• Rhiannon Lewis-Stephenson

Happy New Year! Looking Back On 2021 - A Year in Review for EPIC


A (Very) Brief Overview of EPIC's 2021 Accomplishments and Actions

Northern Spotted Owls

In March, EPIC and allies filed a legal challenge to reinstate federal protections on more than 3.4 million acres of federal old-growth forests, which are essential for the survival of the threatened northern spotted owl. This proved successful, when in November, a final rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Fish and Wildlife) returned almost all of the eliminated land to federal protections for owls. While this was a relief, EPIC was disappointed that the ruling excluded approximately 200,000 acres of old-growth forests on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in southern Oregon.


Discovery of Troublesome CAL FIRE Practices


When a private timber company in California wants to conduct logging in Northern spotted owl (NSO) territory, the Forest Practice Rules require them to explain to CAL FIRE what measures they are taking to avoid harming or “taking” northern spotted owls. But what happens when a private timber company decides to ignore those rules and CAL FIRE looks the other way? EPIC is there to call them out and make sure the law is followed. EPIC submitted comments outlining why this practice is both illegal and harmful to the owls (read the comments here). And we are hopeful that, now that they’ve been caught, Mendocino Redwood Company and CAL FIRE will cease this troublesome practice.


Jackson Demonstration State Forest


EPIC has been greatly involved in the movement to change the management of Jackson Demonstration State Forest. While it had its ups and downs, we are pleased to say that it has had considerable successes in 2021. In July, ​​public comments submitted by EPIC delayed approval of two timber harvest plans that would have logged older second growth coast redwoods. In November, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution urging Governor Newsom and the California Natural Resources Agency to conduct a scientific review of the management of Jackson.


As a coast redwood forest, Jackson has the capacity to sequester more carbon than any other forest type on earth. And in terms of meeting the 30×30 goals of 1) preserving biodiversity, 2) sequestering carbon, and 3) creating opportunities for outdoor recreation, Jackson is one of the most promising lands in the entire state. EPIC and our allies have attended numerous public hearings and met with State and Federal representatives to urge our political leaders to endorse preserving Jackson. Keep a lookout for more ways to support our campaign to transform Jackson!


Nordic Aquafarm Facility Agreed To Do A Full Environmental Impact Report


In June, EPIC and a coalition of environmental allies such as the Humboldt Baykeeper, the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities, 350 Humboldt, Humboldt Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and the Northcoast Environmental Center won a surprise victory in what seem like an arcane procedural matter concerning the proposed Nordic Aquafarm facility on Humboldt Bay: Nordic agreed to do a full environmental impact report and not just a initial statement/mitigated negative declaration. It is rare to have one’s concerns heard and appreciated in this manner. Kudos to Planning Director John Ford and to Nordic for listening to our concerns


Humboldt Marten Critical Habitat


In October, following more than a decade of efforts by EPIC and the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to designate 1,413,305 acres in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon as critical habitat for the Humboldt marten. This is great news for a species once thought to be extinct and is dependent on specialty habitat to survive.


However, in December, Green Diamond once again got a sweetheart deal when their lands were excluded from the most recent draft designation of Critical Habitat for the Humboldt marten. This is the latest in a long series of special treatment by the federal Fish and and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. EPIC will continue to fight this unfair exclusion.


Richardson Grove


Our campaign to protect Richardson Grove State Park suffered a setback in late August. Judge Alsup of the Northern District Court of California ruled for Caltrans, throwing out the remainder of EPIC’s claims against the project.


However, until the majestic old-growth redwoods of Richardson Grove are protected, EPIC won’t step down. Caltrans could not begin project activities until it completed a new round of public comment. In November, EPIC and allies submitted comments in which new research confirms what environmental advocates have long argued: cutting and paving over redwood roots is likely to cause significant impairment to the remaining forest.


Invasive Species Removal: Scotch Broom & Ivy Pulls

For four years now, EPIC has protected a few of the most sensitive populations of the rare Shasta snow-wreath from the invasion of Scotch broom and possible drift of herbicides, and we plan to do it again every year till the broom is gone from the creek side and new trailhead locations.


In 2021, we also began a new addition to our restoration roster: Ivy Pulls! This year with the No Ivy League, EPIC hosted three Ivy Pulls in the Trinidad State Park to protect our important coastal forests. We look forward to continuing both these traditions in 2022. Working together demonstrates that people power is the best alternative!


Redistricting California


In August, California started the public outreach process regarding redrawing its federal and state legislative maps (including losing one congressional seat!). That meant that your legislative district could change, potentially to the detriment of the environmental movement. The 2021 redistricting process showed a unique moment to make key structural change: not only for the next legislative session, but for this final decade leading to the 2030 climate deadline.


EPIC put out multiple action alerts to our membership to let the Citizen Redistricting Commission know that the North Coast’s interests are best served by preserving existing state and federal legislative districts that tie the coast, from Marin to Del Norte, together. And we made some noise, with more than dozens of unique comments made by EPIC members to the Commission. Look for an update coming soon!



You Are Part of the Solution


Our work would not be possible without the help of our community. We rely on online activists to participate in the public process by providing comments on projects, and we depend on donations from our members to ensure that we can pay our staff to keep the pressure on the agencies and ensure that the public process remains effective. Without watchdog organizations like EPIC, who have the expertise and tools to challenge government agencies and big industry, we would have a much different landscape in our wild backyards. If you have the ability to contribute, please consider making a donation to EPIC to help secure victories, for wildlife and the wild places they depend on, for future generations.