Environment / Natural Resources

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Grants Bring Bay Trail Closer to Completion

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 12:14 PM

An artist's rendition of a portion of the Humboldt Bay Trail. - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ARCATA
  • Courtesy of the City of Arcata
  • An artist's rendition of a portion of the Humboldt Bay Trail.
Efforts to link a series of trails to create a 13-mile-long recreational waterfront corridor between Eureka and Arcata took two steps forward this week with nearly $1 million in grants being awarded to the cities.

In the works for years, the $550,000 California State Coastal Conservancy grant awarded to Arcata on Thursday, coupled with the announcement of a $323,000 grant for Eureka from the National Park Service and the Land and Water Conservation Fund earlier this week, moves the long-anticipated trail closer to completion.

While the Humboldt Bay Trail will provide a continuous route between Eureka and Arcata away from cars, the pathway will also serve a larger purpose as a critical connection with the California Coastal Trail.

Press release from the city of Arcata:
The City of Arcata’s Humboldt Bay Trail North (HBTN) project was awarded a $550,000 grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy at a meeting held at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka on Thursday September 29.
This project will construct a multi-use trail from Samoa Boulevard through the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary and then integrate with the railroad and Highway 101 corridors along the shoreline of the bay to an endpoint north of Bracut Industrial Park.
The southern-end point will transition onto the shoulder of Highway 101 south of Bayside Cutoff, as a temporary condition until the remaining segment of the Humboldt Bay Trail is constructed.
The Coastal Conservancy’s grant provides the final funding needed to construct the northern three-mile section of the planned 13-mile long Humboldt Bay Trail which will be the backbone of Humboldt County’s envisioned regional trail system and will provide a safe, Class I, ADA-accessible trail between Humboldt County’s two largest cities.
The Trail is also part of the California Coastal Trail, a network of public trails for walkers, bikers, equestrians, wheelchair riders and others along the 1200-mile California coastline, which is currently more than half complete.
At the same meeting, the Conservancy adopted California Environmental Quality Act findings and a mitigation monitoring and reporting program for the project, important aspects of a construction project located close to Humboldt Bay.
The total construction cost for the HBTN project is $4.6 Million. Other funding for the HBTN comes from the Active Transportation Program and matching local funds.
The trail has long been firmly established by the local community as the region’s highest transportation priority. The County of Humboldt is leading the development of the Humboldt Bay Trail South segment, which will provide the interconnecting link between Arcata’s HBTN project and the City of Eureka’s Waterfront Trail.
Development of the Humboldt Bay Trail South project is still in the initial stages and a target construction date has not been determined.

Press release from Congressman Jared Huffman’s office on Tuesday:
WASHINGTON­— Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today announced a $323,000 grant from the National Park Service and the Land and Water Conservation Fund to Eureka for ongoing work on a waterfront trail through a once-blighted area.
“This grant means that more Californians will be able to enjoy and appreciate Eureka’s special place on Humboldt Bay,” said Rep. Huffman. “Improving Eureka’s waterfront and creating trails and a clean place for the public to recreate around the Bay demonstrates the value of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in our communities.”
“Through the hard work of city staff and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Local Assistance Office, the former mill buildings can be removed and one of the most picturesque areas of Eureka’s waterfront can be opened up for our community to enjoy a wide variety of nature viewing and recreational opportunities,” said Eureka Mayor Frank Jager.
This grant will go toward the removal of four former mill buildings, which will be replaced by a new park featuring a multi-use trail, nature play area, as well as interpretive viewing platforms and benches adjacent to Humboldt Bay.
For more than 50 years, the National Park Service has provided grants through the LWCF. Its State & Local Assistance Program focuses on helping protect a "seamless system of parks" by providing matching grants for local and state parks outside of National Park boundaries, such as this grant to the City of Eureka.
Phase A of this project is expected to be completed in November.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Klamath Dam Removal Takes a Step Forward

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 9:42 AM

  • Courtesy of American Rivers and Klamath Restoration Council
  • Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River.
The newly formed nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corporation and dam owner PacifiCorp filed applications Friday with federal regulators to decommission the four hydroelectric dams that clog the Klamath River.

The filings were hailed by proponents of dam removal as a milestone in refurbished plans to see the lower Klamath River dams removed in 2020. The dams block fish passage and contribute to the poor water quality on the lower river, which is currently seeing some of its lowest salmon returns in history. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will now determine whether to approve the license transfer and surrender applications, and will ultimately be the agency to decide whether to approve removal of the four dams.

“The deplorable water quality, back-to-back disease outbreaks and bottomed-out fish runs have taken a tremendous toll on our people,” said Yurok Tribal Chair Thomas O’Rourke Sr. “We welcome this major step toward restoring Klamath fish populations and providing salmon once again to our upstream neighbors, the Klamath Tribes.”

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Redwood Borough

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Artist's concept of the tiny Humboldt-inspired forest exhibit set to open in Brooklyn. - PUBLIC ART FUND
  • Public Art Fund
  • Artist's concept of the tiny Humboldt-inspired forest exhibit set to open in Brooklyn.
A tiny Humboldt County-inspired redwood forest is taking root in downtown Brooklyn as part of a public art project set to open on Oct. 1.

Spencer Finch’s Lost Man Creek exhibit — which replicates a 790-acre section of the Redwood National Park on a 1:100 scale with some 4,000 dawn redwood seedlings being planted by volunteers.

“Lost Man Creek reflects Finch’s fascination with activating the imagination through observation of natural phenomena,” said Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “For many years he has explored the ineffable qualities of our ever-changing natural world through wide-ranging mediums, but this is his first use of living trees.”

The New York-based Public Art Fund reached out to the Humboldt County Visitors’ Bureau in January, which help connect the artist with the Save the Redwood League, which provided detailed topographical information for the living exhibition.

Press release from the Public Art Fund:

Public Art Fund and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) announce Spencer Finch: Lost Man Creek, an extraordinary new exhibition at MetroTech Commons that recreates, at a 1:100 scale, a 790-acre section of the Redwood National Park in California, one of the United States’ most treasured natural wonders.

In this living artwork, Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch scales down the topography and tree canopy of his selected section, with trees that range from 98 to 380 feet becoming 1 to 4 feet in the installation. Finch’s miniature forest for Downtown Brooklyn will live in the eastern triangular lawn of MetroTech Commons, with a footprint measuring 4,500 square feet, and will feature some 4,000 young Dawn Redwoods. Visitors will be able to experience the work from a viewing platform installed on one side of the work, as well as from ground level, offering different perspectives of the work. Spencer Finch: Lost Man Creek is free to the public and on view October 1, 2016 through May 13, 2018 at MetroTech Commons, Downtown Brooklyn.

“Lost Man Creek reflects Finch’s fascination with activating the imagination through observation of natural phenomena,” said Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “For many years he has explored the ineffable qualities of our ever-changing natural world through wide-ranging mediums, but this is his first use of living trees.”

To realize Lost Man Creek, Finch collaborated with the Save the Redwoods League, which provided details like topographical and canopy height maps of a select section of the protected, inaccessible forest. Utilizing these resources, Finch created a vision of the site at a 1:100 scale for MetroTech Commons. The miniature forest will flourish with the help of a specific planting and irrigation system, designed to provide the trees with an optimum living environment within this urban context. When the exhibition closes, these trees will be rehoused.

“We are excited to team up with Public Art Fund for our 23rd year to bring beautiful art to
MetroTech Commons,” said Ashley Cotton, Executive Vice President at FCRC. “The work of Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch will be on display for a year and a half, longer than any past installation that we have done with Public Art Fund, giving visitors an opportunity to fully engage with one of the world’s most renowned forests through the eyes of one of Brooklyn’s most highly regarded artists”.

At the core of Finch's practice is an ongoing investigation into the nature of light, color, memory, and perception. The artist is known for transforming his own observations of a particular time
or place into various media from painting, drawing, and photography to installation. Lost Man
Creek references the fleeting and the temporal elements inherent in all areas of life, with the
artist mining the observed world to create a poetic installation that speaks to a shared existence.

Among previous projects are A Certain Slant of Light (2014-15), a large-scale installation at The
Morgan Library & Museum inspired by its collection of medieval Books of Hours; Trying To
Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning (2014), composed of 2,983
individual watercolors representing the artist’s recollection of the sky on September 11, 2001;
There Is Another Sky (2014), which transformed a formerly dark alley into an urban forest
sanctuary at South Lake Union, Seattle; Painting Air (2012), an installation of more than 100
panels of suspended glass inspired by the colors of Claude Monet's garden at Giverny; and The
River That Flows Both Ways (2009), a permanent installation composed of an existing series of
windows transformed with 700 individual panes of glass representing the water conditions on
the Hudson River over 700 minutes in a single day.

“Through both a scientific approach to gathering data—including precise measurements and
record keeping—and a poetic sensibility, Finch’s works often inhabit the area between objective investigations of science and the subjectivity of lived experience,” said Associate Curator Emma Enderby, who organized the exhibition. “In a world where climate change is at the core of societal debates, Finch’s installation in the heart of one of the most urbanized neighborhoods
of the city presents us with the universal reality of nature’s power to awe and inspire, and the
importance to remember and protect such wonders.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, Spencer Finch will give a Public Art Fund Talk at
The New School on November 16 where he will focus on his various public and large-scale installations.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Ballet of the Fog and the Stars (Video)

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Like this picture? Check out the video below. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Like this picture? Check out the video below.

Work week got you down? Or maybe it’s Humboldt’s seemingly endless feed of grisly news? Whatever it is that’s conspiring against you this Wednesday, push it aside and take a moment to appreciate this beautiful place we call home. Heck, thanks to Eureka’s David Wilson, you won’t even have to get out of your chair.

Wilson spent much of a recent night perched on a ridge line between the south and north forks of the Eel River with his camera.

“My hope was to create a time lapse that successfully spanned the sunset-to-night transition and caught the star-lit valley filling with fog as the Milky Way and star field slid across the sky,” he wrote in an email to the Journal. “I started shooting still photographs for this time lapse at 7:24 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2016, to catch the sunlight disappearing. It wasn’t until about 9:30 p.m. that the fog first came into the view far down the valley. It rolled up both river valleys simultaneously. … It flowed like fluid, billowing, advancing and retreating as it filled the valleys and washed over the hills. It spotted like a wildfire, with puffs appearing here and there ahead of it. The Milky Way slid across the frame above.”

Wilson's perch. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Wilson's perch.

Wilson kept shooting at regular intervals until the fog overtook him and he could no longer keep his camera dry, snapping his last frame at 2:34 a.m.

Check out the video below, which is scored by Wilson’s son, Jarren, a marine biology major at Humboldt State University who has studied music since his days at Freshwater School. The elder Wilson is a Humboldt County native and HSU alum, who teaches Photoshop and digital media at College of the Redwoods. He’s obviously also a photographer with a thing for time lapse videos, as his YouTube page will attest.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

UPDATED: Large Fuel Spill in State Park Amid Crash Cleanup Effort

Posted By on Sat, Sep 10, 2016 at 8:24 AM

Caltrans reported the overturned truck's tanks were intact with minimal leaking observed on Thursday. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Caltrans reported the overturned truck's tanks were intact with minimal leaking observed on Thursday.

The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services sent out a press release today with a bit more information about the spill, including that the department doesn't believe the spill presents a threat to public health and that there's currently no evidence fuel has entered the nearby South Fork of the Eel River. Find the full release copied below our original post.

Approximately 4,000 gallons of fuel spilled into state park soil as crews tried to clear the wreckage of a tanker truck that overturned alongside U.S. Highway 101 near Salmon Creek Bridge.

Information is sparse at this point, but State Parks sent out the below press release last night stating that cleanup efforts are underway and noting that about 4,000 gallons of the tanker's 7,000-gallon load "was released." The crash occurred Wednesday night near Miranda and its cause remains under investigation.

According to Caltrans, the plan had been to transfer the 7,000 gallons of gasoline to another truck before using a hoist to pul the tanker back onto the roadway. The truck's tanks stayed intact in the crash, with minimal observed leakage, according to Caltrans.

We'll update this post with additional information as we get it.

Humboldt County, Calif — Recovery and clean-up efforts of an overturned semi-truck carrying up to 7,000 gallons of fuel continued today near north bound US-101 out hot Salmon Creek Road in Humboldt County. The Peterbilt tank truck and trailer that collided with a guard rail and overturned on state park property on September 7 has been removed. Approximately 4,000 gallons of fuel was released.

Planning efforts to remove contaminated soil are underway and environmental monitoring will be ongoing throughout the entire clean-up process The park is open to the public. Park hours and services have not been impacted.

It is anticipated that traffic will be restored to normal conditions this evening, though traffic may be restricted in the near future to aid in clean-up efforts.

The collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. For further information, please contact Superintendent Tom Gunther (707) 946-1812.

From DHHS:

Sept. 10, 2016

Public notified of gas spill above South Fork Eel River

An estimated 4,000 gallons of gasoline from a petroleum tanker that overturned Wednesday in Southern Humboldt has leaked above the South Fork of the Eel River.

The incident occurred just south of the Salmon Creek exit from northbound U.S. Highway 101.

There is currently no evidence that fuel has entered the water. Assessment of the area continues today, with cleanup efforts expected to begin Tuesday.

The fuel truck overturned with an estimated 7,000 gallons on board. Some of the fuel was recovered in what’s called a “hot stinger operation,” which involves drilling the top of the overturned tank and inserting a pipe to remove the fuel. Recovery efforts, however, were complicated by the position of the truck and its location on the hill.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation is the lead agency for the spill and the recovery. Staff from the Division of Environmental Health (DEH) remain on site and continue to monitor these efforts.

“We don’t believe at this time that the spill presents a threat to public health,” said Susan Buckley, director of the Public Health Branch of the Department of Health & Human Services. “But in keeping with Proposition 65 notification requirements and out of an abundance of caution, we’re making this announcement over the weekend to make sure area residents are informed.”


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Sunday, September 4, 2016

HumBug: Missing Giants

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2016 at 3:00 PM

This moth is still a mystery, too. Anyone? - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • This moth is still a mystery, too. Anyone?
The last couple of nights I've been running an experiment to answer a question. When I was a kid, I could leave the porch light on almost any night and there'd be a bunch of insects around it in an hour or so. Lately, I've been noticing that there don't seem to be nearly as many, and several of the really big ones I used to see are missing. The Ceanothus moth, giant waterbug and giant cranefly, to name three. I decided to set up my own little light trap. Resurrecting some old Coleman lanterns and a white sheet, I cobbled it together. While none of the big three made an appearance, the lights did attract a few moderate sized moths, a termite and an ichneumon.
A flying termite. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A flying termite.
I did this because there is an ongoing and disturbing current in the online entomological chatter. Apparently insect populations the world over are falling, and it's not just the bad ones humankind has been battling for as long as there has been a humankind, or the big names like honeybees and monarch butterflies. There seems to be an overall decline in the numbers and diversity in the arthropod world.
A DIY light trap. Bugs come and go as they please and the 10-pound hammer is only for self defense. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A DIY light trap. Bugs come and go as they please and the 10-pound hammer is only for self defense.
This rosy beauty is yet unidentified. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • This rosy beauty is yet unidentified.
So I decided to check things out in my own backyard. Yes, despite my best efforts I have yet to attract anything like the numbers I used to see 50+ years ago. And no, this is not a clean well documented scientific experiment because I did not foresee the need to take data on it when I was a kid. It is at best anecdotal evidence but it is enough to give me pause.
A giant lacewing on my front windowsill. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A giant lacewing on my front windowsill.
The afternoon after writing the above, I returned from town only to find a large winged insect on my window frame. At first I thought it might be a cicada but on closer inspection it was shaped all wrong. I took several photos before it just fluttered off and was gone. It turns out to be a giant lacewing (family polystoechotidae). Listed as “rare” in the second edition of American Insects, A Handbook of the Insects of North America North of Mexico. So after setting up a trap in my backyard and staying up past midnight several nights in a row, I find a rare “giant insect” attracted to the wrong side of my house in the daytime. Sometimes I think Mother Nature pokes fun at me.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Feds Find Improper Care After Fisher Death at HSU

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 10:10 AM

A resting female fisher in the wild. - HOOPA VALLEY TRIBE, REBECCA GREEN
  • Hoopa Valley Tribe, Rebecca Green
  • A resting female fisher in the wild.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently found that Humboldt State University failed to follow laboratory protocols as staff observed the declining health of a dying fisher for nearly a week without calling a veterinarian.

The routine inspection report dated Aug. 3 includes a daily log kept by the animal’s caretakers in the days before the fisher, a rare member of the weasel family, was found dead in its cage:

4/25/16 - "fisher bald patches larger than I last observed, bald patch on belly as well now"

4/26/16 - "fisher appeared to be heaving/retching after exiting box but observed eating right after that. bald patches increasing in size."

4/28/16 - "fisher appears to be thinner and labored breathing wt - 3.67 kg" (Note - was over 5 kg earlier in the year)

(4/29/16 - Fisher not mentioned in daily observations)

4/30/16 - "fisher still breathing heavily. Didn't eat all of canine diet."

5/1/16 - "fisher ate none of yesterday's food, appears extremely weak and wobbly when walking. FM & KC notified" (Note - not veterinarians, and they did not notify veterinarian)

5/2/16 - "fisher found deceased in box. RB notified" (Note - RB is the Attending Veterinarian)

“The Attending Veterinarian was not notified regarding the condition of the fisher over these dates, until after its death,” the report states. “Daily observation of animals by assigned personnel must include prompt communication with the attending veterinarian, or his or her alternate if not available, in the event that any health problems are noted. Failure to consult with a veterinarian could result in suffering and/or a poor medical outcome for the animals.”

The fisher population has declined dramatically over recent decades with the loss of its forest habitat due to logging and, more recently, the threat of poisons used at illegal marijuana grows.  

Richard Boone, dean of HSU’s College of Natural Resources & Sciences, said in a statement that the school is “committed to teaching and research about wildlife so that we can help protect species like the fisher.”

“We were disturbed by this animal’s death, take responsibility for failure to observe proper protocols, and have taken corrective actions to ensure that a mistake like this doesn’t happen again,” Boone said.

According to HSU, where the animal spent most of its nearly 10 years after being dropped off at the campus as a baby, the fisher had health issues.

Jodie Wiederkehr, who runs the Center for Ethical Science out of her home in Chicago, said she is asking the USDA “to launch a full investigation into this incident and levy the largest fine allowable against Humboldt State University of at least $10,000 per non-compliance.”

Wiederkehr said her nonprofit chronicles citations at laboratories across the nation, which she described as a “hidden issue.”

In the case of the fisher, Wiederkehr said she believes the university should be fined and questions how the incident happened in the first place.

“Common sense doesn’t even take over,” she said. “ … No one even thought to contact the veterinarian and say, ‘This animal is suffering.’”

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Scenes from the Stafford Fire

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 11:28 AM

Crews from Cal Fire fight a blaze just north of Stafford on Thursday. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Crews from Cal Fire fight a blaze just north of Stafford on Thursday.

Fires broke out on both sides of U.S. Highway 101 near Stafford on Thursday, with crews from seven agencies called to battle the blaze.

As of 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Cal Fire reported that the fire had spanned 35 acres and was 10 percent contained. Scanner traffic Thursday afternoon indicated officials were concerned the fire could go “big,” and grow to consume as many as 100 acres.

But it seems a heavy response that included air drops of fire suppressant and water pulled from the Eel River, coupled with light winds, helped fire crews get the blaze somewhat under control. The cause of the fire remains under investigation as crews continue to work to temper the flames today. Calls placed to Cal Fire this morning seeking an update were not immediately returned but we'll update this post with any additional information we get.

Local photographer Mark McKenna was on scene Thursday afternoon and shares the following slideshow.

The Stafford Fire
New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow New Slideshow

The Stafford Fire

By Mark McKenna

Click to View 17 slides

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Oregon Man Killed in Logging Accident

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 10:33 AM

A 31-year-old Oregon man was killed Monday when the tree he was felling came down on him.

Chief Deputy Coroner Ernie Stewart said Travis Jon Cornelison, of Rogue River, was working on a commercial operation for Lord’s Light Logging when the accident occurred near Timber Ridge Lane in the Blue Lake area.

The accident is being investigated by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

From the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office:

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

In Celebration of National Moth Week

Posted By on Sun, Jul 24, 2016 at 4:39 PM

California Ctenuchid, about 20 mm long. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • California Ctenuchid, about 20 mm long.
In observance of National Moth Week, I thought I'd mention a few of our unusual local mothy residents.

Together with butterflies, moths comprise the order “Lepidoptera,” roughly translating to scale wing. A good rule of thumb to distinguish between the two is that butterflies have thin antennae terminating in a club shape, while moths (with a few notable exceptions) have different types of antennae.

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