Home > environment > Barnum lawsuit against EPA moves forward

Barnum lawsuit against EPA moves forward

Barnum Timber is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over long-standing listing of Redwood Creek as “impaired” for sediment and temperature due to past timber harvest.  The suit claims the listing adversely affects Barnum’s property values.

The trial court tossed the case, ruling that Barnum didn’t have standing to sue.  But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, so the case will move forward.

UC Berkeley Professor of Law Holly Doremus thinks the case is bogus.

It would be fair to ask, so what? This lawsuit won’t succeed on the merits. What’s the big deal of letting it get past a motion to dismiss? In these days of strained budgets, maybe the problem is that the US shouldn’t have to bear the costs of defending this sort of meritless suit. But it’s not just the money and time. I think the real problem with this particular suit is that it so unfairly paints EPA as the villain, playing in to the Republican theater of the federal government as evil actor. I’ve got no problem with Barnum suing California based on the state’s water quality standards, the state’s designation of this creek as impaired, or any regulations the state imposes on that basis. The state should be prepared to defend those decisions. But EPA shouldn’t be hauled into federal court because it’s not reining in California. That is not, and should not be, it’s job.

Full story.

  1. Not an Expert
    February 10, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Hilarious–the Barnums clearcut the living shit out of their land, have sold most of it off, and now they blame water quality regs for the decline in land value. This guy is a piece of work. I wonder how much taxpayer money has been used to “fix” logging roads on Barnum lands?

  2. Bolithio
    February 10, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Well technically, the EPA is who designated the “impaired” status to begin with. They also have authored most of the TDMLs that are used by our state agencies to implement our State policy.

  3. Bolithio
    February 10, 2011 at 10:02 am

    The suite does seem like a waste of resources for Barnum, and everyone else for that matter. What can they possibly hope to gain by this? Still what the author misses, is that while it may be true that the EPA is not responsible for a drop in the market, the listing leads to a policy adopted which greatly increases the cost of business for timberland owners. That certainly is significant. I dont buy the argument that our State doesn’t have to adopt the listings. What are they supposed to do? Do their own comprehensive analysis? That is exactly the type of duplicative government we want to avoid. So they share a portion of the responsibility.

    But, they have no chance of winning this case. lol

  4. Bolithio
    February 10, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Barnum that is.

  5. Anonymous
    February 10, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Meanwhile, they’re fighting Eureka’s Martin Slough Interceptor that would ease the occurrences of sewage discharges into Humboldt Bay from the sprawl in Barnum’s neighborhood.

    Dominating local politics is a small price to pay for maintaining their paradise of privatized profits and socialized costs, (just like Wall-Street!), wildlife, infrastructure, the environment, health and safety be damned.

  6. Ben
    February 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Martin Slough Interceptor has nothing to do with sewage discharges into Humboldt Bay, since that is a result of the treatment plant. Martin Slough will allow even more sewage to flow to the plant. 11:29 has a strong opinion, which is fair, but has no basis in fact.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    High societal costs versus declining real estate values – ya, that about sums it up …….Awe man, it is gonna get really, really bad.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  8. mud hen
    February 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    ask Stafford residents if Barnum ( and their former neighbor Hurwitz/PL) how well their property values were protected. Barnums scandalously poor forest practices directly caused the big Stafford slide of ’97. The only thing worse than Barnums (&PL’s) lousy land management was the irrelevant, ineffective and impotently applied regulatory functions of the CDF clowns charged with protecting our watersheds and public trust resources including the fisheries.

    Barnum can eat mud!

  9. Anonymous
    February 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Ben @ 3:44, Sewage discharges can happen anywhere there are sewer connections. Martin’s Slough Interceptor is suppose to allow sewage to flow to the plant better, with less pump stations.

  10. Anonymous
    February 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    “Sewage discharges can happen anywhere there are sewer connections ”

    yes but sewer discharges into bay have to be well, um, by the bay…

  11. Lizard
    February 11, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I just do not understand how there can be any problems with their land, after all everything should be dead by now.


  12. A-Nony-Mouse
    February 11, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I remeber Redwood Creek thick with huge Chinook salmon. It was common for 50# fish to be caught every year. A combination of serious overlogging which created a huge silt load, and the building of the levees after the ’64 flood so the silt couldn’t clear the estuary led to the decimation of the salmon run. I’d guess there are a few still holding on but nothing like ‘the old days’. Another short term gain riding all over the long term benefits.

  13. Anonymous
    February 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Barnum was only liable for a small portion of the slide- PL had to pay millions and Barnum only 150K.

  14. Anonymous
    February 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

    “Property Rights” is just another term for anarchy.

  15. Anonymous
    February 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    February 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    “Martin Slough Interceptor has nothing to do with sewage discharges into Humboldt Bay, since that is a result of the treatment plant. Martin Slough will allow even more sewage to flow to the plant. 11:29 has a strong opinion, which is fair, but has no basis in fact.
    February 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    “yes but sewer discharges into bay have to be well, um, by the bay…”

    These unbelievably ignorant comments are the result of local media censorship connecting the dots between increased sewage discharges and the subdivisions that continue in Eureka, and the surrounding area, subdivisions that NEVER paid their “fair share” for infrastructure impacts. The development community’s dominance of local politics will keep it that way…

    Many of Eureka’s 18 decaying sewage lift stations are located within our sloughs and gulches that drain into Humboldt Bay. After decades of discharges, the CRWQCB was finally shamed into action and has levied fines. The ONLY saving grace has been below-normal rain events .

    80% of our water bill increases are for sewage, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Don’t expect a sheepish “community media” to report well-known public costs of sprawl or big boxes because the development community represents one of their largest sources of ad revenue.

    Bill “There Will Never Be Sprawl In Humboldt” Barnum, along with the other purveyors of flapdoodle: The Arkley’s, Kluke’s and Bareilles’ of this world, seek maximum profits on cheaply acquired resource lands and Brownfeild developments subsidized by the same local taxpayers who cannot own the homes being built! Flirting with fines, penalties and felonies offers little deterrent to this group.

    And still, we must hear the Barnum’s whine like babies when a public works project, funded by taxpayers, requires some of their land to solve problems created by their ilk.

    They call it “growth”.

    So do the rest of us: Growth in traffic, unaffordable housing, government budget deficits, capital improvement backlogs, blight, poverty-wages, unwalkable, unsafe streets, and wetlands full of raw sewage with each heavy rain.

    Remember: Don’t eat the crab, and don’t let your kids, pets or livestock go into Eureka’s forested wetlands following a heavy rain.

    ( Salmon used to run up Martin Slough Creek too!)

  16. Not A Native
    February 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    No anon, ‘property rights’ is just another term for feudalism.

    Def: A political and economic system of Europe from the 9th to about the 15th century, based on the holding of all land in fief or fee and the resulting relation of lord to vassal and characterized by homage, legal and military service of tenants, and forfeiture.

  17. Anonymous
    February 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    There have to be some property rights, or you have a communist state. Property rights give people freedom. If you have never owned property, perhaps you have a different view.

  18. Not A Native
    February 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Oooh, you’ll have a ‘communist state’ will you?? What does that really mean? Is it as bad as Hitler?

    Why don’t you forget the slogans and labels and confront the real issues of how people live with each other and the environment, and the opportunities they have(or don’t have) in lifestyles and to influence how people may live in the future?

    I have and do ‘own’ property and like ‘owning’ a child, dog, or car it gives me certain privileges and obligates me to certain responsibilities. So offer your opinion about what to those privileges and responsibilities should be and give up promulgating propaganda and political ideology hiding behind knee jerk phrases.

  19. Redwood Creek resident
    February 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Barnum should be forced to liquidate his company and put the cash into restoring redwood creek. The land should be converted to a community forest with sustainable forestry practices and public access. In a just society, that is.

  20. Anonymous
    February 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Yeah, I hate those knee-jerk phrases. Especially feudalism.

    Private property ownership certainly does come with responsibility, and rights. We are lucky to live in this country.

  21. Anonymous
    February 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    1:59 do you think that all property should be open to public access?

  22. Ben
    February 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    There seems to be some confusion about public lands and private lands. Yes ownership has responsibilities but it also has rights. 1:59 probably flunked the 8th grade constitution study. One of the reasons our country was fouded was so that individuals could own property and this is enshrined in the Constitution.
    Also 1:59 does not know about the ownership of lands on Redwood Creek, which has many owners including 1:59 which is the Redwood National Park. The point the Barnums are making is that the creek is not impared, which I believe is true.

  23. A-Nony-Mouse
    February 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    The Creek is certainly impaired. The only question here is to what extent are the Barnums responsible for that impairment. If the Creek was healthy, it would still have large runs of LARGE salmon and plentiful steelhead. It still has a few fish but they’re only a shadow of what was there less than 50 years ago.

  24. Ben
    February 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

    And the basis for your claim is?

  25. Not A Native
    February 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Anon 2:26: Hi Fi, I think the term ‘property rights’ is used locally to defend and create public policies that are very similar to feudalism, hence my reference and definition.

    I read your oblique comment of ‘being lucky to live in this country’ as an appeal to people here to gratefully accept insecurity and privation. Some here are much much ‘luckier’ than others. You’re promoting that people shouldn’t protest the large and growing inequalities of life chances in this country, for fear that protesting will worsen their condition. Well, hows that appeal worked out lately for Egypt and specifically Mr. Mubarak?

    While I’ll agree we’re lucky to live in this country, I also believe Canadians, Finns, Norwegians, Italians, and Egyptians are lucky to live in thier countries. Property rights that create more equal outcomes for people here mean everyone is luckier. The various land grant acts of which some in HumCo are directly individual beneficiaries were enacted with exactly that intent.

  26. Not A Native
    February 12, 2011 at 10:23 am

    What is it about ‘fewer fish’ that you don’t understand, Ben? And its not just a few fewer, its about 90% fewer. Or is it that you think the fish damage the creek and having fewer of them means the creek is less impaired?

  27. Ben
    February 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

    The creek was imparfed because of sediment and I believe that you do not had any data to support fewer fish. You can say it over and over, but where is your data to support your claim. I bet you don’t have any. Fish studies a few years ago showed that there was a healthy population and the claims of “fewer fish” were not based on any science, but folks who seemed to remember that, little basis for a determination of imparement.

  28. Plain Jane
    February 12, 2011 at 11:35 am
  29. Anonymous
    February 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Ouch! Thanks Jane!

    We await Ben to change the point….

    Your private property rights end where mine begin…haphazard water extraction, logging, grazing, even dumping your motor oil in your yard, shooting your gun and using your burn barrel, etc, etc, have taught us to expand our definition of “private freedom” for the benefit of all species’ rights to thrive.

  30. Ben
    February 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I am very aware of the TMDL info and participated in the workshops as a landowner when they were held to determing the sediment budget. But, as I said before, saying that the creek is impared and having actual fish data are different. The fish data in the link was for Prairie Creek, and I await some data for Redwood Creek, until then we are merely making an assertion and not providing evidence.

  31. Plain Jane
    February 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    This report is solely about Prairie Creek and has the data which explains why Redwood Creek is a problem for salmon. The fish that are counted at Prairie Creek have to navigate part of Redwood Creek to get there.


  32. Plain Jane
    February 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Error, that report is solely about Redwood Creek.

  33. Bolithio
    February 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Logging was but but one nail in the coffin of salmon. There were many many practices that have lead to the decline; from conversion and grazing, to historic era logging, major floods, and extensive overfishing.

    Modern forestry and logging practices are not preventing salmon recovery – they are enhancing it – through legacy mitigation and restoration.

    Temperature effects are almost a non-issue for logging plans. Sediment is also no longer a major source from logging, but rather new plans are the mechanism for treating historic point sources of sedimentation.

  34. Ben
    February 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    When people make statements saying that X% of the fish are no longer in the system, speaking of the part of Redwood Creek where the Barnums have ownership, and that their practices led to the decline, there needs to be data to support that assertion. Exactly why the Barnums are challenging the imparement of the creed, in my opinion. Just because someone says it is so, that does not necessaraly mean it is true until the data in presented. There is a good point that the sediment that caused the imparement has moved through the system. It has been a very long time since the logging practices that caused that have occurred.

  35. Ben
    February 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Oops creek

  36. Mae Evenbee
    February 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    There used to be lots of frogs in the South Fork Eel River, really noisy at night. Then, in the late 90′s Barnum logged and sprayed poison out on Sprowel Creek (still see the poison trucks going out there even now). Since then, the nights are silent. You might hear frogs occasionally in springs and creeks, but from the river, silence.
    Have you noticed the loss of frog song from the river at night?
    You might think, oh frogs, feh! But they are wonderful creatures and eat mosquito larvae and most of all, from an anthropocentric viewpoint, are an indicator species. Does not bode well for us. Some years the river doesn’t even have pincherbugs! That is really scary. Poor beautiful river, what have we done to you?

  37. Owltotem
    February 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    I love my Eel here is a cute piece of Frog History

    In 1962 2 guys bought the little piece at along side where the highway is at Stafford, you know the little house with the big pond full of Lilly pads. Well they dammed a spring and built that pond and imported the big huge bull frogs to raise there and sell frog legs to the fancy restaurants in San Francisco. So they got the frog stock and had a great breeding year and by 1964 they had a great flock of big fat frogs. Well, the frogs, possibly not so keen at their new environment (I suspect group prayer or maybe frog chanting) watched the level of the pond as it rained, and it rained, and they watched and they chanted and it rained, and right about Christmas 1964, the banks of the pond breached and the Frogs escaped down down into the South Fork of the Eel river so if you are out on the Eel at night and you hear the deep beckoning of big wonkin bullfrog you will know it is a descendant of the 1964 (with legs in tact) escapees.

    Oh please don’t tell me they poisoned my frogs.

  38. Mae Evenbee
    February 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…back then, and maybe even still, the only way to legally pour diesel on the ground is to mix it with poison. The diesel’s just used to make the poison stick, and is not regulated.

  39. Plain Jane
    February 13, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Good story, Owl. I love that place, check it out every time I go by. So do people go frogging on the Eel now? My dad used to go elsewhere to do it because there weren’t any frogs big enough around here to eat.

  40. Owltotem
    February 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    so the story goes Jane, big ones, real big ones, I have heard them, but I could never eat a frog, even if I am an owl :)

  41. Plain Jane
    February 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Me either, Owl. One of the few things my dad never insisted we try, probably because he didn’t mind not having to share. He loved frog legs.

  42. Anonymous
    February 14, 2011 at 12:30 am

    The last refuge of scoundrels…

    All those logging operations over the years, (like all those cancer causing chemical industries), can you prove which one caused your tumor?

    Prove it!

  43. Owltotem
    February 14, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Mae, Do you still hear the big frogs? Are you out there on the SF Eel? They dont really even sound like a frog. I don’t spend much time on the lower Eel anymore (there’s no water in it) In the early 80’s I used to hang out at holmes flat and I remember a lot of river turtles and frogs (noisy noisy frogs) but I spend my summer river days way up the Main Fork now, there are a few frogs, not like before, but the pools are full of flashy little squaw fish.

  44. Mae Evenbee
    February 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I am way up by Garberville. No, I do not hear frogs in the river. According to a biologist that I spoke to from Redwood Sciences Labratories at HSU, the noisy native frogs here are small tree frogs and they can really make a lot of racket for such little things. But they don’t seem to be around the river anymore.
    I miss ’em a lot, having always been very fond of amphibians, especially tree frogs. Plus, I am very worried, and have been for years, about what this means for the South Fork Eel River, which is diminishing and there are unconscionable plans afoot for further exploitation of it.
    I do not hear bullfrogs, either.

  45. Not A Native
    February 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Well, it looks that the fish might still have the last laugh. They can evolve in ways that keep them healthy but while making themselves unhealthy for humans to eat.

    As the article says, the toxins go “up” the food chain which means coming soon to your plate. And forget trying to play the game and evolve along too, unless your breeding time is faster than salmon.

  46. Stasis
    June 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I lived in Stafford until Dec 31 ’96,
    In the past I have run into the big frogs,
    but they were up on the hill in a spring,
    We got mudded out,live in Oregon now,sick of the fighting

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