Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Wildlife in California Redwood Forest
For Immediate Release
Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 986-2600, email@example.com
Charles Ivor, Friends of Gualala River, (707) 337-0147, firstname.lastname@example.org
GUALALA, Calif.— Conservation groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and a timber company for failing to protect threatened and endangered fish, birds and frogs from a redwood logging project near northern California’s Gualala River.
Today’s notice from the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of Gualala River argues the state and the Gualala Redwood Timber Company have violated the Endangered Species Act by illegally harming Northern California steelhead, Central California Coast coho salmon, California red-legged frogs, marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls.
“The state is abdicating its responsibility to save these imperiled animals and some of California’s most spectacular redwoods,” said Peter Galvin, cofounder of the Center. “Logging has devastated this region and too many species are hanging on by a thread. We’re in an extinction crisis and we need to protect our wildlife now more than ever.”
The Gualala River ecosystem suffers from decades of abuse, including previous logging projects by the timber company. The proposed logging site, on 300 acres in Sonoma County, contains some of the last remaining mature floodplain redwood forest in the area.
“Friends of Gualala River is proud to partner with the acclaimed Center for Biological Diversity in this important action to stem the losses of our most endangered species and turn the path of our river towards recovery,” said Charles Ivor, president of Friends of Gualala River.
Devastation from logging in the region is well documented and this new logging project will further harm the five species already nearing extinction. The Endangered Species Act prohibits “taking” of these animals, including actions that “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect” endangered species.
The 2016 federal recovery plan for Northern California steelhead says logging is a primary contributor to the fishes’ dwindling numbers and the Gualala River is “essential” for its recovery. Likewise, the federal recovery plan for Central California Coast coho salmon lists logging as a major cause of habitat loss and degradation for the species.
The proposed logging project will use heavy equipment to remove redwoods and build logging roads and skid trails in the area. This will destroy the California red-legged frogs’ habitat and is likely to kill or injure frogs. The logging plan itself acknowledges the potential for logging activities to kill slow-moving animals.
Marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls rely on old forest stands with dense canopy cover, a habitat type that continues to decline due to commercial logging operations. In addition to reducing the habitat these birds need to survive, logging leads to increased predation of murrelets and increased competition for spotted owls.
The Center and Friends of Gualala River are represented by Gross and Klein LLP.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Friends of Gualala River is a local, citizen’s nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the Gualala River, its watershed, and the species that rely on it.
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Friends of Gualala River
P.O. Box 1543
Gualala, CA 95445
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Center for Bio-Diversity joins suit
From July 10, 2020 Independent Coast Observer
Reprinted by permission
© Copyright Independent Coast Observer, Inc.
Two weeks after the California appeals court enjoined Gualala Redwood Timber LLC from logging the proposed Dogwood timber harvest plan in the floodplain of the Gualala River, a federal lawsuit has been brought against the Dogwood logging plan as well.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Gualala River Wednesday filed a notice of intent to sue the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Gualala Redwood Timber for “illegal taking,” i.e., killing federally endangered species in the Gualala River.
That notice starts a 60-day clock ticking during which parties can negotiate. But Peter Galvin, founder and director of programs for the Center for Biological Diversity, said his organization does intend to file the lawsuit “61 days from today.”
It has been five years since Friends of the Gualala River began fighting the Dogwood plan, including two trips through Sonoma County Superior Court. The state action is still ongoing. When the appeals court issued the latest injunction, it set a schedule for hearing FoGR’s appeal of Judge Arthur Wick’s [decision] in favor of Gualala Redwood.
FoGR’s brief in the state level appeal is due Aug. 25, according to attorney Ed Yates. Cal Fire and Gualala Redwood would likely have to respond by October and Yates said that means no logging this winter.
Meanwhile Galvin said the federal case may be in trial by the time any decision is reached in state court.
When asked why the Center for Biological Diversity, which has projects around the world, decided to take on the Dogwood case, Galvin said, “FoGR has an excellent reputation in the environmental field. [emphasis added] It’s an iconic location in Northern California, a loved and beloved place.” In addition, he said, “The science is on our side. The ingredients all came together.”