For four decades the Environmental Protection Information Center, or EPIC, based in Humboldt County, has served the North Coast on a variety of issues pertaining to wildlife, sustainability and environmental lawsuits.
Tom Wheeler of EPIC said it’s important for Humboldt County to have local representation and groups within the region which is a key factor in the non-profits’ success throughout its 40 year history.
“Having local people is important because we know the ‘on the ground’ conditions and we are the advocates for this area,” Wheeler said. “So you may disagree with us on some of the positions but its important to have us around. We are the watchdog for this area. Our job is to pay attention and to go to those public comment meetings that people don’t have time for.”
EPIC initially started by protecting Sally Bell Grove—an old growth forest area on the Lost Coast.
“Private Industrial Timberland were going to clear-cut all the old growth and EPIC was there. That was our first major victory as an organization,” Wheeler said.
EPIC has worked to protect the Humboldt Marten, ban fur trap hunting in Northern California, and has most recently been working to protect Richardson Grove. Wheeler says EPIC has been known to take on huge agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service.
“Starting in the mid-nineties, we added a public lands program to EPIC and we have since that time been the most successful litigant against the U.S. Forest Service. We win something like 60 percent of our cases which is about 20 percent higher than the next most successful environmental litigant,” he said.
EPIC is celebrating its 40th anniversary Friday, November 3 at the Mateel Community Center during their fall celebration and honoring the life and legacy of member Judy Berry, whom Wheeler said is a major leader of the environmental movement during the Timber Wars on the North Coast. More information is available on EPIC's website at Wildcalifornia.org.