For Immediate Release, July 9, 2020

Contact:

Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 986-2600, pgalvin@biologicaldiversity.org
Charles Ivor, Friends of Gualala River, (707) 337-0147, cfifish@mac.com

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Wildlife in California Redwood Forest

GUALALA, Calif.— Conservation groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and a timber company for failing to protect threatened and endangered fish, birds and frogs from a redwood logging project near northern California’s Gualala River.

Today’s notice from the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of Gualala River argues the state and the Gualala Redwood Timber Company have violated the Endangered Species Act by illegally harming Northern California steelhead, Central California Coast coho salmon, California red-legged frogs, marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls.

“The state is abdicating its responsibility to save these imperiled animals and some of California’s most spectacular redwoods,” said Peter Galvin, cofounder of the Center. “Logging has devastated this region and too many species are hanging on by a thread. We’re in an extinction crisis and we need to protect our wildlife now more than ever.”

The Gualala River ecosystem suffers from decades of abuse, including previous logging projects by the timber company. The proposed logging site, on 300 acres in Sonoma County, contains some of the last remaining mature floodplain redwood forest in the area.

“Friends of Gualala River is proud to partner with the acclaimed Center for Biological Diversity in this important action to stem the losses of our most endangered species and turn the path of our river towards recovery,” said Charles Ivor, president of Friends of Gualala River.

Devastation from logging in the region is well documented and this new logging project will further harm the five species already nearing extinction. The Endangered Species Act prohibits “taking” of these animals, including actions that “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect” endangered species.

The 2016 federal recovery plan for Northern California steelhead says logging is a primary contributor to the fishes’ dwindling numbers and the Gualala River is “essential” for its recovery. Likewise, the federal recovery plan for Central California Coast coho salmon lists logging as a major cause of habitat loss and degradation for the species.

The proposed logging project will use heavy equipment to remove redwoods and build logging roads and skid trails in the area. This will destroy the California red-legged frogs’ habitat and is likely to kill or injure frogs. The logging plan itself acknowledges the potential for logging activities to kill slow-moving animals.

Marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls rely on old forest stands with dense canopy cover, a habitat type that continues to decline due to commercial logging operations. In addition to reducing the habitat these birds need to survive, logging leads to increased predation of murrelets and increased competition for spotted owls.

The Center and Friends of Gualala River are represented by Gross and Klein LLP.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Friends of Gualala River is a local, citizen's nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the Gualala River, its watershed, and the species that rely on it.

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