Target: Malcolm Dougherty, director of the California Department of Transportation
Goal: Implement ecologically and economically responsible alternatives to planned highway reconstruction.
The State of California is currently planning to build a new bypass on Highway 101 that will involve the largest drain of a wetland ecosystem in 50 years. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) developed this economically and ecologically destructive plan without voter approval or input, and has proceeded to start work on the project despite strong local objection to the operation and proposed workable alternatives.
The original purpose of the bypass was to address the problem of traffic congestion around the town of Willits, but extensive research initiated by local activists shows that a bypass through the local Little Lake Valley is far from the best solution. The Caltrans project was based on traffic projections that have already proved incorrect since the design of the bypass, and would only redirect about 20-30 percent of congestion anyway.
Besides being ineffective, building the bypass would have serious economic and ecological consequences. As well as destroying a sizable natural watershed with its abundant wildlife, especially birds and fish, the state would have to buy 2,000 acres of local farmland for the bypass. This would harm both the local and state economies, and render the land otherwise unusable. The bypass also threatens the town of Willits financially, because of the enormous loss of business from highway travelers.
A well-organized grassroots movement to protect the Little Lake Valley has developed in response to the Caltrans project. However, peaceful protesters have been forcibly removed and are now facing charges that could result in up to 8 years in prison. Meanwhile, Caltrans continues to ignore voter-supported alternatives to solve the original congestion problem. Sign the petition below to demand that Caltrans seriously consider ecologically and economically responsible, voter-supported alternatives and immediately stop destruction of the Little Lake Valley.
Dear Mr. Malcolm Dougherty,
I urge you to immediately stop the destruction of the Little Lake Valley currently underway for the Caltrans Willits Bypass (Mendocino County), and instead investigate and implement an alternative solution. The plan to build the Willits Bypass is economically and ecologically destructive, and is currently proceeding without voter approval and despite serious concerns and strong local objection.
With millions of taxpayer dollars at stake in the construction project, the concerns of voters, the natural environment, and local Willits residents must be carefully accounted for. The Willits Bypass would require the draining of 86 acres of wetland, severely damaging the inhabitant ecosystems, and would also entail the purchase of some 2,000 acres of farm land that would be put out of use. This is an unacceptable cost for the slight potential relief in traffic congestion that the project is meant to address. Additionally, the redirection of traffic poses a significant potential risk to the economic welfare of California citizens in the town of Willits.
Furthermore, activists with the Save Little Lake Valley movement have proposed multiple relevant findings and alternative solutions that could address the problem of traffic congestion without the consequences to voter concerns, the environment, and the economy. Rather than ignoring opposition from voters by continuing to build the Caltrans Willits Bypass, instead stop the destruction of the Little Lake Valley immediately, taking time to seriously investigate and implement a more responsible alternative.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gord McKenna via Flickr