New Year’s Greetings to all and let’s hope for some rain soon in 2014!
Sad to say, we suffered a loss in late 2013 of one of our strongest supporters, Loreen Eliason, co-owner of the Riverwood Inn in Phillipsville on the Avenue of the Giants. Loreen came forward and volunteered to be a plaintiff in our Federal and State Court cases and was one of a number of our business supporters brave enough to stand up for Richardson Grove. More than that, however, Loreen was a big hearted, community minded individual who never hesitated to speak out for her beliefs. She was a true Humboldt County original and will be sorely missed.
You may remember that two lawsuits were filed to stop the CALTRANS Richardson Grove project – one suit in Federal Court and one suit in California State Court. The Federal suit resulted in an injunction that has stopped the project to date. The State suit suffered a defeat at the lower Court level but has been appealed and oral argument at the State Court of Appeals is set for January 15 in San Francisco at 9:00AM at 350 McAllister Street, Fourth Floor. Your attendance is encouraged if you are able to attend. However, Court dates can change at the last minute so if you plan to travel from a distance watch your email for any updates.
2013 also dealt a blow to the opponents of the Willits ByPass in the form of a defeat in Federal Court of their suit against CALTRANS. Conservation groups sued CALTRANS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May 2012 for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act in approving the ByPass project. CALTRANS refused to consider two-lane alternatives and new information about lower traffic volumes, and failed to conduct adequate environmental review for substantial design changes resulting in more severe environmental impacts. Local residents have protested the destruction, occupied the construction site, chained themselves to equipment and sat in trees to stop the project.
To add insult to injury CALTRANS is colluding with the Mendocino District Attorney in a heavy-handed attack on Will Parrish. Will had occupied one of the wick drain “stitchers” in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. CALTRANS says that Will Parrish owes them about half a million dollars ($481,588 to be exact) to cover the “direct and indirect costs” of the delays in the construction of the Willits Hwy 101 freeway ByPass. These costs were incurred, according to CALTRANS, during Will Parrish’s 11 day occupation of the contractor’s wick drain machine in his attempt to stop the largest wetlands fill operation in northern California in half a century. CALTRANS seeks to bill Mr. Parrish for this half million dollars. They have informed the District Attorney’s office that they wish to include these claims for “restitution” in connection with Mr. Parrish’s prosecution for unlawful entry onto the CALTRANS project site in the case of People v. Parrish. Mr. Parrish’s case is currently scheduled to be heard in Mendocino Superior Court on January 27, 2014 at 8:30 am. Please attend this important event if you are in the Ukiah area.
This heavy-handed approach, coupled with the use previously of the armed California Highway Patrol just goes to show how out of control this agency has become. It is high time that this rogue agency is made accountable to the citizens whose tax dollars fund it. We must remain committed to pursuing this objective at all costs. This is why it is so important to support the non-profits that are defending our environment against this monstrous agency. Please send a donation to EPIC if you are able. You can reach them at <http://wildclaifornia.org> . Thank you and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any concerns. Best regards, Barbara Kennedy