Caltrans Put on Notice: New NEPA Analysis Necessary for Richardson Grove
The Richardson Grove project has been in development for over a decade. In that time, significant new information has emerged that has confirmed the concerns raised by EPIC and allies early in the process: cutting the roots of old-growth redwoods would significantly impair and potentially even kill the trees. While this always seemed obvious to us, Caltrans has stubbornly refused to acknowledge this fact.
Now, new research conducted at nearby Humboldt Redwoods State Park shows that road construction has stunted the growth of trees through that park, sometimes resulting in dieoff in the tree canopy, and that the distance from the road prism where impacts were routinely discovered is far larger than anticipated by Caltrans—in many cases, impacts were discovered at twice the distance analyzed by Caltrans. The Richardson Grove Project already recognized that it would impact over 100 old-growth redwoods. This new information suggests that number should be doubled, and that the severity of the impacts will likely be significantly more impactful than anticipated.
In a letter mailed today, EPIC put Caltrans on notice that failure to consider this significant new information would violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA demands that decision makers fully investigate and understand the environmental impacts of their proposed action—this includes an obligation to consider significant new information. Read our letter here.
Caltrans has stubbornly refused to honestly examine the likely environmental impacts of the Richardson Grove Project and it is Caltrans’ refusal to do so that has stalled the project. EPIC and allies have locked up the project to enforce the law and ensure that the agency honestly details the destruction of old-growth redwoods from their road realignment project. Caltrans has two options open: It can fully disclose impacts through an honest and good faith environmental impact analysis or it can drop the project. While we prefer the latter, we have and will continue to force them to do the former.