Environmental Groups and individuals challenging Caltrans’ highway expansion plans through the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park got a favorable decision from a judge in federal court on May 3. You can see the decision by U.S. District Judge William Alsup here.
This is the third federal case brought against Caltrans, paralleling cases in state court, bringing potentially severe impacts to the redwoods by Caltrans. Richardson Grove contains redwoods up to 3000 years old, 18′ in diameter and up to 300′ tall that grow right up to the edge of Highway 101. Caltrans first proposed “realigning” the highway in 2006, to allow oversized big rig trucks. 18-wheelers are already allowed on the road. Defenders of the redwoods have long suggested that all the big trucks need to do is slow down through that stretch of road.
Plaintiffs bringing legal action, included EPIC, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Del Norte, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and several individuals, used the federal NEPA (the National Environmental Protection Act) on which to base arguments of adverse effects on the trees. In various cases, Caltrans has been found to mis-counted the trees, used faulty data and otherwise not considered the impacts on the ancient redwoods adequately.
This decision not only halts jack hammering and paving over the roots of the grandmother trees, but provides safe habitat for spotted owls, salmon and steelhead and other threatened or endangered species. Let’s breathe a sigh of collective relief with our fellow species, including the sequoia sempervirens for now.
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