Home > Uncategorized > Caltrans v EPIC, Judge, Tape Measure, Your Lying Eyes et. al.

Caltrans v EPIC, Judge, Tape Measure, Your Lying Eyes et. al.

Here are the conclusions from Judge Nandor J. Vadas following a personal  investigation of trees at Richardson Grove.  The original document can be found at the Eureka Times-Standard:  http://extras.times-standard.com/multimedia/pdfs/Vadasreport.pdf

What is the diameter of the redwood tree alleged by Caltrans to be 84 inches and by Dr. McBride to be 103 inches?
  • The parties agreed that the tree in question is the tree marked number 17…the DBH [diameter at breast height –HH] of that tree is 104 inches.
Whether or not it is true that old growth redwoods were omitted from the analysis as alleged by Dr. McBride in his declaration.
  • The parties agreed that the fifth tree measured, the tree assigned number 92 by Dr. McBride, was omitted from the Caltrans map….
Whether or not old growth redwoods were omitted from Caltrans’ maps and, if so, what are the diameters of those trees?
  • Of the trees viewed, the only tree the parties agreed was omitted from the  map was the fifth tree measured, the tree assigned number 92.
  1. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Nice Heraldo. What lairs!!! Out of 1,750 trees measured one was measured wrong. See, this obviously means they intended to kill old growth to spite the people (sarcasm)

    Regarding taping the trees, There is no way you can tape a diameter without some error – some of which is acceptable. The reasons for the error are due to other trees which may block the actual taping, and the fibrous nature of redwood bark. When taping a tree that is over 60 inches, you really should have two people to ensure the tape does not sag. I wouldn’t call 20″ an acceptable error, but in this context there would be no question as to if a 80″ tree is “old growth” or not.

    And what about tree#92?:

    ”The omitted tree was discussed with state parks and noted in subsequent design files,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. “These particular maps were not recreated, as they were used for illustrative purposes in the environmental process, and the mapping of this one tree, out of the 1,750 (studied), would not have affected the conclusion that the project would not adversely impact this tree or other trees in the vicinity since the area was already studied.”

    Whats EPICs case again? Why do all their posters claim RG is going to be destroyed? Becuase a tree 15′ away was taped wrong? Is it public information how much money they have raised in their RG campaign?

  2. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 8:27 am


    The question in the case was which side’s assertions were correct. The post above (by me) provides the judge’s answers. Place them in context as you wish, that’s why a robust comments section is an important part of the Herald.

  3. unanonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 8:52 am

    then by that reading of the question, CalTrans was mostly right…….and the errors do not change the overall outcome of the study.

    How is EPICs case against Disneyland going. I mean there is a lot of watershed down there to protect.

  4. March 23, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Leave the trees as they are. Rebuild the train tracks instead. Build a pier for ships but leave these magnificent trees alone. Obviously CalTrans lies.

  5. unanonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

    they are leaving the trees alone. obviously, you are ignorant or lying.

  6. SmokeMonster
    March 23, 2012 at 9:20 am

    @lilywhite The Renner family will not allow the trains to run again and risk jeopardizing their longstanding petroleum monopoly

  7. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Bolithio and some that have been around the the Grove most their lives have no respect for it. This is a unique stretch of The Scenic Redwood Highway on the West Coast of California. The true Gateway to the Redwoods. This is a State Park that most of the world treasures. You few that make money cutting down trees and using larger trucks for your personal gain are an example of why this world is out of balance. The road has been working for many years. CalTrans is in the business of destroying so they can rebuild and by doing so they perpetuate their own jobs. There are those that would pave all the world if given the chance. It will always be a fight to save those things that have intrinsic value and worth. A battle to save Nature from those that are ignorant and greedy.

  8. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Blah Blah anon 9:28.

    I dont give a crap about this project. I do care about people mis-representing forestry and trees. EPIC have been the ones lying since this whole thing began. I have camped at RG for decades and will continue to.

    And by the way, if you want to visit pristine old growth redwood forests, RG is not the place. RG is the park with 100s of camp sites, RVs, dozens of buildings and paved roads all throughout it. The road re-alighnment at the north end of the park (not the dense straight part EPIC has everyone convinced they are going to cut trees down in) will not diminish the aesthetic or recreational qualities of the park in any way.

    Everyone who keeps claiming that this project represents some last of the last old growth at risk is full of it.

  9. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Mitch, thanks.To me, the context is generally set by the headline. But yes, robust comments away!

  10. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 9:41 am

    You just don’t get it do you Bolithio. You are such a numb scull.

  11. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Bolithio @9:39,

    Yes, I allowed myself that bit of (accurate, IMO) snark.

    If you were to look back at the comments of earlier posts about Richardson Grove, you’d see me stating I was glad the judge was going to go to the grove directly, because these days everyone thinks they are entitled to their own version of facts. I said I hoped whoever was inaccurate would be punished by the court (or something like that).

    I have no idea how relevant any of this is to the science, but if Caltrans said 84 inches, EPIC said 103 inches, and the judge measured 104 inches, I’d say that doesn’t speak well for Caltrans’ ability and/or honesty. Thus the snark. The difference in wood volume in the tree when you correct the diameter from Caltrans assertion is actually more than 50%, no?

  12. 69er
    March 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Anonymous has most likely had too much of “it” and that is the reason for the poor thinking about this project.

  13. March 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I have no idea how relevant any of this is to the science,….

    I’m not sure any of it is relevant to the project. It would have made more sense for Caltrans to walk the judge down the highway and explain to them what they planned to do, pointing out any areas of contention. Does anybody know if that happened, or did they just quibble over what trees were how big around?

  14. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Diameter does not mean old growth, friends. Second growth trees reach impressive diameters in far less time than Redwood trees in climax forests. Is anyone addressing that fact? (I’d look it up myself, but I have too many other irons in the fire.)

  15. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

    OK, Fred. There we have it, in black and white.

    It doesn’t concern you in the slightest that a state agency files inaccurate documents with a court, and the local media makes EPIC out to be liars for telling the truth. So noted.

  16. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 10:06 am

    When all else fails, insult people who have different opinions. Teach your children to do that too.

  17. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Bolithio, it’s not the opinions that differ. It’s the facts as investigated by a judge with a tape measure.

  18. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Every poster EPIC has put out shows they are being dishonest in this campaign. The fact that all they have is a technicality of tree measurement to support their claims of !destruction! only further shows who is misleading. Caltrans is still just people working, and someone measured the tree wrong. Holy cow who would have thought they had humans doing these things!

  19. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Opinions of impacts Mitch, which have nothing to do with the judge and everything to do with posters on this blog.

  20. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

    A judge has to rely on the facts submitted to her court, Bolithio.

    The judge then solicits expert opinions, which is a different thing entirely. The judge then weighs the facts and the opinions, and reaches their own conclusion.

    When a judge cannot rely on a party to a legal case to submit correct facts, that seems to me to be more than a technicality.

    Maybe EPIC’s posters are misleading, or worse. They are not submitted to a judge as statements of fact.

  21. March 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Some of the facts submitted are irrelevant, but that’s what lawyers tend to do: they nitpick on such things hoping to find a mistake to put their opponents in a bad light.

    As I wrote above, it would make much more sense to look at is what will actually be done under the proposed Caltrans plan. Take the judge on a walk and tell him what trees will be removed and what and where any other alterations to 101 will be made.

    That would be simple, to the point and the judge could see exactly what the issue involves.

  22. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I guess I do wonder, a bit, what the reaction would be if the judge had measured 83 inches.

  23. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

    and the local media makes EPIC out to be liars for telling the truth.

    Exactly. The Times Standard and NCJ especially have demonstrated their inability to give us objective, factual and unbiased reporting on many issues, including this one.

    I honestly think Humboldt County would be better off without the pathetic excuse for a “news”paper that is the Times Standard. Better to rely on the blogs and online research than the one-sided stories you find in that rag.

  24. March 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Better to rely on the blogs and online research than the one-sided stories you find in that rag..

    Uh, huh. The blogs that use that same newspaper to reference their posts and then give their one- sided opinion that’s only countered by some of the comments?

  25. Just Watchin
    March 23, 2012 at 10:58 am

    All this hoopla over the mis-measurement of one tree. No wonder your state is going down the crapper.

  26. Dosey Doh
    March 23, 2012 at 11:12 am

    whats so good about florida, jw? that’s where you are just watchin from right? florida pretty much looks like a goober shithole to me.

  27. Just Watchin
    March 23, 2012 at 11:28 am

    What language !! Sounds like someone’s welfare check is late.

  28. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 11:31 am

    The judge’s report is a four page document, Fred. To the T-S’ credit, they provided it as a PDF accompanying Donna Tam’s story.

    But as Bolithio said, it’s the headline that sets the context. At least in their online reporting, the T-S headline didn’t mention whose measurement the judge found to be correct, just the fact that one tree (out of thousands) was missing from the map. It reads “Judge determines one tree omitted from Richardson Grove maps; parties can dispute tree-measuring results made during site visit”

    What you found at the Herald was a headline that reflects the situation accurately if with snark, plus a summary of the last page of the judge’s report — the findings. Click on the document link and tilt your head ninety degrees, go to the fourth page, and read it yourself.

    It may seem one-sided to you because you don’t like what the judge said, and would prefer that someone explain away the annoying measurement, by indicating that it (whatever it was) can be appealed.

    If tree diameters are calculated by taking a tape measure around their trunk and assuming that they are round, the difference between 84″ and 104″ in diameter (20″) would mean a miss of more than five feet in the tape measurement.

    While I can understand how a slack tape measure, or one placed too low, could give a high reading, it’s difficult for me to picture someone getting a five foot low reading with a tape measure.

    It’s not difficult for me to imagine someone just eyeballing the tree to get a number they felt would “work.”

    In court documents, statements of fact ought to be factual. If, in your opinion, the information is not relevant, that doesn’t excuse the filing of false information with the court, which has to rely on the honesty of the lawyers to come to its decision.

    If you think this doesn’t matter, you may be ready to work for the local press corpse.

  29. Ross Rowley
    March 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Bolithio said: “And by the way, if you want to visit pristine old growth redwood forests, RG is not the place. RG is the park with 100s of camp sites, RVs, dozens of buildings and paved roads all throughout it.”

    Very good point. Because, after all, it’s not really about the trees, is it?

  30. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Exactly, Ross. In the situation at hand, it’s about who misrepresented facts to a court.

  31. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Quite simply Mitch, you are a blind idealogue.

  32. just middle class
    March 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Question for Mitch: When you drive south do you drive on US 101? Or, do you take the Avenue of the Giants? Or, do you take the Dyerville Loop and along the Mail Ridge?

  33. just middle class
    March 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Actually I errored Mitch, do you go up Kneeland Road by the way of Greenwood Heights to Bridgeville then aon Alderpoint Road to eventually end in Garberville?

  34. just middle class
    March 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Finally Mitch, if you answered no the the described route, then you are a hypocrite, since all of US101 to Garberville is an improvement to the route described above and not used for a direct trip because of needed improvements to transportation, just like the Richardson Grove project is.

  35. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm


    What do your questions have to do with the topic I’m discussing?

  36. March 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Mitch, if you live in a house you cannot oppose any proposed development anywhere, otherwise you are a no-growther.

  37. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    the difference between 84″ and 104″ in diameter (20″) would mean a miss of more than five feet in the tape measurement.

    Last I checked that would be 3′, but whose counting? Blog posts certainly are not facts to be used in court. Mitch, take a tape measure next time your somewhere in The Avenue and give it a try.

    I disagree with the conclusion that a tree, which was measured wrong, means caltrans was lying. While snark may be cute, it feeds to the hysteria of this whole thing. Why resonate it? I would think that if there was a real potential for great harm to the grove, there would be more to it than a tree measurement mistake.

  38. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Why resonate it? Because Bolothio, Snark is all Mitch has on his side…

  39. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    pi is approx 3.14

    Circumference = pi * diameter

    Circumference at 84″ = 3.14 * 84″

    Circumference at 104″ = 3.14 * 104″

    Difference in circumference = 3.14 * 20″, or approx 63″ or approx 5′ 3″

    Of course, I’m using the environmentalist value of pi here, so your mileage will vary. Please correct my errors with correct values and formulas.

    Really, this has been disappointing. I do oppose the Richardson Grove project, but I hadn’t realized how knee-jerk its supporters would be.

    This matter — the one dealt with in this post — is completely straightforward. Two sides in a court case submitted different versions of a factual matter. The judge decided to get their own version of the facts. It matched the version submitted by one side. That side is EPIC. That side is not Caltrans. Read the post, read the link.

    It’s literally that simple, and these facts don’t vary based on whether you are for or against the realignment.

    If you have OTHER reasons to be for or against the realignment, that’s a separate issue. But this matter is clear cut, if you’ll pardon the terminology.

  40. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    BTW, if I were the judge, Caltrans would be in deep shit right about now. Regardless of the science.

  41. March 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    “Snarks”? Careful, next thing you know you’ll be accused of posting “ugly taunts” and get blocked from making any comments.

  42. March 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I would think that if there was a real potential for great harm to the grove, there would be more to it than a tree measurement mistake.

    Exactly. This is really irrelevant to the issue. It may be relevant in court, to some, but that just says something about our legal system and perhaps the presiding judge.

    I would think if the judge was really interested in a fair look at the case he would have asked to be shown what the planned work was when he was down there watching people measure trees.

    Perhaps a real life example of not being able to see the forest from the trees?

  43. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    The relevance is in how much the judge can and will take Caltrans at their word, as opposed to how much the judge can and will take EPIC at their word.

    The tree measurement may or may not be of significance in and of itself, but if you can’t even trust a state agency to accurately measure a tree, how much weight should you give their assertions when it comes to controversial matters?

    I can’t believe this needs saying, and it’s a sign of just how deluded many of the commenters here are that they cannot even acknowledge this obvious point.

    My guess is this is the result of the nutritional deficiencies this area’s people suffer from the lack of a functional press. They no longer know what it looks like to see a primary source document.

  44. Thorstein Veblen
    March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Speaking of pi, I think there are huckleberries at RG.

  45. Mitch
    March 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Fantastic, TV. How much do you think they’ll sell for?

  46. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks, Bothilio, for being logical and putting some reality into this. One tree out of that many? They should get an award for being so close to perfect.

  47. Anonymous
    March 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    It sure sounds like the measuring went in Caltrans’ favor. It will be interesting to see the ruling.

  48. jr
    March 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Since there are huckleberries at Richardson Grove, perhaps it is time to occu-pie it.

  49. 713
    March 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    OK Mitch, they messed up on one tree out of 1700. I bet they messed up on more than one. When somebody is out recording the measurements and distances of 1700 different trees, there are bound to be typos, hard to read handwriting, or any number of other distractions that can cause a simple error. To state that an error on the dimensions of one tree in a forest indicates the whole process is flawed is a bit unreasonable. Everybody makes mistakes, it is incredible to me that people are looking to this as a smoking gun. Somebody was probably stomping around out in the trees in the rain doing these measurements and got tired, lazy, or distracted and either measured wrong or wrote the wrong number in the wrong box. That ever happen to you? People are not entitled to their own facts, but this fact seems irrelevant in the scope of the project.

  50. High Finance
    March 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    One tree wrong out of 1,700 means they got 99.942% right.

    That beats Mitch’s percentage of being right by at least 50 points.

  51. Bolithio
    March 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Mitch, DBH stands for Diameter at Breast Height. The measurements taken in the field are diameters. How is this wizardry possible!??! In forestry we have what are called Diameter tapes (where the circumference equation is done on the tape itself):

  52. 713
    March 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    “Of course, I’m using the environmentalist value of pi here, so your mileage will vary. Please correct my errors with correct values and formulas.”

    Exactly, you are using correct formulas to support an irrelevant position. I’m going to have to remember that is known as “the environmentalist value of pi.”

  53. Thorstein Veblen
    March 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Mitch, I think you are great. But on this one we part ways for a bit. To think that CalTrans screws up is not a big leap for me. To think there is some grand conspiracy whose linchpin is to lie about this one tree is much less plausible.

    Hanging your hat on this mis-measurement just isn’t compelling to most people, sorry. There has to be better, more cogent, non-conspiracy arguments for the anti-re-alignment position. Not putting it all on you, just saying.

  54. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 7:13 am


    Thank you. I suspect you are missing the point as well.

    I am not asserting a grand conspiracy. If you go back and read the post, and then read the comments, I think that will be extremely clear.

    I am also not stating that I feel this tree measurement is relevant.

    If people assert I am making these straw men arguments, there’s not much I can do about that.

    Here is what I am saying, and it doesn’t seem much of a reach.

    A judge in this case felt the tree measurement was relevant enough that it was one of three questions the judge went to a great deal of effort to get answered. The 84″ vs 103″ discrepancy was the first of the three questions. Look at page four of the report, linked.

    The answer came back that EPIC’s 103″ was correct and Caltrans 84″ was wrong. I expect that a judge, after a great deal of inconvenience and expense, having found that, will consider it significant information.

    I do object that the local press has not exactly highlighted the information. It’s not that hard to simply report what the judge found, without any explanations. That does not seem to happen around certain questions in this county.

    I’m mystified by people’s apparent concern and outrage over this post — the only party that needs convincing around these issues is the judge in this case. The judge got their report — now Herald readers have a link to the report, and a summary of its findings. It supports EPIC’s number, not Caltrans’.

    All the rest is froth.

  55. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 7:52 am

    At first glance, it also seems pretty specious that people are arguing there was only one error out of thousands of measurements.

    When you select one item to test and it fails the test, that’s not an argument that all the other items are correct.

    As with so many local controversies, my complaint is more with the press than with the participants. If this finding had gone the other way, with the judge demonstrating EPIC to have inflated their 103″ number, I think the number 84″ would have been seared into Humboldt’s collective memory for years to come.

    Does EPIC lie? I’ve certainly had the impression that at least some of their posters are oversimplifying things and misstating them to draw in out-of-area support.

    But unless there’s an honest press that tells me, flat-out, when EPIC is proven correct and Caltrans is proven wrong, I have no way of getting enough information to know who I should trust. Instead, I have to use Pravda-reader hunting skills to find the inconvenient facts that the press explains away, and I’m left feeling betrayed and generally suspicious of the trashing of EPIC.

    I anticipated that this measurement would support Caltrans, based on my having seen some of EPICs posters. I was wrong. Certainly my respect for EPIC has increased, and my respect for Caltrans assertions has declined. I’m confident that will be the judge’s reaction as well.

    Wouldn’t you want to know that, so you can understand what will go into this judge’s ultimate decision? Or would you prefer to be shielded from such annoying facts, so that facts won’t needlessly interfere with your outrage if and when a judge tells Caltrans to do a new study?

  56. 713
    March 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Didn’t Epic pick the trees? It seems to me they went through the whole document and this was their best shot at proving an error. They were wrong on 5 out of 6, right? If there were 3 out of six or 5, i would agree with you, something is wrong with the document and they need to look further, but when an organization like Epic with the reputation of splitting the finest of hairs can only come up with one tree out of 1700 with a bum measurement, it seems like a total waste of time and money. What is the significance of that tree measurement in the scope of the whole document?

  57. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I think EPIC picked a set of trees, but the judge decided to check this tree in particular. There’s some confusion about missing trees versus mismeasured trees.

    Really, it’s just a four page double spaced report and I typed in much of the fourth page. Just read it. It’s sideways, but if you print it out, you don’t need to strain your neck.

  58. 713
    March 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

    It just seems dumb to me, Mitch. What is the end-game here? To block the road – to save the environment? So while Caltrans, EPIC, and the court system are out arguing over the placement and measurement of a tree, thousands of KW hours are being burned up, creeks are being diverted, and chemicals are leaching into the watershed to grow weed. I believe it was Supervisors Lovelace who stated the damage was either equal to or greater than the old timber practices. Nothing from the Environmental Protection Information Center. Move along, nothing to see here.

  59. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 9:28 am


    One thing we probably agree about is that the Richardson Grove controversy is not specifically about Richardson Grove.

    Are there other, far more significant environmental issues? Yes.

    Should the government, at this time, be spending money on a realignment project in Richardson Grove? In my opinion, absolutely not. It’s OK to leave some things alone.

    If RG’s bottleneck imperceptibly increases the cost of living in Humboldt, so be it. If it makes it harder for big-boxes to locate here, fantastic. If it increases the cost of exporting material from here, find out by how much and see what you can do to counter that problem. Other approaches, including direct subsidies, might cost substantially less than the realignment project.

    Is this a symbolic issue more than a real one? Probably is.

    But that doesn’t change the local press’ continuing failure to just straight-out tell us what people discover, whether it supports the side they think is right or the side they think is wrong. That’s the real issue, at least for me.

  60. Bolithio
    March 24, 2012 at 9:28 am

    From EPICs website:


    The environmental assessment is so deeply flawed that it cannot serve as the basis for an informed decision. Caltrans has ignored potential alternatives, failed to provide vital information about impacts to endangered species, inaccurately addressed the project’s potential climate impacts, downplayed the far-reaching effects of allowing giant commercial truck traffic into Humboldt County, and provided one-sided economic justifications for the project.

    If it is so flawed, why are none of these items court? And how come they dont say anything about the 6 trees they thought were mis-measured or mapped? Becuase they are myths. All of them.

    This how they skew the perception of project to get money, then find little technicalities to sue on, and make a ‘living’ on the litigation. Look at the picture right on the web page. That part of the highway isnt in the project!!! Dont you think it implies those are some of the 53 trees to be cut? It all about the marketing baby.

    That is why I have lost all respect an organization who used to be heroes to me.

  61. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 9:38 am

    “Because they are myths. All of them.”


    Are you saying the judge’s report was wrong and the tree in question one was actually 84″ in diameter as Caltrans said? If not, what are you saying?

  62. Bolithio
    March 24, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Mitch are you seriously engaging in this debate or are you just playing devils advocate? Im talking about the myths about old growth, endangered species and so on that that they front load all of their campaign slogans and pamphlets with. When it finally comes to court however its about a random human error, not because caltrans was attempting to spoil one of our valued State Parks. That is my point.

    I dont dispute any of the facts presented in the judges report.

  63. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 10:04 am


    I challenged your statement, made immediately after a sentence discussing mismeasured trees, that “…they are myths. All of them.”

    Is EPIC being misleading in their campaign slogans and pamphlets. I suspect so. They are using all means at their disposal, just like other groups that fight for a position. It’s not very clean.

    Personally, I’m glad there are groups saying “leave Richardson Grove alone.” Why? Not because I necessarily agree with their tactics, or think they are as pure as the driven snow.

    I’m glad they are there because I would like to see Richardson Grove left alone, I would like to see a continued potential impediment to big boxes in this area, I would like to see a reallocation of the way the state spends money, and I would like to see Caltrans called on it if they do not seriously consider alternatives.

    While the potential problems with root systems under roads is something I have no opinion about, I do have strong opinions about the desirability of Humboldt’s absorption into the American monoculture. Anything that delays that is good in my book.

  64. 713
    March 24, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Well at least you are being honest. I want them to fix it so STAA trucks can get through. I have spent thousands of extra dollars on shipping because of this issue.

  65. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Do you think STAA trucks could get through if they were required to push a radio button prior to entering the grove, so that two such trucks wouldn’t cross? Would it help to lower the speed limit on a half mile stretch of road to 10 miles per hour, in case the truckers ignored a policy created in their own self-interest?

    What is the actual existing crossover of the yellow line that an STAA truck endures? How many collisions have there been? What do the engineers say the impact would be on the collision rate of reducing the speed limit? Why is that not considered a serious alternative?

  66. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 10:41 am

    How much would it cost to stripe a danger zone for traffic that might encounter trucks over the yellow line in a fifty foot stretch of the road?

    How much would it delay traffic to put a 10mph speed limit around that danger zone? What would be the impact?

    How many places use radio collaboration to enable trucks to self-regulate passage of single lane roads? What would be involved?

    How many STAA trucks run the restriction right now?

    These are some of the questions I’d anticipate a serious report comparing alternatives would discuss. But Caltrans is unwilling to seriously investigate such approaches, because, I suspect, they are not one-size-fits-all. The fact is, Richardson Grove is of special significance, not necessarily environmental significance, but certainly of historic landmark and “gateway” significance.

    IMO, it doesn’t need Caltrans to improve it.

  67. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

    For that matter, how complicated would it be for Caltrans to put in equipment that would spot long trucks a few miles prior to Richardson Grove and light up a warning and signalling system as the truck entered the grove? If that seems ridiculous, remember that a manual version of that was the agency’s answer for bicyclists trying to not lose their lives on 101N from Arcata to McKinleyville, when they had to push into a traffic lane to cross a bridge. You pushed a button and lit up a sign saying “Bicyclist On Bridge — Five Point Bonus” or something similar.

    The agency was proud of its “push and pray” button for people whose flesh was exposed to 65 mph car and truck traffic — it ought to work just fine for truckers protected in their cabs, carrying radios, and travelling at low speeds.

  68. Anonymous
    March 24, 2012 at 11:05 am

    There is a very rural, only seasonally open road in Oregon that has an electronic system that measures your vehicle when you pass and notifies you before it’s too late to turn around that your vehicle is too long for the road.

  69. High Finance
    March 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

    You want to do all that Mitch and pray people aren’t killed rather than the possibility of hurting a handful of trees ?

    Your priorities are all screwed up man.

  70. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Tell you what, HiFi. We’ll take the savings from not issuing the realignment contract and we’ll spend them directly on two things: first, we’ll pay half the demonstrable added shipping costs Richardson Grove imposes on shippers in Humboldt County — we’ll just write them checks out of the money that would otherwise be spent. Then, with the rest, we’ll provide safe drinking water in one village in the developing world. Then we’ll add light up warning stripes at Richardson Grove.

    Since no one, to my knowledge, has suggested that the realignment will save a single life or limb, that will get us more lives saved.

    Are you with me, Hi Fi, or do you own the paving company?

  71. 713
    March 24, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Mitch, the problem with the STAA issue is that everybody else is using or going to use those trailers. Local trucking companies will not be able to complete with a bunch of short trailers. They are fine for local stuff but when you take a load out of the area, you can’t pick up a standard load and deliver it from LA to Sacto and then pick up something in Sacto and bring it here because everybody else will be running the STAA trailers with more cargo space. It is not as simple as you think it is to get product in and out of here. I have paid for a number of empty trip legs due to this. Totally inefficient.

  72. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm


    I get that. I don’t think the realignment at RG is necessary to STAA access. It’s in Caltrans interest to ensure that there is no daylight between the two issues, because Caltrans wants the realignment.

    An environmental impact statement is supposed to explore alternatives. The problem might be easily solved by a legislative exception, a speed limit, and some stripes.

  73. Bolithio
    March 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Anything that delays that is good in my book.

    Mitch, so you are saying that you are OK with people who mislead or use false premises to meet their ends (when the agenda is in line with yours)? Like Bush’s war. Many people wanted to invade Iraq, and were OK with what ever means convinced the public. The old growth/park destruction are EPICs weapons of mass destruction. (Im comparing the principle here, not saying that this is on par with the Iraq invasion)

  74. Just Watchin
    March 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Finally…….someone brings Bush`s name into the discussion. I knew Y`all wouldn`t let me down !!

  75. 713
    March 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Do you think caltrans really gives a shit one way or the other? What difference does it make to them? I don’t understand why you assume caltrans has some nefarious secret plan to bring in big boxes or whatever you are afraid of. Do you think they are afraid if this project doesn’t happen they are all going to lose their jobs? I just don’t get it.

  76. Bolithio
    March 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Exactly 713.

  77. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm


    No, I’m not OK with people who mislead or use false premises. I don’t believe the ends justify the means. Have I defended EPIC’s behavior beyond stating that their number was correct in this court question?

    Having said that, I don’t feel any particular need to criticize EPIC. There are more than enough people who will do that.


    No, I don’t think this is a nefarious plot of Caltrans. I think Caltrans is a bureaucracy that wants all roads to be wider and faster and safer. That’s sometimes a great thing; just not in this case. I think Caltrans needs to be pushed into looking at alternatives — I wish that weren’t necessary, but I think pushing bureaucracies into looking at alternatives was part of the reasoning behind requiring environmental impact statements.

  78. Mitch
    March 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Anonymous 5:36,

    Thank you for your concern, you’re very kind. I’m doing ok.

  79. Anonymous
    March 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    The fact you answered me implies you are not ok. Get away from the keyboard!
    Later dude.

  80. Bolithio
    March 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Mitch all projects of this nature evaluate alternatives, RG having no exception.


    Here is the EIR. Alternatives are discussed in section 1.4.

    The different types of alternatives considered include: 1) highway improvement alternatives; 2) signalization alternatives; 3) time of day STAA truck travel restriction alternatives; 4) warning system alternatives; and 5) combination alternatives where variations within two different alternatives were combined.

    If you further interested, here is the map of where all trees are located in relation to the road. It also shows what trees by species and size are to be removed and which trees root zones are near the road.


    Lastly, check out this video simulation of before and after:

    [video src="http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1projects/richardson_grove/rg_simulations.mp4" /]

  81. Mitch
    March 25, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I’d seen the final EIR document, Bolithio. Thanks for providing a link in your comment above. It’s a good example of what a government agency means when it says it considered alternatives.

    It is always possible to come up with long lists of reasons any alternative to your preferred plan will not work — the question is how serious an effort was made to make them work as opposed to fail.

    But the EIR is valuable in stating clearly the major problem that Caltrans needs to resolve:

    “With this best-case scenario, the model still shows STAA vehicles crossing the centerline of the road by a minimum of 0.26 feet on the existing alignment”

    0.26 feet is 3 inches.

    STAA trucks would have to cross the centerline by 3 inches.

    3 inches.

    Paint a wider yellow line.

  82. 713
    March 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    “Anything that delays that is good in my book.”

    I am glad you are one of the few people who are honest in their reasoning. It seems to me that with your beliefs being what they are, it doesnt matter how many studies and options are looked at, you will be against it. I wish more people were that way, things would be a whole lot simpler and we probably wouldn’t be arguing about tree diameters.

  83. Mitch
    March 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Look at page 27 or so of the EIR Bolithio linked. Then explain why the agency is unable to figure out a way to put in a box without trenching, cannot reduce the time cycle for signals to four or five minutes, and cannot have a signal that triggers only when long vehicles simultaneously approach from opposite directions. Because they don’t want to, that’s why. It’s not done that way.

    This is a $5.5 million project that could easily be replaced by a signal system or two “endowed” 24/7 flagger jobs. Either approach would be less expensive and would involved less alteration of the park. Tell me you wouldn’t find a better approach than Caltrans if this were your business and you were told the only solution was a $5.5 million “realignment” to eliminate a three inch restriction at one curve.

    The idea that this project is necessary to provide STAA traffic into Humboldt is shown to be not-quite-true by the simple fact that legislation allowed livestock trucks to magically “fit.”

  84. 713
    March 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Mitch, how do you connect traffic loops to control boxes without digging? Also, they seem to be concerned about traffic backing up for miles because the signals time.

  85. Mitch
    March 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    A thousand bucks is riding on it, 713!!! Think!

  86. Goldie
    March 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    If you put naked tree hugging persons along the road at 15 foot intervals and they hold the traffic connecting loop wire, it will allow for traffic to slow down and bring the necessary power and information to signals at both ends. Maybe you can put solar collectors by the signals and a tall fellow can hold it and track the sun for optimum solar collection.

  87. 713
    March 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I suppose you figure you are going to go overhead with the wires. I just assumed that was out because it would be a terrible idea since the wires are very likely to be clipped all the time by branches, even if they had the right of way to string a bunch of cables through the park. Anything is possible Mitch, but you have to admit based on your bias and previous comments if they had proposed a traffic light the lawsuit would be about the backed up traffic, or the light pollution from the signals, or the root damage from the telephone poles. Remember, this isn’t about the details, its about keeping Humboldt from being “big boxed” – although Costco, target, Kmart, and Walmart are here. what is is about again?

  88. Mitch
    March 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm


    There are separable issues. The first is, can anything be done to provide STAA trucks with access? The second is, does it have to involve the work Caltrans has proposed?

    You’re right, I don’t want big boxes . But if STAA trucks are going to come (and they are going to come), I’d rather not see it happen by the Richardson Grove project in its current form.

    My solution, which will make every government employee everywhere laugh, is as follows. Go out at 3 in the morning with an STAA tractor trailer and a spray paint can, close the road for five minutes, drive the truck through at 2 mph and spray paint every area where the truck crosses the centerline. (It’s just gonna be a couple of ten foot long stretches, right?) Stripe those areas in red and white. Then put up signs that say, roughly “CAUTION: Trucks Will Cross Centerline.” Then, put up signs that say “SLOW 10 mph PREPARE TO STOP FOR TRUCKS.” Repeat in the other direction.

    For a deluxe version, prepare mats with embedded LEDs in the red and white striping, powered by AA batteries in the mats. Add a radio receiver. Add a truck loop in the pavement about fifteen seconds before the centerline will be crossed and have it wirelessly signal the LEDs to flash for twenty seconds. Allocate funds to replace the batteries once or twice a year.

    Allow STAA trucks as an experiment for a year. When it works, make the solution permanent and send half the realignment monies saved to Mitch’s Motorway Mavens, Consulting Partners, LLC.

    OK. The reasons why this won’t work are endless, right? They’re overwhelming — in fact, no amount of brainstorming about improving this approach will EVER, EVER work. I know. That’s the problem.

  89. Mitch
    March 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm


    You’d have to work that out with the union. I don’t think you’re allowed to specify a person’s clothing choice.

  90. common sense
    March 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Ok, so someone at Caltrans or contracted by Caltrans got a tree mixed up. It happens, but the fact is this particular tree on the map is incorrectly labeled. Next question, since it’s not being cut does it matter? Whether it’s 60″ or 80″ or 120″ it’s a big tree, but certainly not one of the biggest. The truth of the matter is that it’s not about the size of the tree, but the project that ends up involving the tree. What if Caltrans listed a 30″ tree and EPIC claimed a 60″ tree? We’d be hearing about a 100 percent variance ad nauseum. If Caltrans offered to plant 3 times the number of trees that might be affected and place a conservation easement on them, would EPIC drop this nonsense? Combined with the fuel efficiencies, this would do far more for the environment than the current windmill jousting for dollars that seems to be the focus of the environmental movement.

  91. 713
    March 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I think that is a good idea but I am not a traffic engineer. Whatever gets the trucks through.

  92. YouHadToBeThere
    March 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    You had to be in the courtroom in San Francisco when the case was argued to really understand the tree measurement event. Here’s my first hand account. The judge asked for ONE example of a tree that EPIC claimed was inaccurately measured by CalTrans. The EPIC lawyers said a good example was Tree 17. CalTrans said it was 84″ and EPIC said it was 103″. Tree 17 when measured again was 104″. The judge also asked for ONE example of a tree that was omitted from CalTrans’ report that EPIC said CalTrans failed to include. The EPIC lawyers said a good example was Tree 92. It was found that EPIC was correct and that Tree 92 was omitted from the CalTrans report. The judge did not ask to measure EVERY tree again and he did not ask for EVERY example of a tree being omitted. It was really a pretty amazing court hearing. After all the discussion over this issue for years, the judge hurried the whole hearing into an hour-long session. Both sides had to limit their arguments as the judge seemed very concerned about keeping the hearing to an hour. Anyway, to me at least, it sounds like EPIC has a pretty solid case.

  93. Mitch
    March 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm


    Thanks for the first-hand information. You’ll notice that most of the people commenting really don’t care about the facts unless they line up on their side. But perhaps those who are viewing and not commenting will find your report useful. Thanks.

  94. Bolithio
    March 26, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Oh Mitch. LOL

  95. Mitch
    March 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I’m glad you’re amused, Bolithio. If it’s in response to my idea to save the equivalent of 550 $10,000 scholarships at HSU, or 100 teachers’ aides positions for a year by having a state agency try something different, I agree it’s comical.

    If it’s in response to my statement that people don’t want to hear facts, I’d just encourage you to reread the post and the thread. The post could not be more factual, and I’ve consistently defended letting people just hear the facts. Your anger at EPIC may blind you to that.

  96. Bolithio
    March 26, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Maybe, but remember, my criticism of EPIC is not because I support the project. I agree with many of the concerns people raise regarding the need and use of the money involved (this is our common ground). It is all about the way EPIC generates money, set up their cases, and resonate myths and misconceptions about forestry and environmental impacts that I am outspoken about. Their doing so makes my life harder as a forester for many reasons.

    And as wasteful as this project may seem, adding further waste (i.e. this court case) is hardly a solution to that. EPIC should be spending their money in the State’s policy arena if they truly want to make a long term difference. But they don’t: they’d rather continue to make a killing milking frivolous lawsuits.

  97. Anonymous
    March 26, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Leave the big-box argument out of it. Wally World is here, and it doesn’t give a damn about road restrictions.

  98. Anonymous
    March 26, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    “Bolithio and some that have been around the the Grove most their lives have no respect for it.”

    It’s more than sad. Bolithio, specifically, prescribes clearcuts for a living and frequents pro-environmental blogs wtih pro-industry rhetoric….says all anybody needs to know about creeps like him and their ultimate degree of “respect”. Bolithio also wants us all to see this issue as an Epic grudge match (pun intended) in much the way people try to turn arguments in favor of animal rights into ones against con fronts like peta….easy scapegoating, spin spin spin. Creeps.

    Trading yet another slice of irreplaceable ecosystem with even more freeway…just what we need in this day and age. What a way to make our grandchildren proud of us when they take over.

  99. OUTLAW1
    March 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    i think people forget nothing is forever and if the trees prevent progress then cut them down. i see it would bring work and money to the area. plus wood to the market. i watched people lose there homes and chidren go without because of s##t like treehugging. i hope they make toilet paper out of it so i can wipe my ass with it. it better then tree bark. my grand children well they would be proud because im for use of our renewable resources not preserving it so people can run around in them smoking pot and wiping there ass with pinecones.

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