Photo by The Arcata Eye
The publicly funded North Coast Prosperity website claims to "represent business owners, entrepreneurs, industry cluster leaders and the interested public". I suppose that lying and spreading misinformation is "business as usual", for those intent on turning Humboldt County into Santa Rosa.
In the NCP's piece "Richardson Grove Project Gets Shot in the Arm", the site claims that "A two-year survey by a biologist will be done to monitor marbled murrellets and document their presence." This statement is inherently deceptive. According to Caltrans, they will be conducting the two year survey AFTER the completion of the RIP(Richardson Grove Improvement Project). Just what are they trying NOT to prove in regards to the sensitive habitat?:
"Caltrans will replace 13 trash containers in Richardson Grove State Park with corvid proof waste receptacles. This is to benefit wildlife in the vicinity. (For example: Ravens are a predator of marbled murrellets that are known to nest in giant redwoods. Ravens scavenge trash and murrellet eggs. If the trash was not available then the eliminated primary food source would theoretically eliminate the scavengers...To avoid impacts to nesting migratory birds, vegetation removal will be done between Sept. 30 and March 1."
What does Caltrans know about the endangered Marbled Murreletts in prime nesting area high in the trees of Richardson Grove(the last of such in the area) without pre-project surveys? Caltrans is admitting that Murrellets are in the grove by offering trash can mitigation and seasonal vegetation removal, but will conduct surveys after the project. This is contradictory to mitigating environmental impacts to resident endangered species.
Is Caltrans afraid of heights?
The NCP continues to claim that "With exception of the culvert excavation, the contractor will be required to use an air spade while excavating the soil within the structural root zone of redwood trees which will minimize physical injury to the tree roots." There is no minimization of physical injury to Redwood roots when excavation is the only option to realign the roadway right up to the base of these Ancient trees. Redwood root systems rely upon surface moisture. As anyone will notice the root systems on a toppled redwood tree, there are no deep roots or main "tap root". The root systems of Coast Redwoods cover the forest floor, just inches below the surface, and intertwine with each other. Excavation of any type around these Ancient Trees is similar to "girdling" a tree, and paving over them is much worse:
But wait! According to the NCP, a technological breakthrough in paving will help "minimize" damage to the roots from the pavement placed right on top of the Ancient tree roots:
"The new pavement will be (CTPB) “Cement Treated Permeable base to minimize the thickness of the structural section, provide greater porosity, minimize compaction of roots and minimize thermal exposure to roots from Hot Mix Asphalt paving.”"NCP Site
Lime(found in cement) is a poison, for humans, fish and especially for acid loving trees such as our Coast Redwoods. I myself have personally experienced this travesty. I recently removed an Oak Tree hanging over a customer's home that was over a century old. The customer was concerned that the Oak had succumbed to SOD(sudden oak death) and wanted the tree removed for safety and to protect the surrounding Oaks from the disease. After further research, we discovered that the tree had Lime poisoning, and the home's concrete foundation that covered less than half of the drip line of the oak tree had taken less than two decades to poison the tree to death:
"Lime is a major component of cement and as such is found in all concrete products and is also used for stabilizing earth and for some landscaping activities. Lime easily dissolves in water, just like sugar, to make the water and slurry strongly alkaline (pH 11-13), which burns and kills fish, insects and plants that come in contact with it, much the same way acid burns us." North Shore City, New Zealand Pollution Prevention Brocure
For those of you reading this that feel talking about tree roots is "for the birds", let us ponder the reasons behind the handful of local businesses that support this project. May God save them after the influx of non-local corporate Big Boxes and developers...
We live in a really special place. But what remains of our resources, our workforce, and the accomplishments made by Humboldt's entrepreneurs, local commerce, and advocates of sustainability and the environment are threatened by the greed of those who want to rip a hole in the Redwood Curtain. It is a fact that there are a few businesses who have vocalized support for the RIP. Let's look at their reasons, and debunk their claims for the necessity of the project, which are clearly based in greed:
"While it can be argued that nearly every business on the North Coast is in some way affected by higher transportation costs, it is the small to mid-size manufacturers, specialty agriculture businesses and food producers that suffer most from the STAA restrictions." NCP site
You may wonder what started this whole mess. In the beginning, it was the beef industry(http://humboldt-herald.blogspot.com/). Humboldt Grass-Fed beef became a hot item for carnivores in and outside of Humboldt County, and the demand increased due to multiple reasons, such as fears of Mad Cow disease, the deplorable conditions of feed lots and the usage of hormones by corporate beef producers.
Now we have "Grass-Finished" beef. This is the process of bringing grain-fed beef cows from the Central Valley and other parts of the state to Humboldt County, where the non-locally "grown" cows are given a two week vacation of Humboldt grass(not the smoking kind) and sun(or fog), before being shipped back to Stockton(or wherever) to slaughter. Since Humboldt County lacks a slaughterhouse, and that the County's bovine population numbers around 80,000 head(according to Martha Divine), the Grass Fed beef demand created the notion that the Redwood Curtain needs parting.
First off, the problem with Humboldt's trucking industry is that we are all dependent upon oil.
Richardson Grove didn't create the fuel crisis that we all suffered from during the Bush administration. And the election of President Obama won't solve the issue either, unless better fuel technologies are developed by the administration, instead of "cash for clunkers" programs that fuel American vehicle manufacturer's programs for unsustainability. An extra 5 or so linear truck trailer feet will not help much with transportation costs if diesel goes from $2.99per gallon back up to $4.20 a gallon(do the math). And the dangers from having these super-sized trucks navigating our city streets outweigh any current safety concerns for the scenic one mile stretch of the 101 through Richardson Grove. The Blue-Green Alliance has a lot of informative content regarding safety and fuel issues that debunks all of the proponents of the RIP claims for safety and efficiency. And guess what? The alliance is comprised of truckers...
Cypress Grove is a local business and a vocal supporter of the RIP. Why? Because the goat milk used for their cheese is trucked in all the way from Mexico. I suppose that there are not enough goats in the County to fill their order for their locally crafted but not so locally produced cheeses. Sun Valley Floral Farms? Not a very ethical or sustainable company to begin with. Unethical practices such as exploiting undocumented workers. Non-sustainable practices such as herbicide use. Remember, the sprays that Sun Valley utilizes drift right into an "organic" Humboldt Creamery supplier just East of Sun Valley, as the wind carries.
My hopes in sharing this information with you would not be to boycott any of the above businesses or industries, although it would be in the best interests of public health and business ethics to complain about these deplorable practices. My goal is to show you that not all businesses support the project. In fact, only a few are vocal in supporting a project that will in fact create an atmosphere of unhealthy competition with Big Boxes. A project that is supported by big development, purveyors of sub-urban sprawl.
The timing of this project goes in hand with the County's General plan, where the direction of Humboldt's development and land use policies will be decided for the next few decades. Out of area interests cannot wait to get their hands on Humboldt County's resources, which includes you, reader. The promise of minimum wage jobs is the promise of slavery. Big business policy is to make a profit, regardless of who is affected by their greed. To hire entire labor forces as part-time, to avoid paying benefits such as medical insurance and vacation. Take note that Eurekans stopped Wal-Mart from entering it's city limits. For a damn good reason. Let's keep Humboldt County local.
Save Richardson Grove. Save Humboldt County!
"There are men who have special interests in your career. They want to help you to grow. And then, siphon all your dough, why don't you find out for yourself. Then you will see the glass, hidden in the grass." Steven Patrick Morrisey