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Find out more from the Center for Biological Diversity:
Saving Richardson Grove
Contra Costa Times, October 1, 2010

Groups, individuals file federal lawsuit over Richardson Grove
The Times-Standard

Three months after a state lawsuit was lodged against Caltrans for its Richardson Grove project, five individuals and three environmental groups have filed suit in federal court, claiming that the agency didn't conduct a thorough environmental review on the project.

The suit, filed by the Environmental Protection Information Center, the Center for Biological Diversity and others, alleges violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The groups claim that Caltrans forced through the project to realign U.S. Highway 101 through Richardson Grove to allow state-standard trucks to pass -- without examining the potential for harm to old-growth redwoods there.

The lead plaintiff in the suit, Bess Bair, is the granddaughter of Bess and Fred Hartsook who ran the historic Hartsook Inn near Richardson Grove.

”I know these trees intimately, I was raised among them,” Bair said in a news release. “There are ways to resolve this situation that do not put these trees at risk, and preserve them for all Californians.”

Caltrans Project Manager Kim Floyd said in a statement that Caltrans has not been served a copy of the complaint, and therefore cannot comment on the specifics, but Caltrans stands behind the project and its completion of state and federal review processes. She reiterated that the work within the structural root zone of old growth redwoods will be done using arborist's tools and monitored by a certified arborist as well as a Native American monitor and Caltrans archaeologist.

”This project will make needed operational improvements to Route 101 to improve the mobility while maintaining the majestic old growth redwoods and gateway feeling,” she said in the written statement.

In the June suit, environmental groups claimed that the environmental impact report on the project by Caltrans violated the California Environmental Quality Act and said it didn't acknowledge the impacts of the project on the trees' roots. The suit also alleges that Caltrans failed to consider less damaging alternatives.

2010 Bay Area News Group

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton