Blockades, tree-sits, hunger strikes from the branches of trees, overflow crowds at County Supervisors meetings, caravans to Sacramento, lock-downs to heavy equipment and MORE have been the order of the day of the scrappy and dedicated campaign to stop the ecologically disastrous and expensive Willits Bypass highway project! Just this morning (6-12) 30 local people entered the construction site and blocked the path of the heavy machinery, and stayed until all equipment was shut down and workers left the site. Willits City Councilwoman Madge Strong was with the group of activists.
Watch for an announcement soon of a big regional action for the wetlands and the woods!
Save Our Little Lake Valley (SOLLV) and Earth First! in Willits have been an unflinching presence in the face of Caltrans heavy machinery and have diligently lobbied state Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers, who permit the activity by Caltrans to follow up on violations in permits and agreements.
After many delays, caused in part by vigilant reporting to wildlife agencies by activists on the ground monitoring violations, Caltrans has been working on the destructive tasks of leveling many old oak trees, and sinking deep wicks into the wetland areas to drain the water to begin fill and construction on top of them. Activists previously locked down to the enormous piece of equipment that pounds the wicks into the ground, stopping work temporarily, but Caltans plans to drive 55,000 of these wicks 80 feet into the moist soil!
Mitigation measures are not fully funded (though it can be argued that the destruction of a wetland when California has lost over 90% of its wetlands that existed at the time of European settlement cannot be mitigated); nesting migratory birds and other wildlife have been severely disturbed, and serious threats exist to the Coho salmon population.
Important Legal Note:
The case against Caltrans challenging the Bypass was set to be heard in federal court in San Francisco on June 14–this has been changed. The new date is June 21, 9 am in Judge Jeffrey White’s court, Room 11, 19th floor, Federal Bldg. at 450 Golden Gate Ave., S.F. close to the Civic Center BART. This lawsuit was filed last year by the Center for Biological Diversity, EPIC, and the Willits Environmental Center.
~~~~>> Please sign the online petition calling for a HALT to work on the Bypass through wetlands and woodlands so that less destructive, less expensive alternatives can be put in place. These alternatives exist! SIGN the petition here.
There was a great ABC story in May that graphically shows how unecessary this $210 million project is: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=9097039
Find photos, stories and campaign background at http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org
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