Home > Humboldt County, Richardson Grove > Court Sends Richardson Grove Highway Expansion Back to Drawing Board

Court Sends Richardson Grove Highway Expansion Back to Drawing Board

Controversial Highway Project Would Irreparably Damage Ancient Redwoods

[Press Release] SAN FRANCISCO— A federal judge today ordered Caltrans to redo critical aspects of its environmental analysis for a controversial project that would widen and realign Highway 101 through the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County. Citing numerous errors in Caltrans’ mapping and measurement of affected old-growth redwoods, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ordered Caltrans to correct its errors and prepare a detailed new analysis that considers potential harm to the roots of each individual redwood tree in the project’s path. A coalition of conservation groups and local community members filed a lawsuit in 2010 to halt the project.

Download the Ruling: Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment, Motion to Strike, and Motion for Sanctions

“Despite the importance of Richardson Grove and the incredible public outcry against this project, Caltrans didn’t even accurately measure and map the ancient redwood trees that its misguided highway expansion proposal puts at risk,” said Gary Hughes of the Environmental Protection Information Center, a plaintiff group based in Humboldt County. “This unnecessary project would cause irreparable damage to one of our most prized state parks, the venerable old-growth grove and its wildlife, and also harm tourism and the coastal communities of Humboldt County. It’s time to scrap this project for good.”

The proposal to realign a section of Highway 101 that winds through old-growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park to accommodate large-truck travel would require extensive cutting into the roots of towering redwoods along the highway. Root loss would likely kill at least some of the majestic trees, and highway work would also harm endangered species like the marbled murrelet and Northern spotted owl. Caltrans’ proposed assault on Richardson Grove, the fabled “redwood curtain” at the entrance to rural Humboldt County, has been met with widespread opposition from local residents, business owners, conservation groups, American Indians and economists. Conservation groups secured a federal court injunction in July 2011 stopping the project from moving forward until the case could be heard.

“Less than 3 percent of our ancient redwood trees remain, yet Caltrans wants to cut through, injure and pave over the roots of giant redwoods in a state park for the sake of a few more oversized trucks speeding through the grove, and expects us to believe there won’t be any damage,” said Peter Galvin, conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ll keep fighting until Caltrans drops this misguided project.”

“Caltrans must give us a clear and accurate description of how building a modern roadbed in Richardson Grove can harm precious and rare environmental resources that belong to us all,” said Patty Clary, Director of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics. “That would be democracy in action. That’s what the court preserved in this ruling, the right of Americans to have these important decisions made in the light of day, not behind closed doors.”

Plaintiffs in the case are the Environmental Protection Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, Trisha Lee Lotus, Bess Bair, Bruce Edwards, Jeffrey Hedin and Loreen Eliason. Trisha Lotus is the great granddaughter of Henry Devoy, who transferred the redwood forest that became Richardson Grove State Park to California in 1922. The plaintiffs are represented by San Francisco attorney Stuart Gross, Oakland attorney Sharon Duggan, a team from San Francisco law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy that includes Philip Gregory and former congressman “Pete” McCloskey, and Kevin Bundy of the Center for Biological Diversity.


Established in 1922, Richardson Grove State Park was recently rated as one of the top 100 state parks in the United States. The park attracts thousands of visitors from around the world every year to explore one of the last protected stands of accessible old-growth redwoods. It is here that drivers first encounter significant old-growth forest when heading north on Highway 101, and this popular tourist destination has provided many people with a transformative experience walking through some of the oldest living beings on the planet. The park also provides essential habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl, and its creeks still support runs of imperiled salmon and steelhead. Currently, the California State Parks system is facing a multitude of threats beyond inappropriate highway development. Two parks near Richardson Grove on the South Fork of the Eel River are slated for closure.

The lawsuit was brought for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and Administrative Procedures Act. The environmental assessment prepared by Caltrans failed to acknowledge the full extent of the project’s impacts, as required by federal and state laws, including the effects of cutting through and paving over the widespread but shallow network of roots holding Richardson Grove together, the consequences of stockpiling lead-contaminated soil in an area draining to the designated “wild and scenic” South Fork Eel River, and the far-reaching impacts of opening the road to larger trucks. Caltrans also failed to adopt legally required measures to reduce these impacts and failed to consider less-damaging alternatives.

Caltrans first proposed the highway widening project in 2007 with minimal environmental and public review. Faced with immediate and widespread community opposition, the agency prepared a full “environmental impact report” but has still has not shown that its experimental, unproven construction methods will not irreparably harm Richardson Grove. Opposition to the project has continued to grow, led by the Save Richardson Grove Coalition, a diverse group of community members including economists, business owners, scientists, and a consortium of 10 federally recognized Northern California tribes with longstanding ties to the grove.

The proposed highway widening does not serve the region’s best interests. Caltrans claims it is needed to legally accommodate large-truck travel on this section of highway. However, it appears from Caltrans’ own statements and signage that this portion of road is already designated for larger trucks and that Caltrans has exaggerated potential safety problems. Caltrans has not established that this project is necessary either for safety or for goods movement and the economy. Since smaller-sized commercial trucks already travel through the grove to deliver goods to Humboldt County, the best alternative would be to leave the highway as it is and retain the integrity of the grove.


  1. Anonymous
    April 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    STAA trucks can already travel here, just not from the south. So why would Cal=Trans have to figure in impacts? Something stinks, and it isn’t Cal-Trans.

  2. Mitch
    April 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Federal judges don’t like being handed bullshit. The judge found:

    …the errors in the data are “so implausible that [they] could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise.” …They are examples raising serious questions about whether Caltrans truly took a “hard look” at the effects of the project. Although perhaps the failure of data or analysis on a single tree might not demonstrate findings that are “highly uncertain,” the accumulation of data errors certainly raises “substantial questions” about the possible significance of the project’s impact on the environment. This shows that Caltrans’ fact finding was arbitrary and capricious, and that a more developed record is necessary.

    If you’re surprised, thank the Eureka Times-Standard.

  3. Anonymous
    April 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    A slight delay, only.

  4. April 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Kym Kemp posted a statement by CalTrans at the LoCO:

    The court denied the plaintiffs’ arguments that the full environmental impact EIS is required for this project. The court only partially granted the plantiffs’ motion for summary judgement to the extent it ordered Caltrans to prepare further detailed maps in order to more fully explain Caltrans’ conclusion regarding any potential impacts to old growth redwood trees. Caltrans intends to fully comply with the court’s order and proceed as directed by the court.

    The court rejected all of the plaintiffs’ other arguments and considered all direction submitted including that of Stephen Sillett, an expert on Redwoods who has concluded that Caltrans had taken the steps necessary for protection of the species related to the project. The court also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions against Caltrans.

  5. Mitch
    April 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    That’s an interesting interpretation by Caltrans. My reading of the decision says the judge told Caltrans it was impossible to proceed to the question of whether an EIS would be required until Caltrans repaired its maps and had someone competent sign them. The judge did suggest that Caltrans could just proceed directly to doing an EIS if it wanted.

  6. Smart 5th Grader
    April 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Mitch. CalTrans´ response was likely written by a publicist and a team of lawyers. What did you expect them to say?

  7. April 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Yea for the Redwoods!! Cal-trans has lied about this from the beginning. I have a connection inside and what they were told is vastly different than what the judge heard. Once again I say rebuild the train tracks not widen the road through a very special part of Hwy 101.

  8. What Now
    April 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm


  9. Toohey
    April 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    My read of the ruling is Caltrans needs to fix up its mapping and provide some additional analysis. This is hardly a win for EPIC the project is not stopped as is their intent. EPICs legal playing field against this project has gotten quite small.

  10. Toohey
    April 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    5th grader, Do you think EPIC did not craft its press release similarly? Are you that blind?

  11. Dave Kirby
    April 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    I don’t get it. There is the Avenue of the Giants. A 30 mile stretch of old 101 that has old growth trees doing fine just inches from the pavement. If you look at old photos of Richardson Grove you will notice that there are major roadside areas that were and still are paved. These areas extend into the forest and have been covered with duff. One of the aspects of Cal Trans plans for this project is to remove the paved areas and return the forest floor to its natural origin. With all the important issues facing us as to the environment its embarrassing that this molehill has tied up time and tax payer money on a bogus premise.

  12. Anonymous
    April 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I agree with Mitch. I just read the decision and the judge clearly states that they need to redo the EA and then decide if an EIS is necessary, or proceed directly with doing a full EIS. He in no way said Caltrans doesn’t need to do an EIS as Caltrans is trying to spin it.

  13. Natalynne
    April 4, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Toohey, no I do not think that EPIC’s press release was created similarly, it was created by a small team of people in house none of which are attorneys or publicists.

    What the Judge ordered was for Caltrans to follow the law. They’ve been trying to cut corners since the beginning of the project’s inception–they didn’t even want to do an EIR!? The Judge found that EPIC and the other plaintiff’s claims were valid and that Caltrans has to go back and actually do the analysis to justify their findings.

  14. Legally Minded
    April 4, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    However anyone referred to above tries to spin it, Federal District Court Judge Alsup just called bullshit on CalTrans. Period.

    This isn’t necessarily just a minor setback. This may be the beginning for the end of the project, insofar that it may very well trigger the EIS that calls for a wider scope of consideration of the project’s impacts. That makes it much tougher for CalTrans.

    CalTrans’ reputation for objectivity just got flushed down the proverbial toilet.

  15. Toohey
    April 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    As Will Rodgers said ”Its a good thing we don’t get all the government we pay for”.
    EPIC will run the clock out on this one and will lose in court but look at all the money they will get out of the litigation.

  16. Toohey
    April 4, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    All you guys are is PR and lawyers. Do you really delude yourself to think you do science?

  17. anonymous
    April 4, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    You can’t shit a Judge. At least not this one.

  18. Smart 5th Grader
    April 5, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Toohey. Any smart 5th grader could tell you the ¨science¨ of this project would begin with the ability to measure a tree and not understate it´s size by 20%

    April 5, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Toohey. His name was Will Rogers.

  20. 5th Grade Teacher
    April 5, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Toohey, You can´t on the 5th Grade debating team if you insist on slaughtering the English language.
    Ms. Sanchez

    Toohey says: April 4, 2012 at 9:58 pm
    All you guys are is PR and lawyers. Do you really delude yourself to think you do science?¨

  21. 5th Grade Teacher
    April 5, 2012 at 5:47 am

    sigh. s/b ¨…can´t be on…¨

  22. Bolithio
    April 5, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I cant help but agree with the ruling, in that CALTRANs blundered big time by not ensuring the maps where 100% perfectly accurate. What was the project manager thinking!

    But no accountability for EPIC! They continue to misinform by making claims on their web site that this project is going to harm the Spotted Owl and Salmon, let alone old growth trees.

    This absolutely a win for EPIC. If the project was categorically denied, then EPICs fat, healthy fund raising gimmick would be over! Not to mention every day in court means big bucks for them. This is the most ideal outcome. Way to go! [Booo]

  23. Mitch
    April 5, 2012 at 7:21 am

    The Caltrans release is wrong but if the subhead of the posting is direct from the EPIC press release, it also misrepresents the ruling.

    Fortunately, Heraldo provided a link to the ruling, so anyone interested in navigating between the two sets of propaganda can read the ruling themselves.

    Overall, though, the judge did find that Caltrans’ work was so incorrect that it could reasonably be held arbitrary and capricious, so there’s simply no way to legitimately interpret this as a win for Caltrans. While the judge didn’t allow some of EPIC’s arguments, that was not due to the merits of the arguments but due to technical legal matters.

    Just read the ruling.

  24. High Finance
    April 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

    The no-growth, oppose all progress everywhere all the time are celebrating today.

    Meantime another 28 people lose their jobs as St Joe lays employees off because the economy forces people to put off elective surgeries.

  25. Anonymous
    April 5, 2012 at 7:57 am

    So,,, people are putting off elective surgeries since they can’t drive big trucks through the redwoods? But if we had a wider road more people in the cheese and cattle business would be having surgery?

  26. anonymous
    April 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Yes, just read the ruling. Or, better yet, don’t read it or any other ruling or recent development concerning the work that EPIC does, and just continue to spout unfounded and baseless lies about a local group that is amongst the most effective in the state in protecting wild nature.

    Note that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service did say that this project would result in Take of listed species like Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet. Of course, Caltrans has always tried to say that USFWS signed off, but what USFWS actually said is that it will cause TAKE of Endangered Species. But those kinds of facts are just not what many folks want to base their understanding of this issue on, it is easier to use conjecture and the Caltrans spin.

    Read the decision and note that this same judge will be back on this case. The house of cards that is the Caltrans Richardson Grove project is falling. Read the decision and you will note that Caltrans got seriously schooled here. After so much Caltrans huffing and puffing and PR to tout about their plans the judge just said that the project maps are useless, and that the agency has been ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS.

    And another note, the RG project is under injunction, and the injunction was granted in July 2011 because of the risk of irreparable harm to the grove. This is not hyperbole, this is a statement coming from a federal court. Yes, read the decision. It was not an overwhelming win for EPIC (nor were plaintiffs awarded fees and costs), but it was a definite loss for Caltrans, proving without doubt that they have been blowing smoke about their detailed approach to this project since the get go.

  27. April 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

    HiFi won’t be happy until everyone has a new set of boobs. In the name of progress.

  28. Plain Jane
    April 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

    With at least one major insurance company requiring that their insured leave the area for some elective surgeries, it’s no wonder SJH is laying off employees and more surgeons are leaving Humboldt County.

  29. Plain Jane
    April 5, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Note – by elective I’m not referring to boob jobs but needed non-emergency surgeries.

  30. Somewhat friendly
    April 5, 2012 at 10:30 am

    So Cal-Trans was off by one tree or was it 2? How many was EPIC off on?

  31. Plain Jane
    April 5, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Cal Trans mis-measured one tree by a significant amount which is critical due to the per inch multiplier required to protect vital roots. Neglecting to even account for one old growth tree is another problem. Whether this was deliberate or incompetence is unknown. Requiring an engineer to measure the trees and sign the work might make them more careful, but it is possible that accurate measurements of all the trees will force the cancellation of the project.

  32. Mitch
    April 5, 2012 at 10:59 am


    “Somewhat friendly” is welcome to read the ruling, since Heraldo provided a link. The ruling is crystal clear and self-explanatory. The questioning and belittling taking place here is Humboldt standard bullshit, the people who don’t like the ruling aren’t interested in why it happened, they just want to be outraged. They aren’t interested in what it means, they just want to spin to thin air about what they’d like it to mean.

    Sometimes the spin may be effective, though I doubt it. When the spin is definitely not effective is when you are trying to spin something that’s already before a federal judge. Spinners need to try to convince the judge, not the readership of the Herald.

  33. Plain Jane
    April 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    For legalese, it is pretty clear cut, Mitch. Both sides are, of course, trying to spin it to their advantage but it’s clear that EPIC “won” on the most important issue – that Cal Trans’ EA was seriously flawed. Denial of sanctions is nothing.

  34. tra
    April 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Yeah I read the decision and I think it’s fair to say that EPIC had a better day than Caltrans.

    Of course, how significant a win it turns out to be will depend on what happens next.

    If Caltrans comes back with a revised EA, and the judge backs Caltrans’ claim of No Significant Impact (meaning a full EIS is not required) that will be a big win for Caltrans.

    But if the judge finds that there will be a significant impact, and therefore Caltrans has to go back and prepare a full EIS, that will be a major setback for Caltrans.

  35. Bolithio
    April 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    PJ, the most important issue is if the project, as proposed, has the potential to cause significant harm to the environment.

  36. tra
    April 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Which depends on (a) what is judged to be the likely impact, and (b) what counts as “significant.”

  37. Bolithio
    April 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Significant Adverse Impact on the Environment means a substantial, or potentially substantial, adverse change in any of the physical conditions within the area affected by the project including land, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, ambient noise, and objects of historic or aesthetic significance. An economic or social change by itself shall not be considered a significant effect on the environment. A social or economic change related to a physical change may be considered in determining whether the physical change is significant.

    So in the case of Old Growth Redwood trees, do road construction activities near or within their root zones have the potential to harm the individual tree? That is the question. So for all trees larger than 30″DBH (Caltrans very conservative def. of OG for this project); will activities potentially harm them? If they do potentially effect them, can they be reasonably mitigated?

    In the work order, they require the use of an air spade for excavations within the root zones of these trees and limit the cutting of roots to 2″ in diameter. These practices have been considered safe for redwood trees and are standard practice throughout our region. Caltrans, State & National Parks, and the County are routinely working along the Avenue of the Giants, HWY 101 and Sate & National Parks repairing roads, replacing culverts, and so on. No old growth trees have died as result. If you question that, find a dead OG redwood?! When they originally constructed the road through Richardson Grove, do you think they used an air spade or restricted the cutting of roots!!? No, and those trees are 100% fine.

  38. tra
    April 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    So significant is defined as “substantial.” That still requires essentially the same judgement call.

  39. April 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Either way, actually, everyone’s a loser.

  40. Dave Kirby
    April 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I just want someone to tell us exactly how this project is any different from the original opening of old 101. There are big trees inches from the road that have endured. Epic has been thrashing around since Maxxam curled up and scooted back to Texas. You have to wonder what Texas is all about. They have elected two governors whose total I.Q. was dull normal. Anyway the last two folks who approached me with Save Richardson Grove propaganda were not local and and did not know what they were talking about. This action has to be one the doppier events we’ve seen lately.

  41. Big picture
    April 5, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Significant Adverse Impact on the Environment means a substantial, or potentially substantial, adverse change in any of the physical conditions within the area affected by the project including land, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, ambient noise, and objects of historic or aesthetic significance. An economic or social change by itself shall not be considered a significant effect on the environment. A social or economic change related to a physical change may be considered in determining whether the physical change is significant.

    Do not overlook the wider adverse changes in the physical conditions within the area affected by the project. That area is not limited to the location of the road work. The area includes the entire 101 corridor in Humboldt County.

    The number of large tucks would increase on 101. Not just through RG. They would be on main streets and bridges. Increased noise, wear on infrastructure, pollution, danger to pedestrians and more deadly accidents are substantial adverse changes that would accompany this project.

  42. 713
    April 6, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Actually the number of trucks will probably decrease since each truck will be able to haul more per load.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Dave. Please define ¨doppier¨

    Dave Kirby 801 ¨This action has to be one the doppier events we’ve seen lately.¨

  44. Bolithio
    April 6, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I just want someone to tell us exactly how this project is any different from the original opening of old 101.

    1) No Old Growth cut down.

    2) No mechanical excavation in the root zone of OG; i.e. the use of an air spade

    3) The careful cutting of small roots, and NO cutting of large roots. They used to just push and break them off.

  45. anonymous
    April 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Bolithio still needs to read the decision by Judge Alsup to understand that he keeps repeating Caltrans propaganda that the judge just said is not backed up by their faulty environmental report. For instance, the whole thing about only cutting roots smaller than two inches is just a smoke screen, as Caltrans has admitted publicly and before the court that they cannot really promise that they will stick with that commitment. But Bolithio prefers to keep repeating the propaganda, even as the judge has totally debunked it.

    As well, maps are the basis of all natural resource management, and the judge just let the world know that the maps that Caltrans did are bunk. But Bolithio, the trolling “science” expert, apparently doesn’t think that accurate maps are necessary to evaluate potential impact of a highway development project. Is that his approach to silviculture as well?

    If Caltrans can’t map the place accurately how can anyone trust they will do anything correctly? Or is it really that maps and mapping aren’t important in natural resource management?

  46. Big picture
    April 6, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Actually the number of trucks will probably decrease since each truck will be able to haul more per load.

    Actually, the weight limit is usually exceeded before the truck is full. If all the trucks are going to the same place then maybe this would be a valid point. But the trucks go to many businesses, most of them outside Humboldt County. Unless businesses start doubling up on their truck use, they will need the same number of shipments.

    Understand that trucks would not come to Humboldt, offload, turn around and go back. Highway 101 would become a thoroughfare and many more trucks would just be passing through.

  47. Bolithio
    April 6, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Highway 101 would become a thoroughfare

    A thoroughfare to where?

  48. Bert
    April 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Bolithio, it would become a thoroughfare to major Oregon cities (and Washington even). For some bay area companies, it makes more sense to go straight up 101 instead of I-5.

    There are many county reps from various Oregon counties who are keeping a close eye on this project.

  49. Bolithio
    April 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Bert, have you even every driven the 101 beyond eureka? There are probably a dozen tight turns – that could never be fixed before you even get to the OR border!

  50. Anonymous
    April 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Bolithio, you’re a real shitstain. How many clearcuts you going to prescribe this year?

    You turd sucking motherfucker, “significant damage”…real winner you are. Go fuck yourself then die, sellout. ANY damage to that grove for the sake of mere freeway is significant, in fact the very idea that “our” modern, socially and environmentally aware department of transportation, supposedly intent on the better of everybody’s future, would even begin to consider this project…let alone have the audacity to call it an “improvement”…is a VERY significant FAILURE. It demonstrates how significantly damaged “our” system is. Any way you look at it, the project is 100% FAIL. When it takes less than half a million dollars to run school busses for years, and when it takes less than that for post offices, and libraries and etc. public services, and caltrans and the dept of trans. want to take over twenty times that kind of money for a mile long strip of unecessary freeway, it is a disgusting misappropriation of funds in addition to their complete lack of environmental integrity.

    Caltrans should be ashamed and embarrassed at their mere proposal of this intentionally misnomered “improvement”.

  51. What Now
    April 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Anonymous says:
    April 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    “When it takes less than half a million dollars to run school busses for years, and when it takes less than that for post offices, and libraries and etc. public services, and caltrans and the dept of trans. want to take over twenty times that kind of money for a mile long strip of unecessary freeway, it is a disgusting misappropriation of funds in addition to their complete lack of environmental integrity.”

    Well said.

  52. RefFan
    April 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Anon 12:28 is completely off his/her meds. Plz get him/her to the pharmacy to get a refill.

  53. Bolithio
    April 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Go fuck yourself then die

    LOL At least I get a orgasm for my last meal.

  54. Anonymous
    April 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Bolithio, you get paid for clearcutting. Your views are like those of a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan vying for stake in determining the rights of african americans.

  55. Bolithio
    April 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Heraldo, really? Your running a tight ship around here!

  56. Anonymous
    April 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    What do you get paid, Bolithio? How many clearcuts this year?

  57. Dave Kirby
    April 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Judge Alsup needs to get his judicial ass up here and look at what he is ruling on. Another dopey politico weighing in on something he knows nothing about. Redwoods are perhaps the most resilient flora in the world. It pisses me off that an effective environmental like EPIC is in a dog and pony show .

  58. William Verick
    April 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    It’s so strange. The people who don’t like the ruling say it went their way. The people who lost say they won. WTF?

    It looks to me like the “without prejudice” part means that, “we’re not even going to discuss all of EPIC’s other arguments until CalTrans fixes its most obvious screw ups.” Once Caltrans decides how to fix that and does so, then we get back to the rest of the case, which isn’t necessarily all that great for Caltrans either.

    Sounds like a resounding Caltrans victory to me.

  59. Eurekite
    April 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Please note a bigger revelation regarding the maps: CalTrans put out bullshit maps intentionally. Why would they do this? One reason you might speculate is laziness in the hopes that they could ram the project through and save a little time on the tree measuring, etc. That said, CalTrans is not a stupid or incompetent agency, akin to the Eureka City Council or something. CalTrans could just as easily have conducted a proper evaluation – I’d bet they actually did.

    When CalTrans did a proper evaluation they saw a problem so they fudged it. If the Judge orders them to go back and do it right the results are likely to not be in their favor. Avoiding a proper map is likely a strategy for CalTrans rather than a bumbling error.

    This is a big win for those of us who don’t see any public benefit to this project.

  60. Big picture
    April 7, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Bolithio asked: A thoroughfare to where?

    Ask CalTrans. They are the ones claiming that the project is necessary. They are the ones who should have to justify it. Is it really necessary to spend Millions of dollars if there will, as Bolithio claims, be so few STAA trucks using 101?

    Here is what CalTrans says about 101. Sounds like they consider it the most important thoroughfare:

    US Route 101 is the North Coast’s most important transportation corridor.
    This project will remove the last restriction that prohibits these trucks on Route 101 in Northern California.

    Bolithio claims: There are probably a dozen tight turns – that could never be fixed before you even get to the OR border!

    This CalTrans notice refutes that:

    NEW STAA DESIGNATION ON ROUTE 101: Eureka may now be accessed by STAA vehicles travelling SOUTHBOUND from the Oregon border. STAA vehicles may continue on 101 south of Crescent City to the vicinity of Benbow Dr. in southern Humboldt County.

  61. Misty
    April 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Great article, the Times-Sub Standard has not printed, as far as I can see. The Times only likes to print the lies of Caltrans, via Donna Tam, or so it seems. This is a huge step forward, as Judge William Alsup actually did his homework, unlike some other Judges who rule without reading the facts. Take that Supreme Court Judge who didn’t think he needs to read the Health Care Plan before ruling. OMG.

    When Caltrans finally tells the truth, the people will finally understand this is not some little nip and tuck proposed plan. This proposed plan would cause harm that can not be repaired. Northern Spotted Owls nest in old growth and what people don’t realize is most of Richardson Grove is 2nd growth except this area where Caltrans wants to log and cut roots, and they have admitted they will not know how large the roots are until they started cutting.

    Do you think Caltrans is going to say, OMG a root larger than 2 inches;;;;;stop the project;;;;shut it down;;;??? That would be a resounding NO. Their maps are not accurate, because they are trying to lie to the public. This is no mistake, in my opinion. Lies Lies Lies!!!

    Many places along 101 from Eureka to the Oregon boarder are impossible to widen for these larger STAA trucks, that will only do damage to our highways and increase congestion. More jobs would be lost in smaller trucking firms, and I suppose their jobs are not important to the pushers of this. More trucks would come through as there is a chain requirement on I-5 *** See Redwood Times opinion from a trucker.

    The lies that this proposed project by Caltrans would save businesses money, will not save consumers money. We already pay for off-loading at the cash register. Nothing will trickle down. Gas prices go up and costs go up. Gas prices go down, and prices do not go back down.

    This proposed project should be stopped entirely, and the money used for fixing landslides that will continue, and keeping 101 open by fixing roads already damaged. Hopefully, Governor Brown will pull back the state money and the Feds will resend the Federal money to their ill conceived plan to put STAA Trucks everywhere, despite the damage it would cause.

  62. Anonymous
    April 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    The arguement the judge puts forward is questionable at best. By ruling that one mismeasured and one missed tree out of 1700 surveyed rises to the level of ” arbitrary and capricious” is a serious stretch.

    Under the law, the Judge must defer to the agency when it comes to scientific findings. In this case, Caltrans found that the proposed work poses no threat to the trees. This arguement is supported by experts including those hired by The Save the Redwoods League and one of the two experts the plantifs cited in their arguement against the project giving the position added credibility.

    Given that the work will not impact the trees regardless of how big they are, the minor survey errors should have been deemed irrelevant technical data not affecting the overall project impact and thus ignored as the law requires.

    The mental gymnastics required to reach this conclusion are clearly a bet by the judge that Caltrans will decide it is easier to comply than appeal his flimsy ruling thus establishing some nasty case law. Decisions like this undermine the credibility environmental process.

  63. Anonymous
    April 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    12:07, under the law…as you say…Los Angeles exists. Under the law, just about every body of water in the nation is too toxic to drink. You have successfully argued against yourself. The project is just another demonstration that the system is run by those who have the most money….environment be damned.

  64. Misty
    April 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    To Anonymous April 9 at 12:07 p.m.
    You must be Caltrans and nobody in favor of pushing this project through Richardson Grove was even at the Federal Court Proceeding in San Francisco on February 23, or you would know there are many mistakes in the EIR and the maps are wrong in many respects. Caltrans is lying in the press to you and you believe them. It is not one tree, there are many trees not measured and others left out of the EIR entirely. The Arborist did not do anything but have a picnic and Sillett is a sell out; see Bohemian Grove and Steven Sillett. They are all in bed, and that is why Sillet changed his tune rather than loose funding for his Chair at HSU.

    Cutting the roots of 23 ancient redwoods is not sound science, and this EIR (if you had bothered to read it in Draft or the Final is one page after the next of contradictions, the trees were not all listed and some were two feet off in measurements, so this small sampling, like the small sampling of Native American artifacts that dates back to 3,500 years found in the proposed site are samplings to show if there are mistakes in small samplings there are going to be major issues brought to light. The public needs to know the truth to make an educated assessment.

    Don’t you get tired of lying to the public? You are probably using the local judges vacation home; you are all corrupt and thank God for Judge Alsup who actually does his homework. We don’t need a kijillian STAA trucks ruining our roads, and clogging Eureka, and STAA are not more important than Historical Richardson Grove.

    Past flood have done damage. The freeway of 1967-1968 did a lot of damage. When will large ever be large enough. Who would benefit? Who would not get any discount at the cash register. This is more for BIG BUSINESS…the 1%, and to hell with the rest of the people or the environment. Is that what you are saying behind you endless lies. Is your Cider business to profit? How about your poison lilies that are causing pesticides to harm your workers and destroy our underground water systems, and to destroy the Smith River with pesticides. Get a grip and start coming to the courts or at lease read the EIR already, rather than spouting off lie after lie. This is a terrible idea and it will harm Richardson Grove and its precious eco system.

    Let me leave with a quote from John Muir: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

    The old growth need the other surrounding trees as their roots all inter-twine to survive. These late storms and strong winds would have taken down some old growth if this plan had not been stopped.

    Now off to save the Smith River from the pesticides from Sun Valley and other Lily farmers destroying our only undamed river and our local underground water systems.

  65. Labtech
    April 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Misty, why don’t you share with us exactly what it is that you do for a living.

  66. Misty
    April 9, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Labtech at 8:53
    What does what I do for a living have to do with the tea in China?

    What do you do for a living Labtech??? Perhaps you own one of the businesses pushing for your bottom line so you can move to Humboldt County and then exploit it, or perhaps you are a Financial Advisor for some people pushing this project, perhaps you are the “better half” to the Project Manager, or owner of O&M, or maybe you pick up prostitutes and work to manage Eureka Natural Foods. Yes, pray tell. You tell me first and then I will tell you what I have done for the past 45 years and what I do now, all the while paying taxes and working for a very modest income. I have no financial investment in this project either way, do you?

  67. April 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Great points Misty! Thank you. Thank Goddess for Grovies! ;)

  68. Anonymous
    April 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Labtech, since you brought it up and think it is important to disclose place of employment, please tell us where you work. Are you really a lab tech? Which lab? Tell us so we can avoid uing that lab.

  69. Anonymous
    April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    correction: so we can avoid using that lab.

    Good letter to TS yesterday about the ruling. http://www.times-standard.com/letters/ci_20362239/resounding-win-richardson-case

  70. Bunny
    April 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I love redwood trees. I’m lucky to have them. I’ve tried to thin them and keep my view but they grow back quickly and strong. Too quickly. Please Judge, please drive down the Ave. of the Giants. I am on that road almost every day. Look at those trees. They thrive. Thirty years and they thrive. That’s one thing. The other is EPIC, I have watched and been sad by their untruths and their attempt to raise money. I’m sure they did very well scaring people. Tell it like it is…it’s about big trucks.

  71. too little
    April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    EPIC is making a mistake by making the main issue the trees. I’m not saying the trees won’t be hurt by cutting roots, I’m saying there are bigger problems with opening 101 to more big trucks. They don’t even mention all the other problems that will be caused. Gluing themselves to the tree issue and ignoring the other issues is a weak case in the public mind.

    If they are pressing the other issues, I’d like to know about it. ???

  72. UC Chre in Ukiah
    April 12, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Resounding win in Richardson Grove case
    Letters to the Editortimes-standard dot com
    Posted: 04/10/2012 01:59:54 AM PDT

    On April 4, Judge William Alsup unambiguously rebuked Caltrans for failing to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of its proposed project through Richardson Grove. He found that Caltrans’ analysis was “based off of false data,” and thus its results “so implausible that they could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise.” Accordingly, he ordered Caltrans to “correct the data inaccuracies … and assess the impacts of the project through the lens of a corrected analysis.” In doing so, he specifically ordered Caltrans to “set forth the environmental issues to each one” the 79 old-growth redwoods in the project’s path. He further warned, “Caltrans should give serious consideration to the other significant arguments made by plaintiffs in their motion.”

    Thus, the Times-Standard’s April 5, 2012, minimization of the order’s impact, characterizing it as merely requiring Caltrans to “redo Richardson Grove maps,” is disturbingly inaccurate and misleading. As Judge Alsup acknowledged, the National Environmental Policy Act’s “mandatory in-depth analysis forces agencies to truly consider the impact of their plans.” This was precisely what I and the other members of Congress who drafted NEPA in 1970 intended, and this is precisely what Judge Alsup has now ordered Caltrans to do. To characterize this as anything other than a resounding victory for the plaintiffs, the public, the environment, and the rule of law is simply wrong.

    Paul N. McCloskey Jr.

    Yes; great letter…

  73. heebiejeebies
    April 16, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Just like to also point out there are so many exemptions through the grove right now, that 53 AND LONGER trailers and full tractors have been traveling through the grove, safely for years. Without pilot cars even!

    But you all know that already right?

  74. Snorlax.the.wise
    April 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Just like to also point out there are so many exemptions through the grove right now, that 53 AND LONGER trailers and full tractors have been traveling through the grove, safely for years. Without pilot cars even!

    But you all know that already right?

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