Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , , ,

How a California state forest became a battleground for logging redwoods on public land

Ashley Harrell, SFGATE

A century-old redwood — California’s most revered tree — lies dead on the forest floor.

Its trunk has been sawed into two large sections, a message scrawled on its stump in red marker: “STOP.” Beneath, the stump’s diameter is recorded: 55 inches, about the height of a 10-year-old child. Lower still, in smaller letters, another message: “This is not fire prevention.”

Surrounding this tree are other redwoods that have been felled or girdled, meaning large swaths of their bark have been carved away from their trunks. More redwoods are marked blue — they too are slated for a timber harvest. Dead foliage and piles of branches abound.

The wounded and dead trees look like casualties left behind on a battlefield. And in a way, that’s what they are.

Welcome to Jackson Demonstration State Forest, a 48,652-acre forest managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Although it’s little-known outside the coastal Northern California county of Mendocino, Jackson has become ground zero in an escalating war over the management of redwoods on public land, with catastrophic wildfires and global climate change necessitating urgency and raising the stakes.


Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Land UseTags , , , , ,

Dakota access pipeline: court strikes down permits in victory for Standing Rock Sioux

Nina Lakhani, THE GUARDIAN

Army corps of engineers ordered to conduct full environmental review, which could take years.

The future of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline has been thrown into question after a federal court on Wednesday struck down its permits and ordered a comprehensive environmental review.

The US Army Corps of Engineers was ordered to conduct a full environmental impact statement (EIS), after the Washington DC court ruled hat existing permits violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The ruling is a huge victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota, which rallied support from across the world and sued the US government in a campaign to stop the environmentally risky pipeline being built on tribal lands.

“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” said the tribal chairman, Mike Faith. “It’s humbling to see how actions we took to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet.”

In December 2016, the Obama administration denied permits for the pipeline to cross the Missouri river and ordered a full EIS to analyze alternative routes and the impact on the tribe’s treaty rights.

In his first week in office, Donald Trump signed an executive order to expedite construction. Construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline was completed in June 2017.

The tribe challenged the permits – and won. As a result, the corps was ordered to redo its environmental analysis, which it did without taking into consideration tribal concerns or expert analysis.


Posted on Categories Land UseTags , ,

Lytton Pomo tribe secures Windsor reservation, begins work on development


A sprawling, wooded tract of land west of Windsor is now the fifth tribal reservation in Sonoma County, fulfilling the long-sought goal of the Lytton Rancheria to build homes for its members, along with a resort and winery, on land officially held in trust by the federal government.

An act of Congress adopted with scant notice last month granted the Pomo tribe a 511-acre reservation, where it has long outlined a planned development with county officials, along with millions of dollars in payments to the county, Windsor schools and firefighters.

It also righted a wrong done nearly 60 years ago when the Lytton Rancheria was “unjustly and unlawfully” terminated by the federal government, dispossessed of its land and “any means of supporting itself,” according to the measure sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. Tucked into a 3,448-page defense spending bill, it was approved by 90 percent of the House of Representatives and Senate and signed in December by President Donald Trump.

“Congress needs to take action to reverse historic injustices that befell the tribe and that have prevented it from regaining a viable homeland for its people,” the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2019 said.

Margie Mejia, chairwoman of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, said the 300-member tribe has waited for decades to once again live on its own land.


Posted on Categories Land UseTags ,

Legislation creating Lytton tribal homeland near Windsor clears big hurdle

Legislation to create a tribal homeland next to Windsor for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians has cleared a significant hurdle, gaining approval in the U.S. House of Representatives last week and moving on to the Senate.
Known as the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act, the bill would create reservation lands totaling more than 500 acres adjoining and southwest of Windsor, enabling the Lyttons to go ahead with a tribal housing project and pursue plans for a resort hotel and large winery.
“It’s a big step for the tribe,” said Lytton attorney and spokesman Larry Stidham, who noted it cleared the Committee on Natural Resources and passed without opposition on a routine floor vote.
But Windsor residents opposed to the Bill — H.R. 597 — said they were not permitted to testify against it and vowed to fight on.
“It’s far from over,” said Eric Wee, a founder of Citizens for Windsor, which adamantly opposes the Lytton project. “We are hoping our senators look at this and take in the strong opposition against this.”
Wee said his group has collected nearly 3,500 signatures in opposition to the Lyttons’ plans.The bill moves to the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee to consider for a hearing.
Read more at: Legislation creating Lytton tribal homeland near Windsor clears big hurdle | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , ,

Dry Creek Rancheria seeks to restore Russian River tributary for fish, water supply

Tucked away among rolling green hills off the road leading up to the River Rock Casino near Geyserville, a once-beleaguered creek is springing back to life.
Situated at the bottom of a slope ravaged by a landslide in the 1980s, part of the creek bed and its immediate surroundings were for years covered with asphalt and used for parking. Now, with recently planted shrubs and trees taking root, the area is a testament of what could be in store for the entire mile-and-a-half-long waterway running through the Dry Creek Rancheria and into the Russian River.
The Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians has already begun restoring one segment of the creek and applied for about $3.5 million in state grant funding to extend its work to the rest of the unnamed tributary to the Russian River. The tribe hopes to make the creek more hospitable to steelhead trout, a threatened species, while improving the health of the Russian River watershed and fortifying the water supply.
“Of course it’s important for us to be good stewards of this land,” said David Delira, the tribe’s public works manager. “Our stumbling block has always been funding.”
The tribe’s creek restoration dovetails with another project, on Dry Creek, where the tribe has been involved with efforts led by the Sonoma County Water Agency to restore a six-mile stretch of fish habitat, a multimillion dollar bid to ease effects tied to dam development and other human-caused harm to Russian River salmon and steelhead.
Read more at: Dry Creek Rancheria seeks to restore Russian River tributary for fish, water supply | The Press Democrat

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Huffman adds new barriers to casino in Lytton bill

A congressional bill that provides protection against the prospect of another Indian casino in Sonoma County could be on its way to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, after its author expanded the prohibition on gaming.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said Friday that his bill creating a homeland for the Lytton Pomo tribe adjacent to Windsor would provide “bulletproof” protection against gaming, if it passes.
He said it not only mirrors Sonoma County’s agreement with the tribe not to build a casino anywhere in the county for 22 years, but includes an additional permanent prohibition against gaming north of Highway 12, or essentially from Santa Rosa to the Mendocino County line.
Huffman’s bill, supported by the tribe and county officials, won unanimous approval last week from the House Natural Resources Committee, the step before a possible vote by the full House of Representatives.
Read more at: Huffman adds new barriers to casino in Lytton | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Forests, Land UseTags , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County seeks assurances from Pomo regarding timber

Sonoma County seeks assurances from Pomo regarding timber

The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians wants to expand its remote rancheria, and although Sonoma County officials are supportive, they want greater assurance to be able to weigh in on any timber harvest plans for the tribe’s newly acquired property.
The Kashia Pomos two years ago bought 480 forested acres next to their Stewarts Point Rancheria, about 30 miles north of Bodega Bay, with plans to preserve their cultural and spiritual sites and use the land for tribal gatherings.
“We don’t have a lot of really big, long-term plans for it,” Tribal Chairman Reno Franklin said Friday, adding that the tribe dismissed any possibility of a casino or commercial development due to the remote location.
Nor is the tribe’s intent to commercially harvest marijuana, as some tribes are pursuing.
“We take any drug use really seriously and don’t want to perpetuate it into the community,” he said. “We will not be entertaining, or considering in any way, marijuana cultivation on that land.”
The only intent, he said, is to “sustainably harvest timber.”
Because the 860-member tribe has applied to have its new property placed into federal trust — which would remove it from county jurisdiction and local land use and zoning guidelines — county officials want to see more analysis of foreseeable environmental impacts, in particular logging.
Read more via Sonoma County seeks assurances from Pomo regarding timber | The Press Democrat.