It is a great honor to share with you the Environmental Protection Information Center’s Strategic Plan. EPIC is an organization in the process of reestablishing itself as the most effective forest advocacy organization in the north coast California region. Our goal is to build a stronger, more solid, focused organization, and achieve the greatest impact in forest protection.
For nearly four-decades EPIC has held public agencies accountable by upholding environmental laws to protect Northwest California’s native biodiversity. EPIC filed more than 70 lawsuits on behalf of imperiled wildlife species and their habitat, many of which led to the permanent protection of some of the region’s most biologically significant, carbon dense, intact ancient forests.
Building off our past accomplishments and holding true to our principals, we concluded that the most effective thing we can do is focus our energy and resources on achieving three specific goals: (1) Connecting working and wild forests; (2) Ensuring best management of public forestland; and (3) Ensuring best management of private industrial forests. This is not a strategy to do less; it is a strategy to be more focused, rigorous and stable.
EPIC advocates for the science-based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests.
Biodiversity loss, also known as extinction, may be the biggest threat to life on Earth, as we know it. People are altering landscapes and ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than any other time in human history. Today, a small percent of intact ancient forests remain, mostly in California’s state and national parks, wilderness areas and wildlife refuges. But between these protected biodiversity hotspots, the majority of California’s forests remain unprotected and are constantly threatened by clearcut logging, road building, grazing, trespass marijuana grows, and conversion from working forests to industrial agriculture. The cumulative impact of these activities is devastating to biodiversity. Over the last few years an increasing number of scientists have suggested that the planet’s collapsing biological diversity may well be the largest and most intractable environmental problem we face—even greater than climate change or pollution.
Biodiversity and the resilience of the environment are deeply intertwined.
There is an urgent need to identify new conservation areas—areas that can provide refuge from climate change, corridors of habitat that allow species to migrate and areas where habitat restoration can promote species and ecosystem resiliency to, and adaptation of climate change.
The following are EPIC’s Conservation-advocacy Goals and a forecast of our strategies and campaigns for the coming year of 2015:
Connecting Working and Wild Forests
1. Achieve permanent connectivity of forestland by 2020. Our campaign, called Connecting Wild Places, sets out to designate, protect and connect habitat areas, as well as wildlife corridors, carbon-dense forest stands and all remaining old-growth in Northwest California. “Climate Refugia” identified by EPIC will facilitate wildlife migration and anchor ecosystem resiliency for northern California’s diverse natural communities in the face of human development and climate change. The Connecting Wild Places effort has specific goals:
Identify, name and develop site “campaigns” for each of 13+ high priority areas on National forestland;
Collaborate with conservation allies, including tribal representatives;
Locate pressure points that will leverage cooperation of private industrial timber companies Green Diamond and Humboldt Redwood Company in wildlife corridor identification; and
Work with the U.S. Forest Service and private industry to achieve goal.
Ensuring Best Management of Public Forests
2. Protect public forest lands and ensure best conservation practices to protect forest health, watersheds and wildlife species on the Six Rivers, Mendocino, Klamath, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, and other public lands in Northwest California.
Watchdog U.S. Forest Service to enforce existing law and regulations. Continue to monitor and comment on Forest Service Projects with an emphasis on projects that would negatively impact endangered species habitat, roadless areas, old-growth forests, and potential wildlife corridors;
Challenge ecologically destructive timber sales and post-fire logging projects;
Protect endangered species habitat for the northern spotted owl, Humboldt marten, gray wolf, and pacific fisher;
Target leaders in office and in forest, fish and wildlife management to reform antiquated resource extraction policies;
Participate in project planning and implementation to develop resilient fire-adapted communities;
Address threats to wilderness resources from unmanaged cattle; and
Protect Richardson Grove State Park and the Wild and Scenic Smith River from Caltrans’ road-widening projects.
Ensuring Best Management of Private Industrial Forests
3. Ensure best management practices on private timberlands for species protection, clean water, human communities, and to encourage growth of older forests in order to achieve healthy forests, connected landscapes, and watershed integrity.
Encourage protection of, and sustainable management of “primary forests” in Mattole Watershed; encourage restorative management in plantations; and remediation of adverse watershed conditions in the Elk Watershed;
Track, review, and comment on timber harvest plans and other private lands projects that would negatively impact endangered species habitat, old-growth forests, potential wildlife corridors, and the Elk and Mattole Watersheds;
Follow through with our effort to list the Northern Spotted Owl under the California Endangered Species Act;
Influence decision makers concerning timber industry regulation and planning implementation relative to private forestland in Northwest California. Specifically meeting with Governor’s office, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, State Water Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife Services; and continuing to monitor the California Board of Forestry as policy is developed; and
Defend against increasing threat of forest fragmentation—the breaking of large intact tracts of forests into smaller clumps. Fragmentation poses a serious threat to the values our forests provide and is largely driven by the desire to make way for commercial cannabis agriculture. EPIC will work with the public, environmental organizations, business leaders, and public agencies to develop laws and regulations specifically for cannabis agriculture that will protect forest resources, wildlife and water quality.
EPIC is developing an integrated vision of what the organization needs to accomplish in terms of advocacy, constituency building, and institutional development. It is imperative in our line of work that our staff has a strong foundation of environmental law and scientific expertise. As of fall 2014, the EPIC team has significantly increased its legal expertise with the addition of two full-time attorneys joining the staff.
We hired attorney Thomas Wheeler to fill the position of Program and Legal Coordinator. His role is to assist in the development, implementation and management of EPIC’s campaign strategies. Our staff has been further strengthened with an unexpected and amazingly fortunate addition of attorney Lucy Allen, a Humboldt County native. Lucy was awarded top honors from UC Berkeley Law School and was granted a Public Interest Fellowship to work for any organization of her choosing with her salary paid by the university for one year; she chose EPIC. Sharon Duggan, one of the most effective environmental lawyers in the western states, continues to work with EPIC, providing invaluable experience, mentorship, guidance, and oversight to our legal and political strategies.
Kimberly Baker (Public Lands Advocate since 2006), Amber Shelton (Conservation Advocate since 2009), Rob DiPerna (California Forest and Wildlife Advocate, with more than 8 years working with EPIC) and Richard Gienger (Forest Restoration Advocate since 1977) continue their positions as EPIC Staff.
Executive Director, Natalynne DeLapp, has been with the organization since 2008 and during which time she built relationships with a wide cross-section of people from the region. She is skilled in fundraising, strategic management, public relations, community organizing and team building; her educational background is in environmental science and public policy.
To advise EPIC’s policy-related decisions we have developed a Scientific Advisory Panel consisting of experts from fields e.g. fire ecology, fisheries biology, forest ecology, climate science, etc. Our goal is to have at least eight panel members by March 2015.
Our team is nurturing the organization in a way that cultivates institutional resiliency in what are clearly very challenging times for grassroots organizations. Support from the EPIC Community is critically important for EPIC to reach short-term objectives and long-term organizational goals. More than 60% of EPIC’s funding comes from individual donations from our members and supporters.
Together we can ensure Northwest California’s forests will be healthy, connected, and wild; and that sustainable, restorative management practices will be the standard. The forests of our bioregion will help buffer the impacts of climate change resulting in clean air and water, abundant and diverse native flora and fauna, and the natural beauty will be protected for generations to come. Your generous gift can make ALL the difference!
Please contact us for more information about our vision and plans for 2015 and beyond, (707) 822-7711.