Demonizing the Opposition:Richardsons Grove, the Pros and Cons of the Caltrans Project
Good people come to different conclusions based on the same facts. We know that. In spite of movies and books that consistently show good fighting against evil, life is rarely that simple. We know that, too. So why do we demonize those who opposes us?
In the poster above, sweet gentle souls are shown linking their arms in the face of a nuclear tank bearing the words Caltrans and Walmart. Below is the caption “Expose CalTrans Lies & Mis-Information.” I believe the Richardson Grove Action Committee are sincerely concerned about the trees and the Grove and even about Humboldt County as a whole but, in an effort to promote their cause, they are demonizing other people who feel just as sincerely that they are improving the road without hurting the trees.
Is that necessary? If the facts are on your side, can’t you just point out the most salient of them without whipping up folks into an emotional frenzy which can lead to unintended consequences? I’m not saying its wrong to appeal to emotions. Just wrong to appeal to the anger and fear part of our brains because poking that steaming pit leads to some ugly responses especially among the mentally ill and those who have anger issues on both sides.
This same poster without the tank and with a piece of heavy equipment instead would have been truthful and still emotionally evocative. If the caption had read, “Getting at the Root of Caltran’s Facts,” then they could have pointed out where they believe there is an error in Caltran’s methodology without resorting to painting the many employees of CalTrans as villains determined to mow down old growth redwoods no matter what the cost.
I know I sound naive but I believe that seeking to tell the truth and appealing to our better emotions may lead to short term losses but long term gains for our society.
Below the fold, I list the facts as I see them. I welcome a dialogue from those who have opposing views. We may never agree with each other but we will build a society of mutual respect and goodwill which is worth far more than either side winning this particular issue.
What is the purpose of the project according to Caltrans?
“Industry standard-sized trucks conforming to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) are currently prohibited from traveling Route 101 north of Leggett due to the narrow alignment at Richardson Grove. This location is one of the few remaining areas of the state in which these trucks are not permitted. As STAA trucks have become the national standard, communities with routes unable to provide STAA access are at an economic disadvantage. Truck cargo must be unloaded and transferred to shorter trucks, making goods movement more expensive.
What are some positive effects of the project?
- Support local businesses–Humboldt is currently at a disadvantage “because truck cargos must be
unloaded and transferred to shorter trucks coming into and out of the county, which results in
making goods movement more expensive and less timely. In addition, many local businesses
must maintain higher inventories due to erratic deliveries and damage during transfers. Local
companies with major freight needs have relocated out of the area or gone out of business in
part due to transportation problems. …Several businesses, including
lumber, floral, food and other manufacturing, as well as the local newspaper, have noted
higher costs and have considered relocating out of the County.”
- Support local Consumers-According to one study, local businesses and residents
pay about 10 to 15 percent more for goods due to poor truck access.
- Safety–“The US Route 101 Safety and Commerce Study” (2005), found that the five mile segment of US Route 101 (PM 0.0 to 5.22), which includes Richardson Grove State Park, … exceeded the statewide average for injury + fatal (132%) and for total number of collisions (175%). During this time period, truck traffic made up 14-17% of the total traffic. … Of the total number of collisions occurring over the course of the study (164), trucks were involved in 26 of the collisions (16%). Of these 26 collisions involving trucks, ten collisions (38%) occurred as a result of hitting an object. The vast majority of these collisions involving trucks (>70%) occurred in clear weather during daylight hours when the pavement was dry.”
- Provides refuge for bicyclists by increasing shoulders where possible when they can widen without impacting old growth.
- Drainage will be improved “include three culvert replacements“
What are the project impacts?
Trees cut or impacted–
- 7 redwoods from 4 to 19 inches in diameter at breast height.
- 27 Douglas Fir from 4-23 inches in diameter at breast height.
- some tan oak and maple also none bigger than 22 inches in diameter at breast height.
- construction would occur within the root zone of old growth redwoods.
- construction of a retaining wall north of Richardsons Grove would impact appearance
- construction itself will cause temporary noise issues, traffic slowdowns, visual impact as well as temporarily impact businesses in the area.
How is Caltrans mitigating the impact?
- an arborist has signed off on the work to the trees and will be present whenever ground is disturbed.
- “the upper four to six inches of duff and native soil (topsoil) will be set aside for placement on
finished fill slopes to provide the nutrients and a seed bank for natural revegetation.”
- An archaeologist and a Native American “monitor” will be present whenever the ground is disturbed.
- a special air “spade” will be used around the roots.
Concerns people have expressed and my responses.
This project will destroy the Giant Beautiful Trees. No large trees will be cut. The roots will be disturbed but decades ago Caltrans workers cut roots that were buckling the asphalt and there has been no ill effects.
This project will bring in Big Box stores. There is no need to penalize local businesses because of fear of big box stores. Use existing or create new zoning laws to keep out big box stores. We’ve done it before. We can do it again.
This project will allow the military to come to Humboldt. If the military wants to come to Humboldt, fear of crossing the yellow line isn’t going to stop them. The two lane road that exists now is plenty large enough. If they can get into the mountains of Afghanistan, sweet little 101 will work just fine.
Here is where I got my facts:
For more information, please contact politely:
Phone: (707) 441-5739 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (707) 441-5739 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, TTY 711
Most of this information came from one website here.