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North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) Freight Project

Information, Documents and Links (below)

Brief Overview

For many years, in our advocacy efforts, WPN has relied heavily on CEQA and NEPA documents to evaluate the environmental appropriateness and completeness of various projects. Without full and complete public disclosure of a proposed project’s impacts, WPN and WPN’s constituents are left with no way to gather information to analyze proposals and participate in the public process.

Specifically related to the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) proposal to reinstate freight trains from Humboldt Bay/Eureka through the Eel River Canyon (including Island Mountain Quarry) south through Willits to Lombard, WPN already has noted causes for serious concerns. The northern reaches of the proposed freight projectinclude environmentally sensitive habitat, extremely fragile geologic areas, and a designated Wild and Scenic River. The entire route hosts a variety of threatened and endangered California and Federally listed species. In addition, in a number of

instances, the route crosses through wetlands, including those in the Pacific Flyway. Construction, repairs, and freight operation through all of these areas will inevitably cause environmental impacts, the extents of which are yet unknown. The only way to assess these impacts and ensure minimal damage is through comprehensive State and Federal Environmental Impact Reviews, and an inclusive, responsive, and transparent public process.

CEQA requires full disclosure of an entire project: the environment does not recognize man-made geographical boundaries or project “phases.” However, NCRA’s own documents (Strategic Plan - Calif. Transportation Commission) have admitted that NCRA freight service in Sonoma County alone, would not be economically viable. Also, the NCRA’s policy from 2001 stated its “fundamental goal is the re-establishment” of freight service from Humbolt Bay to Lombard. Taken together, these NCRA statements of intent clearly signify ONE project, not three.

Additional documents and statements to the press show that NCRA plans imminent continuation of the rail line from Sonoma up to Humbolt Bay; these plans would fall outside the scope of the Sonoma to Lomabard environmental impact reports. The result is that the environmental impact assessment studies for work within the Sonoma-Marin area would represent a segmentation of the environmental review. The entire project cannot feasibly be accomplished without additional segments that will not be included in the limited scope of environmental impact reviews for the Willits to Lombard segment.

Therefore, it is our position that NCRA must assess the entire project’s cumulative environmental impacts from North endpoint (Humbolt Bay) to South endpoint (Lombard), and include a complete scope of impacts for the project.


NEW ISSUE: August 12, 2008

NCRA / NWP easement puts SMART Bike/Ped Path in jeopardy.

A dispute is happening between NCRA/NWP (commercial freight operator), the SMART Board and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) over right of way easements, safety setbacks to the Bike/Ped path, and requirements for safety barriers.

(NOTE: Download three letters below, for details.)

The NWP claims priority rights to the Bike/Ped path area, which the SMART board strongly disputes. The PUC responded to the adopted guidelines by NWP, and the claims by SMART in their EIR, informing both which areas the PUC have regulatory jurisdiction: speed to setback criteria, barrier type and height, and crossings in the right of way. They took exception to NWP and SMART statements and proposals in all three areas.

NWP Comments on SMART draft EIR - April 24, 2008

SMART letter to NCRA re: Trail Guidelines - Aug. 12, 2008

PUC letter to Williams (NWP) - Aug. 12, 2008


DOWNLOADS & LINKS - (click to download)

WPN Position Paper for Amicus Brief - Nov. 22, 2007

North Coast Environmental Coalition Press Release - Nov. 27, 2007 - Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously vote to file Amicus Brief to Novato vs NCRA lawsuit.

City of Novato Writ of Mandamus and Complaint for Declaratory Relief - Sept 28, 2007

North Coast Environmental Coalition Amicus Brief - Dec. 3, 2007

Respondent's (NCRA) Opposition to Coalition Amicus - Dec. 3, 2007

Order Granting Leave to File Amicus - Dec. 6, 2007 - Marin Superior Court Judge Ritchie granted the Coalition amicus, and gave a two week period for opposition comments. The hearing for Preliminary Injunction has been postponed to January 8, 2007 at 9:30am.

10 Truths of the NCRA and the Eel River - Enviro Protection Info Center (EPIC)

Latest report on NCRA/Novato Lawsuit - June 1, 2008 - denial of NCRA appeal.


Official Plans, Studies & Reports

NCRA Strategic Plan Update - Feb. 15, 2007

NCRA Operations & Lease Agreement with NWP - September 2006

North West Pacific (NWP) Business Plan - October 2006 - NCRA contracted for this private company to run the freight operations.

NCRA Initial Study - July 10, 2007

CalTrans Audit of NCRA_Main - August 22, 2006

CalTrans Audit_Attach1b

CalTrans Audit_Attach2b


Memos & Letters:

City of Novato, Initial request letter to NCRA for CEQA process

Memorandum of Understanding, Port of Humbolt Bay & NCRA - July 27, 2006

Stogner Memo to NCRA Board - May 31, 2007

Stogner Report to NCRA Board - May 11, 2007

Hames Memo to Stogner - January 31, 2007

Hames to SMART Board re: NCRA - July 18, 2007


Additional Links:

Friends of Eel River: Railroad, Rock & River

Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC)

Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATS)

Humbolt BayKeeper

SMARTquestions.org - WPN hosted forum for discussion and clearinghouse for information on rail issues.


Watershed Preservation Network ~ PO Box 8, San Geronimo, CA 94963 ~ Email: