Looking Toward A New Decade: Reflections From 2019

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Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

2019 Richardson Grove Rendezvous celebrated the State & Federal Court Victories at the Grove.

EPIC is looking forward to this new year and decade with a renewed gusto and spirit. After a tumultuous but overall successful year, it is always important to look back on the victories and losses that were had in the previous year to re-inspire for another year of action and change. We are eternally grateful to our members, allies, and friends who continue to provide the support and momentum to keep us working hard to protect the forests and creatures that we care so deeply about! 

Huge Victories For Richardson Grove: We were elated by not one, but two, great decisions in state and federal courts in favor of the majestic and ancient redwood trees of Richardson Grove in June. Starting in our local courts, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Kelly Neel ruled that Caltrans is not allowed to physically alter the proposed project area and the agency would need to get court approval before moving forward. Later in June at the federal level, Judge William Alsup of the Northern District Court of California stated that: “At long last, the Court now orders that Caltrans stop trying to skate by with an EA/FONSI and that Caltrans prepare a valid EIS. Please do not try to systematically minimize the adverse environmental consequences and to cherry-pick the science.” Now, as a result of this order, Caltrans is obligated to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement and receive public comment on their analysis.

Beaver Believers: In November, EPIC and other allies 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. Beavers are incredibly important to California watersheds, as their dams filter stream water, improve water quality, raise the water table, increase water storage, and repair eroded riparian areas.

The Proposed Humboldt Wind Project: Probably the most controversial project of the year ended with a stunning collapse. EPIC spent many long hours reviewing, commenting, and discussing Terra-Gen’s proposed Humboldt Wind Project. EPIC’s work with a variety of wildlife experts, environmental groups, project managers, and others to decrease environmental impacts and make sure the project contained important mitigation measures for wildlife will hopefully encourage other developers in the future to follow rigorous environmental standards. In the end, the project could not find an alternative to being built on Bear River Ridge, a Wiyot sacred site, which ultimately led to its demise.

Furry Friends Find Fortune: At long last, California banned all commercial trapping of fur-bearing mammals. The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019, was signed by Governor Newsom in September. EPIC supported the law and sent our endorsement to the legislature and governor. As well, based on a petition submitted by EPIC and others, our neighboring state, the Oregon Fish and Game Commission banned the trapping of Humboldt martens in Oregon.

Headwaters Forest Reserve Turns 20: 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of The Headwaters Forest Reserve, which 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. Twenty years later, the Headwaters Forest Reserve receives thousands of visitors each year.

People Power Prevails! EPIC work pays off—people power protecting plants proves positive. For the past two years, EPIC staff and volunteers have worked removing the invasive Scotch broom from areas in Shasta County where there are Shasta snow wreath (an endemic and rare endangered plant) populations. This work protects some of the most sensitive populations from the possible drift of herbicides usually used in Scotch broom removal.  It was a pleasant surprise to see only a few tiny seedlings growing in the roadside treatment location in 2019 and only a few previously missed plants growing down by the creek. We plan to do this work again every year till the broom is gone from the creek side and new trailhead locations. This year, we plan to expand even further to include trailheads, join us!

EcoNews Radio Show Revived: After a sad turn of events with KHSU in early April, the long-running EcoNews radio show needed a new place to go. Luckily, Lost Coast Communications offered to hold a space on KHUM to get the show back on the table. Featuring EPIC’s Tom Wheeler, Humboldt Baykeeper’s Jennifer Kalt, Northcoast Environmental Center’s Larry Glass and Friends of the Eel River’s Scott Greacen, the show now airs every Saturday morning on KHUM. 

Follow The Fire Story: EPIC’s Kimberly Baker collaborated with FUSEE to create this incredible story map with details on California’s largest wildfire, the Mendocino Complex. Check it out and learn more about wildfires in California.