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Your Brain on Caltrans


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I read the "Roads and Redwoods" article by Cristina Bauss twice (April 8). I was oh, so hoping that Bauss would write that she is a redwood tree-hugger. But no, she turned out to be a stalwart journalist -- a professional reporter, which is at times lacking in that vocation. She reported the facts from both sides and she got me thinking.

Cutting the roots of 40 or so redwood trees in Richardson Grove seemed similar to a book I just finished reading entitled My Lobotomy, by Howard Dully and Charles Fleming. Howard had a frontal lobotomy at the age of 12 -- amazingly, as recently as 1960. To me, there seems to be a relationship to cutting into a human's brain and cutting into the root system of redwoods.

Through an MRI, doctors said it was "easy to see" where the "ice pick" instruments had entered -- "there were these two dark areas, like tunnels, coming up from my eye sockets. They were dark ... because when brain cells are damaged, they die." The doctors who performed the MRI saw "a perfect road map of my lobotomy that showed where the knives went in and the exact area of the brain they had damaged." Dr. Walter Freeman performed Howard's lobotomy and severed all sorts of pathways in the brain.

Could it be that cutting the intertwining root system of trees will damage, destroy or eventually kill those trees? There are no MRIs for trees, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that these trees will be killed.

I see Caltrans as being Dr. Freeman. He was careful with his patients, all 2,500 of them! He gave them electroshock treatment prior to the lobotomy. He took pictures before, during and after. He believed in his medical technique and that it helped people. Just like Caltrans thinks that the "use of a sharp instrument (like Freeman's ice pick instrument) in order to promote healing" for roots will be safe. Who are they kidding? Not me or the public. Sticking an ice pick in someone's eye sockets and twirling it around does permanent damage just like cutting the root system of a tree and whatever else is in and around that system. Caltrans, you have no good reason to widen the road by harming trees; just like Dr. Freeman had no good reason to perform lobotomies, which ultimately ended in tragedy. Hey, Caltrans, go find a worthwhile project to spend the taxpayers money on.

Congratulations to Bauss' objective reporting and letting the readers decide for themselves. Looking forward to Part II.

Jessica Puccinelli, Fortuna


A disappointing article by Christina Bauss. Roots: Caltrans has known for decades that redwoods along the roads they build develop dead tops. Redwoods, being the tallest trees, are hydrologically challenged. The loss of hydrostatic pressure due to the reduction of effective root surface area and reduced infiltration is surely suspect as the degrading factor. Water can't rise that high without all the help it can get. Since these dead tops most likely indict Caltrans, it should be no surprise they haven't studied them in all this time. If I recall right from the DEIS, Caltrans didn't even admit that the tops die back.

Richardson Grove is a complex issue, and there are other rebuttals to your article. So I will jump into a deeper matter. How come a few hungry businesses get to define the quality of life for the rest of us? Why does a company like Cypress Grove think they have a right to damage our area for their profit? They should move to Truck City and be happy. Or Mexico, if that is where their milk is coming from. They don't value our specialness. We have an obligation to resist Mammonization. Caltrans is corrupt to help corporadoes get richer at the expense of the environment. 

Let's put this issue to a plebescite of the southern Humboldt people. The Richardson Grove widening will not pass!

Robert "The Man Who Walks In The Woods" Sutherland, Ettersburg


NCJ readers may be interested to know that the Headwaters Fund (HF) grant to the county to lobby for inclusion in the Nation Highway System (NHS) was extended through June and there is now about $18,000 left in the hands of the County's Community Development Services (CDS).

There has been no study of the overall impacts this highway designation will have for Humboldt County. More than half of the $50G HF grant to the County for NHS access has already been spent on a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. and a local public relations firm. It would make more sense now for the CDS to spend the remaining $18,000 on studying the impacts of becoming part of the NHS and designating local STAA access routes.

On KINS Talk Shop last month, a member of the Eureka Chamber of Commerce stated that "everything costs 3 percent more up here" due to limits on maximum size STAA truck access through Richardson Grove. Many people accept that statement without really thinking about it, which is understandable because it's all they've heard, in various forms, from a few in positions of local economic leadership, led by the CDS. Those with any experience running a business or involved in trucking know a general statement like that is absurd.

It appears the County's CDS designed an online survey back in 2003 to support foregone conclusions. That scant data was then extrapolated in Dr. Gallo's report to justify an economic need and greenwash the environmental impacts of increased truck traffic. The CDS then went on to support a select group of businesses without regard to the consequences to other businesses and the general public, going so far as to hire a public relations firm last year to make their case as opposition continued to increase.

Seems ironic we can spend 10 years on the General Plan update, but virtually ignore becoming part of the National Highway System -- potentially having a greater affect on the rate and type of future development than anything that comes out of the General Plan update.

Dave Spreen, Kneeland


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