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Voters in two California counties were able to overcome the oil industry and pass fracking bans by wide margins. Measure J in San Benito County passed with 57% of the vote, and Measure S in Mendocino County passed with 67%.
Conservation groups notified the National Marine Fisheries Service of their intent to sue the agency for delaying Endangered Species Act protection for the pinto abalone, an approximately six-inch snail with an iridescent inner shell that was once common in rocky, intertidal coasts from Alaska to Baja California.
On September 23, Native American Tribal members, including direct descendants of the Pomo peoples who once populated the Little Lake Valley where Caltrans is currently building an oversized freeway, joined environmental groups in a protest on the north end of the Willits Bypass highway project. Protestors entered the construction zone north of town in the early morning hours, stopping the fast and furious flow of dirt-filled, double-belly dump trucks that have been working from dawn to dusk to cover the wetlands and archeological sites the activists seek to protect.
Elders and spiritual leaders from local Pomo Indian Bands and the American Indian Movement (AIM) lead the way to threatened cultural sites where prayers were offered for the ancestors. The AIM flag and drum were present near the construction area where Native American cultural artifacts have been discovered. The sites have been documented and fenced off by Caltrans, but are still slated to be destroyed by being permanently graded and buried under the Bypass as currently designed.
“I hear and feel our ancestors cry to save our villages from destruction. The white man’s history repeats itself. We pray that the Creator will hear our prayers”, said Priscilla Hunter, tribal representative for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. “Caltrans placated the interests of local ranchers by giving them permanent grazing rights on the mitigation lands and built the viaduct over the railroad track to preserve it, but yet they don’t listen to the Indians’ concerns for protection of our ancestors’ culture or to our call for downsizing the northern interchange to avoid a large village site.”
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Destruction of Little Lake Valley Wetlands Finally Halted After Many Permit Violations
Earth Firster Occupies Wick Drain Stitcher to Save Little Lake Valley from Willits Bypass
Tree-Sitters Removed as Opposition to CalTrans Bypass Project Grows
The National Marine Fisheries Service has released new data showing that the California-based drift gillnet fishery targeting swordfish killed an estimated 53 marine mammals from May 2013 through January 2014. Fishery observers monitored 34 percent of the drift gillnet sets made last year; they documented that the fishery killed an estimated three California gray whales, six short-finned pilot whales, nine northern right whale dolphins, nine California sea lions and 26 short-beaked common dolphins.
In a move that stunned but was welcomed by long-time opponents, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) suspended
the permit for the Caltrans Willits Bypass on Friday, June 20. ACE is the agency that regulates impacts on federally protected wetlands. This project has been highly contested, with Native American involvement and over 50 arrests last year.
“This appears to be the first time ACE has ever pulled a permit on an approved project under construction,” said Ellen Drell, co-founder of the Willits Environmental Center, one of the project’s opponents. ”We are surprised and elated that ACE has finally acted, although we have been pointing out the enormous problems with Caltrans’ plans for years."
Over 50 people were arrested last year in protests to stop Caltrans' construction and advocate for alternative plans. In addition to the issues of wetlands destruction, a long list of violations of the Migratory Bird Act, Clean Water Act, and numerous permit violations and other habitat threats, it has come to the attention of local Tribes that archaeological sites were buried with new fill without Tribal consultation, as required by law.
Read More | See Also: Ceremony to Protect Wetlands Brings Together Environmentalists, Indigenous People
Previous Coverage: Occupation of the Willits Bypass on Highway 101
| Action Camp to Defend Little Lake Valley Established
In a victory for ocean wildlife, federal fishery managers in Sacramento on March 13 decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected sea turtle habitat along the California coast because it would significantly raise the risk of capture and drowning of endangered whales, sea turtles and dolphins. But the Pacific Fishery Management Council failed to take direct action to remove driftnets from the California coast, though the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal petition on January 16 with the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect more critical habitat for the endangered Southern Resident population of orcas. If successful the proposal would extend Endangered Species Act protection to the whales’ winter foraging range off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. After several drastic declines, only 81 killer whales remain in the Southern Resident population.
On the morning of October 22nd
, supporters and members of some 50 families of those executed by California police will converge on Sacramento as part of the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. They will demand an end to police violence from California Attorney General Kamala Harris. They will demand proper investigations into their loved ones' deaths — not whitewashes performed by police investigating themselves and District Attorneys refusing to thoroughly investigate the police.
The event is being organized across multiple channels, including families of victims, The Stop Mass Incarceration Network
, and Anonymous. One of the key organizing groups is the Duenez family and supporters. Ernesto Duenez Jr. was gunned down on June 8, 2011, in Manteca, California, in what many have called a police execution. John Moody, who killed Duenez, was cleared of the shooting of Ernesto Duenez Jr. on December 13, 2012 by the county District Attorney, just a day before the police video of the incident was released to the public. And so, with essentially no check, police murders and assaults continue; the ranks of those killed are added to in the United States at an unparalleled pace.
After the rally In Sacramento, there will be another in Oakland at 2:30pm
at 73rd and International Blvd. and one at 4:30pm
at the Fruitvale BART Station. There will also be events held
in Fresno, Hayward, Redding, Los Angeles, San Diego, and other cities in California and across the United States.
Read More |
Oakland events |
October 22nd Coalition list of events
A plan by Warren Buffett’s PacifiCorp to apply chemicals to kill toxic blue-green algae on the Klamath River for the second year in a row has ignited opposition by North Coast Indian Tribes and river users. The Hoopa Valley Tribe and river users cite studies from 2012 that show killing the algae actually releases the algae toxin, microcystin, at a time of year when people are swimming, wading, rafting and fishing in the Klamath River.
Regina Chichizola, who represents the Tribe, said PacifiCorp did not give any notification of the chemical use to river users, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act and California law, nor did they initiate public comment. The Tribe said PacifiCorp should start planning for dam removal to deal with the toxic blue-green algae.
"Studies show that PacifiCorp’s reservoirs create one of the worst toxic algae problems in the world,” said Leonard Masten, chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “PacifiCorp has stated they want to remove their dams for economic reasons, and has collected ratepayer money to do it, yet they are stalling dam removal by falsely saying they need legislation. They expose our communities to toxins while they stall the very Clean Water Act processes that are necessary to plan for dam removal and regulate water pollution.”
On July 4th, about 100 people marched from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Glenn Dyer Alameda County Jail. Marchers were acting in solidarity with hunger strikers in the SHU (Special Housing Units), "prisons within prisons," where inmates are kept in solitary confinement for years and even decades.On July 8th, California prisoners will begin a hunger strike and work stoppage in order to insist upon five core demands that the governor and the Department of Corrections have refused to implement since negotiations surrounding the previous hunger strikes of 2011. Solidarity events took place in Oakland and at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City on July 8th, and a statewide mobilization and march to Corcoran State Prison is planned for July 13
June 25 marked the sixth day in which Will Parrish has been occupying a wick drain stitcher in the Willits Bypass construction area. He is currently out of food and water but is staying strong. Resupplies have been attempted but with no results, as he is being guarded by two CHP officers at all times. Parrish has managed to stop Caltrans from working for six days and plans to be up there until they stop the project. Caltrans has planned for the bypass to go around the greater Willits area. This is part of a six year project that they have already begun.
The wick drain stitcher is a machine that punctures the earth with a drill that is about one hundred feet long. As the drill comes down, a wick is also brought down into the ground and sticks out about three feet above the surface. The wick is used to draw water ninety feet up and it evaporates into the air. Little Lake Valley is a marsh with a lot of of groundwater, and Cal Trans wants to take it out to make the ground more stable for the bypass. Earth First! Humboldt reports that the community is very strong in Willits but needs more support from those who are able and willing to help.
Read More with Photos | See Also: Will Parrish at SubRosa on Tree Sits, Saving Little Lake Valley, and Defending the Land
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Action Camp to Defend Little Lake Valley Established