Save Our Little Lake Valley will participate in a prayer ceremony led by American Indian allies in front of the Mendocino County Courthouse in Ukiah this Monday, September 8th at 9 a.m. We will have a rally
Carpool from Willits:
- Meet at Evergreen Shopping Center at 8:15 to attend the ceremony.
- Meet at Evergreen Shopping Center at 9:15 to attend the hearing.
We will have a rally and press conference at 11 a.m., or whenever the hearing is over.
Please dress appropriately and behave respectfully in court. Note: Shorts, sandals and hats are NOT allowed in the courtrooms.
On August 20th, Justice Cindee Mayfield issued a TRO [temporary restraining order] against Mendocino County and Mendocino Forest Products blocking soil excavation pending a subsequent hearing on September 8th. At this hearing, Justice Mayfield will rule on whether to grant a Preliminary Injunction for the Willits Bypass. The hearing is at 10 a.m. in Courtroom “F.” The judge is ruling on whether to maintain the status quo until the full trial, which is likely to occur in Dec. 2014.
In other words, if Mayfield turns down the injunction, then CalTrans and its contractors can proceed immediately with filling the wetlands. If she grants the injunction, the filling cannot proceed until the kick-off of the spring 2015 construction season, if ever — depending on the ruling in the trial.
The halt to work on the Northern Interchange for the season would allow time for a real, significantly downsized plan to be developed and adopted.
Even if Mayfield does not grant the PI, or the decision is delayed, we still need to support the tremendous effort that has gone into this last-ditch attempt to let reason and the law prevail to protect Mother Earth. Let’s let our presence in the courtroom show Judge Mayfield how much we care about our wetlands and ancestral places. Please dress respectfully.
The Willits Environmental Center ( WEC)
630 South Main Street, Willits, CA 95490
In the check memo, please write “Bypass Legal Fund”
PayPal donations to SOLLV (Save Our Little Lake Valley) can be made by clicking on the Donate tab on the right-hand sidebar.
In this way, you are making a secure, tax-deductible contribution through our sponsor, a 501c3 non-profit organization, Willits Economic LocaLization (WELL).
Please come and hold signs!
We need people to hold these signs, pass out information and even, perhaps, collect some money for our legal fund.
Three of the signs are attached for your viewing …others will say something like the following:
“It is NOT too late to DOWNSIZE THE INTERCHANGE. Donate to our lawsuit at www.savelittlelakevalley.org.”
Our efforts to prevent CalTrans from filling Little Lake Valley wetlands got a great boost on Wednesday when Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield granted a temporary restraining order as part of a lawsuit filed by the Willits Environmental Center and Keep the Code, and supported by Save Our Little Lake Valley and the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians.
The restraining order prevents CalTrans’ contractor, DeSilva Gates, from excavating soil from Mendocino Forest Products’ abandoned mill site north of Willits and dumping it on the wetlands to create the project’s northern interchange for the time being. The project involves excavating 21 acres (or approximately 40 percent) of the 53-acre Mendocino Forest Products Company mill site, which translates to about 900,000 cubic yards of material.
The plaintiffs (that’s us) argued that the decision to grant a permit to excavate fill from the MFP site was based on inadequate environmental review. One of the standards applied and ruled on to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) is the likelihood of prevailing on the merits, so the judge found the plaintiffs’ (our) arguments persuasive.
Here is a link to the plaintiffs’ petition in the lawsuit: MFP Petition filed 4-25-14
The TRO applies to “excavation and grading” but not to the planned clear cutting and leveling of over 10 acres of forestland on the MFP property. The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 8, 10:00 am. in courtroom “F.” Attorney Rose Zoia is representing the plaintiffs. The defendants are represented by Mendocino Forest Products attorney James King, a former Superior Court judge.
We have been working to prevent the filling of wetlands and elimination of the arbitrarily massive Bypass northern interchange in an intensive way for more than a year. We’re still plugging away at it. Thanks to everyone who continues to support us!
“Temporary Restraining Order Granted in Willits Bypass Case,” Eureka Times-Standard
Redwood Nation Earth First!
Bay Area Coalition to Save Headwaters
Coalition to Save Little Lake Valley
Willits, CA—Yesterday the Willits Environment Center (WEC) and Keep the Code (KTC) filed for a Temporary Restraining Order in Mendocino County Superior court to prevent the excavation of 900,000 cubic yards of dirt from the Mendocino Forest Products site, aka the Old Apache Mill site, approximately two miles north of Willits on highway 101. A hearing on the restraining order will be heard today, August 20th, at 1:30 p.m. at the Mendocino County Superior Court in Ukiah, Judge Mayfield’s courtroom.
Mendocino Forest Products was given the go ahead to begin excavation this week as Caltrans sought to restart work on the disputed northern interchange of the Willits bypass. Excavation involves leveling almost half of the 50 acre property and clear cutting of eleven acres of forested hillside.
In March this year, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors approved a Use Permit for the excavation of 900,000 cu. yds. to use as fill on the northern interchange, issuing a ‘mitigated negative declaration’ of impacts for the project, despite the amount being nine hundred times the limit allowed by County regulations without a reclamation plan.
WEC and KTC filed a lawsuit against the County in April, alleging failure to disclose potentially significant environmental impacts of the proposed excavation, including impacts to known spotted owl nesting sites, lack of any reclamation plan, aesthetic impacts of mining the hillside, and direct and indirect impacts to Native American archeological sites.
“The County ignored its’ own Surface Mining and Reclamation laws and sidestepped the Planning Commission to rush this Use Permit forward”, said Ellen Drell of the WEC. Continue reading
Willits, CA — A coalition of environmental groups and Native Americans responded to the July 10th deal Congressman Huffman helped broker between the Army Corps of Engineers and Caltrans, in a letter of their own on July 15th. The deal allows the conditional reinstatement of the key Federal Clean Water Act section 404 permit, needed to resume operations on the ever-controversial Willits bypass.
The project, criticized for its size, cultural and environmental impacts, cost and lack of need, was shut down June 20 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, for failing to meet mitigation requirements to compensate for the loss of wetland and woodland values during the almost two years of construction. The 404 permit was predicated on completion of environmental work concurrent with construction, but Caltrans’ schedule had fallen so far behind it was in “serious violation” of the permit conditions.
Citing provision # 4 in the new agreement as a “bright spot” in the post suspension picture, spokesperson Naomi Wagner noted that: “Caltrans has agreed ‘to evaluate the project to determine if any reduction in any amount of fill is possible’. The Coalition is advocating reduced fill and a smaller roundabout design.
Ellen Drell of the Willits Environmental Center and long-time bypass opponent, said: “Despite murky details and watered down requirements in the brokered agreement between ACE and Caltrans, we are encouraged by Caltrans’ commitment to perform this evaluation by Oct. 1, or sooner. We would assume this means there will be no placement of additional fill until the evaluation is complete, since to evaluate for a reduction in fill while simultaneously placing more fill would be a clear conflict, negating the possibility of meaningful reductions.”
The Coalition says reducing fill would reduce requirements for the extent, time and cost of the current large mitigation plan as well as avoiding further damage to extensive archeological sites and functioning wetlands. It has suggested an option to modify the northern interchange which would, if implemented, accomplish a great deal of reduction in impact and costs. The group is ready to assist in overcoming any perceived obstacles to this common-sense solution.
To that end, the Coalition has been requesting a face to face meeting between themselves and other key parties for the past year, and is again requesting Congressman Huffman’s help in facilitating such a meeting.
“We believe this evaluation process can be expedited and will greatly benefit from the public input and documented information the Coalition has gained over years of research and citizen involvement”, said Drell.
Read Madge Strong’s Letter: Huffman 6-13-14 – rebuttal to Caltrans
Read SOLLV’s letter to Huffman 7-15-14 here