Home > Richardson Grove > Sillett gives thumbs up to Richardson Grove highway project

Sillett gives thumbs up to Richardson Grove highway project

HSU redwood professor Steve Sillett says the project by Caltrans to widen and straighten Highway 101 through Richardson Grove in Southern Humboldt County will not damage the massive trees along the roadway.

The Times-Standard published a statement from Sillett:

Roots of these trees have been impacted by the existing roadway for many years, and it is likely that most of their healthy rooting zone is now located away from the pavement. In my opinion, Caltrans has taken sufficient protective measures to avoid severe additional impacts to the redwoods along the road edge.

A federal judge is expected to make a decision on a lawsuit brought by local residents and environmental groups in February.

  1. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 8:51 am

    This has been a big “to-do” and is not going to be much of a big deal at all. This got way over trumped up and shouldn’t have. I hope this gets done and we can move on. I don’t think many people will notice much happening there.

  2. January 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Walmart needs road expansion.
    That is why I vote NO on road expansion.

    Historically sleazes from the local U. have always nuzzled their noses into idiot schemes.

    I can remember Forestry Dept. Head Partain telling
    the assembled that the 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T (defoliants)
    being sprayed by helicopter- in our local watersheds
    was quite O.K.

    We have more contemporary examples, today we have wildlife,
    geology and other departments running flack for the insane
    erosion and habitat loss we see on our coastline.

  3. SNaFU
    January 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

    aaaahhhhh the smell & the smoke from a chainsaw filtering through the towering Sequoias.

  4. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I’m sorry, I missed where Wal-Mart was going to delay work, or it’s opening because RG wasn’t STAA compliant.

    How much smoke does your chain-saw make? Mine isn’t noticeable, even if you are looking at the saw.

  5. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 9:56 am

    The activists have yet to make much more than an ideological case for stopping the project.

  6. Phil C.
    January 3, 2012 at 10:09 am

    The lack of southern access by STAA trucks has not stopped the big box stores ALREADY here! You know, Target, K-Mart, Costco, Winco, Sears, Kohls, . . .

  7. HUUFC
    January 3, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I went to the public informational meeting in Fortuna, seems like years ago,the project will realign the curves to remove length restrictions on trucks. The biggest part is a retaining wall on the curve at the Singing Trees rehab location. It will make the road safer. Hwy 101 is a Federal road, Richardson Grove is the only restriction from san Francisco to the Oregon border (SF Chronicle) and probally on the entire length of the road.

    The project makes sense, if anything it is 10, 20 30 years too late. Let it go , stop wasting taxpayers money with delays.

  8. anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Thanks, ForestryDept, for pointing out that: “Historically sleazes from the local U. have always nuzzled their noses into idiot schemes.”

    The situation is worse now than it was in Partain’s days. The local U. has become more dependent on funding from resource extraction industries, so naturally they can find no problems with those industries’ activities. It’s all good, as long as the money keeps flowing their way.

  9. just middle class
    January 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

    This big box thing is way over blown, the people who are hurt by the current situation are our local businesses. The activists have delayed the project and are using the Wal Mart thing as just another excuse to block almost every project that they can. By restricting infrastructure we restict business growth and jobs as well as population growth. Humboldt County residents can not surviive on only government employment and we can not be just one big park.

  10. No name
    January 3, 2012 at 10:21 am

    “Richardson Grove is the only restriction from san Francisco to the Oregon border”

    Wrong. Read CalTrans documents. The turn on 5th Street in Eureka is another restriction. What will that project cost?

  11. Eric Kirk
    January 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Walmart needs road expansion.
    That is why I vote NO on road expansion.

    Actually, Walmart doesn’t need the expansion. They may even benefit from the status quo as they can afford the offloading costs more easily than their smaller competitors.

  12. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

    True that. The activists are helping Wal-Mart by fighting to keep the road narrow.

  13. January 3, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Eric, offload? Where?

  14. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

    “The local U. has become more dependent on funding from resource extraction industries”

    Please provide specific examples of how the Departments cited (Forestry, Wildlife, Geology) have become “more dependent” on these industries for funding. Do they pay professor salaries and buy supplies for the department?
    Or are you just shooting from the hip?

  15. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Somebody working for HSU giving a Caltrans project a thumbs up? Who’s surprised?

    Here and elsewhere, Sillet demonstrates no understanding of the bigger picture, that is what preserving square footage of Richardson Grove means VERSUS furthering square footage of freeway. There’s only one Richardson Grove, there are fewer than 3% of these redwoods left alive in the entire world. There’s plenty of freeway already, and always more pavement to be poured on Caltrans’ to-do list.

    Caltrans and the state/federal government should not be allowed to further compromise the integrity of these groves whatsoever. Even Sillet doesn’t offer his opinion as fact. The reasoning to further the freeway is strictly commercial any way you look at it. The reason to protect the grove unconditionally is for everybody, forever. Why be part of the generation that STILL doesn’t put the planet first?

  16. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Sillett did not give the “project” a thumbs up. He probably just got sick of having his comments misused and felt he needed to clarify his position. If you read the plaintiffs arguments they stretch some very generic comments Dr. Sillett made during the circulation of the EIR to their breaking point. This time the truth snapped back and hit them in the face.

  17. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Anon 10:14/11:59 – I’m still waiting for specific examples of HSU departments receiving an economic benefit from their professors providing expert advice (in subject areas where they have been trained far beyond the education of the casual blogger).

    If you don’t agree with their opinion, provide evidence to the contrary – trying to negate their opinions by proposing corruption and conspiracy (HSU and resource industries) just shows an inability to argue the issue.

  18. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Dr. Sillett is about to learn what Galileo must have felt like when he pointed out that the Earth actually isn’t the center of the universe. There are going to be some angry ideologues crossing him off of their Solstice card lists this year.

  19. Eric Kirk
    January 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Eric, offload? Where?

    South of the grove, where they have to move the goods onto smaller trucks. The North Coast Coop had a broken refrigerator delivered – broken during the offload. Cypress Grove says it adds significantly to their prices.

    Economies of scale make it much easier for the big boxes to cover those costs. The irony is that opposition to the widening may actually hasten the big box takeover of the local economy. I don’t have the facts and figures to know one way or another, but the question has been raised, but doesn’t get much attention -certainly not from widening opposition. I think the pro-developer side avoids the issue just because they don’t want to deal with the framing – the admission that the big boxation of the local economy is detrimental. So nobody is discussing the question in any meaningful way, despite the fact that several small businesses are saying that the offloading is causing them hardship.

  20. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    12:38, the fact that less than 3% of this organism exists anywhere on the planet is indeed conspiracy. People conspired to make money at their behest, and are still doing so. It’s not a conspiracy “theory” that Caltrans wants us, the taxpayers, to give them over fifteen million dollars for a very unpopular freeway project.

    Use the money elsewhere, like restoring the benefits and pay to Caltrans employees who have had theirs cut this past year, while Caltrans management reaps bonuses, raises and rewards. Those groves should be protected unconditionally at this point in history. We, as a people and society, should be more intelligent than to proceed with business as usual if it means furthering the mistakes we all acknowledge have already been made in the past. This “improvement” project is a shining example of furthering such mistakes.

  21. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Back in 2007 (or was it 2008?) an HSU economics professor predicted housing Humboldt housing prices would fall by as much as 40%. He was vilified by the local real estate and development community for his “irresponsible” statement. At the time my neighbor had just sold his house for $315,000. It just sold again… for $199,000.

  22. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    12:38 – I’m still waiting for the specifics of how HSU academic departments benefit from statements such as the one provided by professor Sillett. That was the “conspiracy” I was challenging.
    Nice job changing the subject, now provide a specific example.

  23. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    updated for 12:56…

    12:38, the fact that less than 3% of this organism exists anywhere on the planet is indeed conspiracy. People conspired to make money at their behest, and are still doing so. It’s not a conspiracy “theory” that Caltrans wants us, the taxpayers, to give them over fifteen million dollars for a very unpopular freeway project.

    Use the money elsewhere, like FUNDING OUR SCHOOLS or PUBLIC SERVICES. Those groves should be protected unconditionally at this point in history. We, as a people and society, should be more intelligent than to proceed with business as usual if it means furthering the mistakes we all acknowledge have already been made in the past. This “improvement” project is a shining example of furthering such mistakes.

  24. neomoderate
    January 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Re: Walmort, it’s not offloading so much as resources. Goods end up at distribution centers, one in Red Bluff, one in Porterville, probably one in the Bay Area somewhere. From there, there are loaded into trailers for wherever. All they have to do is hook the trailer for Humboldt onto a shorter tractor and they are good to go. However, if Cypress Grove wants to order (or ship) something from or to across the country, they contract with a long-haul driver who most likely uses a newer, longer tractor with a sleeper, that very likely may make the whole setup STAA, in which case there are a whole bunch of logistical hassles to get across a few hundred feet of road. For my money, the Grove bottleneck is way harder on the little guy.

  25. January 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    There are several other arguments against this project than simply ideological ones.

    My main problem with it is that, by CalTrans’ own report, it will NOT significantly make the road safer or have a cost benefit above the cost of the project. You can read the report online, and it clearly states that the section they want to “fix” has not had any accidents directly related to the trees in the last seven years. And the trucks that will be allowed through with not benefit local businesses, but the businesses in Crescent City, Brookings and other larger areas along the 101, north of here.

    There are several way more important issues that need addressing before Richardson Grove; like the more than a dozen bridges along 101 JUST in Humboldt that don’t meet Federal safety guidelines, the several areas along the roadway that are in real threat of slipping (such as the area that already slipped near Redway), and the fact there is only a limited amount of funds in our cash-strapped state, so every project ought to be planned according to NEED not ease.

  26. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Anon 1:01 – I’m not arguing for or against the Richardson widening (I tend to agree with Johnny Cambridge). I’m challenging your condemnation of HSU because one of their professors provided an opinion to which you disagree. I challenged you to back up your claim that HSU is becoming more dependent on resource extraction dollars and this is why Sillett is making this statement.
    You obviously can’t cite a documented example (or even circumstantial evidence) where a “quid pro quo” has occurred, so I’ll just assume you made the whole thing up. Now to enjoy this nice day.

  27. tra
    January 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Here’s what a trucker told me about the way the STAA “bottleneck” at Richardson Grove actually manifests, in practice. He said that it wasn’t really a question of moving pallets of stuff from one trailer to another or anything like that, it was usually just a question of using tractors with smaller cabs (those that are more snub-nosed, and/or have no sleeper compartment).

    Apparently, it’s not the length of the trailer that is the issue, it’s the length of the whole thing, tractor plus trailer. When the tractor is one of those huge ones with a large sleeping compartment, and the trailer is also long, that doesn’t work at the Grove. So they have to hook up the same trailer to a tractor with a smaller cab in order to proceed though the Grove.

  28. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Updated for 1:35…

    $15+ million for more freeway? No thanks, especially if it means further compromosing one of our old growth groves. That $$$ would be much better spent within other county departments.

  29. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Money money money money….where’d all the Redwoods go? Where’d all this freeway come from? More money for more cement. Caltrans is a money vacuum.

  30. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    “…it will NOT significantly make the road safer or have a cost benefit above the cost of the project.”

    It never was a safety project, it has always been an access issue. If it was a safety project it would be a much bigger and couldn’t be done without removing large trees.

    According to the economic impact study the economic benefits to the region will cover the cost of the construction ($5 million) in 1 year. Very few highway projects have this high of a return.

    The total cost of the project is expected to be over $10 million but that includes the cost of producing an EIR that wasn’t ever necessary and the cost to defend the project in court.

    As highway projects go $5 million is very small especially considering much of the work is being done with hand tools.

    Cross-docking is the major issue for local businesses where goods have to be transferred between regional non STAA trucks and industry standard long haul trucks. Box stores use their own existing distribution centers to do this while small local merchants and manufacturers pay extra.

    When the project is done, 101 through Richardson Grove will still be a twisty, 35mph gateway to Humboldt County. Eureka will still be 5 hours from anywhere and EPIC will feel like the boy who cried wolf as their funding base of growers continue to destroy the very environment EPIC purports to protect.

  31. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    “…the fact that less than 3% of this organism exists anywhere…”

    The “organism” is actually doing quite well and is in no danger of extinction. In fact, redwoods trees number in the millions. It is true that old growth stands are rare (and ironic that many exist along roads and highways) but the species is doing fine.

    These trees are also extremely tough which is why they can live for thousands of years. There is no evidence that this project will cause harm. To the contrary, the grove itself is proof of how well these trees cope with road construction and life adjacent to a road.

  32. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    The grove itself is proof that the land has been butchered of that “organism” in the name of profiteering. It should be protected, not further degraded.

  33. William Verick
    January 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Richardson Grove isn’t the only STAA non-compatible place on Highway 101. Another non-compliant place is the bend in Eureka where Broadway turns into 4th and 5th Streets. So I don’t see how straightening Highway 101 through Richardson Grove is going to help Cypress Grove (which is a Dutch, not a local, company anyway).

  34. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    It’s baloney to begin with, to think ANY of us are going to see an improvement in our budget if the “improvement” project is completed. All we will definitely see is Richardson Grove fly by at 10 more miles per hour as we drive through. All we will definitely see is a little more freeway and little less forest….again. How many times are they going to repeat the same mistakes over and over?

  35. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    3:19,

    Please elaborate. Your logic evades me.

  36. January 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    William Verick,
    I was pretty sure you were incorrect on your point that STAA trucks cannot pass that bend where Broadway meets 4th so I googled and found this.

    “Truck Restrictions Lifted On Route 101 In Del Norte County South Of Crescent City
    June 28, 2008

    Eureka – Caltrans announced today that restrictions on larger, industry-standard sized trucks have been lifted on Route 101 in Del Norte and northern Humboldt Counties. These trucks, referred to as STAA trucks, were previously prohibited on Route 101 south of Anchor Way in Crescent City due to a tight curve near Big Lagoon. A recent project widened this curve and STAA trucks are now allowed on Route 101 as far south as Benbow in southern Humboldt County.”
    Commercial Truck Consulting, LLC

  37. Bolithio
    January 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    This conversation should have nothing to do with redwoods, old growth or parks. EPIC lead a highly successful pork campaign to convince people they needed money to protect something that was never under threat. And they continue to, appealing for more money to save nothing. The part of the hwy that every is envisioning with the big trees wont even be touched! If I remember right from the engineering report, the largest tree to be removed is a 24″ tanoak!

  38. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    where Broadway meets 4th

    Thank goodness STAA trucks are not required to take your selective route through Eureka.

    (which is a Dutch, not a local, company anyway).

    Irrelevant. Anyway.

  39. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Funny how Caltrans is chomping at the bit any time they can cut down native trees and shrubs. Why in the world can’t they take out the invasive Pampas Grass on their NEW median running for many miles south of Eureka.

  40. Steak n Eggs
    January 3, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Bolithio….Yes, perhaps your right, but what is the poor environmentalist to do without an “EPIC” looking out for the conspiracies being plotted against the general public by the 1%?

    With California’s liberal judges and crooked politicians, they will surely get a payday from some technicality in the NEPA/CEQA document, resulting in no changes to the project. The lawyers from both sides fight the case like its a murder trial, and then laugh their asses off to the bank as the general public gets fucked again by some stupid lawsuit with no basis but hyperbole.

    EPIC..You guys are awesome!

  41. Toohey
    January 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Reading these comments I have yet to see an argument against the project based on rational facts. Mostly name calling and emotional tantrums.

    Sillett looked the project over and concluded it was not a threat to the trees. EPIC put quite a bit of faith in Silletts opinion when they thought it would work to their advantage. I would like to hear their thoughts on Sillett now. I would go with Sillett over EPIC on this one.

  42. January 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    You obviously missed my post, Toohey. Feel free to scroll back up and check it out.

    And Anon 2:12. That report does state benefit to the “region” NOT Humboldt County which is footing a large portion of the bill. Like I said, there will be cost benefits to areas outside Humboldt. But the areas that will see the first and greatest portion of the benefits are outside of Humboldt.

    And your “$5 million” price tag is greatly understated. It is already over $10 million and they haven’t even broken ground yet. Even if they start tomorrow, the total project cost is over $18million. Tell me, when will Humboldt earn that back?

    The improper filings of the EIR by Caltrans cost them tons of money–which, not matter if you’re talking about trees or not, an organization that is charged with the building of roads that carry my friends and family should never cut corners–not even on paperwork.

  43. review
    January 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    @5:25: where Broadway meets 4th

    Thank goodness STAA trucks are not required to take your selective route through Eureka.”

    umm, actually, they are. That is what whole thing is about. THE ROUTE. The road that STAA trucks are allowed to transverse.

    Toohey you say: Sillett looked the project over and concluded it was not a threat to the trees

    Read the previous comment @12:23: Sillett did not give the “project” a thumbs up. He probably just got sick of having his comments misused and felt he needed to clarify his position. If you read the plaintiffs arguments they stretch some very generic comments Dr. Sillett made during the circulation of the EIR to their breaking point. This time the truth snapped back and hit them in the face.

  44. anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Heraldo, why the old news? Has Sillett issued a new statement regarding his assessment? I read that there is another “expert” who disagrees with Sillett. He wasn’t paid by CalTrans.

    Bored, biased, and behind the times. The new and improved Heraldo.

  45. Toohey
    January 3, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Johnny, since when is Humboldt County not part of the region? Local businesses have repeatedly stated publicly the lack of national standard type trucking (STAA) increases costs for them and decreases competiveness with outside the region competition not hobbled by their trucking problems. Also, I might add, the money for the project is state and federal funds not local money. Get your facts straight.

    Review: The “thumbs up” thing was concocted by this blog site not Dr Sillett. Dr. Sillett just says “Caltrans has taken sufficient protective measures to avoid severe additional impacts to the redwoods along the road edge”. What more does he need to say?

  46. WhatNow
    January 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Bypass Sillet.
    If he had any exceptional qualifications or at the very least, a modicum of integrity, he would have never hired on in THAT department at THAT institution.

  47. January 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Toohey, where do you think the money comes from to fund “State and Federal funds”? All tax dollars are essentially “local” funds–and it is important to use those limited funds as responsibly as possible.

    Even if Humboldt isn’t writing the checks (which I do remember hearing we were, but can’t currently find proof of that, so I’ll concede it) the funds ear marked for Richardson Grove are needed far more desperately other places.

    Just going on the the state and Federal funds allotted to Humboldt, this is still a waste of money. How much will we lose when another slip occurs like the one outside Redway last year? What if the next slip takes the whole road with it, rather than just covering it over? How important will the STAA getting through the grove be when NO vehicle can get here?

    Then there is the issue with the bridges along 101. Going to http://t4america.org/resources/bridges/ and doing a local search finds nearly 20 bridges just along 101 (I’m not counting the dozens more off the highway) that are Federally listed as structurally deficient.

    Now I ask you, which is more important: having to slow down and/or switch to a smaller rig to haul items through Richardson Grove, or driving along and having any one of twenty bridges you cross fall out from beneath you–or your family?

    This is a very seismically active area and every little shake causes more damage to already weakened bridges. I cannot, in good conscience, justify ignoring actual and real dangers to satisfy a few squeaky wheels who want a percent or two more profit on their goods.

  48. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    7:35,

    It is new news. Sillett was trumpeted as the only true expert when the resistance thought he was on their side. In fact his name is all over their briefs. Now he will be demonized by those same people. And he wasn’t paid by anyone to do it (unlike the other “expert” hired by the plantifs) he is only cares that his statements represent what good science shows.

  49. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Johnny,

    You seem to be pulling facts out of your butt. Time to go into politics. I hear Loavelace needs a challenger.

  50. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    I would rather see Caltrans use our tax $ for something other than whittling down our State Park. Go repair something that really needs fixing Cal Trans. Oh yeah-pull the Pampas grass on 101.

  51. Apologist Not
    January 4, 2012 at 1:17 am

    “It’s likely sufficient”.
    Steve Sillet, professor, Humboldt State University.

    And we pay them how much for this?

    Meanwhile, Eureka will continue with record pedestrian, cyclist and motorist fatalities in California.

  52. Toohey
    January 4, 2012 at 7:08 am

    So your logic is if one other need exists anywhere at all the project shouldn’t be done. Weak.

    It also interesting how Dr. Sillett, the champion of the redwoods when he seemed to be on EPICs side, now fits so easily under the bus.

  53. Plain Jane
    January 4, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I seem to recall a lot of posters from the pro-RGHP running Dr. Sillet over with the bus when he “seemed to be on EPICs side” who are now trumpeting his opinion. I trusted Dr. Sillet when he voiced concerns over possible harm to the old growth trees and I trust him now that he says his concerns were unwarranted. As a gardener, his explanation makes sense. That doesn’t, however, justify the expense at a time when we can’t afford to provide bus service for school kids.

  54. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Yet the reality is not that there is just one other need in the North Coast area that should be prioritized over this unnecessary project. The list of services that are being underfunded by the state while Caltrans and a few limited business interests continue to bully ahead willy nilly with their big truck vision for the North Coast is getting longer by the day.

    How about the fact that the schools in Southern Humboldt are about to get their transportation budget cut, gutting the possibilities of young people getting to school in a reasonable manner (not to mention other cuts to education)? Or that health services through out the county are being devastated? Or that both Standish Hickey and Benbow Lake State Recreation Areas just up stream and down stream from Richardson Grove on the Eel River (not to mention many other state parks) are slated for closure? Or that other roads are falling off hills all around the county? Challenging the incoherence is imperative, especially when alternatives exist (i.e. SLOW DOWN!).

    The narrow highway through Richardson Grove is not the economic impediment that many project proponents will have you believe, nor is the highway development project the silver bullet for our ailments.

  55. Dan
    January 4, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I’d like to see Caltrans deal with trucks through Eureka
    (bypass) before expanding access.

  56. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 9:03 am

    The government’s funding system is very complex and transportation is no different. Priorities are set decades before actual projects are developed. There are separate streams of funding for maintenence, improvements, planning etc. Each of these is prioritized by federal (FHWA), state (CTC) and local (HCOAG) authorities. This particular priority has been on the books for 50 years.

    Arguments that we should prioritize school busses (or any other pet project) over road work are straw men because that simply isn’t how the system works and that argument is exactly why they don’t work that way.

    What I enjoy most about this debate however is the irony of watching anti-growth people argue that a project won’t have economic benefits that justify the costs, when their true fear is that it will stimulate growth. The cognitive dissonance must make your head ring. At least the projects proponents are consistent in their arguments.

    Also, I could be wrong, but I don’t remember anyone throwing Sillett under the bus before. I do remember people pointing out that his comments were generic and uninformed as to the actual work being performed, and as it turns out, they were right.

  57. Plain Jane
    January 4, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Getting kids to school may sound like a “pet project” to you, 9:03, but it is vital to the education of thousands of kids whose parents can’t afford to drive them or board them closer to school. Using the right’s favorite analogy of family budgets, if your kid suffered an appendix rupture, you would take money out of your basement remodeling fund to pay for the operation. Cutting vital services while funding pork is immoral.

  58. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Jane is right. School buses should be a priority, especially in an area where there is no other way for many children to get to school. The anonymous poster before is correct in that these types of projects (roads versus school budgets) are are completely separate and we can’t choose to take money from one to give to the other. The priority and choice had to be made way before, and should have been.

  59. SmokeMonster
    January 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I have zero sympathy for so-hums budget issues. I’m there 4-5 days a week from island mountain to china creek,eel rock to the cove and I know that if the locals truly cared they would donate a lot more of their “medical 215” money that isn’t taxed to the schools THAT RELY ON TAXES.

  60. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Anon above writes: “Arguments that we should prioritize school busses (or any other pet project) over road work are straw men because that simply isn’t how the system works and that argument is exactly why they don’t work that way”

    Does this anon know what a defeatist is? Human beings control the flow of money, human beings decide where priority lies. A lot of human beings want $15+ million dollars. If such a thing as prioritizing previous money elsewhere seems impossible to you, you are a narrow-minded, subservient defeatist.

  61. January 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    It’s NOT about economy/debt/money. It’s all about FRAUD. Stay focused.

  62. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    The reference of “pet” projects refers to the politisization of financial priorities rather than the merit of various priorities. The federal government budgets various amounts of money for education, transportation, healthcare, defense etc.

    In the case of transportation, the state of Ca.

  63. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    The best move Humboldt could make to improve the quality of life for every resident across the board, is go agriculture. Food is never out of demand, and affordable quality food is in even more demand. Humboldt is ripe for agriculture, several specialized farms rather than allow even more non-centralized conglomerate giants to ship their goods into Humboldt instead. The fact is, local food(grown/produced in Humboldt) is affordable, but you wouldn’t know it shopping at the likes of safeway or walmart or target or costco, where local products are bottom shelved at a ridiculous markup, if at all.

    So why not allow the framework to develop for real, local transportation companies to be Humboldt’s real local representatives on the road? More owner/operators living right here in Humboldt would see a better quality of life, rather than the overworked and underpaid desperado’s working for the national transportation monopolies.

    We can see for ourselves which national companies favor this bogus “improvement” project (an improvement by way of more freeway through less ancient forest). They’re national monopolies. Real estate and retail giants, shelling back as little to the dollar as their federal masters allow.

  64. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    The reference of “pet” projects refers to the piliticization of financial priorities rather than the merit of various projects.

    The federal government budgets money for education, transportation, healthcare, defense etc. While the states have some discretion over how those dollars are spent, they can’t move transportation dollars to their education budget. That is the straw man part of the arguement.

    Is it wrong that busses will be cut? Yes. But placing the two priorities against each other as if there is an actual choice to be had is intellectually dishonest. People on the right will argue we need to defund planned parenthood or the NEA. It is the kind of arguement one makes out of desperation.

  65. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Anon 1:03,

    Right track, but food is an extremely competitive, bulky, low margin, perishable product. It is hard to create any durable competitive advantage that would compensate for our higher cost structure vs farmers in the valley.

    The county is working hard to brand “Made in Humboldt” hoping to increase the perceived value of products made here, leveraging the success of places like cypress grove and increasing margins enough to establish more niche Ag businesses but it is a long row to hoe.

  66. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    consider this, 1:33.. EITHER Safeway OR Costco could have single handedly saved Humboldt Creamery from financial disaster, had EITHER loosened their bulk farm contracts with international monopolies, just a little bit.

    Costco and Safeway ONLY carry a handful of international superfarm products.

    They are the food giant that everybody talks about when the subject is minimalizing compliance to the “organic” quality control system to maximize profit.

    There’s already too much pavement everywhere, in my humble little no-nothing opinion. Richardson Grove is literally the gateway to Humboldt when approaching from the south. How about a sign, “slow down and enjoy the view, there’s only one like it!”

  67. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    …and before anybody might jump to suggest both safeway and costco do, in fact, carry local products (along wtih target and kmart and walmart), don’t forget to include that they bottom shelf the product, if at all, and at insane price markups. For example, Safeway doesn’t carry gallons of Humboldt Creamery, and they mark up half gallons to almost five bucks. Safeway recently stopped carrying gallons of Horizon milk altogether, despite always selling out. (Horizon has farms in Humboldt). They mark up half gallons of Horizon milk to five bucks as well. This is across the board in all industries.

  68. RefFan
    January 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Slow down & enjoy the view? So we want more accidents & IDIOT tourists stopping in the middle of the road to look at the big trees. Not a good option Anon 1:53. We get enuf of that crap on the Avenue and Bull Creek Rd.

  69. Safe Bridges
    January 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    The argument that budgets are set in stone is ridiculous. Governments (people) can change budgets and priorities any time we want. With enough pressure, it happens.

    Until it does, the idea that CalTrans funding should be spent on repairing dangerously decrepit bridges and roads as a priority makes very good sense. Especially if you value safety.

    9:03 Anonymous says “This particular priority has been on the books for 50 years.” What a laugh! The RG project is for accommodating STAA trucks. STAA trucks have not been in existence for 50 years.

    Who can name the local businesses that are supposedly asking for the RGIP? I know of only two: Sun Valley Bulb Farm and Cypress Grove, which is no longer locally owned. The bogus “survey” used to claim that local businesses want this asked only about a dozen, hand-picked enterprises in Humboldt and Del Norte.

  70. Dragonfly
    January 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Who is Sillett? Wouldn’t you think that someone who is affiliated with protecting redwoods would be concerned about a road project that could harm them?

    But, then again, when you dig a little deeper, you can see Sillett endorsed the Bohemian Grove logging plan that was halted by a lawsuit in 2010. It’s all online.

    Maybe what you see isn’t what you really get with Sillett.

  71. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    “Maybe what you see isn’t what you really get with Sillett.”

    Damn those scientists, all they care about are facts. It’s BS.

  72. HUUFC
    January 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Boy this thread went wacko. Agriculture, what the heck, in yesterdays paper a the county BOS approved a Headwaters Grant to help farmers navigate the morass of regulations in California. What are they hauling the stuff out in, trucks, through the bottle neck in Richardsons Grove.

    The whole projct is about improving Hwy 101. Just like the overpass that removed the stoplight around the curve at HSU. Remember dodging the college kids running across the street? Or the t-bone smashups at Hwy 36 and Herrick and Elk River Roads. Get a grip and get it done.

  73. RefFan
    January 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I agree HUUFC. We have the Avenue if you want to drive slow and enjoy the redwoods.

  74. Safe Bridges
    January 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    The whole project is about allowing two STAA truck to pass each other in the Grove. One could argue that this is not improving Hwy 101. Improving the highway would entail repairing the existing road.

    3:27, you are ignorant of the proposed clear cut of ancient redwoods in Bohemian Grove. One reason the Bohemian group gave for needing to cut down the treeS: they were supposedly in eminent danger of burning down. In the fog.

    I did not know Sillett gave thumbs up to that boondoggle. Definitely undermines his credibility.

  75. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I have had two extremely close calls in Richardson’s Grove when trying to share a lane with a gas tanker and a redwood tree. It’s very scary. I would love to see a little more wiggle room there, for the safety of passenger cars as well.

  76. Safe Bridges
    January 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Make that imminent. The trees are eminent. The pseudo-science is BS.

    4:40, try slowing down.

  77. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    There is so much pseudo science on the “save all the trees” side as well. Used to every possibly advantage and need no matter where or what the cause is.

  78. Safe Bridges
    January 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    RefFan, you say :We have the Avenue if you want to drive slow and enjoy the redwoods.

    So you think we should increase the speed limit through Richardson Grove? We should not have to drive slowly there because if you want to drive slowly, you should take another route? Please, explain.

    And then explain to 4:40 how driving faster would make it safer.

    The safety rational for the RGIP can be easily debunked. 4:40, where, exactly, in the Grove did you experience the close calls? Bet you a thousand bucks it was not at the location that CalTrans wants to widen. So, how would the road widening make you safer at the location of your close calls?

    It won’t. In fact, you would encounter many more trucks even bigger than the one that scared you.

  79. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    If I am looking for an expert on redwoods and their growth patterns and how to keep them alive and thriving, where do I look for someone who knows? The answer, in my view, is at a university in the area where redwoods are grown. I can’t think of another, more appropriate sort of expert on this topic. In addition, university professors and researchers have their reputation at stake, and from my experience give the information they believe to be the most accurate without concern for the popularity of their opinion.

    I am with Sillett on this one.

  80. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Wow! That say’s it all, Sillett thought the Bohemian Grove was OK to log. I would say his opinions are not credible. Just because it is a University Professor speaking doesn’t make it so. Remember that knowledge is always changing. And 50% of the professors graduated at the bottom half of their class.

  81. Steak n Eggs
    January 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    So Dragonfly…what’s your beef with the Bohemia Club’s logging plan? It was a proposed NTMP which restricted all logging to sustained yield selective harvesting on lands zoned TPZ. Cannot get any better than that…or can it? Tell us how it is.

  82. anony-me
    January 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    SF Chron report on the Judge’s beef with the “sustained yield” logging plan here:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2011%2F03%2F14%2FMN0S1IB053.DTL

  83. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    “The whole projct is about improving Hwy 101.”

    If it’s not broken, don’t give somebody over fifteen million dollars to fix it.

    Highway 101 is not broken through Richardson Grove. The grove is among the last of its kind. The proposal is as symbolic as anything. Caltrans and the government have inconsiderate audacity, to humor the project despite this much widespread disapproval. It’s a one of a kind stretch of road through an ancient forest. Let its value to the world and Humboldt grow. Humboldt can be an example…we can set a standard rather than be part of another statistic.

  84. HHHUUUUFFFFCCCC
    January 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    HUUFC
    “Remember dodging the college kids running across the street? Or the t-bone smashups at Hwy 36 and Herrick and Elk River Roads. Get a grip and get it done.”

    HU, U F#ing Compare like a dithering dittohead.

    Gotta dodge those college kids running across Hwy 101 in RG. The Highways and roads crossing 101 in RG [Huh ?]
    Hey–major danger.
    t-bones, smashups..
    Grip that chain saw. Get it done.

  85. January 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    7:02 says
    “So Dragonfly…what’s your beef with the Bohemia Club’s logging plan? It was a proposed NTMP which restricted all logging to sustained yield selective harvesting on lands zoned TPZ. Cannot get any better than that…or can it? Tell us how it is.”
    —————————————————————-
    Steak and Eggs, Can you not even imagine land not exploited in some twisted way or another?
    Sustained yield? Explain please, those trees are thousands of years old, interesting rotation, never been done.

    Zoned TPZ? Was Bohemian Grove paying taxes on timber production land? I bet not.

  86. Anonymous
    January 4, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    The only way Bohemian Grove club members could make the naysayers happy would be not to log at all. At all. They are a mostly right wing group, and thus will be judged for that instead of their timber harvest plan, first and foremost.

  87. RefFan
    January 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Safe Bridges, I was respondig to Anon @ 1:53 who said how about a sign, “slow down and enjoy the view, there is only one like it!” If there is a posted speed limit sign then what do you think a ‘slow down’ sign would do for tourists traveling thru. Most days I encounter tourists or others not familiar with HumCo roads, hit their brakes too often & proceeding at 10+ under the speed limit. I encounter it alot traveling to Sohum to work everyday on the freeway. “Hit the brakes, there is a corner coming up!” You don’t have to drive for long to get thru the Grove so I cld care less if they do the project or not.

  88. Observer
    January 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

    The comments from people who want the RG project show they are very uninformed. Beginning with the title of this post. Has Sillett really given thumbs up to the project? He only stated his unsubstantiated opinion that cutting roots won’t kill trees. There are more serious concerns about the lack of legality of the process.

    The lawsuits address the failure of CalTrans to meet legal requirements. Read this excerpt from the injunction.

    This action alleges that defendants have violated the National Environmental Protection Act, the Department of Transportation Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The complaint claims defendants violated NEPA by failing to

    (1) establish the need and purpose for the project,
    (2) disclose and evaluate the significant
    environmental effects,
    (3) explore and evaluate reasonable alternatives to the project,
    (4) adequately document public comments and concerns and responses to those comments, and
    (5) prepare an environmental impact statement (Compl. ¶ 99).

    Plaintiffs also allege that Caltrans violated Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act by failing to determine that no
    alternatives existed and by failing to create a plan that would minimize harm (Compl. ¶ 120). In not consulting with the National Park Service concerning the effects of relocating the retaining
    wall closer to the Eel River, defendants allegedly violated Section 7 of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Compl. ¶ 125).

    The Administrative Procedure Act was violated, it is said, by
    approving and adopting an EA/FONSI contrary to NEPA and Section 4(f) standards.

  89. Safe Bridges
    January 5, 2012 at 9:27 am

    “The only way Bohemian Grove club members could make the naysayers happy would be not to log at all.”

    FYI, Anonymous, the naysayer who sued was a Bohemian Club member.

  90. Anonymous
    January 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Which one?

  91. Anonymous
    January 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Observer,
    Stating that CalTrans failed to meet legal requirements does not address the merits of the project. It simply describes an allegation that the paperwork was not done correctly. If someone fails to fill out a building permit correctly (or are alleged to have done so), it does not mean the project is faulty.
    These blog comments are directed at the validity of the project – not your paid legal position.

  92. Anonymous
    January 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    The transportation department and all those involved in forwarding this “improvement” project, commercially and otherwise, are way out of their jurisdiction.

    Even on the most basic level. The rest of us can’t get permits to build carports, how is it Caltrans can declare right of way through an internationally recognized landmark AND nature preserve??? Their motives are clear. There’s no common sense to the project whatsoever. It’s “improvement” is a commercial lie to begin with.

  93. January 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I agree Anonymous. I wrote Sillett and got a snippy response from him. After all it is only his opinion but since he is considered a redwood expert , he remarks come off as fact. Irresponsible of him…..and Cal-Trans. Besides who cares about over-sized trucks getting trough there except Target or Wal-Mart. I have watched logging trucks get through for the past fifty plus years with no problems. Now special interests want to threaten out awesome giants

  94. Anonymous
    January 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    The member is Hooper. I know other members that are not in favor of chopping up the Grove.

  95. Anonymous
    January 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I watched them cutting down weeds on 101 the other day but they passed up the Pampas Grass. Cal Trans is so ignorant about anything that doesn’t look like a mower, dump truck or asphalt.

  96. Safe Bridges
    January 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    3:07, the Bohemian Club member who successfully sued is John Hooper.

    3:15, your analogy speaks to your ignorance of the issue at hand. CalTrans does not simply fill out a form to get a permit, this is not a trivial error like completing a form incorrectly. They failed to comply with the National Environmental Protection Act, the Department of Transportation Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

    In other words, they have not justified the merits of the project, established the need for the project, nor proven that the potential benefits outweigh the potential harm.

    It is CalTrans that must prove the merits of the project, not citizen bloggers. That’s the whole point of those laws. They have failed to do so.

  97. January 5, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    “If it ain’t broke,don’t fix it” The accident record at present is

    good–why endanger safety records?? and for use–are not

    parks for the common good??

    My first redwood was at Richardson Grove so I care!!!!

  98. peoplejustmakestuffup
    January 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I always crack up when I read that EPIC is making tons of money from the RG court cases. EPIC posts its I-990 tax form online at its website. Read the 990 and you can find out exactly how much money the organization has. After you read it, then come back here and comment on how EPIC is raking in the big bucks…

  99. Anonymous
    January 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Wish someone would point out native species verses invasive species to Cal Trans. There ignorance goes all over the board. There problem is they don’t care about environmental laws or anything that gets in the way of their paychecks and paving. I would rather pay taxes for the workers to be on leave than waste the money harming a State Park.

  100. January 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    “When it comes to timber harvest regulation, CalFire is a renegade agency, irrespective of their good record fighting fires.”

    As a land owner of a heavily forested parcel not far from the Boheniam Grove, it is true that the Bohemians do have some legitimate basis to thin their land–but cutting old growth is simple madness. If this was confined to tanoak, bay and second growth trees, no problem. But as is so often the case with the SF Chron coverage of logging issues, we only get an occasional story about the excesses of the Bohemian crowd. The real issue here is the almost total lack of meaningful regulation of logging on private land by Cal Fire (the agency that approves harvest plans) and the highly abusive form of plan at issue here, the so-caled non-industrial harvest plan (NTMP). Such plans are reviewed only once and essentiqally give an owner ther right to harvest in perpetuity with no further review or public input. Regular THPs, by contrast, last only three years unless renewed, and eventually expire. NTMP, althouguh touted as a way for smaller owners to avoid the full THP process, have in fact become a gigantic loophole in the THP process. But even beyond that, the real story is the shoddy job done by CalFire in reviewing plans and regulating approved plans, its total indifference to outside crictism and scruting and its cionsistent failure to follow the Forest Practices Act. CalFire loses everytime it gets dragged into Court. There is a reason for that: 1. The CalFire agency consistently ignores, abuses or tries to get around the law. 2. The Cal Fire office and review staff, especially on the North Coast, does such a poor job of remaining independent of industry pressure the industry well knows it can get away with just about anything, especially on tracts without the high visibility of Bohemian Grove. 3. CalFire does everything in its power to avoid decisison that lead to enhanced public review of NTMPs and THPs in general. The let owners amend plans in material ways without going through further review and remediation steps and also try to conceal their decisionmaking from public attention whenever possible. Read the Court decision in Joy Road v. Dept of Forestry & Fire Protection, 142 Cal.App.4th 656 (2006) if you want a real flavor of the incompetence and industry oriented, result driven conduct that typifies CalFire’s poor performance. When it comes to timber harvest regulation, CalFire is a renegade agency, irrespective of their good record fighting fires.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/14/MN0S1IB053.DTL#ixzz1ioMphPiu

  101. Anonymous
    January 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Good article in Vanity Fair magazine about logging the Bohemian Grove. May 2009.

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