Greetings … and with some very good news for all who have supported the effort to protect the old growth redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park. As you may remember, after the years-long struggle to even get CALTRANS to write an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the resulting EIR was so inadequate and pock-marked with errors that it could not be allowed to stand unchallenged. The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATS), local individuals and dedicated pro-bono attorneys took it upon themselves to challenge the mighty bureaucratic monolith that is CALTRANS in two separate Court actions – one lawsuit in Federal Court for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and one action in State Court for violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.)
The Federal Court action resulted in the injunction that has halted the project to date. The State Court action was heard in Humboldt County Superior Court and ruled that CALTRANS had followed the requirements of CEQA, upholding the EIR. The plaintiffs (the opponents of the project) disagreed and appealed the verdict to the California Court of Appeals. The appeal was heard in January in San Francisco. We felt it had gone well. Yesterday a decision was handed down by the three-judge panel. The panel ruled unanimously that: “The EIR fails to comply with CEQA insofar as it fails to evaluate the significance of the project’s impacts on the root systems of old growth redwood trees adjacent to the roadway.”
The Appeals Court reversed the judgement of the Trial Court and decertified the EIR pending modification by CALTRANS of those portions of the EIR discussing impacts on old growth redwood trees and proposed mitigation measures in compliance with CEQA.
What does this all actually mean? Is the fight over? Can we relax? Unfortunately no. With all the resources of the State behind it and with all of your taxpayer dollars paying the way, this outfit will not mend its ways. Like the terminator, we expect that “they will be back” with another attempt to push this project through so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, as a result of Governor Brown’s call to reorganize the State government, a new State Super Agency has been created called CalSTA which takes all the scattered State agencies dealing with transportation under its umbrella. In conjunction with this effort, a study of CALTRANS was undertaken by a think-tank in Wisconsin called the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) to provide an assessment of the performance of CALTRANS and recommendations for improvement. The study was just published yesterday, 01-30-2014 and can be found at:
It should make for interesting reading!
Finally, thanks to all who have supported the effort to protect the ancient old growth redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park. The battle is not over and your continued support is VITAL. Financial support is needed to continue these efforts. Please consider sending whatever funds you can spare to EPIC (a tax-deductible contribution.) You can reach their website at:
In addition, if you are able, please also consider a contribution (tax-deductible) to the Center for Biological Diversity at:
Feel free to send any comments or questions to me at email@example.com. Regards, Barbara Kennedy