Highway 101 through Richardson Grove

Highway 101 through Richardson Grove

 

Breaking News: Caltrans has just announced the re-launch of their Richardson Grove Highway Project  in southern Humboldt County, through Richardson Grove State Park. The Park is home to towering ancient redwoods that people travel from all over the world to see, and home to many species facing shrinking habitat.

After a long, fiercely fought, years-long battle over that plan to accommodate larger trucks through the stretch of Highway 101 that winds through the stately forest, Caltrans’ lost their case in Federal Court when the Court found their environmental documents to be arbitrary, capricious and riddled with faulty data. After that finding, in exchange for lawsuits challenging the plan being dismissed, Caltrans had to withdraw all permits for the project. That should have been the end of it.

But Caltrans, guided by an agenda out of the car-centric past where the U.S. was on a “bigger, better, faster highways” track (found so by a 2014 study commissioned by the Governor of California), and no doubt heavily lobbied and pressured by the trucking industry is back with a new plan that is not really very new.

They again maintain that the project, which involves using jack-hammer shovels around the sensitive roots of old growth redwoods, will have “no significant impact,” which would be laughable if it were not so tragic. The earth cannot afford to lose any more of these magnificent trees that have been reduced to a tiny percent of original numbers and range.

They try to make the environmental documents look different (as they should, if you lose in court…) by slightly reducing the number of trees to be cut and calling for just a bit less new pavement, but the key issue at the heart is the threat to the giant ancient trees and their lateral spreading roots, dependent on the soil around the tree to be unmolested to remain standing and stable without a deep taproot.

We will have much more news and analysis of Caltrans’ plans and the documents that are now out in coming days.

In the meantime,

You can find the draft documents at http://dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1projects/richardson_grove/

and find Caltrans narrative on their Facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/CaltransD1/posts/1501177406590198, along with plenty of raucous comments.

Please stay tuned.

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