UPDATE ON MATTOLE FOREST DEFENSE!
An area in the Mattole River watershed on Northern California’s forested coast is called the “Lost Coast”, because of its relative remoteness from major highways and population centers. There lies mature Douglas Fir forest, unmolested by logging—left behind even by the rapacious Maxxam Pacific Lumber, in favor of more accessible redwood forest. Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC), the current owners, have been threatening to log in an area known as Rainbow Ridge. They have been met with staunch opposition from local residents and stalwart forest defenders who have maintained a formidable blockade for five months. HRC recently announced that they will not log, build roads or spray herbicides in the Long Ridge area for the remainder of 2017. This news prompted the Humboldt activists to remove the blockade for now, in order to focus slim resources on other avenues of organizing for this forest. But the campaign is not winding down. (above: Tripod blockade in a logging access road in the Mattole)
HRC is still pursuing the building of a new logging road from Rainbow Ridge onto Long Ridge, which would lacerate the hillside across the top of a large area of ancient forest in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Mattole River. The ill-conceived project involves ripping through a large bedrock outcrop and wiping out a grove of mature trees growing in the loose stones and boulders at the foot of the rock.
HRC’s proposed new road is above the headwaters of Sulphur Creek in the Mattole River watershed, as an attempt to go around blockaders. It is important to demonstrate opposition to the new road-building.
According to those on the ground in the Mattole, this move is seen as a counterattack by HRC in an attempt to bypass the site of a series of blockades from the year 2000 until now. The company mischaracterized the need the new road for logging and fire fighting, when the only apparent “problem with access” is the ongoing conflict over their logging plans. So they are essentially road-building to counter protests.
Since the road was not part of the original plan HRC filed with CalFire, public comment is once again open on this Amendment to the Long Ridge Cable Timber Harvest Plan (THP). You can contact the California Department of Forestry (CalFire) and “oppose Amendment No. 6 to the Long Ridge Cable THP 1-12-026 HUM”. (The amendment is the road, not part of the original plan.)
CalFire’s email is: email@example.com In the subject line of the email put: Public Comment For THP 1-12-026
Since these logging permits can last 7 years, north coast activists are digging in and preparing for a sustained campaign that could continue for 4 more years or longer, in the absence of a resolution. This is just the latest chapter in the struggle for this unique and biologically precious place. There is a history of direct action on these same coastal ridges dating back to at least 1998, when North Coast Earth First! and Mattole Forest Defenders took direct action to protect these forested hillsides from Maxxam/Pacific Lumber before that company went bankrupt (while reaping millions from extreme logging). Now HRC is here, claiming to to have a policy barring the logging of old growth while doing just that, as well as using poison herbicides to kill off native tan oaks, madrones and canyon oaks, calling it “restoration”. The herbicides are being used in previously “unentered” (unlogged) forest. While the local community thought these ancient groves were safe, it is clear the timber wars are not over.
As winter settles in, activists are busy monitoring the corporation’s activities and plans, surveying the land to determine the current extent of the unlogged forest, locating and documenting rare and endangered species and conducting outreach and trainings while preparing to resist the next offensive by the timber company. They have put out a call for help, for people of all skill and experience levels: supply runners, hikers, climbers, cooks, photographers, videographers, video editors, natural builders, logistically minded folks, artists, musicians, medics, and of course organizers.
Besides comments to CalFire, you can call Humboldt Redwood Company and voice your concerns at: 707-764-4161, or call Ben Hawk (head forester of Mattole region for HRC) 707-489-2871
If you are so inclined to get into the details, you can look up the THPs on the State’s website: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/ The logging plans in question are 1-12-026 Long Ridge Cable THP and 1-14-034 Long Reach THP
You can reach the Earth First! Humboldt activists at: firstname.lastname@example.org Check out the Facebook page for the direct action campaign:
Long Live the Wild Mattole Watershed!
RICHARDSON GROVE UPDATE ~ Round 5?
Tell Caltrans to GIVE IT UP! No one wants a bigger highway except the trucking industry
Another federal lawsuit was filed against Caltrans by environmental groups and individuals on November 3, following up on the suit filed in State Court a few months ago. These lawsuits argue violations of NEPA (the National Environmental Protection Act) and CEQA (Calif. Environmental Quality Act) respectively. The lawsuits were necessary because Caltrans had the audacity to re-file documents to again attempt to alter the highway through the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park, despite losing that battle in 2014, in the face of similar lawsuits and years of campaigning by many residents, organizations and people all over Northern California opposed to this boondoggle of a project.
Caltrans’ plans had previously been found to be seriously flawed, and were only slightly altered and down-sized—not enough to significantly reduce threats to old growth redwoods from excavation around the roots that they outline in the plan. Since redwoods lack a tap root, but have roots that spread out around the tree to capture fog drip, they are especially vulnerable. Caltrans has not brought solid science into their arguments, relying on an arborist rather than a forest ecologist as their “expert” on threats to the redwood forest. The environmental advocates brought scientific testimony into court from an acclaimed forest ecologist, finding serious threat to the ancient trees, and exposing Caltrans’ sloppy methods, to boot.
The pressure lurking behind the project comes from the trucking industry, since the change Caltrans is trying to effect would allow more oversized big rig trucks on the coastal highway.
Besides the fact that the oversized trucks (called STAA trucks in the industry) already access Highway 101 via exemptions, safety and pollution issues are huge, big rigs being the most polluting and most dangerous vehicles on the road. If all of that were not enough to dump this proposed unnecessary project in the trash, Caltrans just raised their cost estimate from $10 million to $25 million. (That’s public funds, boys and girls.) But the most egregious and permanent tragedy would be the loss of any ancient redwood trees, in an already depleted ecosystem.
In addition, the access to Interstate Highway 5 from the coast (the “problem” they are trying to solve) just increased significantly, with the completion of a major road project opening the east-west highway 299 to the larger STAA trucks. Caltrans press release celebrated the link between Redding and Eureka by releasing a “solutions” sheet for STAA trucks. Southern access points on 101 can be accessed from the south, so it is clear STAA trucks do not need to go through Richardson Grove. Isn’t it worth exploring other solutions to protect our last remnant redwood forests, particularly those old growth forests we assume to be already protected in parks?!
Since there is not an EIR for the resubmitted Richardson Grove project (thanks for the public process, Caltrans), those opposed can express their opinions to Caltrans, to their elected representatives, and in letters to the editor.
See a more detailed list of talking points and addresses at http://headwaterspreserve.org/2017/06/more-on-richardson-grove-redux-trucks-vs-redwoods/, and other alerts on that same website when you click on “Richardson Grove” in the catagories list. Stay tuned!
- Bay Area issues
- Climate and forests
- fact sheets
- Green Diamond
- Headwaters Forest
- Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC)
- Judi Bari
- Mattole Forests
- Mendocino Redwood Co. (MRC)
- Other North Coast Forests
- Pacific Lumber
- Pacific Lumber Bankruptcy
- Richardson Grove
- Save the Oaks Campaign
- Smith River/Hwy 199 expansion
- Willits Caltrans Bypass