The year 2011 has seen many changes at EPIC and I am grateful to be part of a talented organization supported by a dedicated community. As Conservation Director, I have the opportunity to advance our mission through four main program areas: Public Lands Defense, Clean Water, Endangered Species and Biodiversity Protection, and Industrial Forestry Reform. With this responsibility, I am deeply indebted to our staff members and their unflagging commitment to Wild California.
From our deep roots and traditions protecting old-growth forest and promoting new beginnings for restoration in southern Humboldt and Mendocino, to high atop the peaks of the Marble Mountains, Trinity Alps and beyond, EPIC ensures that the voice of each and every organism, great and small, is heard loud and clear.
EPIC continues to champion increased protections for the Northern Spotted Owl. Over 30 years of rigorous scientific research has made clear that the owl is in imminent threat of extinction. Consistent documented population decline throughout the owl’s range is a confirmation of many biologists’ worst fears. Without significant new conservation measures, particularly on private lands, the Northern Spotted Owl will go extinct. Therefore, we are at a turning point in spotted owl conservation and EPIC is committed to leading the way by garnering increased protections for owls and their habitat. We will use a combination of traditional advocacy and new strategies. For example, we will explore opportunities for rewarding small landowners that embrace spotted owls on their lands. A cooperative approach with small landowners is sorely needed, not only for spotted owls, but for the local human community as well. Simultaneously, EPIC will step up the pressure on destructive industrial logging companies, like Sierra Pacific Industries, that have repeatedly ignored the needs of spotted owls, and the larger community dependent on our forests.
Defending our state parks from all-out-assault has become an even greater task than we ever imagined. EPIC’s staunch opposition to destructive and wasteful highway developments has galvanized our supporters into a force to respect in courtrooms and beyond. As the year unfolds, we are confident that Richardson Grove will not only be saved, but fortified in the process. And in response to this assault, EPIC will demand new conservation measures to lessen the impacts of roads throughout Wild California. If there is one message to take from Richardson Grove, it is that a new path forward is needed, preferably one that promotes local communities’ intimate connection to state parks and the natural landscape.
Our work on national forests is absolutely foundational, and defines much of the current lay of the land in terms of regional forest and watershed protections. By enforcing laws that guard our national forests from plunder and ruin, EPIC defends the integrity of these lands and simultaneously promotes restoration. This work is instrumental in healing past scars and building community resilience.
In reforming private industrial forestlands, EPIC is at the forefront of protecting forests across northwestern California. Our review of timber harvest plans covers at least six counties, and our comments create beneficial results for endangered species and wild country. By holding the bad actors accountable, EPIC enforces laws designed to preserve our cherished homes from blight and greed. The authoritative reach of EPIC’s private forestry watch-dogging is monumental.
We have a lot in store for 2012, and we are all rising to the occasion. Strong and smart is our direction for the coming year. Moving forward, we will honor the commitment of our many hardworking supporters, and continue the EPIC tradition of being a lean, witty, and hard-hitting organization that gets results.