EUREKA, Calif.— Conservation groups and Humboldt residents filed a legal challenge this week to a fourth attempt by Caltrans to approve the controversial Richardson Grove Project.
The project would realign portions of Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park to facilitate oversized commercial truck traffic, risking damage to a grove of ancient redwoods that are up to 3,000 years old. To realign the road, Caltrans proposes cutting and paving over roots of adjacent old-growth redwood trees.
The challenge was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, Friends of Del Norte, and several individual Humboldt residents with generational family ties to Richardson Grove.
“In its unrelenting pursuit of this unnecessary and fiscally foolish highway construction project, Caltrans has ignored its obligations to adequately evaluate the environmental impacts and is prepared to sacrifice the iconic Richardson Grove and desecrate our state park,” said Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We simply can’t and won’t let this beloved remnant of primeval forest be damaged.”
“Caltrans has pulled the same play from the playbook: Deny obvious impacts and push ahead,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center. “We are stuck in a Groundhog Day nightmare where the agency refuses to take accountability for its sloppy work.”
“The fact that Caltrans refutes as ‘non informative’ new scientific research on the effects of paving over the roots of redwood trees demonstrates the callous nature of their dogged approach to completing this needless project,” said Don Gillespie of the Friends of Del Norte. “Richardson Grove deserves better.”
The recent Caltrans approval of the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act, a state law that requires public agencies to evaluate and disclose the environmental impacts of a project and