Environment / Natural Resources

Saturday, February 25, 2017

That Dam Breitbart Story

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 11:39 AM

Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River. - FILE
  • File
  • Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River.
If you read a Breitbart News story earlier this month about the Klamath River, you’d be excused for thinking those of us who live along the river are doomed to die in watery graves as soon as the largest dam removal project in U.S. history is complete.

You’d also be very wrong, both for taking a Breitbart story at face value and for thinking dam removal will have any substantial impact on flooding along the Klamath River.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Food Sovereignty, Tribal Sovereignty

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Potawot Community Garden farm stand. - COURTESY OF POTAWOT COMMUNITY GARDEN, UIHS
  • Courtesy of Potawot Community Garden, UIHS
  • Potawot Community Garden farm stand.
When the Northern California Tribal Courts Coalition (NCTCC) was awarded a grant to improve tribal health last year, it didn’t hesitate in identifying food as the keystone. Spearheaded by Program Director Cynthia Boshell, NCTCC will roll out its first Tribal Youth Food Sovereignty Camps later this month. The all-day camps will consist of hands-on education, discussion and participation in growing and cooking native foods. In order to serve youth on the coast and inland, the camp will be repeated on consecutive days: Wednesday, Feb. 22 in Potawot; Thursday, Feb. 23 in Klamath and Friday, Feb. 24 in Orleans.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Salmon

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 at 11:21 AM

A coho salmon carcass observed during a spawner survey, in which dead adult fish and salmon nests, or redds, are assessed. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BOB PAGLIUCO
  • Photo courtesy of Bob Pagliuco
  • A coho salmon carcass observed during a spawner survey, in which dead adult fish and salmon nests, or redds, are assessed.
A U.S. District Court judge has sided with those trying to protect coho salmon in the Klamath River, ruling yesterday that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service must release more water from the Klamath dams. The release of the water is intended to mitigate the death of coho from a parasite,Ceratanova shasta, which causes cell decay in intestinal tissue, severe inflammation and death. Large percentages of the endangered species died from infection in 2014 and 2015, a phenomenon fisheries experts have blamed on low river flows and warm water, where the parasite thrives.

Judge William H. Orrick ruled that the Bureau had mismanaged the river, causing "irreparable" harm to the salmon. The Hoopa and Yurok tribes filed two different suits in 2016 alleging that the government had failed to adhere to the Endangered Species Act as it did not commit to mitigation measures when it became clear that low flows and warm water were causing immense salmon die-offs, impacting the long-term health of the species and the ability of the tribes to continue traditional fisheries practices.

The court has ordered the Bureau to release "flushing flows" of water in the winter and early spring that should flush out C. shasta worms. Additional mitigation measures will also be taken.

The legal decision is being hailed as an important first step as tribes and other groups work to remove the remaining dams on the Klamath.

Reached by phone this morning, Konrad Fisher of the Klamath Riverkeeper said his group was pleased with the judge's decision, but more work remained.

"This litigation was specifically about disease management, ultimately we need to not only manage disease but restore populations," he said.

In a press release, Thomas P. O'Rourke Sr., chairman of the Yuroke tribe, said that the ruling will give the salmon a "fighting chance until we can get the lower four dams out."

Louis Moore, of the Bureau of Reclamation's Sacramento office, stated that the agency was reviewing the court decision to "assess what it really means," adding that the the Bureau "always complies with the law."


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Monday, January 30, 2017

The Next Generation March on Wells Fargo: 'Divest' the DAPL

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 10:50 AM

Four protesters brought a large white bucket filled with molasses, which mimicked the look of oil as they let it drip down their arms in protest of Wells Fargo. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • Four protesters brought a large white bucket filled with molasses, which mimicked the look of oil as they let it drip down their arms in protest of Wells Fargo.
A group of seven young protesters gripped a long white banner reading, “Divest,” which stretched across G Street in Arcata. As the youth leaders marched north, they yelled, “Water is what?” “Water is life,” the fellow protesters responded.

The protesters marched from the Arcata Plaza to Wells Fargo on Saturday, led by Indigenous youth from the Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok tribes. After gathering, the group of more than 100 marched to the local branch of one of the largest banks financing the North Dakota Access Pipeline.

Hoopa Valley tribal member Nah-Tes Jackson was the first to speak to the crowd of 100 or so protesters on the Arcata Plaza on Saturday. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • Hoopa Valley tribal member Nah-Tes Jackson was the first to speak to the crowd of 100 or so protesters on the Arcata Plaza on Saturday.
“We are all connected in the same journey,” Nah-Tes Jackson, a Hoopa tribal member, said after he shared his own experience of protesting in Standing Rock for four months. The protest and march came three days after President Donald Trump inked an executive order to rekindle the pipeline project, as well as the Keystone XL.

On the plaza prior to the march, three native youths stepped nervously in front of the crowd as it continued to expand. Kis-dyan-te’ Joseph, a 16 year old from the Hoopa Shoshone Piute and Karuk tribes, lead a Brush Dance song she discovered while protesting in Standing Rock.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Return of the California Condor

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Yurok Wildlife Program biologist Tiana Williams releases a condor in Big Sur. - COURTESY OF THE YUROK TRIBE
  • Courtesy of the Yurok Tribe
  • Yurok Wildlife Program biologist Tiana Williams releases a condor in Big Sur.
The Yurok Tribe led a major effort to restore a bird that hasn’t been seen on the North Coast for over a century. The Tribe teamed up with a number of agencies, including PG&E, The National Park Service, U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries and the National Park Foundation to restore the California condor population.

“The condor has played a major part in Yurok ceremonies and culture since time immemorial,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., chairman of the Yurok Tribe, in a press release. “It is through collaborative projects like this that we will bring balance back to our natural world.”

The condors will be released into the Yurok ancestral territory located in Redwood National Park. “The park staff at Redwood National and State Parks is excited to work alongside the Yurok Tribe and our park neighbors to eventually return the iconic California condor to its historic range along the North Coast,” said Steven Prokop, Redwood National Park superintendent, in a press release.

The National Park Service is seeking public comments on Jan. 24, at the Wharfinger building, in Eureka. This public meeting will be one of five held in order to listen to public comment on the restoration project.


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Monday, January 9, 2017

Flooding Expected on the Eel, Van Duzen

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 2:21 PM

A Mercer Fraser Co. crew rescues a stranded hiker near the Eel River this morning. Officials are warning of more flooding to come as rain continues to fall this week. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • A Mercer Fraser Co. crew rescues a stranded hiker near the Eel River this morning. Officials are warning of more flooding to come as rain continues to fall this week.

With more rain in the forecast, officials are warning that the Eel and Van Duzen rivers are expected to crest their banks as low-lying areas of the county flood on Tuesday.

This weekend’s storm, which dumped between 4 and 5 inches over the last 72 hours, left a Fortuna woman stranded with her two dogs this morning as the Eel River rose around her. Ultimately a Mercer Fraser Co. construction crew used a front loading tractor to cross the 4-to-5 foot deep flooded area and carry the woman and her canine companions to safety at about 8 a.m.

“She probably could have walked across,” said Fortuna Volunteer Fire Chief Lon Winburn, whose agency assisted with the rescue. “But it's a good thing she called us just in case. There was no current because it was just back water.”

The weekend's rainfall left multiple rivers and some roads flooded, and the area is expected to receive another 3 to 5 inches of precipitation this week.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Charboneau said the two rivers with the largest flood danger are the Eel and the Van Duzen. Additionally, about 10 roads are currently closed due to flooding, with more expected as the rain continues to fall.

“People should be very aware that there is a high amount of water on the roads,” Charboneau said.

The Eel River is expected to reach about 20 feet by tomorrow afternoon and, by evening, the river is expected to pass flood stage and increase to 23.6 feet. The Van Duzen River is ex-pected to reach 18 feet, a foot above its flood stage.

According to the National Weather Service, “record river levels are expected with disastrous flooding throughout the Eel Delta. Most roads will be impassable including (State Route) 211 to Ferndale, and access will be severely restricted. All persons should take action to protect life and property.”

Charboneau said that between the rainfall and tomorrow’s high tide, some low-lying areas of Humboldt — like the Arcata bottoms and King Salmon — will see some flooding from both rain and tides.

Humboldt Bay Fire Battallion Chief Chris Jelianek said there have been no serious accidents or mudslides from the recent rainfall, but he says tomorrow may be a different story as more flood-ing is expected.

“We have been pretty lucky so far,” Jelianek said.

We are expected to gather another 2 to 3 inches tomorrow. The rain is supposed to slow down Wednesday before picking up again later in the week.

CalTrans spokesperson Myles Cochrane said there was a flood on State Route 254 through the Avenue of the Giants and the road is closed but expected to reopen to controlled traffic at around 5 p.m. today.

“Its best that people check their route with CalTrans before traveling,” Cochrane said.

Roads currently closed from flooding:
Redwood Drive at bluffs
Coffee Creek
Dillon Road between Riverside and Goble Lane
Goble Lane between Dillon and Fulmor
Goble Lane between Fulmor and Sage
Goble Lane between Sage and State Route 211
Fulmor Road past Goble Lane
Nissen Road
Camp Weott
Meridian Road
Port Kenyon Road


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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Duck!

Posted By on Sun, Jan 8, 2017 at 11:21 AM

ROB FOWLER
  • Rob Fowler
Humboldt County's latest visiting celebrity has a red head, greyish back and pale saddle on its bill. Birders from across the country have been visiting to snap pictures of the common pochard, first spotted Dec. 20 in Freshwater Lagoon, near Orick.

The pochard, which is native to Europe and Asia, rarely makes its way to our continent. This is only the fourth time one has been spotted in the lower 48 states, according to local birder and tour leader Rob Fowler.

"All these sightings have occurred in California, the last one was in 1992 or 1993," said Fowler, referring to a spotting of the pochard in San Bernadino County, where birders saw a member of the species return over several winters. Very few people actually saw and recorded the duck at that time, but this pochard appears settled into its visit, mixing and mingling with other species at the lagoon, to the delight of birders who have flown in from as far away as Boston and Chicago.

Fowler calls it a "pretty good deal," adding that it doesn't appear as though the extra attention is disturbing the common pochard, which can be seen from the Old State Highway.

"There has been some concern expressed about hunters potentially taking the bird," said Fowler, echoing the fears of some birders voiced on social media. "Either accidentally or potentially hunters might come up specifically looking for the bird. Hunting is only allowed on the east side of the lagoon so I don’t really think it would be shot there, with the amount of other ducks it’s hanging out with."

Fowler said he and his clients have enjoyed looking for the bird, which is in Humboldt County for the first time.

"It’s kind of funny how these chases go sometimes," he said. "Seeing something that had to fly across the whole Pacific to get here. It’s always exciting to share these sightings with people."


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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Huffman Urges Obama to Ban New West Coast Drilling

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 3:22 PM

Huffman
  • Huffman
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman today brought back legislation that would ban new gas or  oil drilling leases off the West Coast in a move his office said would help permanently protect the environment, jobs and coastal economies.

Huffman was joined by 14 other lawmakers in reintroducing the West Coast Ocean Protection Act on the first day of the 115th Congress while Sen. Dianne Feinstein was joined by her colleagues from California, Oregon and Washington in doing the same in the Senate.

According to a release from Huffman's office, the legislation would "amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prohibit new oil or natural gas leases in federal waters off the coast of the continental U.S., from Mexico to Canada."

"A true ‘America first’ energy policy keeps oil off our beaches and invests in home-grown renewable sources of power," Huffman states in the release. "I urge President Obama to take action now, while he still has the authority to do so, to permanently protect our oceans from oil and gas drilling.”

Read the full release from Huffman's office below:

Washington, D.C.- On the first day of the 115th Congress, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) led 14 coastal lawmakers in reintroducing the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, a bill to permanently protect the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts from the dangers of offshore drilling, safeguarding the $44 billion coastal economies of the region that support nearly 650,000 jobs. The bill was introduced today in the United States Senate by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with all six California, Oregon, and Washington Senators.

While President Obama recently used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from oil and gas drilling, he has yet to protect key areas of the Pacific Ocean. The new legislation, H.R. 169, would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prohibit new oil or natural gas leases in federal waters off the coast of the continental U.S., from Mexico to Canada.

“On the West Coast, our coastal communities, local economies, and fragile ocean ecosystems cannot afford another disastrous oil spill,” said Rep. Huffman. “Californians witnessed years of environmental and economic damage caused by the horrific 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and we cannot allow Big Oil to perpetuate their negligent drilling spree in our precious and spectacular waters. The West Coast Ocean Protection Act would permanently protect our pristine coastlines for future generations and ensure their interests are put above the short-term profits of Big Oil. With his pick of the Exxon C.E.O as Secretary of State, as well as his personal financial stakes in the oil and gas industry, President-elect Trump proved his true priorities will lie with further lining the pockets of industry executives and not with the people who would be affected by an oil spill. A true ‘America first’ energy policy keeps oil off our beaches and invests in home-grown renewable sources of power. I urge President Obama to take action now, while he still has the authority to do so, to permanently protect our oceans from oil and gas drilling.”

Congressman Huffman has long been a leader in the fight against offshore drilling and to expand renewable energy and create clean energy jobs.

Huffman authored the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act to prohibit new or renewed oil and gas leasing in the Arctic Ocean Planning Areas. That legislation would stop new leasing for the exploration, development, or production of oil, natural gas or any other minerals in the Arctic Ocean and not allow for any renewal of existing leases.

He is also the lead House sponsor of the Keep It In The Ground Act, which would reduce carbon emissions and our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels by permanently barring new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands and in federal waters.

The West Coast Ocean Protection Act is cosponsored by Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Derek Kilmer (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Final Numbers for County Cannabis Applications Show Late Push

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 5:35 PM

Three generations of growers, Rain on the Earth with her nephews Mark Switzer (far right) and grand-nephew Myles Moscato (center) pose with Wall as Moscato proudly holds the receipt for his application, the first submitted in the county. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Three generations of growers, Rain on the Earth with her nephews Mark Switzer (far right) and grand-nephew Myles Moscato (center) pose with Wall as Moscato proudly holds the receipt for his application, the first submitted in the county.
Almost one-third of the total commercial cannabis permit applications filed with the County of Humboldt in 2016 were filed on deadline day, according to numbers from the cannabis services division of the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department. As of the Dec. 30 deadline, a total of 2,334 applications had been filed. Eight hundred and eighteen of those arrived after the Journal checked in with county planner Steve Lazar last Tuesday morning.

“Many are very incomplete,” said Lazar, adding that it could take “several years” to process all of the applications, which they hope to get ready for processing before the state’s new marijuana laws take effect in 2018.

“Some will go quicker than others,” he added. “Some are grossly incomplete, with people just trying to get it in before the deadline.”

Just prior to deadline, Lazar said county staff were busy but “hanging in there,” and that consultants were scrambling to help their clients get in before the deadline.

Megan Azevedo, an environmental planner with Green Road Consulting, said the firm’s staff had been “pretty darn busy” for the last three weeks.

“We’ve had a lot of last minute clients who want to get in the door,” said Azevedo in a phone interview today. “Two weeks ago we were swamped.”

Green Road helped about 200 clients fill out their application forms, complete “plot plans” of their cultivation areas and sign acknowledgement and indemnification agreements as well as navigate the county’s regulation guidelines.

Azevedo said many of the clients were surprised by the strict zoning regulations and the sudden increase in application fees, which hiked about a month ago.

She added that Green Road’s staff expected to be pretty busy over the next six months assisting with applications that had been turned in incomplete.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Huffman on DAPL: 'Justice and Environmental Protection Have Won'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 4:25 PM

Huffman
  • Huffman
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman issued a statement last night applauding the Obama Administration’s announcement that it will deny an easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, forcing the project to abandon its controversial route and undergo an environmental review.

“Since July, tensions have escalated to a boiling point at the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I thank the Obama administration for this bold announcement today, to diffuse what may have otherwise been a tragic conflict,” Huffman said in the statement. “By denying the easement at Lake Oahe and by completing a full environmental review, the federal government is taking a necessary step to ensure our nation is not complicit in yet another grave injustice to Native Americans.”

A host of locals have been at the scene of massive demonstrations in North Dakota, where protesters seeking to occupy the pipeline’s path have been forcefully removed by police wielding tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons in subfreezing temperatures. Read more about the protests, and local involvement in them, in our Nov. 10 cover story “We Travel in a Spiritual Way.”

Huffman has repeatedly joined other members of Congress in urging the Army Corps of Engineers and the Obama administration to intercede in the escalating conflict, and last week penned a letter to “demand accountability for (the) alarming treatment” of protesters.

Huffman dubbed this weekend’s news of the denied easement as a victory.

“Today, justice and environmental protection have won out over arrogance, greed and pollution,” he said in the statement. “We can all be proud that our government has listened, weighed the equities and the implications of this consequential decision, and has bravely done the right thing."

See the the full release from Huffman’s office copied below.


Rep. Huffman Applauds the Obama Administration’s Move to Deny Easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) today applauded the Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement that they will deny the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe and will issue a full environmental impact statement on the effects of the pipeline. This announcement came at the urging of Congressman Huffman, who led a letter with Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) just weeks ago, asking the federal government to take this very step.

“Since July, tensions have escalated to a boiling point at the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I thank the Obama administration for this bold announcement today, to diffuse what may have otherwise been a tragic conflict,” said Rep. Huffman. “By denying the easement at Lake Oahe and by completing a full environmental review, the federal government is taking a necessary step to ensure our nation is not complicit in yet another grave injustice to Native Americans. Today, justice and environmental protection have won out over arrogance, greed and pollution. We can all be proud that our government has listened, weighed the equities and the implications of this consequential decision, and has bravely done the right thing."
Rep. Huffman has helped lead the effort in Congress in pushing for accountability and justice at the Dakota Access Pipeline site.
In his November 15th letter, on which he was joined by 22 lawmakers, Congressman Huffman called on President Obama to deny the easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe. That letter also called for the Department of Justice to send observers to ensure water protectors and journalists' safety.
On November 28, he led another congressional letter with Rep. Grijalva, requesting an immediate meeting with White House and Department of Justice officials to demand accountability for alarming treatment of Water Protectors and peaceful demonstrators at the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and to denounce the closure of the Oceti Sakowin camp.



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