Highway 101 through Richardson Grove

Here we go again. Caltrans is back with another attempt to push through their Richardson Grove Project: They seek to “realign” the curvy Hwy 101 through the ancient redwoods of this 99-year old State Park to provide access for more and bigger trucks through the redwoods.

This is one of those issues it seems we have won over and over, and yet…here we are.

In 2017, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) completed an Addendum to their Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project. This addendum document, along with the 2010 EIR and other background material, is now open for public comment, and is available at http://dot.ca.gov/…/d1-richardson-grove-improvement…. Between 2010 and 2017, this controversial highway project landed in court many times amidst major public and local opposition. Due to court rulings, Caltrans reduced the project footprint slightly and refined the design. But not enough to remove very real threats to the survival of the old redwoods.

Now it’s back.
Written comments on the Addendum will be accepted until November 19, 2021.

Comments may be emailed to RichardsonGroveImprovement@dot.ca.gov. or mailed to Caltrans, Attn: Environmental Management, P.O. Box 3700, Eureka, CA 95502.

Caltrans is incalcitrant—its stubborn refusal to take a hard look at the likely impacts of its actions and its callous treatment of the public’s opposition reflects its ultimate belief that it is above public opinion and the law. Despite being held up in court for over a decade, the agency refuses to see that it was ill-conceived from the beginning. The irony is that this risky project is unnecessary since Caltrans has already implemented exemptions that allow some oversized trucks to currently drive through the grove. Your voice right now can save Richardson Grove.

Our elected officials also need to intervene to put the brakes on this highway agency that is out of control and intent on destroying the iconic redwoods of Richardson Grove.

Richardson Grove is the “gateway to the redwoods”, where visitors first encounter large redwoods when heading north. It’s one of the last protected stands of accessible old-growth redwood trees in the world. Caltrans’ road project is intended to rework curves on the road to provide for oversized trucks with limited turning capacity to drive through the grove, making the road more of a freeway than a rural highway.
Caltrans intends to cut into and pave over the root systems of thousand-year-old trees, which, if it does not kill trees outright will almost certainly weaken them, cause canopy dieback, and shorten the lifespan of these irreplaceable ancient redwoods.

Besides the addendum comments to Caltrans, you can send an email to other decision makers, using sample wording below. Or you can alter the letter and add your own message. Please add your name and address at the end, to make sure it is logged in properly.

Send to:
District 1 Director Matthew Brady, Calif. Dept. of Transportation
YOUR State Assumblymember, State Senator — Use the FIND YOUR REP link to get the name of your elected representative.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg https://www.transportation.gov/contact-us

Sample wording:
Please spare the iconic old growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park in northern California. Less than 3% of our original ancient redwoods are left and Richardson Grove is one of the last accessible protected stands of old-growth redwood trees.
Caltrans’ proposal to straighten a section of Highway 101 through Richardson Grove would cut into and pave over the root systems of thousand-year-old trees, risking weakening and damaging irreplaceable ancient redwoods, and possible loss of parts of the grove. This project is unnecessary since there are other viable alternatives to improve movement of goods on the North Coast.
I request that Caltrans withdraw the project, or at least suspend it and reevaluate whether transportation needs can be met through less controversial methods. Please ensure that Richardson Grove is protected for future generations.
**Big thanks to EPIC (the Environmental Protection Information Center) for providing information for this alert and also, along with the Center for Biological Diversity for taking Caltrans to court—and winning—so many times in the last decade, belied by Caltrans current intransigence.**


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