In Stop Willits Bypass, Will Parrish on May 3, 2013 at 7:00 am
From WILL PARRISH
On May 7th, Caltrans goes hat-in-hand to the California Transportation Commission (CTC), which allocates funding for California transportation infrastructure projects, to request $30.986 million for the wetlands and riparian areas “mitigation” plans that I describe in the adjoining story. The CTC’s 11 esteemed board members, most of them members of California’s elite business circles with financial stakes in the real estate, construction, and transportation industries, are convening in Los Angeles to deliberate on 166 agenda items over the course of four hours.
Although one of the conditions of CalTrans’ Clean Water Act permit with the Army Corps of Engineers for the Willits Bypass is that it cannot begin construction before securing all mitigation funding, the Army Corps granted Big Orange an exemption to that condition. So that CalTrans could begin destroying trees and vegetation starting in February, the Army Corps merely required that CalTrans provide them a written “assurance” that the CTC would vote in its favor next Tuesday.
Whatever form the assurance took, it was probably superfluous. The CTC’s clearly established record is to rubber-stamp everything that comes before it, excepting rare instances where influential officials intervene in advance of the meetings.
In Stop Willits Bypass, Will Parrish on May 3, 2013 at 6:59 am
From WILL PARRISH
In Little Lake Valley, aka the Willits Valley, CalTrans is preparing to destroy the largest area of wetlands as part of any Northern California construction project since at least 1977. That was the year the US Congress amended the Clean Water Act to require the US Army Corps of Engineers to enforce a “no net loss of wetlands” policy.
Big Orange’s spokespeople claim their plan to “mitigate” the damage from the process of draining, filling in, and paving over nearly 90 acres of wetlands more than compensates for the loss. The agency’s propagandists have even claimed, for example, that their new six-mile freeway would be “good for the fish.”
“This is definitely not our grandfather’s way of constructing a highway,” reads an exemplary post on the Willits Bypass Project web site, set up last month in an attempt to stem the tide of criticism the project has been receiving. “Learning more about the sustainable approach and care that has gone into the Willits Bypass Project offers special insight into Caltrans’ application of contemporary and world-class engineering practices.”
The statement does contain a kernel of truth. Learning more about Caltrans’ approach to “mitigating” the damage wrought by the Willits Bypass does, indeed, offer special insight into the agency’s practices. More…
In Stop Willits Bypass, Will Parrish on March 29, 2013 at 5:50 am
From WILL PARRISH
Save Little Lake Valley
[Press Conference Today, Friday 3/29/13, 10AM Across From Warbler’s Tree. Save Our Little Lake Valley and Little Lake Valley Defenders are pleased to announce a press conference at 10 a.m. across from The Warbler’s tree at mile marker 43.74. Please join us! This is a communal celebration of The Warbler’s two-month anniversary in the tree. The Warbler will have a major announcement at the press conference. We invite all media to attend.]
Since Thursday, CalTrans’ destruction along the southern portion of the proposed Willits Bypass route has been unrelenting. The roughly 1.5-mile long and 200 foot wide swath where Big Orange’s contractors’ have been sawing, excavating, and chipping is bracketed by The Warbler’s tree on the south and a newer tree sit in a pine grove roughly 1.5 miles away. More…
In Around Mendo Island, Stop Willits Bypass on March 28, 2013 at 6:07 am
From JULIA FRECH
[Losing our vote is the only threat that matters to an elected official... -DS]
Between 10:30 and 12:30, 30 people got up and spoke against sending a letter of support to Caltrans to continue construction on the Willits Bypass. After a break, 30 more people spoke up, making citizen dissent for the current construction unanimous. In some cases they were emotional about losing their valley and business, reminding the supervisors of their mission statement and the precautionary principle. Other testimonials brought up scientific studies, supporting evidence, and historical precedent. Some implored the supervisors to provide leadership in a world that is different than the one in which the Bypass plan was made 40 years ago, and to represent their constituents in Mendocino County. Every case was compelling, and together, the evidence was overwhelming: there is a better way to solve Willits traffic congestion, and support is overwhelming and growing.
After another break, Jared Huffman made a report on current items of interest to Mendocino County. Among them were the health of salmon fisheries and watersheds, the importance of reducing government spending on wasteful projects, and of the importance of reducing CO2 emissions and halting climate change. The supervisors agreed with him on these issues, making their forthcoming final statements and vote (on the bypass) conflict not just with their constituents, but to their stated concerns about government and the environment.