Tag Archives: CalTrans

New Wick Drain Protest Delays CalTrans Again

26 Jul

from Save Little Lake Valley                7/23/13

Picture from the May wick drain lock down.

Picture from the May wick drain lock down.

Caltrans’ attempt to drain and fill wetlands was shut down today when two activists locked themselves to both of the giant “stitcher” towers that are punching thousands of wick drains into the water table near this small rural town. The wick drains are being used to compact the soil so that it can no longer hold water, in preparation for building a freeway. The Willits Bypass freeway project entails the biggest loss of wetlands in Northern California in 50 years. Opponents of the project say it is a giant loss for taxpayers as well.

Two protesters were able to slip past CHP guards in the predawn darkness to get to the steel towers, which had been lowered to the ground for the night. The towers are now lowered each evening ever since activist Will Parrish climbed 60 feet into an upright tower, occupying it and shutting down work for eleven days from June 20 to July 1.

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Awesome Statement from Willits Treesitter

24 May

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by Red-Tailed Hawk / Save Little Lake Valley

Red-Tailed Hawk,” aka Will Parrish (a local journalist), issued the following statement from his tree sit yesterday, May 20th, titled “The Greatest Gift Mondocino County Could Give the World is to Stop the Willits By-pass.”

On May 14th, I ascended roughly 70 feet into a 100-foot tall valley oak that stands in the path of the California Department of Transportation’s proposed six-mile freeway (“The Willits Bypass”) through Little Lake Valley. This tree, which has a nearly six-foot trunk and is covered from top to bottom with an intricate tapestry of lichens and moss, stands amid hundreds of ash trees in a lustrous grove in the north Little Lake Valley wetlands. The tree is certainly older than the State of California. It may be older than the United States of America.

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67 Year Old Willits Man Locks Down To Machinery, Stops Work

13 May

Cross Posted From Save Little Lake Valley

Bob Chevalier, a 67 year old Willits resident, locked himself to an excavator this morning and stopped Caltrans work. He did this to protest and bring attention the Army Corps of Engineers’ (ACE) failure to hold Caltrans accountable to the conditions ACE set forth for Caltrans to begin work. Bob and a 73 year old woman were subsequently arrested by the California Highway Patrol and taken to jail in Ukiah.

Mr. Chevalier took action this morning so that you will know the following:

In a February 2013 letter, ACE granted an unusual exemption and conditional approval for Caltrans to begin construction activities. One of the conditions for beginning construction was that Caltrans could provide assurance that they would receive full funding for their mitigation plan at the May 7th CTC meeting. At that meeting last week, Caltrans received less than the full amount they need to carry out their mitigation plan. Mr. Chevalier and SOLLV are calling on the Corps to maintain their integrity and hold Caltrans accountable for the success of the mitigation process. Continue reading

New Treesit Goes Up in Willits, CA

7 May

Cross Posted from Save Little Lake Valley

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Early on Friday morning, a new tree sit began in the path of Caltrans’ proposed Willits Bypass route. A contingent of roughly 20 Save Our Little Lake Valley members would meet with several key legislative staff people at the State Capitol—Alexis Podesta, Director of External Affairs for Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown, Gareth Lacy, Deputy Secretary of Communications & Strategic Planning and Brian Putler of the Business, Transportation & Housing Agency—hours later.

While we are unable to report on details of the meeting, we will say that Ms. Podesta was advised of the new tree sit and the message on its banner: “Gov. Brown, do the right thing, please (by telling the California Transportation Commission to cancel the funding at their Tuesday meeting in Los Angeles.)”

The tree sit is located in an Oregon ash grove north of Willits  – part of the nearly 90 acres of wetlands CalTrans intends to fill, piledrive, and pave over in the Willits Valley, of which an unknown number would also be wick drained.

The tree sit is visible from Highway 101! It is approximately a mile north of the high school. It is located at around mile maker 48.5. The tree sitter, Condor, is perched in one of the only oak trees in the grove, a valley oak that appears to be several hundred years old.

Tree sitters blocking Willits bypass route pulled from trees

3 Apr
cross posted from The Willits News

Early morning scene at tree sitter Amanda “Warbler” Senseman’s tree just after she had been taken away in a patrol car. Will Parrish is sitting in the middle of Highway 101 in protest. (Photo by Steve Eberhard)

A large contingent of California Highway Patrol officers removed four tree-sitters Tuesday morning and was in the process of removing the remaining one at 4:30 p.m.

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Caltrans Bypass Battle in Willits Heats Up As Activists Sit Down to Block Equipment

16 Mar

Willits, CA-Local residents say Caltrans tried to bulldoze their way through Federal and State regulations again in what has become a running battle over the planned Bypass highway around Willits in Mendocino County. Activists sat down in front of moving equipment and called Cal-tip to report violations of the International Migratory Bird Act after bird nests were found. This was the third time activists have blocked equipment since Jan. 28, when a tree sitter named Warbler Warblerwent aloft in a tall ponderosa pine at the southern end of the proposed construction site on Hwy. 101 just outside Willits to protest Caltrans’ Bypass.

At issue is protocol regarding required surveys for nesting birds in compliance with the Migratory Bird Act and a “jurisdictional wetland” damaged when Caltrans workers drove an excavator into the boggy area and it became stuck.

Treesit in California Against CalTrans Bypass

29 Jan

cross-posted from The Willits News, by Linda Williams

"Warbler," a Little Lake Valley resident, is now perched in a tree along the future Willits bypass footprint to prevent CalTrans from cutting down trees.

“Warbler,” a Little Lake Valley resident, is now perched in a tree along the future Willits bypass footprint to prevent CalTrans from cutting down trees.

A coalition of environmental groups staged a protest Monday morning along Highway 101 to protest the construction of the highway bypass around Willits.

Dozens of protestors from Earth First! joined with a newly formed Willits group called Save our Little Lake Valley in an effort to stop the planned tree cutting along the bypass footprint. In addition to picket signs, a local woman is now living on a platform nestled in top of one of the trees slated for removal. Picketers on the ground vowed to support her tree sitting protest for as long as it takes.

“CalTrans did not cut today, it was definitely a victory,” says organizer Sarah Grusky of Save our Little Lake Valley. “We plan to hold vigils as often as possible to keep a lookout.”

CalTrans has been working for the past few weeks, placing markers along the project right of way preparing for the contractor to begin work. The first significant work scheduled for the contractor is to cut the trees along the bypass route to prevent migratory birds from nesting in them. Tree cutting is expected to start within two to three weeks according to CalTrans spokesman Phil Frisbie. Continue reading