the new landowner.

A big EPIC thanks to Dan Ehresman and the Northcoast Regional Land Trust, to Ganas for helping to facilitate this important Community Meeting and discussion, and especially to KMUD for live broadcasting and archiving the event.

NRLT Sproul Creek Conservation Easement Power Point

EPIC Power Point About Green Diamond Logging Practices

KMUD Live Broadcast Part 1

KMUD Live Broadcast Part 2

KMUD Live Broadcast Part 3


Action Alert: Support Clean, Renewable Energy in Humboldt County

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
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Take Action Now! On Thursday, February 28, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority will consider whether to transition its electric energy sourcing to 100% clean, renewable power by 2025. The move was brought to RCEA Board of Directors by recommendation from RCEA’s Community Advisory Council.

Previously, the Cities of Eureka and Arcata, together with the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the McKinleyville Community Services District, have passed resolutions expressing their support. This move is further supported by the Environmental Protection Information Center.

Decarbonizing our energy infrastructure is necessary to address the threat of climate change. Currently, Humboldt County only derives 42% of its energy from “renewable sources,” with the rest provided by large hydroelectric (40%) and other sectors (18%). The move towards 100% clean energy would place Humboldt at the forefront of the clean energy movement.

“In order to confront global climate change it is imperative that we move past fossil fuels and towards renewable energy,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of EPIC. “The Green New Deal begins at home: this is something that Humboldt County can and should do.”

Clean, renewable is now cost competitive with more traditional sources of power, such as burning fossil fuel, and prices are expected to continue to drop as technology improves and more renewable energy sources are added to the grid. Currently, customers of RCEA can choose to purchase 100% renewable power through the agency at a cost of just $.01 per kilowatt hour, or approximately $5 month for an average household. By increasing the total amount of renewable energy purchased, RCEA is also creating a strong incentive for local renewable energy development.

RCEA is a joint powers authority founded in 2003 to develop and implement sustainable energy initiatives that reduce energy demand, increase energy efficiency, and advance the use of clean, efficient and renewable resources available in the region. RCEAs members include the County of Humboldt, the Cities of Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell, and Trinidad, and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.

Supporters of clean energy are encouraged to attend the Feb. 28th meeting. The meeting will be held at the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District Offices at 828 7th St., Eureka, CA 95501. Clean energy supporters will rally outside the building at 3:00 and the meeting will kick off at 3:15.

For those that cannot make the meeting, click here to let the RCEA Board of Directors know you support 100% clean, renewable energy.

 


EPIC & Allies Petition State Water Board to Step In Over Elk River Mess

Monday, February 4th, 2019
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The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) has made an even bigger mess of the situation in Elk River by failing to revisit and revise sediment pollution waste discharge permits for Green Diamond and Humboldt Redwood Company in the watershed as directed by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board).

To add insult to this injury, the Regional Board continues to allow Green Diamond and Humboldt Redwood Company to enroll Timber Harvest Plans under the old permits while it continues to kick-the-can down the road on the required revisions.

In May 2016, the Regional Board adopted a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Upper Elk River Watershed designed to address logging-related sediment impairments chocking the watershed and endangering the lives, health, and safety of Upper Elk River residents. The Load Allocation, or amount of additional sediment pollution from human-caused activities acceptable under the TMDL was set at zero, after a 2015 Technical Sediment Analysis (Tetra Tech 2015) found that the Upper Elk River had no further capacity to intake and assimilate sediment pollution.

On August 1, 2017, the State Board ratified the Upper Elk River TMDL adopted by the Regional Board. In doing so, the State Board clarified its understanding of the TMDL zero Load Allocation and directed the Regional Board to ensure attainment of zero new logging-related sediment input as soon as possible, but by no later than 2031. To accomplish this, the State Board also directed the Regional Board to revise and update the sediment pollution waste discharge permits for Green Diamond Resource Company and Humboldt Redwood Company as soon as possible, but by no later than January 2019.

With no revisions done to the sediment pollution waste discharge permits and no certainty of an end to this in sight, EPIC and our allies took action and filed a Petition for Review with the State Water Resources Control Board that included a Motion for Stay of the current Green Diamond and Humboldt Redwood Company permits in the Upper Elk River, and a Request for Hearing before the State Board. Upon hearing, and finding that the Regional Board failed to act, EPIC and our allies are asking the State Water Board to take up the matter of revising the HRC and Green Diamond permits and to take this away from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Both HRC and Green Diamond filed suit against the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board over its adoption of the Upper Elk River TMDL for Sediment, and this lawsuit has been cited by Regional Board staff as a reason for the delay in required sediment pollution waste discharge permits.

The State Water Resources Control Board has 90-days in which to respond to our Petition and to decide if it will hold a Hearing.

Click here for press release.

Click here to read the petition.


Lawsuit Targets California Permit for Clearcutting Endangered Marten Habitat

Thursday, January 31st, 2019
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Photo courtesy of Mark Linnell, US Forest Service.

Clearcut Logging Increases Extinction Risk for Rare Carnivore

Conservationists today sued the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to challenge its “Safe Harbor Agreement” that would allow Green Diamond Resource Co. to harm state-endangered Humboldt martens by clearcutting the endangered animal’s habitat.

The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the agreement because it provides no net conservation benefit for martens. Fewer than 200 of the forest-dwelling carnivores survive in California, and clearcut logging is the primary threat to their recovery.

The suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court by the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Biological Diversity, both represented by Earthjustice.

“It is disheartening that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has betrayed the best interests of the marten in order to appease the rich and powerful timber industry,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of EPIC. “The permit will result in long term harm to the marten by allowing the same behavior that is causing the marten to go extinct: large-scale clearcut logging.”

Green Diamond is one of the largest timber companies in the marten’s current range and owns a key piece of land between the principal surviving population of martens and Redwood National and State Parks, an area key to their long-term survival.

“This weak agreement pushes the Humboldt marten toward extinction instead of increasing protection for the feisty little fluffball and its habitat,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Even a progressive state like California would rather let the last truffula tree be cut than stand up to the timber industry.”

The Humboldt marten was listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act in 2018, following a 2015 petition seeking state protection for the rare mammal, a relative of minks. During the delay in the state listing, the Department of Fish and Wildlife entered into the agreement with Green Diamond allowing ongoing clearcutting of marten habitat, against the recommendation of its own scientific experts.

Under California law, the agency can only issue a Safe Harbor Agreement if it finds that the activities covered would benefit the species, either by increasing population or by protecting habitat. Agency emails obtained through a California Public Records Act reveal that scientists determined the permit would harm marten habitat with only speculative benefit. But supervisors disregarded their own scientific experts and approved the permit.

“The Department of Fish and Wildlife has not upheld its duty under the law,” said Heather Lewis, attorney at Earthjustice. “Safe Harbor Agreements are supposed to protect and preserve endangered species, but this agreement undercuts state efforts to save the Humboldt marten.”

Martens have been wiped out from 93 percent of their range by logging and historic trapping. They require dense shrub underbrush characteristic of older forests, and are particularly sensitive to clearcut or “even-aged” logging, because it inhibits dispersal and increases predation risk.

Lands owned by Green Diamond Resource Co. were previously identified by the state as essential for habitat connectivity for the species. The permit would permit logging of identified marten habitat in exchange for minimal changes to Green Diamond’s logging practices and a promise to fund a new marten relocation study, the benefits of which are dubious.

Martens are proposed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, but the federal proposal also includes an exemption for the state-issued Safe Harbor Agreement.

Photos are available for media use.

Click here to read the complaint.

Click here for media contacts.


Court: Gray Wolves Can Keep California Endangered Species Protection

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019
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Trail cam photo of Lassen Pack pup.

Judge Finds No Merit in Pacific Legal Foundation, Rancher Challenge

SAN DIEGO, CA – On January 28th a state court judge upheld protection for gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act. The ruling rejected a challenge from the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation.

“We’re so glad the court got it right and kept protection in place for California’s recovering gray wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center for Biological Diversity’s West Coast wolf advocate. “The Pacific Legal Foundation’s case was the worst kind of grasping at straws. This is a great result for the vast majority of Californians who want wolves to recover and who understand their importance to healthy ecosystems.”

Ranching groups had challenged gray wolves’ endangered status based on the erroneous claim that the wolves in California are the wrong subspecies. They also wrongly argued that the listing was improperly based on a single wolf’s presence, and that wolves can’t be endangered in the state as there are plenty elsewhere in the world.

“Wolves are coming back to California, and today’s decision gives them a red carpet to return home,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center.

In 2011 a wolf known as OR-7 crossed the border into California from northeastern Oregon, becoming the first confirmed wild wolf in the state in 87 years. The Foundation had argued, however, that OR-7 was from a subspecies that never existed in California.

The court rightly concluded that the California Fish and Game Commission has the authority to list at the species level and that OR-7 and subsequent wolves that have come into the state share a genetic history with wolves that once were widely distributed across California.

“State protections for wolves are critical given the animosity toward the species at the federal level, “said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands. “It is a shame that this species, and many others, have been subjected to these political games.”

The court found that the state’s endangered species law protects species at risk of extinction in California and the commission need not consider the status of gray wolves globally. It found that threats to wolves necessitate their protection and the commission has the discretion to protect native species that were historically present based on visitation by even one animal, given the wildlife agency’s projections that more will likely arrive.

“There can be no question that gray wolves in California are endangered and need protection,” said Heather Lewis, an attorney at Earthjustice. “The gray wolf’s return to California is a success story we should celebrate, and we look forward to wolves continuing to recover in the Golden State.”

California has seen the establishment of two packs since OR-7 made his star appearance before returning to Oregon to settle down with a mate. The Shasta pack was discovered in 2015 but by mid-2016 had disappeared. The Lassen pack was confirmed in 2017 and produced pups for the second year in a row in 2018.

“Wolves are not yet close to recovered in California. At a time when the Trump administration is hostile to endangered species conservation, it is critically important that the state of California help recover wildlife like the iconic gray wolf,” said Joseph Vaile, executive director of Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

Click here for press contacts.

Click here to read the court’s ruling.


BREAKING: Federal Court Halts Illegal Logging in Sensitive Forests

Monday, January 28th, 2019
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Attorney Brodia Minter of KS Wild assesses damage from the Seiad-Horse Project

Post-Fire Logging in the Siskiyou Crest Mountains would Degrade Water Quality and Irreparably Harm Wildlife Habitat

SACRAMENTO, CA—Late Friday, Judge Troy L. Nunley halted plans for post-fire, clear-cut logging in northern California’s Klamath National Forest. The court held that the Seiad-Horse timber sale project would illegally and irreparably harm aquatic resources with increased sedimentation, violate the Northwest Forest Plan’s restrictions on large snag removal from a late-successional reserve, and violate the National Environmental Policy Act for failing to analyze the effects of the project.

“We wish the Klamath National Forest would join with stakeholders and communities to reduce fuels around homes and ranches in Siskiyou County rather than pushing an extreme backcountry clearcutting agenda,” said Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center. “This legal victory will halt destructive oldgrowth clearcutting in the backcountry while allowing strategic fuels work along roads and near private property.”

Following the 2018 Abney Fire, the Klamath National Forest authorized over 1,200 acres of clearcut “salvage” logging in the Seiad-Horse timber sale located within a protected “late successional reserve” that is not part of the timber base. While surrounding national forests focused on emergency wildfire recovery and hazardous fuels reduction efforts along strategic roadways and near homes and communities, the Klamath National Forest threw out the rulebook and proposed logging in botanical areas, inventoried roadless areas, late successional reserves, essential wildlife habitat, and streamside riparian zones.

“We want to work with the Forest Service to thin dense second-growth timber plantations that exacerbate fire behavior,” said George Sexton, Conservation Director for KS Wild. “The Seiad-Horse timber sale would have increased fire hazard by removing old-growth forests and replacing them with dense tree farms. The court’s ruling protects wildlife, watersheds, and nearby communities from an egregious timber grab.”

“This is a win for Klamath River salmon and clean water” noted Kimberly Baker, Executive Director of the Klamath Forest Alliance “While this is a preliminary stage in the proceedings, we appreciate the court’s detailed and salient ruling.”

“For years the Klamath National Forest has ignored needed fuels work in the wildland urban interface zone while pursuing post-fire clearcutting in the backcountry. That ends now,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Information Center. “Let’s change course and all pull together to protect forests and communities.”

Click here to read the full Order Granting Motion for Injunctive Relief.

Click here for press contacts.

 


SoHum Community Meeting: Green Diamond & Sproul Creek

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019
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EPIC staff will provide a 20-minute presentation that contains information and visuals about the Sproul Creek property and Green Diamond’s land ownership and logging practices. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. All ages welcome. Donations graciously accepted at the door.

The meeting will be held at Ganas, located at 901 Redwood Drive in Garberville, on Wednesday, February 13, from 5-7pm. Open to the public. All ages welcome. Donations encouraged.


Trump’s Shutdown Threatens Public Lands, Wildlife and Human Health

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019
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US/Mexico border wall. Photo by Jamie Scepkowski.

The government shutdown continues over Trump’s “ecological disaster” border wall.

For our federal public lands, the shutdown stinks. The Feds are the largest landowner in the county—by far—with about 640 million acres, including over five million acres in Northwest California. While these lands largely remain open, there are reports at parks across the country of overflowing human waste and trash. Without caretakers, people are already wreaking havoc. In Joshua Tree National Park, vandals have hacked apart the iconic trees.

Our wildlife is suffering. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service employees aren’t looking for poachers, funding habitat restoration, or continuing science.

Our health is at risk. EPA pollution inspectors are not on the job. FDA food inspectors are going without pay and many routine food inspections are not occurring.

While most government workers are stuck at home, guess who Trump is keeping on the job?

Two weeks ago, the Department of the Interior recalled employees to continue processing coal, oil, and gas permits, already accepting over 125 lease applications and 100 nominations for public lands to be drilled.

More locally, on the Seiad-Horse Project, loggers continue to fall trees without the fisheries biologists, hydrologists, or wildlife biologists on staff to ensure compliance.

Resources for Furloughed Workers

EPIC loves our public servants and work with them on a daily basis. Below are some resources we’ve collected, in case you need a hand while you are furloughed:

Government assistance programs are available for you, so please use them! Apply for CalFresh online (it takes less than 10 minutes).

Coast Central Credit Union is offering interest-free loans for federal employees affected by the shutdown.

Relax and keep in shape! Pali Yoga is offering free passes to furloughed workers.

The Eureka Theater is offering free tickets to federal employees. (Check out The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension on Friday, Jan. 25.)

The Central Labor Council and Cooperation Humboldt are giving away gift cards to the Coop! Gift cards can be obtained by contacting Cooperation Humboldt at 707-362-0333 or email cooperationhumboldt@gmail.com.

Food for People is available for everyone who is in need of sustenance. Click here to find out more!


Clean Water or Industrial Waste Ditch—The Future of Elk River Still Hangs in the Balance

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019
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Flooding on Elk River Road.  Photo Credit: Salmon-Forever.org

Elk River and its residents, human and otherwise, continue to play second-fiddle to the industrial timber ensemble of Humboldt Redwood Company and Green Diamond Resource Company when it comes to state agency enforcement and regulation of logging.

EPIC expects this from CAL FIRE, an agency that seemingly never met a THP it didn’t like and want to approve. What’s more disappointing is the 20-years and-counting of heel-dragging by the North Coast Regional Water Board to develop and implement a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and TMDL Action Plan for Elk River, and to develop logging sediment pollution regulatory and permitting frameworks that will protect and recover the Elk River.

Elk River was listed as water quality-impaired in 1997 due to excessive sediment, turbidity and flooding resulting from intense second-cycle logging conducted by the Pacific Lumber Company under MAXXAM and the now-defunct Elk River Timber Company. In 2002, the North Coast Water Board and the EPA reached a Memorandum of Understanding in which the North Coast Water Board agreed to prepare a TMDL to address sediment impairments in Elk River.

Fast-forward to 2016, when the North Coast Water Board, eventually adopted a TMDL to address sediment impairments in Elk River. What happened in the interceding years? Studies, studies of studies, synthesis of studies, critiques of studies, then, more studies, and more synthesis of studies. As if all this isn’t frustrating enough, all the studies ever done on sediment impairment, with the exception of one, commissioned by PALCO, have concluded that the river is sediment impaired and that the logging was and continues to be the primary cause.

It took the Regional Water Board three attempts before it was able to finally adopt the TMDL to address sediment impairment in Elk River. The limit established in the TMDL, known as the Load Allocation is zero, meaning that the Elk River cannot intake or assimilate more sediment as it is currently overwhelmed with sediment.

The Regional Water Board also adopted a TMDL Action and Implementation Plan that relied on three major components to arrest sediment pollution inputs and to recover the beneficial uses of water: permits for continued industrial timber harvest for both Humboldt Redwood Company and Green Diamond Resource Company were to be re-visited and revised to ensure consistency with the new TMDL. A Recovery Assessment that would study the feasibility of in-stream and near-stream sediment remediation and removal projects was the second component and the third was to be a Watershed Stewardship Group to facilitate communication and cooperation among landowners and stakeholders in the watershed.

On August 1, 2017, the State Water Board ratified the Elk River TMDL and Action Plan. In doing so, the State Board strengthened the TMDL by requiring that the zero Load Allocation applied specifically to anthropogenic activities, like industrial logging operations. The State Board also issued a directive to the Regional Board to ensure a full attainment of the zero Load Allocation by no later than 2030. To accomplish this, the State Board directed the Regional Board to go back and revisit and revise as necessary the sediment pollution control permits for both HRC and Green Diamond by February 2019.

The Elk River Recovery Assessment Framework Draft paper has only recently been completed and released. And, while a few small and discrete remediation projects are underway, the Regional Board is entirely dependent on the large industrial timberland owners, most notably HRC to either fund or match funds to ensure project implementation. Meanwhile, the first version of the Elk River Stewardship Group crashed and burned spectacularly under the ill-fated leadership of Humboldt County. This group is not yet back up and running.

Even if the Recovery Assessment and its actions were fully and independently funded, basic questions remain as to the real goal of such remediation: is it to recover the river, or is it to increase the assimilative capacity of the river to facilitate yet more logging and more aggressive logging?

Meanwhile, nuisance conditions continue to prevail in Elk River, as heavy winter rains cause heavy overbank flooding that delivers sediment into salmon spawning grounds and continues to threaten the health, safety, ingress and egress of local residents, as well as the safety of public facilities like roads and bridges.

The North Coast Water Board is set to miss its directive deadline to adopt revisions to the sediment pollution control permits for HRC and Green Diamond and those timber operations in the Elk River watershed by the end of January 2019. Astonishingly, the North Coast Regional Water Board is still accepting permit enrollment applications for both companies under the old permitting frameworks while the clock continues to run.

40-years and counting, EPIC is keeping its watchful eye on the Elk River and will continue to fight for clean water and enforcement of the law.


Action Alert: Arcata’s People-First Plaza?

Monday, January 14th, 2019
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Put People First! Sign Now! Our friends at the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities have an important petition on their website to prioritize pedestrians the Arcata Plaza. We at EPIC urge you to sign on. (We did!)

As a local resident, you know that the Arcata Plaza is the heart of the city. During a Farmer’s Market, it is great—alive and vibrant—but most other times, it can be a drag. The Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities wants to “pedestrianize” the plaza—redesign the plaza so that people, not cars or corporations, are put first.

In response to rabble rousing by the Coalition and others, the City has created the Plaza Improvement Task Force to examine alternatives and recommend changes to the City Council. The Coalition is going to present its ideas—and this petition—to the Task Force on Thursday, January 17, and wants to make a strong showing that the community is behind a people-first plaza. They have almost 500 signatures. I’m hoping EPIC can help put them over a thousand. You in? Sign the petition now!

Even if you don’t care about the Arcata Plaza, the principles behind redesigning the Plaza matter for our forests. Think that’s a stretch? Here’s why: population pressure is causing the majority of new housing in Humboldt County to be built outside of our urban core of Arcata and Eureka. The antidote to sprawl is densification of our urban core, and a required component of densification is to prioritize pedestrians. As study after study has shown, building more walkable neighborhoods is good for public health, reduces crime, improves local businesses and reduces greenhouse gases. The petition calls for the city to prioritize people over cars—over 62% of the Plaza is currently spent on parking—and to make Arcata a more walkable, livable place. Please sign today.


Action Alert: Green Diamond Clearcuts Threaten Humboldt Marten in Klamath Glen

Thursday, January 10th, 2019
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Take Action: Green Diamond clearcuts—that’s pretty clear-cut. What’s not, perhaps, are the consequences of its clearcuts, as the company strives to spin whatever mythology it can muster to convince agency regulators and the public at-large that there’s nothing to be seen and no harm being done.

In late November 2018, Green Diamond submitted THP 1-18-177DEL, “Arrow Mills,” THP, totaling 125 acres of timber harvest in Upper and Lower Turwar Creek at Klamath Glen, just up-river of the town of Klamath, CA. Of the total 125-acre THP, 104 acres is proposed for clearcutting.

The “Arrow Mills” THP threatens significant adverse impacts to a number of rare, threatened, and endangered species, including northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, osprey, and even ruffed grouse, all of which are known to exist and have been observed in the vicinity of the THP. Of particular concern to EPIC are the potentially significant adverse impacts the THP will have on the critically-imperiled Humboldt Marten.

The “Arrow Mills” THP and its over 100 acres of clearcutting are proposed within the known Extant Population Area (EPA) for the Humboldt Marten, and within a Green Diamond-designated, “Marten Special Management Area,” (MSMA). Sadly, there’s absolutely nothing “special” about what Green Diamond will do here, as its clearcuts will not be modified in any way to accommodate the known-presence of Humboldt Martens.

Indeed, the only thing that’s “special” in any way in this scenario is the treatment afforded to Green Diamond by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). In late 2018, and nearly simultaneously with the California Fish and Game Commission’s determination that the Humboldt Marten warranted listing as an “Endangered Species” under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), the Department gave away a “Safe Harbor Agreement” to Green Diamond that gives the company a pass on protecting the Humboldt Marten or having to change its management practices in any meaningful way.

The “Safe Harbor Agreement” framework in the California Fish and Game Code was created with the caveat that any such agreements entered into with private landowners by CDFW must be shown to afford a, “net-conservation benefit,” during the life of the agreement for the agreement to be valid. Safe Harbor Agreements, unlike Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) under federal law or Native Communities Conservation Plans (NCCPs) established in the California Fish and Game Code, allow landowners and CDFW to agree to actions that result in a net-conservation benefit during the life of the agreement, with the understanding that the landowner has the right to return the lands under the agreement back to the baseline condition when the agreement expires or is terminated.

Green Diamond timberlands in the Lower Klamath and Upper Redwood Creek watersheds are critical habitat connectivity areas and areas important for natural dispersal, and perhaps eventually, assisted re-introduction and dispersal of Humboldt Martens between two of the only three known Extent Marten Population Areas on the Six Rivers National Forest to the east, and Redwood National and State Parks to the west.

The “Arrow Mills” THP will create clearcuts that will create massive dead-zones in marten connectivity and dispersal opportunities and could result in direct mortality and indirect mortality of Humboldt Martens known to exist on Green Diamond lands and on adjacent conserved lands on both sides.

The “Arrow Mills” THP is currently still under review lead by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the CEQA Lead Agency for approving private timber harvesting plans in California. CAL FIRE cannot approve a THP that will violate other applicable laws under its authority, even if another agency, like CDFW, reaches agreement with a private timberland owner on certain practices.

Click here to request that Cal Fire to deny Green Diamond’s plans to log Humboldt marten habitat!