The Problem

The redwood forest in Richardson Grove State Park supports old growth stands of
redwood that are an important part of California’s natural heritage. This heritage has nearly disappeared as a result of logging and conversion to agriculture of the original redwood forest. Of the close to 2,000,000 acres of redwood forest in California in 1850, only about 39,000 acres are protected in state and national parks. These old growth stands cannot be replaced and special consideration should be given to any projects that would impact the remaining old growth forests.

The California Department of Transportation has approved a major road-widening / re-alignment project along Highway 101 through the ancient redwood forest of Richardson Grove State Park—a “heritage park” with worldwide significance. Richardson Grove protects the ninth tallest coast Redwood tree in the world, is designated “critical habitat” for the state-endangered Marbled Murrelet, and is near the federal Wild and Scenic South Fork Eel River.

Construction of the new road would remove 54 trees and cut some roots of 108 trees including fatal damage to ancient redwoods—further jeopardizing the imperiled species that rely on old-growth redwood forests for their survival.

This project will also forever alter the character of the Grove, which for decades has served as the “Gateway to the Redwoods” for countless awestruck travelers.

The environmental assessment is so deeply flawed that it cannot serve as the basis for an informed decision. Caltrans has ignored potential alternatives, failed to provide vital information about impacts to endangered species, inaccurately addressed the project’s potential climate impacts, downplayed the far-reaching effects of allowing giant commercial truck traffic into Humboldt County, and provided one-sided economic justifications for the project.

Recently, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction instructing Caltrans to halt construction on the Richardson Grove Project until the court can make an informed decision regarding the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Report / Environmental Assessment as prepared by Caltrans.

The $10 million projected price tag for this one-mile stretch of highway is unnecessary and wasteful.  This sum could fund research into better transportation alternatives and renewable energy sources.

Businesses along the North Coast continue to meet the demands of the local residents with the existing roadways – transportation costs to and from our area will ALWAYS be higher due to diesel fuel costs and the mileage involved – damaging the Grove will NOT change this fact.

STAA trucks DO have access into Humboldt County via alternate routes and by exemption through Richardson Grove; and despite the fact that the largest commercial trucks drive through the Grove, there has never been an accident in Richardson Grove involving a STAA truck.  Caltrans has failed to prove that this project would result in safer roads or improved economic benefits for the North Coast.

The risks are simply unacceptable, and the potential benefits have never been proven.

 

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