North Coast Journal



Cultural overdose

by Judy Hodgson, Editor and Publisher

WHEN I TOLD FRIENDS I WAS going to New York for my summer vacation, most reacted predictably: They were horrified. Why would anyone want to do such a thing, what with the heat and humidity and crowds of rude people?

We are rural snobs here in Humboldt County. Even though we are surrounded by trees, rivers and wildlife, where do we normally go on vacation? Camping. Someplace even more rural, primitive and less populated.

I hadn't been to New York in more than 30 years. I was ready for a cultural overdose and I got it: Picasso at the Museum of Modern Art. Veal marsala in Little Italy. "Miss Saigon" on Broadway. Guinness on tap at O'Brien's. Sunday morning at a Baptist church in Harlem. Cabbies who spoke everything but English. I loved it.

On my desk when I returned were a number of replies to my column last month asking for summer reading suggestions (see Letters) as well as the stories and columns for this edition.

The idea for this month's cover story came from a woman in McKinleyville. Retired fisherman Bill Matson, who is the public information officer for the Northwest Economic Assistance Project, spoke to her club about all the exciting work being done to restore salmon habitat. When he finished, she asked, "How come no one knows about all this?" and she suggested a call to The Journal.

Staff writer Jim Hight learned that the focus of much of the work is shifting significantly from the streambeds to the hills. He came back with a story highly praiseworthy of the salmon trollers who have been patiently working toward their goals for more than a decade, and of several timber companies whose interest is being accelerated by the impending listing of the coho salmon as a threatened species. It is now clear to all that in order to rebuild the salmon populations in the ocean, we first have to repair the watersheds.

We are also awaiting a decision by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt on increasing the water flows in the Trinity River. Especially after a few wet winters, the time is right to tighten the faucet of water going to Central Valley farms.

About this month's cover photo: We searched long and hard for an appropriate illustration for this story. We ended up borrowing a photo from Humboldt State University fisheries Professor Terry Roelofs. However, he was unable to identify the fisherman.

When Bill Matson dropped by our office before we went to press, he looked at the photo and said, "Oh, that's not a local fisherman."

How do you know that? we asked.

"The fish. It's a male, late-run coho, real fresh, just beginning its run upriver. Probably caught by a Columbia River gill-netter. Besides, see the cotton glove? We don't use those."

With his expertise, he should have been a witness in the OJ trial.

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