The agency has stated publicly that they will refuse any further public input on the plan, and have made promises to survey for federally listed species like marbled murrellets to ensure the project does not damage habitat protected by hard fought environmental laws. Unfortunately, EPIC’s research shows clearly that nothing was done to offer the public adequate opportunities to participate in the planning process, and the agency does not, in fact, plan to do their own surveys.
In addition, Caltrans has not bothered to communicate with local businesses, who plan to close their doors for the full duration of the project.
“This project is going to close me down for the entire duration of the construction, and after two bad economic years, it’s hard to face yet another,” said Dan Beleme, a local businessman who owns the tourist attraction One Log House near Garberville. “A lot of the local businesses here may not make it back at all. There are other options that are not even being explored and many other ways to solve the trucking issue without ruining the environment of the area.”
Perhaps some of the most steadfast opposition to the project comes from the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, comprised of ten federally recognized Tribes. The organization has sent representatives to virtually all of the public events surrounding the issue, and prepared a stongly worded Statement of Purpose. The Council Chair, Priscilla Hunter submitted the following statement May 13.
“Since time immemorial, the Grove has held and still holds great cultural and spiritual significance for local Indigenous Tribal Peoples, some of whom trace their ancestry to this place. Our stance to defend Richardson Grove is founded on our respect for the ancient traditional belief of local Tribal Peoples that the Grove’s redwood trees are a precious and sacred part of our Mother Earth.”
All of this without mention of the core resistance to the project, the individual members of the Coalition to Save Richardson Grove. With an eye for detail, process and strategy, the local Save Richardson Grove Coalition has provided EPIC, decision makers and the public with much of the information lacking within Caltrans’ planning documents.