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Armstrong Woods - Do Not Disturb - Water Pipeline Project Alert

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Armstrong Woods

Do Not Disturb
Water Pipeline Project Alert 

DEADLINE for COMMENTS Extended to May 2

By Linda Lucey 

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is known for containing the largest contiguous stand of old growth coast redwoods in Sonoma County.  Sadly, these famous trees are endangered by the very people responsible for protecting them.  The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) plans to install a water pipeline through the entire length of the valley floor.  Unless we respond now, we can anticipate the sights, sounds, and smells of backhoes, excavators, graders, bulldozers, compressors, and dump trucks operating within the sensitive ecosystem.  On March 18, 2014, DPR announced an Environmental Impact Report is being prepared.  To have our concerns addressed during the review, we must respond before May 2, 2014.  

A review of plan designs revealed plans for 1740 feet of surface trenching and 4290 feet of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) through the heart of the grove.  Starting at the park entrance, the pipeline will follow the road, passing close to the Parson Jones tree.  Then the pipeline leaves the road and follows the existing nature trail through the heart of the grove.  The pipeline will intersect with the existing paved road east of Burbank circle.  From there it will head to the back of the park weaving back and forth across the road. Plans indicate some fallen old growth trees and a hillside may have to be removed. 

Armstrong Woods Proposed Pipeline

DOWNLOAD Armstrong Woods Pipeline Project 

DOWNLOAD Diagrams of the Armstrong Woods Pipeline Project

Designs indicated surface excavation of five pits. During an interview, Patricia DuMont, Environmental Coordinator at DPR, stated the surface size of the largest pit would be 112 square feet.  The pits will be deep enough to provide space for lowering drilling equipment and lengths of pipeline segments to install a waterline 30 feet below the surface.  According to DuMont, an unknown amount of additional surface trenching would be necessary.  

The average 200 foot tall redwood has surface feeder roots that extend outward 100 to 200 feet in every direction.  Some of the smallest roots lie only inches under the ground.  The main bulk of the root pad goes down around six feet.  Though the redwood tree does not have a taproot, larger feeder roots will grow down to seek water flowing deeper in the underground water tables.

A redwood cannot adapt to loss of its usual water supply.  When the roots are crushed or severed or deeper water tables are drained, the redwood can no longer supply enough moisture to its branches.   When this happens, vital processes are shut down, new growth stops, and cells begin to die.  The extent and pace of the decline depend on the extent of the root damage and water loss.  Often, the tree dies very slowly, from the top down, gradually turning into a “spike top”.   The “Clar Tree” near Northwood is a good example.  Once a healthy tree 357 feet tall and twenty feet in diameter, the Clar Tree has been in decline since logging activities circa 1910.

Map of Armstrong Woods State ParkArmstrong Redwoods State Reserve, the place where some of the last of the old giants were thought to be safe, is dotted with spike tops.  Declining trees can be seen around the camping and picnic areas.   During an interview, a retired ranger stated the Armstrong giants, “… are not getting something they are used to having, and I think it is water.  Civilization is sucking the water right out from under the trees.  The water tables are dropping …” 

The initial studies for the water line project failed to identify any significant impacts to the old growth trees.  The report did not identify unique and special features such as the Parson Jones Tree, towering to 310 feet, the tallest tree in the park.  There was no special consideration to tree circles, such as the Burbank Circle, where multiple trees share identical genetic material as well as interconnected roots thousands of years old.  Existing damage to redwoods from compaction, paving, and trenching was not identified.  Impacts to the water table from planned well drilling were not discussed.

The trees are not the only resource endangered by the project.  Initial studies did not provide for consideration of endangered bird species such as the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet.   There was no discussion of the delicate redwood orchid. The impacts to the nearly one million annual visitors to the park were not considered significant enough to merit further study.  The impacts to the local residents who use the park regularly during all seasons were not considered.

Project designs and descriptions of the proposed work can be viewed in initial study documents stored at the Guerneville Library, Armstrong Redwoods Reserve Visitors‘ Center, and the Russian River District Headquarters in Duncan’s Mills.

To have questions and concerns reviewed for the proposed Environmental Impact Report, the public must respond before April 16, 2014.  Send your comments and letters to:

Patricia DuMont – Environmental Coordinator
DPR – Northern Service Center
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, CA   95814

Or Email Patricia at:  CEQA.NSC@parks.ca.gov  (Subject line:  Armstrong Redwoods).

Or Email Patricia at:  Patti.DuMont@parks.ca.gov

Comments:

Regarding State Park and Rec's plan for the Armstrong Redwoods
Preserve in Guerneville:

There's a project and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a huge
8" diameter drinking water pipeline in 25-foot trenches and tunnels
down to 30-feet deep beneath the old growth redwoods in the Preserve!
State Parks and Rec wants all comments in by April 16th. But there's
usually a "Scoping Session" scheduled before the end of the comment
period to give us all an opportunity to ask questions, look at maps,
and understand the extent of the proposal, and to brainstorm regarding
possible alternatives. But NO "Scoping Session" has been scheduled.
Please insist in your comments that they, the State Department of
Parks and Recreation, schedule a Scoping Session in Guerneville in the
evening, and also extend the deadline for comments until after that
meeting.

It's not just our right to comment on such projects, it's our
responsibility; and we cannot comment responsibly unless they are
clearer about exactly what they are proposing, and we are
well-informed!

We say a Scoping Session is required by CEQA (state
environmental law). Scoping Sessions are definitely customary around
here, are certainly highly recommended, and for a project of this
magnitude and controversy, definitely advisable.

Ann Maurice
Ad Hoc Committee for Clean Water
Occidental

I'm writing to alert everyone who loves Armstrong Redwoods that the Dept. of Parks and Recreation is proposing plan to install a water pipeline throughout the entire length of the valley floor on main trail. If you have access to the April issue of the Sonoma County Gazette, read the front page article by Linda Lucey for more information. (www.sonomacountygazette.com)
It's a disturbing report, and warrants people's immediate attention because the comment period is only open until April 16, just two days away. I'm hoping everyone who can do it would at least send a short letter or email to Environmental Coordinator at the DPR asking her to answer some questions and respond to the concerns of people like ourselves who care greatly for this park. Perhaps they would at least forestall any plans to start digging and trenching until they have at least given us a chance to find out more about what and WHY they are proposing this potentially destructive plan. 
FEEL FREE TO USE ATTACHED LETTER AS BASIS FOR YOUR OWN MESSAGE.
Attached is the letter I wrote and am mailing out, hopefully in time to get there by the 16th.  I will also email it.   Thanks to everyone for taking a moment to ponder this issue. You can also email a question or comment to Patricia DuMont the environmental coordinator to the following:
Patricia DuMont, Environmental Coordinator                          
DPR - Northern Service Center
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, CA 95814

Brenda Adelman
P.O. Box 501
Guerneville, CA 95446
rrwpc@comcast.net

 

Patricia DuMont, Environmental Coordinator                           April 14, 2014
DPR - Northern Service Center
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Ms. DuMont,

I am writing to urge you to reconsider the Department of Park and Recreation’s plan to install a 8” water pipeline that involves deep trenching on the main trail through Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. In fact, this project belies the intent behind it’s very name.

As a  40 year resident of the Russian River area and frequent visitor to this park, I am deeply concerned that the DPR would consider such a plan without extensive public review and scientific study as to its impacts on these ancient trees. Alternatives should be fully explored. Not only does the plan pose grave threats to the ancient grove and the ecosystem it protects, but it ignores the public interest.  I walk in the park several times a week.  I experience contact with not only the trees, but the large numbers of couples, families, children, and elderly enjoying this atmosphere that is becoming more and more unique.

Armstrong Redwoods is designated as a state natural reserve in order to preserve this grove “forever” for the enjoyment of the public now and in the future. It stands as a save-haven for the trees; an island of ancient relics in the midst of an area that was once covered with the great redwoods.  In this time of global warming, we don’t know what lies ahead for these giants, and we must not do anything to undermine their ability to survive.

This grove has already been impacted by compaction, paving, trenching and drought to such an extent that some of the trees appear to be in decline. The initial study for this project ignored existing damage, and failed to examine obvious potential greater impacts to the tree roots from even more severe trenching as well as draining the deeper water tables which are crucial to the trees’ continued survival.  In addition the report did not even mention the special and unique features of this park such as the Burbank Circle with its thousands of years old interconnected root system, nor the possible destruction of fallen old growth to make way for the pipes. 

There does not appear to be any consideration of  impacts to endangered species such as the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet, and the tiny and rare redwood orchid? Impacts of noise and construction to the park’s visitors  which number close to a million a year, along with the other species that live there, do not appear to be taken into account.

As a long time nature lover and environmental activist in the area, I observe the myriad of forest creatures and botanical wonders several times a week. We have seen the Spotted Owl overhead, and explored inside the “bear caves” formed by the gnarled burls and roots of the giants. I’ve watched visitors link arms around a sturdy giants to measure its amazing girth. I’ve watched children climb on fallen giant logs and taken pictures in front of the giant trunk of the Parson Jone’s tree. Dozens of my visiting friends relatives over the years have asked repeatedly to visit this park and marveled at its beauty and grandeur. 

In a day and age when the news is full of environmental tragedies and significant loss of habitat around the world, I would hope that the Park Service would care enough to go to great lengths to protect this unique park. I would expect the implementation of water conservation measures, and look for alternatives to digging and trenching around the trees. I believe the public needs to be fully informed in the planning process and given a chance to respond to it before proceeding any further.  

We hope you will take this back to the drawing board and institute a full environmental review, with studies of impact of project on these ancient trees and other pertinent matters.  We also urge you to have a well publicized public meeting on this issue.

Sincerely, Brenda Adelman

Patricia DuMont, Environmental Coordinator                          
DPR - Northern Service Center
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, CA 95814

CEQA.NSC@parks.ca.gov

Dear Ms. DuMont,

I missed the initial notice of a meeting for public input on the Armstrong Woods plans to replace a water pipeline that runs through the center of the preserve forest floor from the entrance to the park to the rear. I understand there were only two people present at that meeting, so clearly it was not announced in a way that would allow for broad public input.

My concern is that without sufficient environmental review (which I do not see in the report I read), this project will move forward to the detriment of our old-growth Redwoods, our public park, and the thousands of people who enjoy this park annually. I understand the need to repair leaky pipes since water is such a precious resource but an 8" pipe seems excessive for the amount of water needed, and trenching under trees appears damaging to the trees we have been entrusted to preserve.

Part of the report I read indicated that disturbance of use of this park was not considered significant, but that is beyond my comprehension. This is a canyon floor where sounds reverberate. Yes, sound is absorbed by the trees, but anyone who visits the park knows that we tend to speak softly and even whisper because the sanctity of this place inspires awe. People go there to experience profound peace and well as to see and marvel at these protected trees. 

Throughout the year, even in winter, schools bring children on field trips, hiking groups come, people in wheelchairs visit because it's one of the few natural parks where they can wander on safe trails for long distances.

I know there is modern technology that will allow the park to line existing pipes and am wondering why this solution was not considered. The amount of water pressure required for an 8” pipe – as opposed the current 4” pipe defies logic for water use. Where is all this water coming from?  How will it be used?

The idea of trenching through the root systems of these protected trees, even though the report indicates the trench can be dug as deep as 30’ under the trees to avoid surface roots, defies how these trees grow. There is no space where trenching will not disturb their root systems and these trees are already suffering from drought, impacted soil, human use in their environment and more.

I want to see a full Environmental Impact Report with a Scoping Session to get input from the public. CEQA laws were established so that projects that have the potential to negatively impact our precious resources cannot move forward without review of alternatives.  Our county is renown for our environmental awareness and also for individuals who work in fields that relate to the work considered who can offer solutions that may not have been previously considered.

Public review was not considered a requirement because the project did not impact a large enough area or segment of the population, but I disagree. People from around the world visit this state preserve and these trees are a rare example of old growth Redwood forests that people can see, touch, smell and experience with all their senses.

Please keep me in touch with the progress of this project and our opportunities to weigh in with considerations and alternatives. 

Thanks for your time and attention,

Vesta Copestakes
Sonoma County Gazette
6490 Front St. #300
Forestville, CA 95426

vesta@sonic.net
707-887-0253

This is the letter I wrote to Patricia DuMont at the DPR


Dear Patti,
Please do not disturb these ancient trees, some of the few left on the planet.
This will negatively impact the eco-system, root system and water table as well as endangered species and the delicate balance of this beautiful place.

We are at a dangerous precipice in the life of this planet and it is only through our love of the earth and all life forms that we will turn things around.

These ancient trees have a right to exist.

Bolivia and Ecuador are now protecting the rights of nature in their constutions and many communities in this country are including these rights in their local ordinances. 

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/11/21/373273/bolivia-and-ecuador-equal-rights-to-nature-wild-law-climate-solution/

Our rights can no longer trump the rights of all other life. We are all connected.

I imagine you have visited the woods and must've been deeply moved my their magnificience and beauty. May your heart be moved to do all you can to preserve this space.

 

In Mexico they were going to build a salt plant on the coast where the whales birth their young. People who cared about the whales invited the President of Mexico, his wife and young daughter to go out and see for themselves.
The whales came up to the boat and greeted them to let them touch their massive bodies. The famous was moved to tears and felt such a deep affinity that the plan was called off.

Go yourself and be with the trees, they will let you know what your work is in this matter. There is a reason you are dealing with this matter as a part of your life story and your service in this crucial time. May you find your deeper purpose in this matter.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in response to my comments.

With Respect,
Magick
magick@magicktarot.com
http://MagickTarot.com
Magick
magick@magicktarot.com
http://MagickTarot.com

Be responsible for caring for your  environment.

Patricia DuMont, Environmental Coordinator                           April 14, 2014
DPR - Northern Service Center
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Ms. DuMont,

I am writing to urge you to reconsider the Department of Park and Recreation’s plan to install a 8” water pipeline that involves deep trenching on the main trail through Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. In fact, this project belies the intent behind it’s very name.

As a  40 year resident of the Russian River area and frequent visitor to this park, I am deeply concerned that the DPR would consider such a plan without extensive public review and scientific study as to its impacts on these ancient trees. Alternatives should be fully explored. Not only does the plan pose grave threats to the ancient grove and the ecosystem it protects, but it ignores the public interest.  I walk in the park several times a week.  I experience contact with not only the trees, but the large numbers of couples, families, children, and elderly enjoying this atmosphere that is becoming more and more unique.

Armstrong Redwoods is designated as a state natural reserve in order to preserve this grove “forever” for the enjoyment of the public now and in the future. It stands as a save-haven for the trees; an island of ancient relics in the midst of an area that was once covered with the great redwoods.  In this time of global warming, we don’t know what lies ahead for these giants, and we must not do anything to undermine their ability to survive.

This grove has already been impacted by compaction, paving, trenching and drought to such an extent that some of the trees appear to be in decline. The initial study for this project ignored existing damage, and failed to examine obvious potential greater impacts to the tree roots from even more severe trenching as well as draining the deeper water tables which are crucial to the trees’ continued survival.  In addition the report did not even mention the special and unique features of this park such as the Burbank Circle with its thousands of years old interconnected root system, nor the possible destruction of fallen old growth to make way for the pipes. 

There does not appear to be any consideration of  impacts to endangered species such as the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet, and the tiny and rare redwood orchid? Impacts of noise and construction to the park’s visitors  which number close to a million a year, along with the other species that live there, do not appear to be taken into account.

As a long time nature lover and environmental activist in the area, I observe the myriad of forest creatures and botanical wonders several times a week. We have seen the Spotted Owl overhead, and explored inside the “bear caves” formed by the gnarled burls and roots of the giants. I’ve watched visitors link arms around a sturdy giants to measure its amazing girth. I’ve watched children climb on fallen giant logs and taken pictures in front of the giant trunk of the Parson Jone’s tree. Dozens of my visiting friends relatives over the years have asked repeatedly to visit this park and marveled at its beauty and grandeur. 

In a day and age when the news is full of environmental tragedies and significant loss of habitat around the world, I would hope that the Park Service would care enough to go to great lengths to protect this unique park. I would expect the implementation of water conservation measures, and look for alternatives to digging and trenching around the trees. I believe the public needs to be fully informed in the planning process and given a chance to respond to it before proceeding any further.  

We hope you will take this back to the drawing board and institute a full environmental review, with studies of impact of project on these ancient trees and other pertinent matters.  We also urge you to have a well publicized public meeting on this issue.

Ruby Newman

I am writing to urge you to reconsider the Department of Park and Recreation’s plan to install a 8” water pipeline that involves deep trenching on the main trail through Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. In fact, this project belies the intent behind it’s very name.

Armstrong Redwoods is designated as a state natural reserve in order to preserve this grove “forever” for the enjoyment of the public now and in the future. It stands as a save-haven for the trees; an island of ancient relics in the midst of an area that was once covered with the great redwoods.  In this time of global warming, we don’t know what lies ahead for these giants, and we must not do anything to undermine their ability to survive.

This grove has already been impacted by compaction, paving, trenching and drought to such an extent that some of the trees appear to be in decline. The initial study for this project ignored existing damage, and failed to examine obvious potential greater impacts to the tree roots from even more severe trenching as well as draining the deeper water tables which are crucial to the trees’ continued survival.  In addition the report did not even mention the special and unique features of this park such as the Burbank Circle with its thousands of years old interconnected root system, nor the possible destruction of fallen old growth to make way for the pipes.

There does not appear to be any consideration of  impacts to endangered species such as the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet, and the tiny and rare redwood orchid? Impacts of noise and construction to the park’s visitors  which number close to a million a year, along with the other species that live there, do not appear to be taken into account.

In a day and age when the news is full of environmental tragedies and significant loss of habitat around the world, I would hope that the Park Service would care enough to go to great lengths to protect this unique park. I would expect the implementation of water conservation measures, and look for alternatives to digging and trenching around the trees. I believe the public needs to be fully informed in the planning process and given a chance to respond to it before proceeding any further.  

We hope you will take this back to the drawing board and institute a full environmental review, with studies of impact of project on these ancient trees and other pertinent matters.  We also urge you to have a well publicized public meeting on this issue. 

Sincerely,

Scott Turner

Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products

http://guayaki.com/

p 707-824-6612

f 707-824-6613

 

Guayaki's mission is to steward and restore 200,000 acres of South American Atlantic Rainforest and create over 1000 living wage jobs by 2020 by leveraging our Market Driven Restoration Model

Re: Armstrong Redwoods SNR: Initial Study: Mitigated Negative Declaration Water System Improvements Project

Dear Ms. DuMont,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Armstrong Water System MND.  

Stewards recognizes the great importance of addressing the deteriorating water system issues at Armstrong Redwoods SNR. There is no question that the best alternative for resolving these issues is of utmost importance in order to meet Health and Safety codes and provide for the needs of park visitors. 

Deadline for Comments and Public Meeting: We were told that the deadline for comments to the MND would be extended due to the fact that there was no publicity concerning it’s availability until almost two weeks after it was released. Is this true and if so, what is the new deadline for comments? Also, we were told there would be a public meeting. Has the date been scheduled yet? Stewards feels strongly that it is important to involve the public in a public meeting regarding this project. There are many local residents who use their park daily and they will be concerned if they aren’t given ample opportunity to comment and ask questions.

Alternate Project: Stewards is aware that an alternative to running a line from the front of the park to the back is still being considered and the final decision won’t be possible until a test well is dug. It is confusing that the MND was released and the comment period will be over before the decision about the alternate well site is determined to be viable. Won’t the alternative plan also need to go through environmental review? 

Mitigation: While we see how the project will address specific impacts during the implementation, we are not seeing how the project will be mitigated. If comments from the public deem elements of the project to be more than a significant impact, will there need to be a separate mitigation plan developed?

Timeframe for Project Implementation:  There seems to be some confusion as to the timeframe for implementing this project. The MND says the work with start in Spring 2014 and continue for 3-­‐5 months. This sounds like it could be March to May, June or July. We would like to point out that this is a very busy time of year at Armstrong Redwoods. Stewards serves as many as 4,000 school children with environmental education programs during this time period. Stewards has to-­‐date confirmed reservations for 22 school groups to visit the park for docent and naturalist-­‐led programs from March through June. How will this project impact those visits?

In the Hazards and Hazardous Materials section of the MND, it notes that Guerneville School is located greater than one quarter of a mile from the project site so there is no impact. As noted in the prior paragraph, there will be potentially 4,000 school children hiking through the park in close proximity to the project. Is this still considered no impact?

Stewards also has at least two special events scheduled at Armstrong Redwoods that may end up taking place during the construction timeframe. The Armstrong/Austin Creek Run is scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd and Family Day in your Park is scheduled for June 22nd. We would like to consult with DPR staff as soon as possible about any impacts the project may have on these two events. Publicity has already gone out about these two events.

Natural Resource Concerns

With so many large old growth redwoods in the vicinity of the project, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be some damage to their root structure. Can you site other projects like this one that have been done in an old growth redwood forest? If so, what insights did you gain from researching those projects with regards to impacts to the redwoods? What other resources were consulted to determine a less than significant impact? We do understand that the goal is to drill lower than the “root health zone,” but to get to that zone you would need to dig down through roots. The trenching needed for the pits seems like they will cause a greater than significant impact to the roots of the redwoods close by.  We are also wondering what consideration was given to the fact that this project is taking place in a State Natural Reserve, which requires a higher level of protection.

Species of Concern

The MND does not mention the impacts to two significant species of concern -­‐ marbled murrelets and spotted owls. The spotted Owl breeding season is February 1st to July 31st, which is in conflict with the implementation timeframe. The nesting season for the marbled murrelets also occurs during this timeframe. Has this been considered?

Road Access during Construction

Armstrong Woods Road is used not only by park visitors but also residents who access their property by driving through the park. Stewards’ office is also located in the back of the park near the tank site.

The MND notes that partial closures in day-­‐use areas would be required for the safety of park visitors. Is it possible that Stewards’ staff may not be able to access our office during some project days?  Will there be a schedule developed letting residents, staff and visitors know when certain areas will be closed and for how long? We are most concerned about the Pit in the vicinity of Burbank Circle. If it is to be located on Armstrong Woods Road, it looks like it could close the road completely for a significant period of time.

Noise and Fumes

We would like to point out that during the drilling of the test holes for the project, the fumes were so bad in the picnic area that staff and visitors complained of burning eyes. What sorts of noise and fumes might be present during the project? Will visitors be able to hear an interpreter if they are on a guided tour in the park?

Equipment Impacts

It sounds like the heavy equipment used for the project will be significant. Can you tell us where the equipment will be staged and parked, and how many visitor parking spaces will be eliminated? Parking is a concern for special events.

Water Issues near the Forest Theater

A significant problem area for the current water system is the area by the historic forest theater. We were told that this project will not address any upgrades to this area of the park. Will the restrooms still be available for use in this area? What are the plans for future upgrades is this area? Will it be possible to tie into the new system sometime in the future?

HDD Questions

In talking with other water professionals who have been involved with HDD projects of this sort, it seems possible that there could be complications with the boring. The MND states that in areas where HDD is not possible, there will be trenching for short distances. Is there a limit on the amount of trenching that can occur before the project is no longer environmentally compliant?

Chemicals used during drilling

We have heard concerns that the chemicals used in the drilling process can be dangerous. Can you provide more information about these chemicals?

Communications

Having a good communications plan and strategy is very important. We hope this will be a collaborative effort between DPR, Stewards staff and the State Park Volunteers who will be the ones answering many of the questions from park visitors. 

Thank you very much for taking the time to address our comments and questions.

Michele Luna, Executive Director,
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

Preserve the Reserve

By Ann Maurice

A million gallons of groundwater water is being withdrawn each year
from the aquifer under the grove. Groundwater everywhere in the state
is being depleted. Armstrong Woods is apparently no exception. Even
our majestic thousand-year-old neighbors we thought were forever
protected may be in danger of dying of thirst.

We are in a drought cycle. Yet we see no plan to reduce water
withdrawal from the Reserve, in fact, just the opposite. A deep new
well, 300, maybe 400 feet deep was drilled by the State Department of
Parks and Recreation last December at the back of the grove only about
60 feet from Fife Creek, upstream from the biggest and oldest trees,
and exempted from environmental review. And the Department is
proposing over 1500 feet of 8-foot deep trenches, and close to a mile
of tunneling as much as 30-feet deep under the grove for a water
transmission line. Why wasn't the public informed or given a choice?
Why was the new well exempted from public and Agency oversight? Do the
Federal and State Departments of Fish and Wildlife and the Regional
Water Quality Control Board know about the well? Did you?

How much water do visitors and personnel need anyway? Is it always
about us and our needs, or is the Reserve truly a place of respite for
the trees, away from the pressures of people -- our cars, our buses,
showers and flushing? Who are we as a society? What do we value and
how much effort will we exert to preserve and protect what we love?
And is our love deep and enduring like the redwoods or as elusive and
fleeting as the morning mist?

A state law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) affords
an excellent opportunity for public disclosure and dialogue if it is
respected by public agencies. The Staff of the State Department of
Parks are all familiar with it and hold "Scoping Sessions" all the
time for assorted projects around the state. So why no "Scoping
Session" for Guerneville, home of the giant redwoods? Don't they want
people to know what's up? Don't they want to hear what we have to say?

What is a "Scoping Session"? It is a public meeting with the Agency
preparing the project. They describe its extent or "scope", present
maps and schematics, and announce their review of possible
environmental impacts. They describe their "preferred" plan and
present alternatives. They justify their expansion project, the
tunneling, the new well, and the public either applauds or rejects it
all, makes suggestions or comes up with alternatives. In other words,
it's a brainstorming session with the community at the "gitgo". And
CEQA admonishes, it is not just our right to speak up, it is our
responsibility! No fair standing by and letting things happen. CEQA
warns if we are not vigilant, then we suffer the consequences!

The Department oif Parks and Recreation extended the deadline for
comments to May 2nd. But, even if you missed it, write anyway. It's
too important an issue for your opinion not to count.

Send comments to:
Armstrong Redwoods Notice of Preparation;
DPR -- Northern Service Center;
att: Patricia Dumont, Environmental Coordinator
One Capitol Mall, Suite 410;
Sacramento, CA 95814
e mail: CEQANSC@parks.ca.gov

 

Dear Patti,

I live a short distance from Armstrong Woods and frequently take international visitors to our beautiful park. Over the decades we have been encouraged to walk into the park and not drive so that the forest floor will stay intact and the trees will survive. We have been told not to pick up or remove any branches, leaves, cones or twigs because they are part of the living eco system. In this a drought year I am sure that our tree will be under more stress than under a year of plentiful rain.

Based on these concepts of not damaging the forest floor for the sake of the trees why can huge backhoes and heavy equipment be allowed to dig up the forest floor and damage the root system of our trees?

I know a well is used for one area in the park. Do you know how many gallons a minute that well  produces? I just put in a well for less than $15,000.00 and it produces 100 gallons a minute. This is enough for a small water company. It would be cheaper in the long run and more sustainable for the magnificent redwood trees to dig wells and place storage tanks in those areas where the park wants to provide water for toilets and hand washing. The storage tanks could then provide water should a forest fire ever be close by.

Please think about preserving Armstrong Woods not destroying it with a $2.5 million water pipeline project.

Sincerely,

Heather Hendrickson

To Ms. DuMont

I am writing as a result of the lackluster Initial Study, Negative Declaration that was issued on the Armstrong Redwoods Water Project.  As I mentioned in our telephone call, there is no actual factual description of the project’s necessity nor is there a section of alternative options.  I believe that this should always be a part of any environmental document for a project of this sensitivity.  Also, no mention of the price!

So I am going to assume that the water lines are failing and that the water pressure is below optimum levels.   However, I have not seen any proof of this in the use of the bathrooms or the water fountains. I am going to leap to the conclusion that the problem lies with supplying water for the residences in the front of the park.   If that is the case, I have long thought that free housing or low-cost housing there is out of character for a protected park and perhaps that is what needs to be eliminated.  Or, like the rest of us, they might hook up to Armstrong Valley/California Water Company water and actually pay for that necessary household resource. 

However, if there is also a large problem with water pressure at the outdoor theater, the Visitors Center bathrooms and any of the fountains, then I would suggest the answer might be drilling new wells in those three areas.  This would not be an increase of water use, but rather a three way division of the water that exists now. The park is already being supplied by the well by the District Office I believe.  This would be far below the cost of this extra-ordinary new water system, with a price tag of $2.5 million.  (And when have we ever seen a government project come in at the original promised price?)

Three new wells and storage tanks and connecting plumbing could be done for less than 10% of that, or $250,000.  This original water system, I believe built by the CCC, may be leaking but what really is the harm in that?  Redwood trees can grow with their feet in streams.  And if the water from the one well is good enough for the existing system, why wouldn’t the same be true of new wells at the same elevations?  

An 8 inch main seems like complete overkill for a park and though you say that it is required by the State Fire Marshal, I believe all rules are negotiable if the other alternative is doing nothing.  I would certainly like to see in the report the law cited that requires this.   Old water system versus new overly costly, overambitious radical construction project….surely, like plea bargaining for criminals, we could find a middle ground?  Only two years ago, we were threatened with the closure of our beloved park by the State because there was no money for basic services…garbage, lighting etc.  Now suddenly the State has the money to build a water system on steroids.  It makes the State Park system look ridiculous again.

Redwood trees, for all their strengths and size and age are delicate things.  This park is a community resource in which we have a proprietary interest that goes beyond the usual park neighbors I am sure.  We know redwood trees.  We know how to live around them.  Construction under their roots can redirect water from their shallow root systems.  It could act as French drains, drawing the natural water away from the trees.   We have seen Redwood trees lose their vitality and become stressed with far less disruption than you are planning in our park.  I urge you to consider a different course.  Has this method been used near redwoods in any other place?   The county of Sonoma now has a pilot project for composting toilets…how about that as a solution for the bathrooms?  Honestly, if it was just drinking water we could truck water around the park for one hundred years for the cost of this project.  And it would create local employment.

I suggest you call a community meeting and bring all the data you have that requires this new system.   Let the community understand what is reasonable.   For once, let us spend a conservative amount of money on a state project.  Assure us that there is no other possible answer.  

When my great, great grandfather first rode out in the Armstrong Valley he reported that there were often places where the redwoods grew so thick that a horse couldn’t go through.  That must have been a magnificent sight….all we have left of something like that is our Armstrong Park.   We are adamant that a modern thirty foot deep system cannot be allowed to cause the tiniest amount or threat of harm.  And we are not at all convinced by this initial report.

Janice Stenger

Guerneville, Ca.

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