Old Trees, River Habitat and Action: They Go Together

No New Road for the Mattole! 

Forest Defenders on Alert for Logging Season

Our last update to you concerning the magnificent old forests in the Mattole watershed [http://headwaterspreserve.org/2018/02/comments-needed-on-mattole-forest-road-building-offshore-oil-and-wild-smith-river/] addressed Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC)’s new logging road proposal, which seemed to have no rational foundation for construction, except to get around forest defenders’ blockade. Thanks to strong public and organizational challenges, HRC withdrew their construction proposal. This is good news!

But after a too-brief sigh of relief, Mattole area activists are shifting into vigilant alert mode, as the rains stop and logging season comes barreling down the road. Despite the promises made when HRC bought what had been Maxxam/Pacific Lumber land in the timber wars of the 80’s and 90’s—those promises creating a picture of “kinder, gentler forest management,” their listening skills and commitment to working with the community are degrading with time. In fact, they have recently been employing the same “hack and squirt” herbicide attack on the hardwoods in the Mattole forest that their “sister” timber company Mendocino Redwood Co. has been subjecting Mendocino’s forests to.

Stay tuned. There will likely be actions and an action skills training camp in the coming weeks and months. You can email contactefhum@gmail.com  or check out the Lost Coast League.

Gualala redwood logging plan re-filed

A Sonoma-based timber company has sharpened their chain saws to make an assault on an area of mature redwood trees in the floodplain of the mouth of the Gualala River. Another try after being held back by the local grassroots groups. Gualala Redwood Timber has said they plan to fire up those saws in mid-May, pending surveys for the threatened Northern Spotted Owl.

Not so fast, says the Friends of Gualala River and Forest Unlimited, who filed a lawsuit in April when the approving agency, CalFire, flashed the green light. Both groups had stopped the same Timber Harvest Plan (THP), called the “Dogwood” THP, previously in court, getting a preliminary injunction in September of 2016, and forcing the timber company to “re-do” the THP. Unfortunately, the new THP is not substantively changed and carries the same serious environmental problems.

See our previous alerts on this issue:


Besides the sheer paucity of mature redwood forests anywhere, a fundamental problem with this plan is that it is in the floodplain—in fact the largest tracts of mature redwoods in floodplains in California, extending 5 miles up the Gualala River from its mouth at the Pacific. Floodplains are riparian (water course) habitat, but are a special habitat unto themselves, trapping sediment, silt and clay when the floodplain is covered with vegetation. As the Friends groups put it, “This THP in effect logs the river itself, as the river includes its floodplains.”The Gualala River is a class 1 stream with salmonid species.

The issues the new lawsuit include

  • lack of assessment of endangered red-legged frog
  • insufficient assessment of logging effects on floodplains, ignoring scientific guidance
  • lack of a cumulative impact analysis regarding denizen fish, wildlife, wetland habitat and plants

You can contact Friends of Gualala River to support their legal challenges and get the latest updates.

Richardson Grove

Our last update on the campaign to protect Richardson Redwoods Grove from Caltrans unnecessary highway project alerted you to two court hearings in Humboldt County considering legal challenges from EPIC and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). The latest was before the judge on March 28, hearing Caltrans latest attempt to dismiss new legal challenges to their project, and is still under consideration by the judge. The previous hearing on March 6 was Caltrans’ effort to dismiss the court order which ordered Caltrans to do a better job of analyzing impacts from their project to the redwood trees. (The court order is a “writ of mandamus” issued by the Appeals Court stemming from the appeal of the first state case—one needs a program to follow things at times.)

There are now a total of three recent legal actions in state and federal court presently challenging Caltrans’ highway plans in Richardson Grove’s ancient redwoods (which are in the State Park!). We salute the litigation warriors and will keep you informed as to how to support these lawsuits.

Planning a trip north this spring or summer? Check out EPIC’s 2018 Redwood Hike Series

July 16 Stout Grove: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Distance: .6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Time: 5 hrs

September 23 Trillium Falls Trail: Redwood National Park
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Time: 4 hrs

These are bi-lingual interpretive hikes presented by EPIC (Environmental Protection Information Center in Humboldt County) in partnership with Latino Outdoors. They are free and open to all ages. For more info or to sign up, see EPIC’s Facebook page (wild california) or call 707/822-7711 or email briana@wildcalifornia.org.


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