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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Highway Expansion Would Significantly Harm One Hundred and Eight Old Growth Redwood Trees

Redwood Times Honors our Namesake

I appreciate this fact-filled article in Redwood Times addressing the concerns of those of us who treasure Richardson Grove and our unique Humboldt way of life. Gary Hughes and Barbara Kennedy presented Rotary new information on the likely irreparable impact to Richardson Grove, and questioned the value of this project for our community.

The new report by Dr. Joseph McBride -- forester, professor at UC Berkeley, author of 277 articles on trees (especially Redwoods) and adviser to State Parks -- offers the real science that CalTrans failed to give.

Dr. McBride’s tree-by-tree analysis of project impact on RG finds 108 old-growth trees that will have root systems significantly affected, and anticipates 37 are likely to die.

We cannot accept this likelihood of irreparable harm to our State Park, and the Redwood Curtain.

Thanks to Rotary and to Redwood Times for this good start to a fair hearing.

Lauren Oliver

Here is a link to Dr. McBride's Declaration presented in the lawsuit against CalTrans brought by the Environmental Information Protection Center [EPIC], Center for Biological Diversity, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics [CATS], and individuals. The case is formally called:

the U.S. District Court Northern District of California

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"large diesel trucks on 101...24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year"

Richardson Grove as important as general plan update
Ken Miller/For The Times-Standard

Wholesale STAA access through Richardson Grove is potentially the most immediately devastating threat to our county.

It would open the north-south link in a circuit connecting Interstate 5 and U.S. Highway 101 via routes 199, 299, and 20, putting large diesel trucks on 101 through, not just into, our county, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Signaling or one-way traffic would create harmful congestion in the grove, and do nothing about the STAA traffic through the county.

Who benefits?

Mainly the international trucking industry and a few local businesses. Caltrans' EIR acknowledges that local industries do not need these trucks: “... There is a maximum weight restriction for loads as well as maximum length of cabs and trailers, and that for heavy loads, the economic advantage for the larger [STAA] vehicles is not there,” concluding that the “Proposed project would not result in significant increases in overall economic productivity in the region.”

Wal-Mart and Home Depot in Crescent City have been the squeakiest wheels for Richardson Grove and 199, whining that lack of STAA access costs them $15,000 monthly, savings they would surely use to undercut local businesses, and exchange good paying jobs for low-wage employment as their stores are linked all along the 101 corridor.

Could the new general plan stand up to STAA-related sprawl development?

Vehicular traffic from the proposed Marina Center is estimated at 16,000 trips daily. Add STAA to that and the pressure to open and widen Waterfront Drive and bypass Eureka escalates. Caltrans never considers this, despite the 2003 Caltrans-funded study warning about the “constraint on economic development” from “traffic congestion on U.S. 101 in Eureka's commercial and retail areas due to heavy overlapping uses for trucking, through traffic, and local traffic.”

Ambulance and coroner business may spike. These large trucks represent less than 3 percent of vehicles, but are involved in 14 percent of fatal crashes, and automobile passengers constitute 98 percent of the fatalities in car vs. truck accidents.
Who loses?

The project is a job killer for many local businesses, and will cost the rest of us in road damages, safety hazards, noise and air pollution, congestion, and quality of life. Trinidad will not be so quaint, or quiet, with 24/7 STAA on the 101 grade.

Many of these trucks have extra cabs with kitchens and beds enabling transit from Mexico to Canada without needing a motel or restaurant.

Ancient redwoods may not tolerate modern road use and construction technology. Trees that have survived for a century next to the current roadbed may have benefited from the paucity of heavy truck traffic, as well as construction in 1915 with horse and buggies, hand tools, and gravel, mitigating factors that this project would undo overnight.

Arguments that road construction will not harm ancient redwoods rely on Caltrans' arborists who have no expertise in redwoods, and on Caltrans' own claims.

Experts like Steve Sillett and Stan Binnie registered serious concerns about disturbing woody and feeder roots, justified by the numerous ancient redwoods whose tops are dying back along 101, and those which have fallen, revealing evidence of road or path-induced damage. Hence Redwood Park warnings to avoid walking over roots.

Scientific literature is clear that redwood roots interconnect for up to 500 feet, and that roots larger than one inch are considered “major.” Yet Caltrans claims that roots larger than two inches in diameter will not be cut in the structural root zone, ignoring the critical feeder roots. According to HSU's Professor Sillett, there have been no relevant studies on the impacts of roadways on redwood roots.

If ancient redwoods suffer due to this project, how many hundreds or thousands of years will it take for the damage to show up? And what penalty, or relief, is there?

Perhaps the saddest casualty has been the failure to consider alternatives to 6 mpg STAA trucks for our goods movement in the face of greenhouse gas emissions, rising fuel costs and sea levels, and climate change.

Short sea shipping from our undeveloped port is the most efficient transport modality on the planet, and with 299 STAA access it could meet nearly all of our shipping needs, creating boatloads of jobs.

A 2003 Caltrans' Cambridge Systematics study summed up the benefit of not widening 101 through Richardson Grove, and retaining the critical buffer between 101 and I-5: “The county's relative geographic isolation has spared it from some of the sprawl and growth pressures that have impacted many of California's coastal communities, lending the area a quality of life cherished by residents.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


OPEN WORKSHOP for anyone who might want to take direct action for the Earth or any social justice struggle...

Focus on insurgent skills: organize to be a wrench in the machine; demystify legal risks; prepare to assert power with confidence; and arm ourselves with knowledge to prevent the legal system from separating or silencing us.

We'll talk about: ● non-violent resistance ●action roles
● historical & current examples of direct action for social & environmental justice ● consensus decision-making
● dealing with aggression toward you ● affinity groups
● choosing our targets & non-violent methods
● action/jail/court strategies & solidarity tactics

Lunch & snacks provided and welcomed!

Richardson Grove Action Now: (707) 602-7551

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Richardson Grove Action Now Returns from Bay Area and Sacramento

For Immediate Release (pdf Here) June 14, 2011

Richardson Grove Action Now Steps Beyond the Redwood Curtain –
Direct Action Resistance Brought to Sacramento June 8-10!

Contact: Verbena Lea 707.602.7551

After six months of organizing rallies and actions behind the 'redwood curtain' protesting CalTrans' plan to expand Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park and adjacent forestland, Richardson Grove Action Now [RGAN] last week upped the ante by taking the fight to the state capital in Sacramento, where they carried out a flash mob action. The highway expansion plan has global significance, threatening some of the last 2% remaining ancient redwoods on Earth.

RGAN activists rode on the White Rose bus to Oakland, Sacramento, and Glen Cove, Vallejo in order to mobilize widespread resistance to the highway expansion, demonstrate at the Capitol, and connect with an ongoing spiritual encampment established to stave off development on a sacred indigenous burial shellmound site in Glen Cove. RGAN's Verbena Lea says, “Worldwide, people are opposed to harming or cutting ancient redwood forests, which CalTrans plans to do; ancient redwoods have all but been wiped off the face of the earth and, like the people at Glen Cove, we are saying to developers, government and corporations, 'You have already desecrated and taken too much- We're stopping you here.'”

The road widening would mutilate an ancient grove in order to facilitate trans-national corporations, nuclear materials, development, and military having greater access to the Humboldt Bay region which has been relatively protected by forest bottlenecks and winding roads. Highways 199, 299, and 36, entering the region from the East, are also on the cutting block for highway expansion.

The “White Rose” bio-diesel bus was formerly used by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, and as a support vehicle for the Longest Walk 2 in 2008, organized by AIM to draw attention to indigenous sacred sites in danger of being destroyed by developers. (The White Rose was a German anti-fascist group during Hitler's reign, executed for distributing pamphlets encouraging resistance to the Nazis.)

Thousands of individuals and groups, including RGAN, have written Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to cancel the road widening plan using the Governor's authority. RGAN made this demand at the Capitol through a contemporary direct action known as a flash mob, and will reach the world through their musical protest, executed without permit, then circulated via YouTube. The video will be released this week.

On the Capitol steps, despite threat of arrest from onlooking officers, RGAN activists- joined by supporters from Chico, Sacramento, Oakland, and San Francisco- busted out a flash mob version of George Clinton/ Parliament's “We Got the Funk.” RGAN's updated lyrics detail multi-faceted opposition to road widening through Richardson Grove (i.e. “We want old growth, not corporate flow.”) Followed by police, RGAN marched to CalTrans' state headquarters & chanted “No Road Widening Through Richardson Grove. We are the People and the People Say NO,” handing literature to CalTrans employees & passers-by. The final Sacramento flash mob action was done on a busy street in the business district. Families took photos, and many people including a foreign magazine writer took literature to spread the word against the highway expansion.

While at the Capitol, RGAN learned that four women in wheelchairs had just been arrested protesting California officials' refusal to fund peoples' survival needs- cutting healthcare, in home services, education, etc.-with ever-increasing monies going to prisons, corporations, police, and urbanized development. Gov Brown recently shut down seventy state parks to “save” $22 million; however, the state intends to sink $5.5 million of public money, matching federal funds, into the 1.1 mile highway expansion through Richardson Grove.

RGAN's Sue Ricker said, “If CalTrans can widen the highway through Richardson Grove, a world-renowned old-growth redwood forest, they'll go to any length to convert the 101 into an interstate NAFTA artery.” Already Cypress Grove Chevre -once a locally-owned goat cheese producer, now owned by Swiss multi-national Emmi Corp.- trucks in goat milk from Mexico. Cypress Grove is a supporter of CalTrans' project.

Although CalTrans claims that the project will not harm ancient trees, it is well-established that cutting, compacting, & excavating redwood roots, as planned for the road widening, would harm or kill the trees. Also, it appears that huge ancient redwoods would have to be cut to implement CalTrans' road widening.

RGAN vows to stop this plan in the roads, offices, trees, construction sites, & gov't buildings- near and far.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

No Willing Contractors, No Road Widening!


*New Handout* Brought to Bay Area & Sacramento


Richardson Grove is the mystifying stretch of Highway 101 that curves through the south fork of the Eel River where, coming north, one first encounters ancient redwood forest. The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) is set to implement a plan, launched by federal, state, and corporate interests, to widen Hwy 101 through Richardson Grove.
This project threatens the survival of ancient redwood forest and would usher in and exacerbate a host of
horrendous social, economic, and cultural problems.

Some of the last 2% remaining old growth redwoods, including the 9th tallest in the world, lives in Richardson Grove. It's crucial to do everything possible NOW in order to stop Caltrans. You know you're in redwood country when you bike, walk or drive through the road lined with giants of many generations. Further from the road, the redwood grove extends. You might notice the tops of some of the huge trees along Hwy 101. No greenery and no branches way up there, but instead “spike tops.” They're the result of top die-off from compaction & other injury to the shallow roots of the giant trees. Roots must be protected.

The Richardson Grove area, for millenia, has been & remains sacred territory for First Nations people in this region and is an important place for visitors and inhabitants, human & non-human, of many nations.

Traveling north up Hwy 101 from the Bay Area, you pass hillsides, stripped of their majestic oaklands, now replaced by miles of grape vineyard grids as far as the eye can see. North of that, you arrive in Willits, where there is an arched entry announcing “Gateway to the Redwoods”. But there are no redwoods there; only gas stations and chain stores lining a four lane highway.

As the redwoods in Willits have been replaced by roads and chain-stores, the current “gateway to the redwoods” is about 60 miles north:
Richardson Grove State Park.

CalTrans, using federal and state funds, plans to cut old and young trees, excavate ancient roots, and harm rare and endangered species that inhabit Richardson Grove- all to expand Hwy 101 for greater truck and military access through the coast. Richardson Grove State Park was established to protect this area from the “drums of progress." Not one tree should be cut or harmed in a State Park.

Ancient redwood forest is rare, highly threatened, near extinction. Ancient redwood trees: at risk of there being no more left on Earth. Roads, sprawl, development & short-sighted profiteers have, in a relatively brief period of time, stripped the earth of these amazing beings & the wisdom & life they support.

There's a real NAFTA scam ruining lives all around.
Don't bring tanks and sweatshops through our ancient grounds.”
Richardson Grove Action Now



Direct Action to Stop the Road Widening!

Resist Corporate and U.S. Military Invasion

I've seen great glaciers melting...met lightning eye to eye.
Now I hear bulldozers coming & I know that I am soon to die”
The Tree, Dana Lyons



Funded by the Federal Govt. & the State of California, $5.5 million from each of them.

A State Park is supposed to be protected from any tree cutting or damage. Tree cutting and irreparable damage are part of this plan.

Ancient redwoods inhabit Richardson Grove. CalTrans would have to cut ancient redwoods in order to widen the road to the plan's dimensions.

CalTrans would excavate and cut the roots of the ancient trees in Richardson Grove and severely compact the root zones.

Redwood tree roots are shallow. They stay healthy through their connection to other redwood roots in the area, and cannot withstand compaction.

CalTrans would be would stealing private property which includes old growth trees, is steeply sloped on both sides of the road, and houses Singing Trees (Drug) Recovery Center. That land would be stripped bare and flattened into roadbed for the road widening project.

● CalTrans also has plans to widen every highway coming from the East into the Humboldt Bay region. One of those plans would desecrate Jedediah Smith State Park on Rte 199. One plan has already included a huge clearcut on both sides of Rte 299, on the eastern end.

● Highway expansion through Richardson Grove is motivated by corporate, military, & nuclear industry interests.

● CalTrans tried to pass this plan through without environmental review or public input. There are 2 lawsuits with multiple plaintiffs against the plan.

● Politicians, from the County Supervisors to the Congress reps, rubber-stamped the plan, ignoring legalities and large public outcry.

Local gov't used $55, 000 public funding to disingenuously promote the plan through paid letters to the editor, lobbying, & teaching business owners how to promote it.

● The State promotes the road widening to increase access for big trucks.

● There is a low incidence of accidents on Hwy 101 thru Richardson Grove currently -even though big semi's get through already.


►bring an increase in large trucks going faster. Conditions would make the stretch dangerous for drivers and almost impossible for anyone to walk or bike on the shoulders as they do now.

►allow an inundation of trans-national corporations into north coast towns, subjecting the land, waters, forests, local economies, and working conditions to the ruinous dominance of greedy corporations.

►in conjunction with highway expansions from every other entrance into the Humboldt Bay region, expose the entire northcoast to increased militarization and corporate exploitation.

►have irreparable negative consequences. Change the face of the north coast.

Richardson Grove Action Now 707.602.7551

Friday, June 3, 2011

Richardson Grove Action Now To Sacramento Wed, June 8th!

Richardson Grove Action Now invites you on a trip to Sacramento! We plan to leave SOON. We'll venture out on Wednesday, June 8th and will return June 10, Friday night.

We're riding down in a bio-diesel bus. We will send a creative musical message to Gov. Jerry Brown and to people ALL OVER- which will be broadcast on the world wide web. Our serenade will demand that the highway expansion plan through Richardson Grove be canceled. We will be covering old classics like "One Demand, Cancel the Plan", "Resist Invasion," and "We want old growth, not corporate flow."

We will be bringing a loud temporary presence to Sacramento regarding the road widening- which would bring a PERMANENT impact to our lives and to the survival of ancient redwoods.

If you are not able to join us, in person, on this trip, please support the action by contributing food or money. We are trying to raise $650 for travel expenses. And the food is for the people.

If you really want to go and you think there is some obstacle, call us.

If you are in the Bay area, we would like to come there for the night and bring you with us!
We are also considering, on the way, visiting the spiritual encampment/action at Glen Cove.

Our phone number is 707.602.7551
Our email:

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Richardson Grove Action Now will host a free workshop, Saturday June 18th, open to anyone who might want to participate in direct action for the Earth or any social justice struggle.

Focused on insurgent skills and resistance teachings, each of us will become more prepared to decide what actions to take and how to go about planning and implementing them! Organize to be a wrench in the machine and assert your power with confidence.

We will discuss:

~action groups and roles


~group decision-making

~legal issues and tactics

~handling aggression directed at your action, and

~solidarity tactics

This workshop will help de-mystify the legal system which people often must deal with when involved in direct action. We won't let the legal system separate or silence us!

Food and beverages will be provided, and we welcome you to bring food too!

What: Non-Violent DIRECT ACTION Workshop

Where: Location To Be Announced

When: All day beginning at NOON

Who: YOU all ages welcome, all levels/types of experience encouraged to participate!