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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"The Town Dandy" eats "Humboldt Pie"...

Proponents of the Cal-Trans project to widen Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County, California have another fire to extinguish. One that may as well “burn-out” of control.

After Richardson Grove supporters were likened to MAXXAM’s failed recall effort by Hank Sims(The Town Dandy), commander and editor of the once community minded North Coast Journal; Hank has apparently but unapologetically changed his tone about the corrupted special interest enclave receiving Headwaters funding to promote the largely contested project.

Included in Hank’s vicious attack was The Northcoast Environmental Center(NEC), a long-term non-profit information center devoted to providing education to the public regarding industry’s role in the destruction of our planet Earth. The NEC was apparently attacked by Mr. Sims due to the center’s providing of a donation drop for the Friends of Richardson Grove, those who are opposing the destructive and unwarranted Cal-Trans project to widen Highway 101 through the State Park.

One of the ironies of the attack was the fact that the role of the NEC was crucial in stopping the accelerated destruction from MAXXAM’s plundering of Pacific Lumber. Pacific Lumber became the main focus of action in the fight to save the redwoods in a two decade+ long resistance to corporate greed and from which Earth First!, Judy Bari, Darryl Cherney, Julie Butterfly Hill and other pioneers of enviro/eco-action were conceived.

Richardson Grove State Park is considered by many as "The Gateway to the Redwoods", an archway of amazingly tall Virgin Old Growth Stands which tower above Highway 101 as you enter Humboldt County Redwoods State Park. Despite the fact that William Richardson(25th governor of California) vetoed every state park funding bill during his reign(simliar to our current governor's slash and burn fiscal tactics), the park stands to this day. The park includes the ninth largest Coastal Redwood(sequoia sempervirens), camping and fishing along the Eel River, and is the closest State Park containing Old Growth Redwoods north of San Francisco. This Cal-Trans project is only one of many ecologically sensitive projects promoted by our current "greenwashed" governor.

The controversy regarding the project began after Cal-trans submitted a controversial project to allow longer trucks into and out of Humboldt County through Richardson Grove. The issues include the fact that the project will disturb the roots of these ancient trees resulting in the probable demise of millennial redwoods, absolute and unavoidable disturbances to endangered species such as the Marbled Murrelet(brachyramphus marmoratus) and the Northern Spotted Owl(Strix occidentalis), along with the root of the issue…the gutting of Humboldt County by big business.

The bottleneck at Richardson Grove has helped prevent the commercial corporate takeover of small businesses throughout Humboldt County by limiting the length of trucks entering the grove. This is where the special interest portion of the Cal-Trans project enters into the tale. Discovered by concerned local residents Dr. Ken Miller and David Spreen, apparently over $25,000 of public grant money was spent by the Community Development Services department to sway public opinion regarding the controversial project by using print and online media. Tactics as sinister as paying citizens to submit editorials supporting the project to the local Times-Standard paper were even utilized, along with the publicly financed North Coast Prosperity website. But why and by whom?

The funding to promote the unnecessary project came from The Headwaters Fund, a triumph for environmentalists in the battle for the Redwoods against MAXXAM. The Headwaters Fund was a twelve million dollar public fund crafted after the sale of The Headwaters Forest by Pacific Lumber to the State of California. The fund was developed by the State to offset losses to timber industry jobs and the local economy after the Headwaters sale, which also included stricter environmental controls on timber practices. Imagine how those who participated in the Headwaters Campaign feel after hearing that the fund they helped fight to create was being used to destroy the Richardson Grove Redwoods, and Humboldt County!

Essentially, the fund was to be used to promote education for timber workers(never happened), local business development(low wage jobs for ex-timber employees), and rebuild and maintain community infrastructure(City of Rio Del on cease and desist for storm water pollution into Eel River). Despite the fact that small amounts of the fund have been used in the form of loans for existing and startup businesses, the bulk of what the fund has supported has been redevelopment and to fund and promote special interest projects, such as the expansion of Arcata airport and highway projects, such as this one.

Considering the fact that Cal-Trans filed an incomplete and ineffectual environmental impact report(EIR) intended to address concerns about the impacts to Richardson Grove and concerned resident species; the massive community outcry against the necessity of the project; impacts to local business from out of area corporations offering lower wages and product standards; increased traffic and pollution along Highway 101 including amplified congestion and air pollution issues in Eureka; and now…the corruption attached to the misuse of Headwaters Funding to promote an unpopular state project aimed at bringing in Wal-Mart and Home Depot trucks coinciding the corporatization of our small town county that is big on local sustainability and fair trade.

I cannot see this project going through, and if it does, we will put a stop to it through non-violent resistance.

Whew…That was lot to say! Like a big piece of blackberry pie.

In fact, I think it’s a big piece of “Humboldt pie“… just for you , Hank Sims!


  1. expand rebellion, not roadsApril 14, 2009 at 11:37 PM

    along with CalTrans' other plans- "straightening" the 299 and also messing with the 199- we can look forward to increased militarization- a thoroughfare for Humvees, tanks, thugs to invade this area and to have easier access to reach anywhere on the coast-


  2. I am worried about the 299 as well. However, I feel that mother nature creates a constant battle for both the 199 and the 299. Winter weather makes these routes unreliable for year-round logistics. Slides and fires close these routes intermittently throughout the year. Thank Goddess!

    Highway 101 I feel is crucial considering the fact that Oakland is our main port, and the 101 is the closest route for these larger trucks. I'm sure that these trucks could enter Humboldt via Crescent City(Wal-Mart established), but the main distribution hub for most of these Big Boxes(retail, grocery, chemical, etc.) is inarguably the Central Valley.

    The protection that Richardson Grove offers Humboldt is magical.

    We need to protect our refuge through peaceful and non-violent action, if all preliminary legal efforts fail.


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