Richardson Grove redwoods threatened by highway widening
Photo: Suzie Bulger Silverman
A coalition of conservation groups and northern California residents is seeking to stop Caltrans from realigning Highway 101 and doing irreparable damage to the old-growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park. If you have ever camped or hiked in Richardson Grove State Park or just driven on the amazing two-lane section of 101 as it wends its way between massive redwood trunks lining the road, you understand why 101 is called the "Redwood Highway."
Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration have approved a project that would slice through the root systems of these ancient trees and erect a 300-foot-long retaining wall, all in the name of bringing huge commercial trucks to the remote North Coast. Well-connected developers want those bigger trucks on the roads. Yet this highway-widening project threatens both the biological integrity and the iconic character of Richardson Grove—a state park that for years many people have taken for granted as protected from degradation.
While Caltrans' claim of not removing any old growth trees is true, the damage to the Park would be immense according to Joe McBride, professor of forestry and landscape architecture at UC Berkeley. "Substantial, irreparable damage would occur to the trees in the project area. This would, in turn, cause negative impacts to the overall health of the forest," said McBride.
"This project will cause major damage to one of our most prized state parks," said Gary Hughes of the Environmental Protection Information Center, one of the plaintiff groups and spokesman for the coalition.
"With less than 3 percent of our ancient redwood trees remaining, we cannot allow Caltrans to injure and kill the precious giant trees of Richardson Grove State Park," said Peter Galvin, conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The suit is being brought by individuals, the Environmental Protection Information Center, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, and the Center for Biological Diversity. In May, the plaintiffs filed an injunction motion seeking a halt to the project until the lawsuit is heard. The motion will be considered in San Francisco on June 30.