Moonscaping in the “Mitigation” Wetlands — Please Act Now

Although CalTrans withdrew their plan to use herbicides to eradicate blackberries in riparian areas, their excavation and denuding of wetlands in various parts of Little Lake Valley for their “mitigation” plan — a plan horribly warped by political pressure — continues exactly as you read this. Following is an amazing, though, and heartbreaking video produced by Maria Gilardin of TUC Radio.


From Maria Gilardin:

“As you may know, a second crime wave is hitting the Willits Bypass area.  How can it be legal to bulldoze wetlands in an archeological district in order to come up with mitigation credits for destroyed wetlands?? This video shows the moon-scaping of the Willits mitigation wetlands – it’s 14 minutes short – the record of a community event on August 13.”

SOLLV is STILL working to stop this desecration. You can help! Contact your elected officials to call for a temporary stop to all ground-disturbing activity in the mitigation lands while resource agencies, tribes, and CalTrans meet to agree on cultural site protection. Also, ask for a community meeting with CalTrans to explain their mitigation and consider public comments! Make phone calls ASAP. Time is critical!

Here are contact numbers:

  • Congressman Jared Huffman c/o Heather Gurewitz – (707) 962-0933
    Washington, DC – (202) 225-5161
  • State Senator Mike McGuire – (916) 651-4002
  • Assemblymember Jim Wood – (916) 319-2002
  • District 3 County Supervisor Tom Woodhouse – (707) 463-4221

 More actions will be posted on the website as they are developed.

Victory For Now on Herbicides — Public Forum Still On For Thursday, August 13th

CalTrans has announced it has withdrawn its plan for now, to use herbicides to eliminate Himalayan blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) in its riparian “mitigation” lands in Little Lake Valley.  The decision comes after the Board of Supervisors and Willity City Councils — with prompting by SOLLV, the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Redwood Nation Earth First!, and many other parties — unanimously passed resolutions opposing the practice earlier this year.
Initially, CalTrans had scheduled a a public forum on Thursday, August 13th — an event that was shaping up to create PR trouble for them.  But a meeting will still happen! Please join us on Thursday, August 13th from 6-8 p.m. at Willits City Hall.

This meeting is an opportunity to look closely at:

·       How Caltrans’ mitigation work has already altered the environment and cultural heritage of the Valley;
·       Why herbicide use and other damaging activities remain a threat; and
·       Most importantly, how we the public can be a positive influence on mitigation activities now and in the long-term.

Recent Letters From Coyote Valley Re: Ongoing Cultural Genocide, Destruction of Cultural Sites

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians (as well as the Sherwood Valley Rancheria and the Round Valley Indian Tribes) have tried persistently, and in an exhaustive manner, to compel state and federal regulatory authorities to protect cultural sites in both the Willits Bypass construction zone and in the so-called “mitigation construction” areas, in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act and other legal authorities.

Yesterday, defenders of these sacred sites gathered to call attention to CalTrans’ ongoing desecration of the rich cultural areas in what is today known as Little Lake Valley.  For context on the destruction that continues to play out, we are providing links to eight recent letters from the Coyote Valley Band to CalTrans and regulatory agencies that comprehensively describe these issues.

  • Letter to CalTrans — May 11, 2015
  • Letter to CalTrans’ Mike Bartlett — May 21 2015
  • Letter to CalTrans’ Charlie Fielder — June 11, 2015
  • Letter to Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Colonel John C. Morrow — June 25, 2015
  • Letter to North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board member John W. Corbett — June 25, 2015
  • Letter to Army Corps Lt. Colonel Morrow Regarding Herbicides
  • Letter to North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer Matthew St. John Regarding Herbicides
  • Ceremony and Demonstration to Be Held on Caltrans’ Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands to Protect Native American Sites

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    July 23, 2015
    Contact: Priscilla Hunter, Band of Pomo Indians: 707-391-6410
    Naomi Wagner (707) 459-0548
    Audio: Maria Gilardin 707- 463-2654

    A prayer ceremony will be held today, July 23, at 10:00 a.m., at a site just off highway 101, north of Willits, where the northern interchange of the Willits bypass is being built, to ask for protection of the many Pomo ancestral cultural sites being discovered and destroyed by Caltrans on bypass mitigation lands. The ceremony will be led by Fred Short, spiritual leader of the American Indian Movement in California.

    Concerns about the destruction of Native American cultural sites on the mitigation lands have been raised by local Pomo tribes in recent visits and letters to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and Army Corp of Engineers, agencies in charge of Caltrans’ 401 operating permit and the Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (MMP)

    Testifying before the Water Board on June 18, Priscilla Hunter, Coyote Valley Tribal representative, stated: “The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians objects to Caltrans’ use of the current requirements of the mitigation plan on the Willits Bypass Project as a rationale for not avoiding our ancestral cultural sites…due to the requirements of the Mitigation Monitoring Plan (MMP) approved by your agency”. Continue reading

    Ceremony for Protection of Ancestral Sites

    Forming a big circle at Willits City Park.

    A prayer ceremony will be held at the tipis opposite the bypass construction zone, just north of Willits, at 10:00 a.m., Thursday July 23, to ask for protection of the many Pomo ancestral cultural sites now being destroyed by Caltrans on the mitigation lands. The ceremony will be led by Fred Short, spiritual leader of the American Indian Movement in California.

    Our recent visits and letters to the Water Board (in charge of Caltrans’ 401 operating permit governing work on the mitigation lands), have focused attention on the multi-headed hydra of cultural destruction and herbicide use.

    In an amazing feat of doublespeak, Caltrans’ now claims they not only must use herbicides to eradicate blackberries faster, so they can plant native species and “create wetlands”, they also insist they cannot do manual removal because it has the potential to disturb “cultural resources”! This, after bulldozing entire village sites, pulverizing scores of artifacts, trenching across designated sites to install water lines for livestock and changing up the rules to make sure nothing “significant” is ever found!

    Please join us in ceremony to oppose Caltrans’ ongoing callous disregard for the cultural heritage of the Pomo people. Thank you for all your past support and participation.

    Here’s the schedule, subject to flexibility: Continue reading

    American Indian Movement Spirit Run Arrives in Willits — Friday, June 26th!

    1546193_530788300380201_2798054824080944420_nFor the second straight year, American Indian Movement spiritual marathon runners’ 500-mile relay marathon culminates with a celebration in Willits. The runners arrive at Evergreen Mall at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 26th, and continue on to Willits City Park for a song, prayer, rally, speeches, and sharing food. Their run culminates a week-long 500-mile relay marathon, celebrating a
    spiritual tradition of messenger runners among First Nations people.

    Click here to read Save Our Little Lake Valley’s online summary of the Spiritual Marathon’s arrival in Willits, complete with photos.

    Spirit Runners' supporters making their way down Main St. last June 26th. The Spirit Runners are out ahead at this point.

    Spirit Runners’ supporters making their way down Main St. last June 26th. The Spirit Runners are out ahead at this point.

    Their message is that “All Life is Sacred.” They come to Willits specifically to support the protection of Native archeological sites, wetlands, and forests now under threat. Help us celebrate their achievement and hear about efforts to save remaining Pomo archaeological sites from the destruction from the Willits Bypass.

    IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU BRING:
    *    food and drinks to share
    *    small folding tables, and blankets and chairs to sit on

    Contact Lara with SOLLV: Let her know what you can bring so we can plan for the approximatley 50 Spirit Runners and a host of supporters from Willits, the American Indian Movement, folks from Coyote Valley and Round Valley, and more.  Lara’s address: laraanderson44[~at~]gmail.com

    Coyote Valley Band Letter to Water Board Regarding CalTrans Herbicide Use

    coyote-valley-tribe“Dear Mt. John,

    We are writing to support the resolutions recently passed by both the City Council of Willits and Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County, urging your agencies not to allow the use of herbicides or pesticides in the Caltrans Willits Bypass mitigation lands… In view of these and other strong concerns, we call for a public and tribal review of the state and federal Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (MMPs) before further work proceeds.”  Read the full letter here.