Judge Alsup's ruling on April 4 shows the determination of the citizens in Humboldt ("Tall Order," April 19). As a student at Humboldt State, I have seen petitions circulate around the campus about Richardson Grove. The power of non-violent protest is a powerful tool to fight for social and environmental justice. One of the reasons I moved to Arcata was because of the magnificent redwoods. Caltrans says that it will only cut six trees that are redwoods, but six trees that have been here for hundreds of years. Humboldt County is known for its natural beauty, not for big box stores, like Wal-Mart. As a social work student, one of our core values is respect and dignity of every person. To practice this value, we look at the environment that surrounds our client. If the environment is being cut down and losing its beauty, then this will affect our client's health. This measure will affect everyone who cares about the planet we live on and what we leave behind for our children.
Francesca Jenkins, Arcata
Humboldt County and Caltrans officials have presented questionable economic justification to support Assemblyman Chesbro's conclusion that "jobs and economic benefits to local businesses far outweigh the arguments against the [Richardson Grove] project."
In addition to the now familiar handful of anecdotal, unanalyzed individual statements, several years ago the county's economic development department conducted an online business survey that generated fewer than 20 complete responses, which became the basis of the Gallo Report.
Although the county did not release the names of the businesses involved in the survey, Dr. Gallo includes a footnote that explains since our local lily industry is already the dominant player in the international market, any gains from reduced shipping costs will not be used for local expansion. Curiously, he includes the data in his calculations anyway and finds that a total of 55 jobs will be retained or added as a result of allowing the over-size trucks through Richardson Grove.
The Gallo Report fails to acknowledge probable job losses in the local trucking industry. Comparing the lily industry's volume with the total of all freight volume calculated to be affected by Caltrans indicates up to 40 percent of the projected economic gains would go to the lily industry alone, but will produce no local job growth nor expansion of the lily industry.
When asked about the inadequacies of the Gallo Report during the draft EIR process, Caltrans' response in the final EIR was that Dr. Gallo stands behind his report. Caltrans then concluded their response to say the Gallo Report was not the only economic justification for the project, but offered no other details. The final EIR allows no further public inquiry to Caltrans' response.
Considering the environmental risks to Richardson Grove and the increased safety risks for all of us if these over-size trucks are given permanent exemptions to travel the Highway 101 Redwood corridor, the public deserves a lot more evidence than what's been offered so far to justify Mr. Chesbro's conclusion that "jobs and economic benefits to local businesses far outweigh the arguments against the project."
Dave Spreen, Kneeland