Endangered Species Defense
In the time of the Anthropocene, human activities have triggered what has become known as the “sixth great extinction period.” As far back as the 1970s, citizens and lawmakers alike saw this massive crisis unfolding and began to take steps towards reversing the downward spiral of species in California and across the United States by implementing acts such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA)
Today, EPIC continues to utilize the tools of both to protect and conserve species and their habitats. EPIC employs these methods not only to prevent species’ extinctions, but also in order to achieve more long-lasting landscape-level changes in land management practices.
These landscape-level changes will help provide climate refugia and resilience, carbon sequestration, essential wildlife habitats and corridors between such habitats, and will serve to improve the overall health of our forests and other wild landscapes.
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EPIC strives to protect Chinook salmon and their habitat from degradation of habitat due to loss of streamside vegetation, filling of wetlands, decline in water quality of small streams, adverse competition from hatchery-grown coho salmon, and inadequate regulatory mechanisms. Salmon are immensely important spiritually and culturally to indigenous peoples in Northern California. With salmon facing extinction, these tribes are similarly facing an extinction of their culture and way of life that is tied so intimately to the salmon.
More than 106 native Pacific salmon stocks are now extinct, and 214 more are at risk of extinction. After considerable effort and litigation by EPIC and dozens of other conservation groups, the Northern California/Southern Oregon coho salmon population has finally been listed as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act. One of the most contemporary issues that EPIC is dealing with is the impact on water resources from industrial cannabis agriculture. Coho are dependent on cool, clear, sustained flows and the stable structural elements of streams in old-growth forests.
On December 29, 2011, the first known wolf in more than 85 years returned to California. Three years later, on June 4, 2014, Gray Wolves were granted protection under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). At EPIC, we intend to advocate for wolves by defending our forests and wild areas from exploitation and destruction, while also working to educate the public, and helping to reduce potential conflicts.
Since the age of the dinosaurs, green sturgeons have roamed the Pacific Ocean and select rivers on the West Coast, remaining almost entirely unchanged in their appearance for more than 200 million years. This ancient fish can reach over 7 feet in length and migrates in huge numbers, until very recently. The species has declined by 88 percent throughout most of its range and is in danger of becoming extinct. In 2006, EPIC successfully petitioned to protect the green sturgeon as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Humboldt Marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis) is a stealthy, cat-sized forest carnivore in the weasel family (related to minks and otters.) The Humboldt marten is so rare that it was thought extinct until rediscovered in 1996. Due to extensive clear-cut logging and short rotation forestry, the marten has been eliminated from 95 percent of its historic range. After considerable effort from EPIC and other conservation organizations, the Humboldt Marten has been listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. EPIC is still striving to ban the damaging forestry practices that are driving the Humboldt marten to the brink of extinction.
The threatened marbled murrelet is a small seabird that flies inland to nest on the mossy limbs of old-growth trees. During the past century, California’s murrelet population dropped from 60,000 to approximately 4,000. Humboldt Redwood Company’s (formerly Pacific Lumber) ancient redwood groves in Humboldt County are one of three remaining nesting areas in California. The precedent-setting Marbled Murrelet and EPIC v. Pacific Lumber was EPIC’s first federal endangered species case and it was the first time the ESA was applied to stop logging on private forest land to conserve the habitat of an endangered species.
Northern Spotted Owl
Since the spotted owl’s listing under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1990, site occupancy, reproduction, and apparent survival have continued to decline. EPIC continues to advocate for the protection of spotted owls and spotted owl habitat across the species’ range in California both on private and public lands. Conservation of older forests and protecting core habitats for the spotted owl are essential for the survival and recovery of this species.
The Pacific Fisher inhabits old-growth forests and once ranged from British Columbia through Northern California. This elusive mammal was decimated by logging and early fur trapping, and only two native populations remain today—one near the western California/Oregon border, and one in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Scott Bar and Siskiyou Mountains Salamanders
The Department of Fish and Game is actively trying to remove the Siskiyou Mountain salamander from the state list of threatened species, even though stacks of recent research show that Northern California’s frogs and salamanders face a host of threats from logging to climate change to fungal disease. EPIC is confident that it will prevail in legal challenges to the agencies’ blatant disregard for science and fact.