Scott Greacen: Attacks On EPIC Were Out Of Line – October 25, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

The most disturbing thing about Robert Eckart’s outrageous attacks on me and EPIC, the group I proudly represent, is the Arcata Eye’s decision to print, and publish to the web, more than 3,600 words of smears and innuendo that a reasonably well-informed journalist would know are not supported by facts.

EPIC has a 33-year history of working to protect public trust resources, like forests, water, and threatened species. As an organization, EPIC has a record of success in a series of tough fights that have helped make history. Today, we are still a small group that does big work, in reforming industrial forestry, on projects and plans for public lands, and protecting biodiversity and clean water. We have to raise money to do everything we do. The idea that EPIC is somehow “in it for the money” is just absurd. It would be laughable if it were not so poisonous.

While I cannot allow Mr. Eckart’s malicious untruths to stand unanswered, it is not possible for me to prove that I’m not, and that EPIC isn’t, all the horrible things Mr. Eckart suggests we are. That’s why it’s so important to note that Mr. Eckart supplies no evidence for his claims. In fact, Mr. Eckart knows perfectly well that EPIC doesn’t have a pile of money: he has looked at the public records. When Mr. Eckart writes “(I)f EPIC has not become anything more than a club of predatory lawyers, why then do they show so little money on their books?” he shows his willingness to march his slanderous thesis right past the facts. In fact, though EPIC has a well-earned reputation for our willingness to take on tough, important cases, most of what EPIC does is not filing lawsuits – it’s writing comments, organizing with citizens and other groups, participating in coalitions and collaborative efforts and all the other work that goes into advocacy today.

It would take pages of print to tear down each of Mr. Eckart’s false claims. Part of the reason that the press does not cover these issues well is that they are complicated and tedious, full of acronyms and agencies. The North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) is a state agency which owns the rail lines that run from the Samoa peninsula, around Humboldt Bay, up the Eel River and over to Willits and points south. The NCRA is run by a board of directors composed of representatives from the four counties – Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin – that the rail line passes through. The Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company (NWP), owned by Mr. John Williams, is a private company that has been designated as the rail ‘operator’ for the south end of the NCRA line (from Willits south) and holds an option to become the operator on the north end.

EPIC has been on the record with concerns about the impacts of the failed railroad line through the wild and scenic Eel River Canyon for a decade. Over the past several years, EPIC has worked closely with Friends of the Eel River, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, and Humboldt Baykeeper to watchdog the railroad. We have all long been concerned by the serious impacts the railroad has had on the wild and scenic Eel River, the failure of the NCRA to comply with a 1999 consent decree that requires cleanup of at least dozens of toxic hot spots along the rail line, and the potential for future impacts from rail reconstruction that fails to take into account those serious impacts. We have recently become concerned as well that, even though a restoration of freight rail operations around Humboldt Bay is clearly economically infeasible for the foreseeable future, the NCRA and NWP are blocking any serious consideration of rails-to-trails proposals for the publically owned rail right of way around Humboldt Bay.

We have been outspoken in asking the NCRA to conduct a full environmental review for its entire line; the NCRA has so far refused, and is now preparing to release an EIR (environmental impact report) for just the south end of its line. The NWP, meanwhile, has taken the position that it can and will ignore state and federal environmental laws.

If I can find the time, I will try in a future column to explain how the letter to which Mr. Eckart objects so strongly, and the NCRA’s response to it, showed that the NCRA has failed to protect public safety and to exercise basic oversight over recent actions on its rail line.

In this column, however, I want to set the record straight about what happened to Mr. Eckart’s request for an MOU – a memorandum of understanding – from the NCRA. Mr. Eckart’s hysterical account of persecution itself reveals that the Chair of the Fort Seward Fire Safe Council was pursuing an agenda far beyond the safety of that tiny Eel River Canyon hamlet. But it’s what Mr. Eckart leaves out of the story that shows both that our concerns were well founded and that Mr. Eckart is being deliberately deceptive when he suggests that nasty environmentalists shut down his noble little fire-prevention effort.

To begin with, there’s this excerpt from the NCRA’s August minutes.

Peggy Satterly [sic] expressed concern about the possibility of weed abatement in the Fort Seward area as proposed by Fort Seward Fire Safe Council (FSFSC). She said that she worries about increased trespassing and fire hazard if the weed abatement is carried out. She also said that she believes that the request to remove weeds may possibly lead to future speeder runs in the area which would create additional fire hazards and trespassing issues.

According to a 2004 story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Ms. Satterlee is the co-owner, with her two brothers, of the 28,000 acre Fort Seward Ranch. I understand her presentation left a powerful impression on members of the NCRA board.

So we were not alone in seeing a connection between Mr. Eckart’s track-clearing proposal and the speeder runs his buddies at the Timber Heritage Association have been conducting. Nor were we alone in seeing the potential for poor management of fire risks by an unproven group that appears to be pursuing a mission that does not reflect the usual focus of Fire Safe Councils across California – i.e., protecting homes and communities from fire risks.

In fact, the scheme being promoted to the NCRA board by the Chair of the Ft. Seward Fire Safe Council not only did not reflect the community’s priorities for fire protection work, it was strongly opposed by the land owner who would have been most affected by the action. Some Fire Safe Council. It is worth noting that Mr. Eckart, in his final column, has at last ceased to proclaim himself Chair of the Ft. Seward Fire Safe Council. Sounds like the state Fire Safe Council folks were concerned by the damage he has been doing to their brand.

On a related note, Mr. Eckart still claims support for his plans from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But he neglects to mention the August 9 letter from Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge manager Eric Nelson to the NCRA board correcting Mr. Eckart’s various misrepresentations and disavowing any support for Mr. Eckart’s “invasive plant removal” plans.

Mr. Nelson’s letter also makes it clear that the NCRA rail line around Humboldt Bay and THA’s speeder operations were centerpieces of Mr. Eckart’s plans from the summer months of 2010, when the Ft. Seward Fire Safe Council was apparently being formed. (As of mid-September, the group was still not formally registered with the California Fire Safe Council.)

Mr. Eckart’s proposal was not entirely without supporters. The Timber Heritage Association’s Mike Pechner was in San Rafael to offer his support. And, according to the NCRA’s minutes, NWP’s Mr. Williams “said that he would prefer the Board not take action that signals opposition to this effort because NCRA depends on volunteers.” Demonstrating a healthy skepticism, the Board voted 6-3 to turn down the proposed MOU. So that was that for Mr. Eckart’s proposal – turned down by the NCRA board because his neighbor, a local rancher, opposed it.

Scott Greacen is the Executive Director of EPIC, the Environmental Protection Information Center, which has a new office at 145 South G Street in Arcata and is on the web at

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29 Responses to “Scott Greacen: Attacks On EPIC Were Out Of Line – October 25, 2010”

  1. Some things EPIC is leaving out.

    EPIC and other environmental groups are the ones to have our governor veto legislation, that would of paid to clean up these sites, just because it had money to help the railroad.

    EPIC complains a freight railroad around Humboldt Bay is economically infeasible, but NWP says it can be done. EPIC wants to make sure it is unfeasible by requiring a EIR for the entire line, ignoring the historical divisions of the line. Funny thing is EPIC doesn’t require the same whole EIR for any project involving highway 101. Miles of redwoods were removed as part of Windsor – Santa Rosa highway 101 widening project. Yet not a peep out of our environmental con artists. The Novato Narrows highway 101 project is going to cost around eight hundred million dollars. A railroad would help relieve some of this traffic down there, for a fraction of the cost. Yet these environmental groups spent good money to even block the SMART commuter rail line because it might help the NWP/NCRA with freight.

    EPIC also fails to tell you, it has lost on matters involving the railroad and the surface transportation board. The city of Novato also said goodbye to them, in their quest to prevent the railroad from doing anything. That city’s lawsuit ended in a settlement, not a loss, or win for either side.

    Speeders are generally light, self-powered maintenance of way vehicles. Your are unlikely to notice any impact, if you even notice them running on the rails at all. The are not regulated by the FRA. They are generally powered by gasoline, but some are electric, and even at least one is solar powered. The nice thing, is they don’t require much power to operate them. Being light weight, they can continue safely along track, that full size trains would have to stop for. Case in point, the Arcata to Eureka tracks would be entirely run-able if the tracks were cleared of brush on the Eureka end with speeders. I’ve walked the tracks, and been on the speeder.

    Did EPIC tell you Timber Heritage is not the only group wanting use, and have used the rails? Motor-car Operators West is what I call a good group, wanting to use the rails with their speeders. Did EPIC tell you about with their annual human powered railcar sculpture races, at the Santa Rosa Depot? How about railbiking?

  2. I’ll clean it up, and send it in.

  3. Robert Eckart


    So glad you finally crawled out to respond ! And WHAT a response !!!

    ” While I cannot allow Mr. Eckart’s malicious untruths to stand unanswered, it is not possible for me to prove that I’m not, and that EPIC isn’t, all the horrible things Mr. Eckart suggests we are.”

    I have no intent to be malicious towards you or your organization. I just am piping up with the facts that ANYONE can locate with a CPRA legal demand filed through the Secretary of State in Sacramento. Except, of course, for the settlements which EPIC has garnered which are FOREVER sealed by mutual agreement between EPIC and the folks that paid the settlements. Perhaps this is why you have made the above statement, is it not?

    I think it is important for honest environmentalists to not be snowed by your humility. In years gone by EPIC was an effective fighting force fueled by the guts and gusto of green minded and concerned folks with very little money. Those of us who have lived here for more than a few years – all remember this.

    Looking at your current financial books, it appears that EPIC still has little money coming in. My point has been, connecting the dots, that the money listed as being won in court cases and settlements by the Attorney General’s office seems to be MUCH MUCH larger. How all that money apparently disappears before it hits your books is probably a good question for your large team of illustrious lawyers, that’s all. While they are scratching their heads, they might also maybe help you craft a response more useful than the one above !!

    All eyes are on you, Scott, fire away…

    Robert Eckart

    ps: I think it was a good idea to move EPIC’s HQ from that cushy spot out on Jacoby Creek Road. South G Street stays more consistent with your story line image.

  4. Mr Eckart

    the settlements which EPIC has garnered which are FOREVER sealed by mutual agreement between EPIC and the folks that paid the settlements. Perhaps this is why you have made the above statement, is it not?

    There are no such settlements. NONE. Nor will there ever be while I am director of this organization. Please retract this vicious, stupid lie.

    You, Mr. Eckart, are a liar. You have produced no proof for a series of quite nasty claims about EPIC and me. You keep saying you’ve talked to this office and that office and PRA’d this agency and FOIA’d that agency but the fact remains that YOU DON’T HAVE ANY PROOF for your false, poisonous claims that EPIC is after money, not environmental protection.

    The heart of your fallacious complaint is that lawyers get paid. But plumbers get paid, too. That doesn’t mean they go around wrecking peoples’ plumbing so they can get paid. Folks around here seem pretty willing to pay for plumbers when they need ’em, and lawyers too.

    Or are you among those who hold to the noble belief that only corporations and the rich should be represented by capable attorneys? Are you aware that our excellent attorneys often have to take substantial risks in representing environmental plaintiffs – that if and when we prevail and our attorneys are able to recover some portion of their fees, they usually have to wait years to see a dime? That what EPIC gets back – if anything, ever – is (1) the very small amount of fees we’ve been able to pay our lawyers as we bring a case and (2) the costs we’ve laid out? That we have never in our thirty-three year history filed a case seeking money damages? That we have never, and will never, take a settlement that

    Having finally realized that EPIC does not, in fact, have a large budget, and does, in fact, have to work very hard to raise money every year, you have now shifted your attack, to this idiotic query about “where’d the money go?” Are you even aware that the California state bar, like every other bar association in the country, has clear rules forbidding attorneys to share their fees with their clients?

    You have called me a pig and a Taliban. Now you sneer ‘so glad you crawled out.’ You, sir, have no sense of shame.

    Now you are bringing my family’s home into your attacks? This has gone way too far already.

    Thank you Mr. Hoover for this wonderfully educational exchange. And nice job misspelling my name.

  5. that we have never, and will never, take a settlement that would force us to give up our rights.

  6. I note that these comments are being moderated.

    Nice to know that Mr. Hoover is keeping the level of discourse at an appropriately civil level.

  7. I am disappointed with Arcata Eye editors for providing a soapbox for Mr. Echert from which he can lash out at those whom he believes have frustrated his personal plans for the use of public property.

    Professional editors should be aware that ad hominem attacks like those Mr. Eckert has leveled at EPIC are just the latest tactic being used by the anti-environmental right in an attempt to turn the American People against those who stand up to powerful interests which would sacrifice nature, water quality and the universal right of humans to a clean and safe environment. If you want to see more of these attacks check out some of the entry’s from this search:

    Mr. Echert has apparently decided to try the same tactics to satisfy his personal desire to punish those who played a part in frustrating his railroad dreams. That is his choice to make. But for editors to provide a soapbox for this sort of trash should not be acceptable.

    The good people of Arcata will see through Mr. Eckert’s tactics and they will vote with their pocket book on whether Eye editors are acting responsibly when they provide his ilk with a soapbox.

  8. Scott,

    I apologize for misspelling your name. That’s what happens when one posts after a grueling day putting the dead tree out. Ironic, since I’ve fixed your name’s spelling a few times in letters to the editor.

    Also, I have to moderate the comments just to keep the usual Nazi-accusations and death-wish business down to a dull roar. Otherwise this thing would read like Topix or one of the hate blogs.


  9. Felice,

    Since you know that the good people of Arcata will see through falsity, it seems your disappointment in our editorial decisions may be misplaced.

    That is exactly why we post opinion – so that the ensuing conversation will elucidate facts. If I didn’t publish things that other people object to and scold me for running, next to nothing would be published except weather reports and spelling bee pictures.


  10. Robert Eckart


    If you are going to ask for a retraction, please at least be accurate in your depiction of what needs retracting.
    Here is what I wrote in response to your recent Opinion piece in the EYE:

    “I have no intent to be malicious towards you or your organization. I just am piping up with the facts that ANYONE can locate with a CPRA legal demand filed through the Secretary of State in Sacramento. Except, of course, for the settlements which EPIC has garnered which are FOREVER sealed by mutual agreement between EPIC and the folks that paid the settlements.”

    None of these three statements is a lie.

    Next: I have not called you a pig. I did remark that EPIC recently had the manners of a well fed pig that had all the barnyard animals scattering. I made this in relation to the current lawsuits your organization has brought against certain parties TO BLOCK A DEMOCRATIC PROCESS right here in Eureka next week. Did your lawyers not provide you with this information? I can get a copy if you need to see it. This is not a lie.

    Next: I have not called you a Taleban. I alluded to the fact that the way in which you sent a letter to more than one dozen government agencies essentially informing them that if they even thought about assisting the Fort Seward Fire Safe Council in clearing invasive species or brush – that they would get sued. This is similar in many respects to a Taleban Night Letter which the zealots deliver during the night to inform the recipient: “Repent, Recant or You’re Gonna Get It”. You did not even take the time to get the letter signed by the parties whom you included on the letterhead. This is not a lie.

    Make certain that you remind your subscribers that you, as Director of EPIC, decided to file this letter against us. In the process of responding to your unprovoked letter against my volunteer crew I believe that I have discovered some interesting FACTS about your organization and the way it currently does business.

    For you, now, to begin playing the “I Am Victim” card on us is pretty winky, Scott, but I won’t ask you to retract it, since it does make tactical sense.

    I do apologize for the fact that these discussions have gotten personal and, therefore, as a result, move away from the examination of the truth. For the sake of the community, lets stay in that groove, ok?

    Can you shed some light on these two statements which you made above:

    line 5:
    “There are no such settlements. NONE.”

    and line21:
    “that we have never, and will never, take a settlement that would force us to give up our rights”

    They seem somewhat contradictory and almost diametrically opposed to me, but can you tell me which one is the truth, in your present understanding ?


    Robert Eckart
    Fort Seward Fire Safe Council

  11. 505Alive

    I’m confused. Although expensive, the railroad, if refurbished, would remove trucks from the road and provide a more economical way to transport materials and freight into and out of Humboldt county. If it existed, probably half the trucks going through Richardson grove would not. Freight on a railroad produces 1/4 or less of what the same freight on a truck produces. Despite the benefits, many ‘environmental’ organizations want the railroad to stay dead.
    Why? Is it because it would result in more economic activity in Humboldt county? Which would employ more people, and allow more children of residents to stay when they grew up? Thus increasing the population? If this is the reason, then shouldn’t the discussion move toward deciding if a decaying economy of Humboldt is preferable to a more prosperous economy? Does prosperity have to mean degradation of your lifestyle? Can Humboldt prosper and still maintain a high quality of life for more residents?
    Maybe the NCRA failed to protect public safety. Maybe their non-rolling cars and engines failed to minimize the pollution that resulted without them. Maybe their rusting rails and rotting ties fell into the Eel River and slowed a raft. It is a shame there has never been any money to prevent the time and weather-driven deterioration of this route that operated for 100 years. The NCRA has been hampered by a lack of monetary support from state government. Money spent for refurbishment on the south end appears to have been earmarked or required to be used for refurbishment; it couldn’t have legally been used for anything else. Maybe the stipends going to the board members could have been used for toxic remediation. But then, who would have attended board meetings, and prepared all the paperwork required to do anything for the railroad? The many directors of NCRA over the years have served, nobody has profited. There has not been funding to do much of anything except what has been done.
    I don’t understand the effect of the EIR, except as a tool for an ‘environmental’ organization to stop the railroad. What can an EIR say- “There’s going to be a train, like there was for 100 years, but quieter, safer, more efficient and with cleaner exhaust.”
    Please, someone enlighten me, why do ‘environmental’ organizations hate this railroad so much?

  12. The ostensible reasons are, as I understand it, essentially twofold: that restoration of the rail corridor enables reindustrialization of Humboldt. It could also be part of a port-rail scheme, which would involve creation of a massively polluting port on Humboldt Bay through which Chinese crap would be delivered for distribution to points beyond. Then there’s the intrusion of the rail into the wildlands, which requires some violence done to habitat in those areas.

    The cynical explanation is that rail is simply another cause around which to rally donors. There is a palpable sentiment at large that some of the local environmental organizations do very little but write menacing letters, file nuisance suits and maintain an attractive website with pictures of natural settings. They don’t like hearing this at all, but there it is.

    When I go out to the Marsh, the forest or our urban streams to shoot various reclamation and restoration projects, I meet City people, community volunteers and lots of grade and high school kids. But rarely is there any presence by the brand name environmental groups. Perhaps they do other valuable work. I have wondered how much environmentalism one can accomplish sitting at a computer.

    Take your pick, mix and match.

  13. So far, not a single person has been able to point to a single speeder caused fire. Now on the Virgina & Truckee, speeders are used for fire watch.

    So Scott, do you have any report of a speeder caused fire, or is this just spreading fear?

  14. Voz Silvestre

    Editor Hoover writes:

    “That is exactly why we post opinion – so that the ensuing conversation will elucidate facts.”

    The logic in that statement is quite unbecoming, coming from the editor of a supposedly alternative media source.

    If that is the modus operandi of the Arcata Eye, I myself would opine that there is a kind of Rovian (as in Karl Rove) dynamic on the editing of this website. Rove is famous for his style of throwing shit at a political opponent, all kinds of shit, none of it really having to be true, just to see it something will stick that would stigmatize his political opponent in the public eye. And then the opponent of Rove would have to defend himself to disprove an attack, wasting time and energy to clear their name, and making them vulnerable to further attacks.

    This is the journalism of the Arcata Eye? A Rovian journalism that allows opinion writers to throw shit at people without any sort of hard documentation or evidence, hoping to elucidate facts in the conversation afterwards? Whatever happened to a journalism that requires fact checking and numerous sources before publishing a story?

    It makes me wonder how much journalism one can accomplish sitting at a computer. Digging into the Arcata Eye, I would say not very much.

  15. This dispute has drawn quite a bit of participation by those steeped in the insult culture of the blogs. Points for elevating the form with something more contemporary than Hitler.

    The trouble, Voz, is that both antagonists in the Eckart/EPIC argument assert that they’re the exclusive truth tellers. This impossible contradiction can only be resolved by factual argumentation. Branding the medium which delivers this conversation as sinister doesn’t really contribute to that process.

  16. Cesare Caligari

    Scott Greacen attempting to make “EPIC” a victim reminds me of an old story about a “soiled dove” complaining about the names she had been called indirectly duing a sermon in church.

    A restoration of rail service in Humboldt County would be a boon to all citizens of the area. Attempting to use that as the focal point of nusiance legal actions designed to squeeze “go-away money out of various agencies is as shameful as the trade of the aforementioned soiled dove.

    I’d really like to see some coverage without the trumped up bogus confrontationalism.

    As for the dozen or so people who would benefit from being able to take an improved path between Eureka and Arcata to hike or ride on, let us lobby for a rational solution. A trail on the east side of the
    highway that would allow use by people other than those making the noise as well. I might want to use my bicycle to shop at the cash and carry store. I doubt that I’d enjoy crossing the highway abd getting run down by a truck with a load that could be carried in a greener way, on rails.

    Every dollar that Scott Greacen and his ilk steal from public agencies undermines legitimate environmental protection. Just as much a form of terrorism as is used by the police state.

  17. SeaJay

    Scott, I hate to see you waste your valuable time on nonsense like Eckart’s. But one has to… Keep up the work that you do on environmental issues and promoting the dissemination of the full story. cheers.

  18. this is the first time I’ve seen an editor of a news site posting comments. That’s “alternative” but I’m not sure it’s a good idea.

    In any case editor kevpod wrote this:

    “The trouble, Voz, is that both antagonists in the Eckart/EPIC argument assert that they’re the exclusive truth tellers. This impossible contradiction can only be resolved by factual argumentation. Branding the medium which delivers this conversation as sinister doesn’t really contribute to that process.”

    If the editor is interested in “factual argumentation” I think he will need to get out of his chair and actually do some reporting! The issue of whether rebuilding the railroad and whether that is or is not a good idea is an important issue and would benefit from reporting that sought to inform the issue rather than inflame it.

    For example, it is clear from some of the comments above that there is misunderstanding about the reasons EPIC – and many other environmental groups – oppose rebuilding the line. The Eel River Canyon is one of the most unstable landscapes in the world. A rail line there is a maintenance nightmare for those who would operate the railroad. There is not sufficient revenue potential to support the maintenance level needed to prevent massive sediment delivery to the river and to prevent a spill of chemicals (like what happened a while back on the Upper Sacramento River). Eel River salmon are on the brink of extinction. Can they survive yet another environmental impact?

    The fact that the editor either did not know or chose not to report the main environmental objection to the rail line raises additional questions about his motives: are they to inform or to inflame?


    HOOVER SEZ: The trouble, Voz, is that both antagonists in the Eckart/EPIC argument assert that they’re the exclusive truth tellers. This impossible contradiction can only be resolved by factual argumentation.
    Not long ago you published a letter that I wrote in which I gave “factual” information that demonstrates that Eckart is a liar.Some examples: he claimed that he applied for accident records in Richardson Grove from Caltrans using the Freedom of Information Act. He then said that the so-called records he got showed there was an average of one “serious” accident a month. Lie: you don’t apply to Caltrans for accident records. Lie: FOIA has nothing to do with local accident records, it’s embarrassingly ridiculous to have claimed to have used FOIA to get those records. Lie: I have the records for the last decade of accidents in the Richardson Grove stretch of 101 and there was an average of 6 accidents a year, and only one death in that decade, a 68 year old on drugs.
    I made a number of other such points but apparently there is truth in the old saw that there are none so blind as those who will not see. Hoover, maybe you should get your eyes checked.Apparently neither you nor Eckart choose to acknowledge the “factual” information I gave.
    Eckart is a liar and you are supporting a liar.
    What is most sad is that there are so many people out there who are willing to believe Eckarts hooey without doing any research themselves.

  20. We have never claimed to be an “alternative” newspaper. I don’t even really know what that is. We’re just a small community weekly.

  21. Sylvia,

    I continue to admire your activism on behalf of the environment. I don’t understand this note, though, re: ignoring your letter. We did publish your letter, and it’s online as well.

    Just as a comment, it’s odd that you and Felice seem to think that I embrace Eckart’s columns as fact, or as my personal beliefs. We give exposure to all kinds of contradictory points of view. You people know much more about this issue than I do, so I cede to your superior knowledge.

    My role is to help get it all out before the public so they can form their own opinions, and that’s what I will continue to do. There’s this little old thing called the marketplace of ideas, and the truth will out. But only if we discuss it.



    Kevpod, I don’t understand YOUR note. I said clearly that you published my letter, I never said that you didn’t. What I said about ignoring my letter referred to ignoring its content.
    You say:But rarely is there any presence by the brand name environmental groups. Perhaps they do other valuable work. I have wondered how much environmentalism one can accomplish sitting at a computer.
    Your claim that all you do is put it all out there and then everyone can decide for themselves but that’s not true. You are almost as busy attacking EPIC as Eckart is, your slant is everywhere. That snarky line about them “perhaps” doing other valuable work is hardly an even handed remark.
    I am amused by the fact that I factually refuted many things that Eckart said but he makes no attempt to address what I said. Of course he can’t because what he said was 99% nonsense.

  23. Sylvia,

    I’ll note that all of the discussion re: EPIC has been in the clearly labeled Opinion section of the newspaper and online, and in online comment sections which are for freewheeling opinion. So in terms of slant, or ignoring your opinion, I’m not sure what you mean. I read your opinion along with everyone else’s, made sure they were all available to readers, but haven’t endorsed any one of them. A lot of energy has been wasted assailing people for saying things rather than dealing with the actual assertions.

    I said “perhaps” because I’m unfamiliar with EPIC as a local force. My guess is that others are too. I didn’t even know it had moved to South G Street before Eckart piped up. That’s not abnormal, sometimes the most effective people and organizations are not very good at publicizing their work.

    I was hoping that Scott’s Greacen’s reaction to Bob Eckart’s column would include a primer on some of the concrete steps that EPIC is taking in terms of environmental protection. Maybe a future column will.

    I think the reason I and others are vague on EPIC’s work is that it isn’t necessarily out in the field. Every week in Arcata there is some enviro-project going on at a creek or on the forest. While I don’t see EPIC there, that doesn’t mean they don’t do equally valuable work in the legal arena.

    So I guess what I’d like to see is, rather than just reacting to criticism, some sort of piece that says “Hi, we’re EPIC, we’re glad to be in Arcata, this is what we do and how you can help” type of column.

  24. sarafina

    I will first admit that I don’t live in the area and don’t really understand the particulars of the railroad argument, and road argument. I especially don’t understand how “only one death in that decade” is an argument against the road, the railroad, Eckart, the truth or anything. For a seemingly kind hearted person to get so angry that she forgets that one death on a road is too many (she also forgets that the family of that “only one” may read her comment) seems unreasonable to me. While she “offers” her truth–there is no proof or evidence of her truth, no way to trace her argument–just words in the ether like everyone else.
    It does however appear that the EPIC response does not contain facts either–their argument is that it would take too many pages to “tear down (or up I can’t remember) Eckart’s claims.” Maybe, just one traceable response to the horrible lies could be offered-that would certainly add strength to their argument. It does appear that the burden of proof is on EPIC and should be easy for them to provide.
    Perhaps truth and facts are two different things. Perhaps both sides have truths that have no facts. We all know that there are facts that have no truth. (Remember when people were killed for suggesting that the world was round? –Went against a truth—or maybe we are wrong now). Perhaps one side has truth, perhaps in issues like this truth is not the issue. I would like to know what people are really angry about…it surely can’t be a lack of facts when no one has any to offer. Then everyone would have to be mad at themselves—maybe they are…
    Seems to me everybody wants to use the environment—seems reasonable. We all have to use the environment in some way—there are risks. The hurtful and pained type of conversation going on in these discussions will not help the environment. In the south we are dealing with an issue of real environmental significance down here and I have yet to see any people spin off issue quit so hard. If someone here had asked the same hard questions of BP, or presented the same issues regarding the use of funds or the intent of BP environmental position, we may not have lost “only 12 men”, uncountable animals, and unknowable wonders of the gulf.
    The biggest thing I don’t understand is the statement:
    “While I cannot allow Mr. Eckart’s malicious untruths to stand unanswered, it is not possible for me to prove that I’m not, and that EPIC isn’t, all the horrible things Mr. Eckart suggests we are.”
    I may just be a silly southern girl but, “oh no, unh unh,” that stinks. Why you can’t prove it? Why you can’t even answer it? Trust me we know when things go bad down here–the first step is getting really mad and then accusing someone else of something worse. Seems simple to clear up the problems—drop the rhetoric “malicious untruths” (is there a kind untruth?), the cruel personal jabs, and have EPIC find a way to show it is honest and forthright. Then go clean up the mess before it is too late—fires, floods, and dangerous roadways take mother’s daughters and sons…that is the good fight.
    I do appreciate the EYEs sending this little bit of Lagniappe around the world.


    Kevin, EPIC has been around for a LONG time and most people who are attuned to environmental issues are aware of them and what they do. In addition anyone can go to their website:
    They have a very small staff and are always piled under. I occasionally do some volunteer work there so I’ve seen how piled under they are. I doubt very much that Greacons time should be spent on writing a column about Epic. With a federal and a state lawsuit in the works they are just a tad busy. As for reading my “opinion”. it was not just an opinion letter, it was packed with FACTUAL INFORMATION. I dealt “with the actual assertions”. Any opinions expressed were backed with facts.

  26. Sylvia, I’m, sure the environmentally active are dialed in to EPIC, and I have visited its site. But will others do that? And how will they know what’s really important?

    Our readership is more of a general interest nature; folks who might not seek that info out if it isn’t placed before them to pique their interest.

    Arcata is on a wonderful environmental upswing right now, with great projects underway from the bay to the most remote forest reaches. But there are still huge challenges, even right here in town It’s an exciting time to be environmentally active in Arcata, with no shortage of organizations to select from in terms of volunteering.

  27. SeaJay

    Dear Kevin,
    Concerning the appearance of bias… Sorry to pick on details but your comment “There is a palpable sentiment at large that some of the local environmental organizations do very little but write menacing letters, file nuisance suits ……” Certainly does give the impression of a bias… only an impression, mind you.
    If you mean by “palpable sentiment at large” that ‘a few people think this is true’ .. fair enough, but palpable means obvious, readily, or plainly seen. This is clearly not the case. It’s a few people out to make a point.
    Again, on your comment that “But rarely is there any presence by the brand name environmental groups.” If you go ahead and ask the folks who are doing these restoration projects “what environmental organizations do you belong to? Or where did you read about this project?”, etc. etc., I know you will find lots of Audubon members, Native Plant folks, Sierra Club readers and doers. The job of Baykeepers, EPIC, etc. is to understand and inform the rest of us, Friends of the Dunes, Arcata Marsh, Conservation Unlimited, etc. etc. where the issues are and what can be done. I’m sure you know you don’t get any more “brand name” than Audubon, Sierra Club, etc.

    Keep up the good work…. you can’t the barn every time.


  28. CJ, you’re absolutely spot on. Never would I wish to besmirch the enduring labors of those organizations. Their contributions are incalculable, and we publicize their volunteer activities every week. For using such a diffuse term, I apologize.

  29. Cesare Caligari

    “it is not possible for me to prove that I’m not, and that EPIC isn’t, all the horrible things Mr. Eckart suggests we are”

    Sounds like you made his point.

    To then proceed with unfounded and undocumentred accusations fired from the hip in several directions, wow!

    The moral equivalent of Rush Limbaugh.

    Whenever someone strts to watch-dog EPIC, the screaming starts. It will be interesting to see what the State audit turns up. That will not be undisclosed information.


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