Richardson grove realignment protest.


This project has been in the developmental stages for some time.  The initial EIR was very vague in several regards.  There were recycled reports rather than new studies on the current ecosystem and its concerns.  Though Caltrans claim to have no intent of cutting old growth trees for this project the impact from compaction around the roots of several large old trees has been glossed over.  With those trees having very shallow root structures compaction of over half the root structure could cause the trees to eventually fall. 

The reason behind the project is to allow the larger STAA trucks in and out of the area.  For those who are unaware the STAA trucks have been poised to replace the standard freight system by a federal agency.  These trucks are larger, boast larger payload capability, and are also longer and wider than older trucks.  This move can be further explained if you review the EIR document available at the Caltrans office.  There has been a push to make these larger trucks the standard and to phase out the older smaller vehicles.  This is causing many businesses to pay higher premiums to import goods for their businesses.  This may effectively put local trucking companies out of work.  At present, the larger trailers have to be unloaded and re-loaded on to smaller trucks to make the trip in. 

There are arguments against the need for the larger trucks to be able to come in, such as weight restrictions as well as the longer trailer which is only good for moving live stock or people…

The project itself has only 3 alternatives listed, and all have been dismissed by the community as non workable.  Two are for lighting systems, one a timer light the other a sensor system.  The third is a day time restriction for the trucks that would only have a smaller impact on the land comparatively by making a longer pull out for trucks to wait for the evening transportation. This proposed realignment will have several trees cut, the largest of which are old Doug firs that do not stump sprout. Redwoods replenish themselves from the stump using the same root structure. 

Several sections of the road are to be widened to allow safe places to pull out.  A retaining wall is another portion of the project to prevent landslides.  This improvement has been protested because of its proximity to the rehabilitation clinic known as the Singing Trees, as well as a bed and breakfast.  The view has been a large selling point for these establishments, and this retaining wall will interfere with access to these businesses as well as destroy the natural beauty that is highly prized by the local businesses in the area.

What follows are the events observed at the protest itself. 

The air was electric with the sound of people talking and gathering to save the redwoods that are going to be impacted by this project.  A member of the Yurok tribe spoke about their sacred oath to protect the redwoods and the reason it is necessary to protect these wonderful trees.  The gathering at the entrance to the Caltrans building was a mass of bodies.  Six individuals were connected to one another using tubes fashioned to highlight the urgency to stop this plan.  Similar to the way that redwoods are interlinked, the protesters hands are connected together to block access to the entrance of this building.  Drums rolling, trumpets playing, and crowds chanting make the environment grow intensity.

It was impossible to get a straight interview from anyone in the building due to the yelling and music.  The protest has so far not been met with anything but support.  There is a call for the people at Caltrans to cancel the plan for the realignment.  People (who) were very willing to throw out comments about their own personal perspective about Caltrans, all were more or less negative.  There was a large element of those that have blindly protected the redwoods for years. were it not for these individuals many more of these trees would be gone forever.  The quality of the comments provided was not the kind that can be repeated in print, but the raw feel of energy being put displayed there had its own vitality. 

Brush clearing was scheduled to start on the 18th of January despite the project not yet being approved by the regional planners.  Caltrans has tried to push this project through despite the overwhelming community disapproval of the project. It was scheduled to be completed over the next 3 weeks following the brush clearing.  Phone trees were activated and people rallied to save the trees from the destruction that Caltrans wants to perpetuate. People have tied them self to trees and taken other steps to prevent the construction from moving forward, and no root studies have been done yet.  When asked,  Caltrans representatives acknowledged that there were no scientists requested to do studies and no new materials supporting the project moving forward in officially outlined procedures…they are trying to damage the root structure with no environmental research to show the level of impact they will have.  This is a wonton destruction of several old growth trees.  Caltrans also claim to have no intent to cut them down but the compaction of the roots that they are laying out in the plans will kill the trees as effectively as cutting them down.  Redwoods have a very shallow root system that run for miles.  They are interconnected by roots that run through these forested areas.  To de vilify the individuals that are trying to push this project through would be criminal.  They refuse to look at any other alternative to the construction proposed because they don’t want to use the trucking companies time by making trucks wait tell dark to travel, or pay to add lights with censors to allow the trucks to travel through without traffic in opposing lanes and make their progress safer.  Please join the brave individuals who are sacrificing their time and energy to keep these trees preserved.  You can also help by bringing food and other necessities to those in the grove. 

The protest started in Arcata and moved south to Eureka.  Over 300 people showed up during the course of the day to show their support for the prevention of the cutting of these trees.  Two of the protesters agreed to an interview on the bus on the way back to Arcata. 

We need to contact our local senator, congressman, and other government officials, house seat members to request a cessation of the battle to cut farther into this grove of trees that have won the hearts of Humboldt natives and visitors alike.  Preservation of this beautiful landscape through the use a stoplight or signal light, to indicate the presence of these trucks or a time restriction on the trucks would be preferable. Rather than realigning the most amazing view of some of the largest and oldest trees to have graced this earth that can still be seen from the road let us explore these other alternatives.  People have to take an extra 20 minutes in their drive with the lights, but it’s better than a 60% plus root compaction on more than half the old growth trees still near the road.  None shall be cut they proclaim, but the truth is that the compaction alone will likely ring several of the trees causing a much slower demise.  Let’s all take what action we can from writing a letter to actively supporting those who are helping us all by being on the front lines to make sure that action cannot be taken before the people are heard.

If you want to support those protecting the trees call 707 602-7551 or e-mail rgroveactionnow@gmail.com

saverichardsongrove.org

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