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Overview of Humboldt County Climate Action Plan

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020
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Increased sea level rise is one of the climate change effects predicted to impact on Humboldt County.

Last week, Humboldt County and the City of Eureka held a meeting to talk about their joint Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan is a multi-jurisdictional plan to take action to address climate change on a local level. The plan consists of three primary components: an accounting of existing emissions, an emissions reduction target, and a set of strategies to achieve that target.

First to accounting of emissions, the Plan provides a snapshot of emissions in a year–2015–and emissions are broken down into various sectors: transportation, agriculture, electricity consumption, and so forth. Initial number presented by the County show our emissions profile is consistent with those of other places. Transportation is, by far, the largest emitter, with 54% of total emissions. Next is agriculture, totalling 13%, and then stationary combustion (like home heating) with 12% and electricity usage at 11%.

On the emission totals, these are not without some controversy because of some of the assumptions inherent in the model. For example, carbon emissions associated with biomass energy production are assumed to be zero because of the regenerative nature of forests. If, however, the County assumed that biomass was not carbon neutral, electricity consumption may well be the largest total emitter of greenhouse gases. EPIC appreciates that the county has adopted a standardized model and so the numbers are not being cooked to favor the biomass industry. That said, providing better clarity on the actual emissions associated with biomass production will be important in future revisions to the CAP and in discussions before the Redwood Coast Energy Authority.

Understanding total emissions is necessary to set an emissions reduction target. The county has not yet adopted a target. EPIC recommends that in setting a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, the county be in line with the best available science, in line with state-mandated goals, and the target set sufficient benchmarks that the public and county can gauge progress. We recommend that the Climate Action Plan set a goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2045, with a benchmark of 50% emission reductions from 2015 emissions levels by 2030 (hereafter “zero net target”).

A zero net target is in line with the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, which found that to limit warming to 1.5°C implies reaching zero net emissions by 2050 and approximately 50% net reductions by 2030. (Rogelj 2018 (“In model pathways with no or limited overshoot of 1.5°C, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 (40–60% interquartile range), reaching net zero around 2050 (2045–2055 interquartile range).”).)

A zero net target is likewise in line with existing California state law. California has set various targets for global greenhouse gas emissions and the county is obligated to set a target that conforms with state requirements. Given multiple potential emission targets, we recommend that the county set the target in line with the most ambitious target yet issued and the most recently issued target. In 2018, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-55-18 which ordered the state to achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2045 and maintain negative emissions thereafter. Our proposed zero net target builds off Governor Brown’s order by providing clearer intermediate direction of 50% emission reductions compared to 2015 emission levels.

The last component of the Climate Action Plan is comprised of strategies to achieve that target. This is where the rubber meets the road. Unfortunately, this component of the plan is still a work in progress and individual strategies have not been made public. However, looking at the Climate Action Plans adopted by other jurisdictions, we can expect that our plan will be a little bit of everything: from incentivizing households to adopt low-carbon technology, like heat pumps for home heating, to changing local fuel mixes to reduce the carbon emissions contained.


EPIC Music Benefit ft. Axon Orchestra on Feb. 5th, Arcata Playhouse

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
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Axon Orchestra will be playing at the Arcata Playhouse on Wednesday, February 5th from 6:30-10:00 pm as a benefit for EPIC.

Axon Orchestra is a world music, gypsy-jazz inspired ensemble featuring Fabrice Martinez on Violin, Dusty Brough on Guitar, and Miles Jay on stand-up bass. Fabrice Martinez has played numerous benefits for EPIC in the past with local favorite  Fishtank Ensemble. He is always a pleasure to see!!  His current ensemble is also fabulous and certain to please!

Doors will open at 6:30 and a dinner with hearty soup, salad and locally-baked bread will be available along with local beer, wine, and creatively curated cocktails. Tickets will be for sale at the door for $12-$20 sliding scale with no one turned away.

Make sure to bring your dancing shoes and come support EPIC!

To learn more about the event and Axon Orchestra, check out the Facebook event page here or call the EPIC Office at 707-822-7711.

 


Mendocino National Forest Proposes Herbicide Invasive Removal Project

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
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Scotch Broom in bloom in Oregon. Photo by Bonnie Moreland.

The Mendocino National Forest is proposing to spray herbicides across 54 acres to kill brooms—Scotch, Spanish, and French brooms—highly-invasive species that outcompete natives, form dense thickets, and provide little sustenance to native wildlife. The project is in response to the 2018 Ranch Fire, which burned large swaths of the national forest, including the areas proposed for treatment. The existing broom was incinerated in the fire and returning vegetation, either from regenerating root structures unaffected by the fire or from seed left in the soil. The Forest Service now proposes to spray these young and emerging brooms, arguing that the herbicide application, together with the synergistic effects from the fire, can fully kill off broom—a “kick-‘em-while-they’re-down” approach to weed management.

Here, the proposed herbicide application would be a mixture of triclopyr and aminopyralid, along with a seed oil surfactant and a marker dye. Triclopyr is of low to moderate acute toxicity in mammals, and long-term exposure has been found to result in kidney and liver effects. It is believed to be toxic in fish species and is “mobile,” dislodging from soil particles and joining water. Aminopyralid is in the same family of pesticides as triclopyr. It is a relatively new pesticide and, thus, there is little information about its relative toxicity. It is not believed to be cancer forming and is thought to be non-toxic to wildlife and does not appear to bioaccumulate. The proposed plan contains some measures to reduce risk associated with spraying. According to the Forest Service, “All components would be applied at or below the label rates, and the mixture applied with backpack sprayers. No herbicide will be applied within Snow Mountain Wilderness, and no aerial application of herbicide is proposed.”

EPIC Staff manually removing scotch broom in Shasta County in 2019.

The use of herbicides to control invasive species is controversial. The case for herbicide usage goes like this: herbicides are a cheap way to kill invasives and enable cash-strapped groups to treat larger areas than could be accomplished with manual removal. And if applied effectively, with adequate follow-up treatments, herbicide use can effectively remove invasives and allow for native plants to regenerate. In many cases, however, invasive species are a futile effort because the applicator applies it as a one-and-done effort, failing to come back for follow-up treatments. For broom species, whose seeds can lay dormant for up to 50 years, these return treatments are often necessary. Herbicides also carry with them risks, both to human health and the natural environment. Careful application can reduce that risk but not fully eliminate it. For that reason, EPIC generally promotes manual removal of invasive species when possible.

The proposed herbicide application is in “scoping,” meaning that the environmental analysis for this project is just beginning. At the heart of EPIC’s scoping comments are a desire for the Forest Service to consider increasing manual removal, particularly around waterbodies. Part of the planned operations are nearby Lake Pillsbury. Given the solubility of triclopyr and its toxicity to fish, particularly rainbow trout, this appears to be the highest-risk area for spraying. For a similar project on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, EPIC worked with the Forest Service to treat riparian areas by hand, and even led work parties to pull Scotch broom.

For more on this project, please consult the Forest Service’s website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57273


Looking Toward A New Decade: Reflections From 2019

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
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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. 


2020 EPIC Board of Directors: Two New Faces And A Farewell to Shawnee

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
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EPIC is proud to announce the 2020 Board of Directors. As a membership organization, our board is elected by our members every fall. This year we welcome two new faces onto the board and say goodbye to another.

For nearly 20 years, Karen Maki has advocated for forest protection and an end to clearcutting in California by meeting with legislators, attending agency meetings, and educating others. She has also supported the work of others by holding many leadership positions within the Sierra Club at the local and state levels such as chair of conservation, executive, and fundraising committees. She is now State Forest Committee co-chair, Stop Clearcutting California Campaign chair, Loma Prieta Chapter Forest Protection Committee chair, Utility Wildfire Task Force meeting convener, and Sierra Club California Conservation Committee Northern Vice Chair. Previously, she worked for Intel and other companies for 25 years as a systems programmer and product manager and also earned a MA in counseling and a California Marriage Family Therapy license.She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area a few miles from the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We are excited to welcome Karen to the EPIC Board.

Ava Biscoe is a senior environmental biology student at HSU with a passion for protecting the forests for climate change resiliency and defending the species that depend on them. She has volunteered with EPIC since 2015, and she was awarded volunteer of the year in 2018. Ava enjoys organizing environmental events to engage with and educate the public about critical issues and campaigns; and she feels she can contribute to the EPIC board through her event planning, science, and fundraising experience. Ava has served as the president of Climate Crisis HSU, on the AS Earth Week Committee, and is currently the social media manager for Humboldt 350.org. In her past Ava has worked in the zero waste field in her hometown of San Francisco, as a science tutor, volunteering to conduct numerous biodiversity surveys in Humboldt, and would like to work in conservation science in the future. We look forward to working with Ava as one of our newest Board members!

 

Shawnee Alexandri, our Board president for the last 5 years and a Board member for 10 years, has decided to step down. He has been an invaluable friend, advisor, and handyman for the EPIC family. We deeply appreciate his commitment, dedication, and most of all, his time that he gave to make sure EPIC would succeed. Shawnee could always be counted on to not only be the first one at the scene for EPIC events, loading and unloading, but to bartend for long hours until the end. He also could always be counted on to be the first to humorously, and brashly, give his opinion on a matter, and then turned around and give a poised and balanced view on other occasions. His handiness is unmatched, he is the first to be called when something overflows or a light goes out (which he may still get calls for!) We are sad to see him go, but know that he will still continue to be a part of the EPIC community. Thank you for your many years of forest activism, Shawnee!


Kiss Me Under the Hemi-Parasitic Aerial Shrub

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
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Mistletoe is the horror of many a person at the annual Christmas Party. Mistletoe may be associated with unwanted advances, but for the ecology nerds, we know that this weird shrub is fascinating and important.

Mistletoe is a hemi-parasitic plant, meaning that it draws some, but not all, of its nutritional requirements from its host plant. They attach to the host plant through its haustorium, the root-like structure that penetrates into the host’s vascular tissue to slurp up water and sugar. Infections can be so bad that they can kill the host tree, either by drawing too much from the host plant or by outcompeting the foliage of the host, practically replacing all of the growth but in most circumstances mistletoe adds complexity and diversity to our forests.

There are over 1,300 species of mistletoe worldwide, and California is home to many native species, including the oak mistletoe, American mistletoe, western dwarf mistletoe, Douglas fir dwarf mistletoe, and fir dwarf mistletoe. Some of their names suggest their preferred host, others are more generalist, like the American mistletoe that can infect ash, alder, oak, willow and more. Despite being a numerous and varied species, the physical form of mistletoe is generally similar: evergreen leaves and white fruit. California is now home to some invasive mistletoes as well, including the European mistletoe.

Given that mistletoe co-evolved with the wildlife of California, it comes as no surprise that mistletoe plays an important role in forest ecosystems. Mistletoe brooms provide an excellent structure for nesting birds, including the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelets, which appears to have a particular fondness for the dense foliage–so much so that 90% of owl nests in Southwest Oregon are reported to be in mistletoe.

Although mistletoe is ordinarily poisonous to humans, the white berries provide food for birds, deer, and other mammals. And just because it is poisonous doesn’t mean we can’t find uses. Mistletoe has a long history as a folk medicine, treating everything from infertility to arthritis, and there is ongoing research into whether the plant may contain anti-cancer properties that can be isolated.

Birds spread the growth of mistletoe. The fruit of the mistletoe is covered with a sticky substance called viscin. Depending on the species of bird and mistletoe, the seed may either be regurgitated or defecated. The sticky viscin will cause the seed to attach to the branch where it will wait until it germinates and the haustorium wiggles its way into the bark of the tree. Mistletoe is slow growing, as the haustorium pulls nutrients from the tree until, after around five years, the first leaves emerge.

But not everyone likes mistletoe. Despite its natural role in forests, the Forest Service routinely uses mistletoe infection as a justification for logging–including in old-growth and late-seral forests–despite the important nesting platform that dward mistletoe provides for owls. And timber companies hate that mistletoe can stunt the growth of trees grown for timber. If caught early enough, or if someone diligently removes the new growth, it is possible to remove mistletoe from an infected tree. Otherwise, the only way to remove mistletoe is to remove the infected branch.

It is not clear how mistletoe came to be associated with Christmas. The usual mistletoe tradition holds that a man can kiss whatever woman stands under the mistletoe, and a refusal by the woman would bring bad luck. The first written record is from famed American author Washington Irving, who wrote in 1820, “the mistletoe, with its white berries, hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.”

 

*this article previously ran in the December/January issue of the EcoNews.


Santa’s 2019 Naughty and Nice List: A Sneak Peek

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
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We here at EPIC are close with Kris Kringle. (He is an environmentalist after all, using reindeer to power his sleigh instead of fossil fuels.) We are so close that EPIC has an exclusive sneak preview at his naughty and nice list.

The Nice List

EPIC Members: Our members are the best. You fuel our organization with your passion, know-how, and history. You take action, filling government inboxes and voicemails with letters and calls demanding the enforcement of environmental laws. Your generosity has kept our doors open, lights on, and staff working since 1977. Thank you!

Senator Mike McGuire: We like Mike. Mike is making the Great Redwood Trial, a 300ish mile walking and biking trails that would stretch from the Bay Area all the way to Eureka a reality. EPIC can’t wait to ride along the Eel River on our bikes!

KHUM: When our local community radio station was killed, KHUM stepped up and provided a new outlet for our radio show, the EcoNews Report. Listen in on Saturdays at 10am at 104.7fm or stream it as a podcast!

Sharon Duggan: EPIC’s longtime attorney finally retired after more than 35 years of service to the environment. Sharon represented EPIC in our first major lawsuit, EPIC v. Johnson, and has represented us ever since. Because of Sharon, EPIC was able to take and win cases that no one thought possible. We will miss her but are heartened to know she’s always a phone call away for advice.

Dennis Cunningham: Our 2019 Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Dennis deserves lots of goodies in his stocking this year. Dennis has always looked out for activists, from his first case defending Black Panther Fred Hampton, to representing North Coast environmental activists, including representing Judi Bari in her car bombing case. Because of Dennis, environmental activists were able to have a voice in the courtroom when the powerful and well-heeled sought to quiet them.

The Naughty List

Santa usually gives out coal to bad boys and girls, but given their track records, these foes of the environment would probably just try to sell it to coal power plants in China.

Mendocino National Forest: The Mendocino National Forest is trying to sell a commercial logging project as “road maintenance” to avoid environmental review and public scrutiny. EPIC challenged their bad behavior. Now for the courts to decide. 

Governor Gavin Newsom: For all the talk about standing up to the Trump administration, Governor Newsom showed his real priorities in vetoing Senate Bill 1, the “California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019.” This bill would have strengthened California environmental laws if the Trump administration were to try to weaken federal law, creating a backstop to help keep California green and gold. 

Green Diamond Resource Company: Green Diamond keeps getting sweetheart deals that allow the company to clearcut marten and spotted owl habitat in exchange for…nothing really. First, the company received a “Safe Harbor Agreement” with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife–despite objections from internal agency scientists–which would allow Green Diamond to clearcut marten habitat and avoid state wildlife protections. Next, the company receives a new Habitat Conservation Plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service–again, over internal objections from agency scientists–to allow for more aggressive clearcutting based on the theory (supported by Green Diamond) that owls like clearcuts. Seriously. Green Diamond is a bully and gets its way through political pressure.

We will keep working hard and making sure to check on those naughty folks to make sure that they aren’t causing havoc and wreck on our forests!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at EPIC!



BREAKING: By a 4-1 Vote, Board of Supervisors Vote Down Terra-Gen Project

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019
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In a close vote, the Board of Supervisors denied the controversial Terra-Gen Project. The project has drawn considerable opposition from a variety of perspectives. Conservation groups expressed their dismay at the significant and unavoidable impacts to wildlife, some of which we have detailed here. The Wiyot Tribe and others expressed their opposition because of impacts to culturally significant areas, and their rallying cry of Tsakiyuwit!, the historical name for their sacred space, was the clearest defining issue of the debate. Supervisors Sungnome, Fennell, Bass, and Wilson voted against the project, with Supervisors Wilson indicating his preference for a smaller project that would be moved off Bear River Ridge, something that the project developer could not agree to. Supervisor Bohn voted in favor of the project.

In rejecting the project, Humboldt needs to take seriously its obligations to develop local clean energy—and soon. However, these obligations must be taken with careful consideration and respect to the tribes that have been stewards of this land for millenia. 

 


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.