Environment / Natural Resources

Sunday, November 22, 2015

UPDATE: Panda Found

Posted By on Sun, Nov 22, 2015 at 7:46 AM

Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation Event and Volunteer Coordinator Chelsa Green, addresses volunteers gather at the zoo Saturday morning to look for Masala, a missing 18-month-old red panda that escaped from the zoo Thursday. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation Event and Volunteer Coordinator Chelsa Green, addresses volunteers gather at the zoo Saturday morning to look for Masala, a missing 18-month-old red panda that escaped from the zoo Thursday.

UPDATE: The Eureka Police Department announced this morning that Masala, the 18-month-old red panda on the lam from the Sequoia Park Zoo since Thursday, was found last night and returned to the zoo safe and sound.

From the EPD's Facebook announcement: "Masala is home safe! From Sequoia Park Zoo Manager Gretchen Ziegler: For those who are up this late — GREAT news! Masala is safe and sound back at the zoo after an alert citizen noticed her in the neighborhood and called EPD, who alerted zoo staff. A perfect rescue from a tree ended with us all sleeping better tonight! More of the story tomorrow. Welcome back, Masala — we missed you!"

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Friday, November 20, 2015

UPDATE: Zoo Seeks Volunteers for Panda Search Party

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 7:07 PM

Masala, the year-and-a-half-old red panda that escaped from the zoo yesterday, remains at large. - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF EUREKA
  • Courtesy of the city of Eureka
  • Masala, the year-and-a-half-old red panda that escaped from the zoo yesterday, remains at large.

The Sequoia Park Zoo is looking for volunteers to join a search party that’s going to set out tomorrow to find Masala, the 18-month-old red panda that escaped from its zoo enclosure Thursday.

In a press release, the zoo asked that volunteers show up tomorrow at 8:30 or 10 a.m. at the zoo entrance to join the search. Additionally, officials are asking for the public’s help in keeping eyes open and cell phones at the ready, believing a solid tip as to the animal’s location is all that stands between her and a homecoming.

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GMO Salmon Spawns Huffman's Ire

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 11:30 AM

  • Thinkstock
Congressman Jared Huffman is not having the fish. According to a press release, Huffman is "deeply concerned" about the Food and Drug Administration's approval of genetically engineered salmon. He cites the engineered salmon's potential to damage wild salmon populations, ecosystems and the fishing industry, as well as the lack of labeling requirements for producers. The congressman is co-sponsoring legislation to ban GE fish.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

HSU Students Leading In Waste Reduction Program

Posted By on Sat, Nov 14, 2015 at 2:45 PM

HSU Jacks and their mascot Lucky pose with reusable cups. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • HSU Jacks and their mascot Lucky pose with reusable cups.
The rallying cry is "Kill the Cup!" and Humboldt State University students are killing it, literally and metaphorically. The national waste reduction program includes an annual University Challenge which measures how many drinks are served to students in reusable cups at participating coffee shops. Last year's winner, Miami University, measured 5.52 percent participation by students. So how does HSU, one of 16 schools competing nationwide, measure up?

"We were at 35 percent by the second week," says Shohei Morita, education director of HSU's Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program (WRRAP). 

Friday was the final day of the competition, and WRRAP spokesperson Meredith Garrett says they are "very confident" of their chances. Results will be announced Dec. 1, and the winning university will earn $5,000 toward the sustainability project of its choice.

WRRAP's endeavors include tabling at the quad, offering reusable cups and free smoothies from a bicycle-powered blender. The HSU Lumberjacks football team also got involved, working with WRRAP to encourage a "zero waste" game day, where attendees received reusable cups and volunteers stood by to encourage recycling and composting. Students were also encouraged to upload photos of themselves with reusable cups to Facebook to boost their chances of winning.  

Morgan King, sustainability and waste coordinator at HSU, says that historically waste reduction on campus has been a "bottom up" effort, with students leading the charge to create a campus recycling program in the 1980s. Since then, the program has been integrated into facilities management and the push to reduce waste has "come from the top" as well. President Lisa Rossbacher, appointed in 2014, has prioritized efforts to create a greener campus, says King.

"It's actually a really exciting time right now," he says. "We continue to see a decline in waste even though we have increased enrollment."

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Conservancy Group Turns to Crowdsourcing for $5 Million Klamath Tributary Buy

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 3:17 PM

  • The Western Rivers Conservancy
The Western Rivers Conservancy has launched an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to purchase a 10,000-acre tract of of land that contains a significant Klamath River tributary. 

Blue Creek runs into the Klamath River 16 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, just inside Humboldt County's border before the river flows into Del Norte County past the town of Klamath. Blue Creek provides a crucial cold water injection, the conservancy says, and its proximity to the ocean makes it important for salmon as they head upstream to begin their spawning season.

The Yurok Tribe has been buying up Green Diamond land in the Blue Creek watershed for years, working with the conservancy to get funding from a variety of public and private sources. The Western Rivers Conservancy hopes to raise $5 million in its IndieGoGo campaign to buy the last piece of the 47,000-acre land acquisition and turn it over to the Yurok Tribe for management. (Western Rivers Conservancy communications director Danny Palmerlee clarified to the Journal this afternoon that the total cost of the 10,000 acres is $16 million — the group is only trying to raise $5 million through crowdfunding.) The campaign had raised just over $15,000 as of this afternoon, with 51 days left to raise funds. 

If nothing else, you can enjoy this lovely, scenic video of the Klamath River and Blue Creek compiled for the fundraiser.

Editor's note: This post was updated with a clarification about the total cost of the remaining Blue Creek land purchase.
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Marijuana-related Pesticides are Killing Even More Fishers

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 3:11 PM

The body of a fisher that researchers say was poisoned by rodenticides found at an illegal marijuana grow. - UC DAVIS
  • UC Davis
  • The body of a fisher that researchers say was poisoned by rodenticides found at an illegal marijuana grow.
The rodenticides used on marijuana grows are posing an ever-greater danger to Pacific fishers, according to a recently released study by University of California Davis researchers and Integral Ecology Research Center Director Mourad Gabriel.

Gabriel has been studying the effects of pesticide use on the medium-size weasel-like species for several years, and concluded that “increasing numbers of fishers are being exposed to and dying from greater varieties of rodenticides found at trespass pot farms,” according to a UC Davis press release.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

UPDATED: Higgins Pulls Ahead in the 5th

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 12:48 AM

  • Higgins
  • Rotwein

With the final Election Night report in, we have a nail biter in the race for the 5th Division Harbor District Seat.

After trailing all night, incumbent Commissioner Pat Higgins has taken a 12-vote lead over challenger Susan Rotwein with 100 percent of precincts reporting. With 3,666 votes counted in the race thus far, Higgins has 49.89 percent of the vote to Rotwein’s 49.56 percent. There are ballots yet to be counted — provisionals and vote-by-mail ballots that came in on Election day — and it looks like this one won’t be decided for days, or even weeks. That said, it looks good for Higgins, who took 56.99 percent of the precinct vote to erase Rotwein’s early lead.

With another 2,345 votes counted, challenger Susan Rotwein has maintained her lead over incumbent Pat Higgins in the race to become the Harbor District’s next 5th Division commissioner.

Only 46 additional votes have been counted since the first return, which consisted entirely of vote-by-mail ballots and had Rotwein holding a 186-vote lead. Higgins’ has now widdled that down to 174 votes, but still trails with 46.01 percent of the vote to Rotwein’s 53.43.

It’s worth noting that Higgins took 63 percent of the Election Day ballots counted thus far. If that spread holds, a comeback is obviously still within reach.

With the clock creeping toward midnight, neither candidate answered Journal calls for comment.

Challenger Susan Rotwein has jumped out to a slim, early lead in the race to become the Harbor District's next commissioner representing the Trinidad, McKinleyville and Willow Creek areas.

The first election returns, comprised entirely of vote-by-mail ballots turned in prior to Election Day, have Rotwein leading by 186 votes. Thus far, she's taken 53.76 percent of the vote to incumbent Pat Higgins' 45.67 percent with 2,299 ballots cast.

The race has essentially been a referendum on the current board’s very active last five years. While the incumbent Higgins has staunchly defended the board’s recent run and direction, challenger Susan Rotwein has charged that district has drifted off course.

Higgins, a fisheries biologist by trade who was elected to represent the Trinidad, McKinleyville and Willow Creek areas on the board in 2007, has campaigned on the district’s recent activity. On the campaign trail, Higgins has trumpeted the district’s 2012 acquisition of the Samoa Pulp Mill, and the property’s subsequent cleanup, saying it was good for the environment and economic development on the bay. He’s said the current board has taken the district from the brink of insolvency to solid financial footing by diversifying its economic interests and bringing the marina’s budget closer to balance, all while promoting transparency and increasing recreation opportunities around the bay.

Rotwein, on the other hand, has lambasted the board’s decision to acquire the old mill property, saying the cleanup left the district deeply in debt (though the bulk of the district’s borrowed funds will be forgiven in seven years and the balance was a prepayment on Coast Seafoods’ tidelands lease). She has also said the acquisition left tax payers on the hook for the cleanup, which should have been done by the private sector. Rotwein, a nurse consultant from Trinidad who co-owns a fishing boat, also charged the district needs to better serve the fishing industry, noting that it’s increased slip fees at the marina and moved a fishermen’s storage facility across the bay. Rotwein has said the district needs to prioritize shipping to and from Humboldt Bay to boost regional economic development.

While the campaign to represent the Fifth District on the commission has largely remained civil, the differences in the candidates’ platforms were not nuanced. Voters were largely left to decide whether or not they liked the district’s current direction and vote accordingly.

Meanwhile, over in the 2nd District, Greg Dale has jumped out to a commanding early lead with 64.19 percent of the early vote.

Read more about both candidates in past Journal coverage here.

Click here to visit the Humboldt County Elections Office webpage for full election results, including: Arcata’s Measure A, the McKinlevyille Union School Board, the Fortuna Union High School Board, the Fruitland Ridge Fire Protection District Board, the Humboldt County Board of Education, the Manila Community Services District Board, the Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District Board and the Willow Creek Community Services District Board.
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Ehresman Stepping down from NEC

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 4:25 PM

  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Dan Ehresman.
The Northcoast Environmental Center is in a state of flux, as it announced over the weekend that Executive Director Dan Ehresman will be stepping down in the next couple weeks.

Ehresman has worked for the NEC for six years, serving as the organization’s director since 2012. In recent months, Ehresman was critical of California Cannabis Voice Humboldt’s efforts to draft an outdoor cannabis cultivation ordinance for Humboldt County, saying the group didn’t include environmentalists’ concerns in its draft proposal. The county has since introduced its own draft ordinance, apparently not based on the CCVH effort.

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Report Reveals Dire Runs of Returning Salmon

Posted By on Sat, Oct 31, 2015 at 12:30 PM

  • Thomas Dunklin
The Nature Conservancy recently released its second annual report showing the "big picture" of yearly California salmon runs. A collaborative effort between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Marine Fisheries Service and several other conservation groups, the report includes a database of salmon counts for Coho, Chinook and steelhead returning to spawn in 2013.

The conservancy counted an overall increase of 25,000 in total salmon population from 2012. Despite these encouraging increases, the number of wild salmon in our region are far below target population numbers. Target population numbers are determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and population estimates are done by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Losing Support

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 3:06 PM

  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Today in dead tree branding ... Xerox, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Delta Dental and Bigelow Tea have joined 27 other major companies in distancing themselves from controversial eco-label Sustainable Forestry Initiative. SFI has garnered criticism from environmental groups for what they deem to be a "greenwashing" campaign, saying that forest products that carry the label are often harvested using unsustainable practices such as clearcutting and herbicide use.

"It is good news that the brands are dropping SFI," says Dan Ehresman of the Northcoast Environmental Center. "There has definitely been a long-standing dialogue around SFI versus [Forest Stewardship Council] certification. SFI seems to have more ... practices that are not truly sustainable."

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