On the edge of Rocklin and Roseville, California, I've had a "bird's eye view" of the Expansion Project known as, Interchange I-80/SR-65, Phase I that began in spring of this year. As I had thought my voice for environmental activism was gone, displaced by life's struggles and challenges - I was wrong. The Trees with their imminent destruction, and all the wildlife that was so inter-connected, brought my heart and my voice back alive. I will always be grateful.
The human heart is a forge for which can take all of life's woes and obstacles. There, within the inner sanctum, we can find gold - Spiritual Gold. But only if our emotions raise to a high enough degree of frequency, as with love and forgiveness, will the poisons of base feelings such as anger be transmuted and transformed into something of value to the soul. I was put to the test.
First thing: Prayers were put into the ground, and songs were sung. Because the project was already approved by city and state, all I could do was hope they, (contractors/caltrans) abided by law. The Law was their own Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that is traditionally upheld and enforced by Fish and Wildlife.
The following is a brief update of my observations of the project as I have tried my best to be objective and understanding of the Need versus the Cost. The "need" being the lessening of traffic, and the "cost" being the loss of an ecosystem, and wildlife (nature).
Phase I / Tree Removal began April into May while Cliff Swallows actively nested under the viaducts. Caltrans brought down many oaks and a riparian forest during the height of the nesting season as the banks and sides of the Antelope Creek were “skinned alive” in preparation for the expanded road overhead.
Before construction began, gratitude was given by phone to Mr. McNeel for protecting the large Blue Oak numbered #185. An Honor Roll that began in ernest to protect some trees in April 2018, declares the successes as well as defeats. (Link: Honor Roll)
Phase 1/ Construction began in June with swallows still nesting disregarding the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and their own EIR. I sent photographs and directions of the nests to the FW Biologist in charge of project, with some at her own request. I included my special note on an Elderberry Bush.
After being away, I came home on the 10th to find that the stream-branch had been “put into a pipe,” forced under by plastic, and covered by dirt. Under the viaducts, I knew that active nests could be fledging their young. I had also seen what appeared to be a large unmarked Elderberry Bush (host to endemic and Threatened Elderberry Long Horned Beetle). I knew the bush required a minimum of 20 feet as a protective buffer zone. I notified FW Biologist for Expansion Project of my concerns.
She got back to me 2 days later. She thanked me, and told me she had told Caltrans and would wait for their survey. Construction continued, and when I checked the Elderberry Bush on the 16th - bull dozers had come within 11 feet. No one had even come out to formally identify the species that I knew of, and when I called, California Native Plant Society (CNPS) on 6/21/18, I was simply told, Fish & Wildlife (person) either enforces (the EIR) or they don't.
At this time of year, on-site biological monitoring should be ongoing during construction and tree removal should have been done earlier in the year. ~ Dale Steel, Environmental Council Of Sacramento
By Kristen Farquhar © June 2018