Sunday, February 10, 2013

Caltrans Bypass (Willits, CA): Feb. 10, 2013

Warbler and the Liberty Ponderosa Pine
Today I attended a walking/driving tour of the proposed construction area for the Caltrans Bypass in Willits California. There were dozens of citizens from the county who also attended today. There are many practical reasons the Caltrans Bypass should not be built. This blog, however, is a celebration of the natural world, so that will be my main focus in regards to this issue.
Construction materials have already been brought in. The Bypass will head straight down this corridor.
 When I was in college, I remember attending a lecture that was delivered by an accomplished traveler, backpacker, and book writer. Someone in the audience asked a question about Alaska. The lecturer however, had never been to Alaska, and he replied that not only had he never seen it, but he wasn't sure he would ever visit there. "I'm content just knowing the Alaskan wilderness exists," he said, "even if I never get the chance to see it."
Oak, ponderosa, madrone, manzanita scheduled to be destroyed.

That comment struck me as odd at the time, and I didn't quite understand what he meant. Over time, I've been able to appreciate what he said more and more. Recently, I read a reply a gentleman left on a comment board in regards to the Caltrans Bypass and the Little Lake Valley. To paraphrase, the man said he couldn't understand what the big fuss was about. No one really goes back there to hike or visit the trees in the valley, the comment went on to say. Perhaps this is a case (like the lecturer on Alaska) where we can be content just knowing the place exists in it's natural form, performing it's natural tasks, without having the need to visit it.
Wetlands scheduled to be destroyed. It will be drained using 55,000 separate "wick drains," installed five feet apart, and then eventually covered with fill dirt. This project has required Caltrans to obtain the largest wetlands fill permit issued in California in the last 50 years.
Due to time constraints, we only saw a few spots along the six mile corridor
Caltrans plans to use for the bypass. I hope to hike the area more extensively soon, to get a closer, more intimate look.
Caltrans bypass is scheduled to be built through this marshy field on the north end of Willits.
 Here is a video titled Why Wetlands Matter:

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