In a story in Discovery News online, scientists say habitat loss related to development and logging, as well as the encroachment of barred owls from the north, have likely combined to depress the Northern Spotted Owl's population to the point of creating a genetic bottleneck.
And that can lead to inbreeding. Or loss. Says Robert Fleischer, an evolutionary and conservation geneticist at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C:
It's a species that a lot of people like and enjoy. It's hard to put a value on something like that, but it would be a far less rich experience to have Pacific Northwest woods that were lacking spotted owls.
Well, but heck: Humans went through a bottleneck way back when, and we made it out the other end just fine -- grew big and strong, built houses, shifted the other species' lives around.... Go on, wags, say something now about inbreeding.
Not to make too light of it, of course.
Bad news: Cancel your winter ski trip to Utah. Good news: Go ahead and book that ticket to Sundance! The Arcata-to-Salt Lake City route has kinda sorta survived, for now
Press release from the county airport:
DELTA AIRLINES SERVICE TO HUMBOLDT COUNTY BARELY SURVIVES NATIONWIDE CUTBACK
Delta Airlines recently announced that a slow economy nationwide has affected Delta, forcing them to reduce its entire domestic capacity by 10% and international by 15%. As part of this cutback many smaller markets are losing flight service.
As part of this nationwide cutback, Delta announced that it will suspend service to the Arcata-Eureka airport for the fall and winter months. Arcata is one of the smaller markets in which Delta chose to keep a foothold by becoming a seasonal (summer) market. Delta expects to resume service to the Arcata-Eureka Airport in June 2010.
"While we are disappointed that our service is being reduced, we recognize the extreme economic pressure being faced by Delta and other airlines," said Jacquelyn Hulsey, Airports Manager. "We are confident that the continuing growth of airport usage, coupled with a recovering economy, will eventually lead to the return of year-round service"
Beginning September 1, 2009, Delta will suspend daily service in Humboldt County
Delta Airlines will contact people who have booked flights beyond August 31, 2009 to accommodate them on another air carrier at no additional expense.
Delta Airlines began service from ACV on June 5, 2008. After the summer/fall months, the market did not meet Delta's expectations of load factor and profitability. The current economic situation doesn't allow for remaining in a slow market.
"We started this service in a time of record high fuel prices. This period was followed by the worst economic conditions in decades," said Virginia Fisher of the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission. "Nevertheless, we showed a good level of support for the service. Delta has acknowledged this support and we look forward to continuing to work with them with the goal of a full resumption of service."
The L.A. Times is reporting that the King of Pop has died. Let's forget the disturbing later years for a moment and simply behold:
Feel-good story of the week: 51-year-old Eureka resident Brian Connors, a friend of the Journal, has been one of the unluckiest people in Humboldt County in recent years. Back in December 2006 he was laid off from his job at Pacific Lumber. Then company's then-parent corporation, the infamous Maxxam, promised him and 89 other laid-off workers a severance package ... but promptly declared bankruptcy a couple of weeks later, leaving the severance in legal limbo.
Connors later got a job at Evergreen Pulp, the old pulp mill in Samoa which had been taken over by the multinational Chinese paper firm Lee & Man. Then, late last year, Lee & Man abruptly shut down the mill and split town, leaving workers unemployed and obligations to their medical insurance plan unfunded. (Connors wasn't the only person in the county to experience this particular double-whammy, of course.)
Then, this month, everything turned around. There was some good news just a couple of weeks ago. Connors picked up a job as a bus driver for Humboldt Transit Authority, about a secure a gig as you can get in this economic climate. On Monday, though, something miraculous happened. Completely out of the blue, there arrived a check for $8,000. The long-promised and mostly forgotten severance package from Maxxam had finally arrived, courtesy of the bankruptcy court trustee.
It's not certain, but it seems that the same story played itself out in the households of the 89 other people who were in that round of Maxxam layoffs with Connors. Supervisor Mark Lovelace said Monday afternoon that he had been in touch with a few people in Connors' cohort, and reported back that one had received a check that same day.
In his enthusiasm -- and because he and others had assumed their severance was lost forever in the bankruptcy proceedings -- Connors made a slight error. He credited the new Humboldt Redwood Company, Pacific Lumber's successor firm, with unilaterally sending out the promised checks simply to be decent people.
"I don't know why [Humboldt Redwoods'] Fisher family said, 'OK, let's pay them,'" Connors told the Journal shortly after opening the envelope. "But it tripped me out, dude."
This turns out not to be the case. In fact, payment of the severance packages (or a high percentage of each one) was part of the deal Humboldt Redwoods and its partners struck in court. "Certainly we're really happy for folks, and we think it's meaningful for them to get paid at this time, but it was a matter of law and it was how the bankruptcy proceeded," said Humboldt Redwoods President Mike Jani Tuesday.
The county can rejoice along with the recipients of the long-overdue packages: As Connors pointed out, the payments amount to perhaps $1 million suddenly injected into the local economy, maybe more.
Concert promoters of Humboldt County, I command you to bring Gyoko to Eureka ASAP:
Baykeeper fundraiser, maybe?
Attention Jeff Muskrat: The list of corporate cronies being paid off under the table to not care about the dastardly Wal-Mart-driven plan to slightly tweak the course of Highway 101 through Richardson Grove grows longer every day. This time the Save-The-Redwoods League has sold its immortal soul to AmeriKKKan greed!
In a letter dated Friday, STR Executive Director Ruskin K. Hartley tells Caltrans that the League considered the proposal carefully and ultimately decided to sign off, commending the agency on a "sensitive project design." The League's consulting arborist, Dennis Yniguez, had a couple of recommendations about when best to perform the work to avoid disturbing old growth; in his letter, Hartley expresses hope that Caltrans will follow the recommendations.
Yniguez's report is quite a read. It starts off with a sentimental preamble, in which the author recalls his childhood memories of camping in Richardson Grove, and, in that light, his initial skepticism about the project. However, after a tour of the site and the plans and a review of the literature, he was won over, and seems to believe that the highway modifications will improve the health of the old growth near the highway.
He rebuts one Muskrat-Miller argument out of hand: "My professional opinion," he says, "is that the highway alterations, as proposed, will have no significant detrimental effect on root health or on the availability of water to the roots of old-growth redwoods adjacent to the highway construction." But since that is a concern, he suggests some monitoring measures that could be used to gauge and mitigate such a thing, were it to occur.
Overall? "The character of Richardson Grove is not threatened by this project," he writes. "Concerns that the project will somehow 'straighten' the meandering of Highway 101 through the grove and destroy its ambiance are unfounded. Rather, some existing curves will be subtly extended and widened for increased safety during the approaches to narrow passages, and the changes will most likely be nearly imperceptible."
(OK, Jeff, I'll unblock you and Shunka now, so long as you both promise not to revive your unrelated and interminable war on those other threads.)
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is poised tomorrow to deliver yet another slap to the cadre of railroad dreamers who have been hoping against hope, year after year, to restore freight service along the 10-years-dead Northwestern Pacific Railroad line and so develop the similarly stagnant Humboldt Bay into some kind of entrepot in Pacific Rim international trade.
On the agenda for tomorrow's Board of Supervisors' meeting is an item that would appoint new Eureka City Councilmember Linda Atkins to the seat on the North Coast Railroad Authority currently held by über-railfan Charles Ollivier. Ollivier, a former longshoreman, represented the McKinleyville area on the board of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District until 2007, when he was handily defeated by fish biologist Pat Higgins in what amounted to a referendum on the wispy harbor-railroad scheme.
The staff report for tomorrow's item notes that three candidates submitted their application for Ollivier's seat -- Atkins, Arcata City Councilmember Michael Winkler and former state Assemblymember senator , Arcata City Manager and NCRA Executive Director Dan Hauser. The latter, it must be noted, was instrumental in arranging the public bailout of the rickety rail line back in 1990, when he was still a member of the legislature. The report notes that Olllivier "expressed interest" in being reappointed to the seat, but apparently did not bother to fill out an official application.
The selection of Atkins, a retired Caltrans engineer, over railfan candidates Ollivier and Hauser further signals a quick shift change in official attitude to the shoot-the-moon rail/port scheme, about which plenty has been written on this site and in the pages of the Journal. Until very recently, port-rail development was an official economic development of any number of local public agencies; that is no longer the case, although many elected officials, including State Senator Wes Chesbro, continue to pine for the dream.
Atkins notes in her application that she "see[s] rail as an opportunity to enrich our economy as well as draw more visitors to the area." She writes that she has studied first-hand the impact of freight movement on the highway system, and apparently considers it an undesirable thing. But she balances these statements with unequivocal support for multiple use of the dormant line, including pedestrian and bicycle trails. That position never received much play in the Ollivier years, and some in the railcentric NCRA sphere of influence still consider it non-negotiable.
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