Hughes started off with a short Power Point presentation. He emphasized the need to keep our state parks open and operating. He said currently there is a $1.2 billion backlog of repairs need in our parks.
He also said, “Closing the parks will be more expensive in the long run. It will cost more to reopen them than will be saved if they are closed.”
According to EPIC’s website, “Three years after Caltrans began planning to widen Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park for giant trucks to deliver goods in and out of Humboldt County, EPIC and our allies filed a legal complaint in San Francisco Superior Court, challenging the plan. In addition to a legal strategy to protect the famed old-growth redwoods, EPIC and a coalition of community activists have organized a public campaign to underscore the growing movement forming to protect this stand of ancient trees.
Richardson Grove State Park marks the southern entrance to Humboldt County, and is considered to be the famous redwood curtain that has kept the county from becoming another exit along the superhighway of modern development. In 1922, concerns about “potential destruction of the trees by highway construction and logging” persuaded the state to protect the redwood grove. But now Caltrans is proposing to widen the highway through the Grove, resulting in removal of trees and destruction of old growth root systems.
Barbara Kennedy from the Save Richardson Grove movement spoke about the unnecessary need for larger trucks on Highway 101 in Northern California. She read a long statement reiterating the opposition’s standpoint on the project.
The Save Richardson Grove proponents say that those who stand to gain from the project want people to believe that this project will be good for the local economy and harmless to the redwood grove. Those against the project agree that Caltrans has said there are no plans to remove any old growth trees. However, they do propose to cut the roots of an undetermined number of trees and remove 87 other trees that surround old growth trees. A 300-foot-long retaining wall will also be built to shore up the roadside and plugged and failing culverts will be replaced. Proponents say these acts will have a huge impact on the grove and will threaten wildlife.
A local business owner and Rotarian commented that the need to improve the roadway through Richardson Grove is not only a safety issue, but also necessary to improve commerce and business. Hughes said he did not want to get into the safety aspect of the roadway through the grove as there is no way to determine whether or not there will be more or less accidents in the area.
One local business owner said she had recently returned from a trip down Highway 5 and was astounded by the number of large trucks and didn’t want Southern Humboldt to look like that.
Kennedy continued to stress that there is no need for these larger trucks to come up here to deliver to the big box stores. She said there was also great concern because these big trucks would be traveling our smaller city and county roads.
A handout distributed by Kennedy stated the following:
”All trucks must comply with the same air quality regulations. Almost all loads imported into the county are transported efficiently in smaller trucks, which accommodate the load weight efficiently. Larger, heavier trucks with a load that is at a weight capacity but still leaves the truck partly empty are therefore inefficient carriers of heavy loads. Smaller tractors (cabs) pulling longer trailers with large but relatively lighter loads are more efficient than employing larger, heavier truck assemblies.
”Before we spend six million dollars on this project let’s make sure it is really going to benefit all of Humboldt county rather than just a few. The facts do not indicate that most businesses in Humboldt County require STAA trucks. The results of an online survey conducted by the Humboldt County Economic Development Commission funded by a grant from the Headwaters Fund generated only 19 businesses that responded with dollar estimates of their transportation costs in all of Humboldt and Del Norte counties. This hardly justifies this project at a time of huge budget deficits.”
REDWOOD TIMES PHOTO BY SUSAN GARDNER
Environmental Protection Information Center’s Executive Director Gary Hughes, left, is shown here with acting Garberville Rotary President Bea Anderson, guest host Rotarian Herb Schwartz, and Richardson Grove activist Barbara Kennedy.