Published on February 19th, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance


CalTrans Wants to Harm Old Growth Redwoods at Richardson Grove

If you have ever had the pleasure of driving up 101 in southern Humboldt County, California, you’ve driven through Richardson Grove.  This infamous stand of ancient redwoods is one of the few remaining on the west coast.  According to California State Parks:

Established in 1922 and named after Friend W. Richardson, the 25th governor of California, the park is bisected by Hwy. 101 and the south fork of the Eel River…

Richardson Grove State Park is where you first encounter significant old growth redwood forest when coming north. The 9th tallest coast redwood, a fallen tree ring study conducted in 1933, and a walk-through tree are immediately available.

Photo by Don Fulano
CalTrans wants to widen 101 through Richardson's Grove

CalTrans wants to widen 101 through Richardson's Grove

Now the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) wants to log this amazing stand of trees in order to widen highway 101 for commercial truck traffic.  Just this week I traveled through this part of the highway and passed double trailer semis. Sure you need to slow down through this stretch of ancient redwoods, but do they really need to be cut down these trees when so few remain?  Save Richardson Grove explains:

Those who stand to gain want you to believe that this project will be good for the local economy and harmless to this irreplaceable ancient redwood grove. While their claims of not removing any old growth trees are true, CalTrans proposes to cut the roots of 30 old growth trees and remove 87 other trees that surround the old growth trees, and to erect a 300 foot long retaining wall. These acts will have a huge impact on the unique ambiance of the grove and it’s endangered wildlife.

CalTrans presents a different story:

Industry standard-sized trucks conforming to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) are currently prohibited from traveling Route 101 north of Leggett due to the narrow alignment at Richardson Grove. This location is one of the few remaining areas of the state in which these trucks are not permitted. As STAA trucks have become the national standard, communities with routes unable to provide STAA access are at an economic disadvantage. Truck cargo must be unloaded and transferred to shorter trucks, making goods movement more expensive.

Those who live in Humboldt County have long accepted the fact that they will pay more for gasoline and other products due to access issues of the region. The residents have also fought hard to avoid large retail chains, such as Wal-Mart, from entering the area. There are alternatives to harming some of the few remaining ancient redwoods for the sake of “economic development”:

Short sea shipping could carry the same goods in and out of Humboldt County. Many new jobs would be created….

Abandon plans to bring big box stores to Humboldt County. The era of mass consumption is over.

Support local businesses. Buy locally produced food and manufactured products.

Build a strong economy on what we have – redwoods, fisheries, human resources focused on bringing about new technologies.

We don’t need to make 101 into I-5.   We don’t need big box stores in every town on the California coast. We don’t need a faster highway.  What we need is to preserve the few remaining ancient redwood trees, to slow down and admire their beauty.  We don’t need to disturb ancient redwood roots, and we don’t need to harm endangered marbled murrelet habitat.

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