North Coast Journal



Did you know that the Wiyots want Indian Island back? That 114 people work in Humboldt Bay's oyster business? That eel grass is the first link in a food chain that supports millions of fish and birds? Or that more ocean shipping might bring into the bay exotic species like the zebra mussel, which has fouled ports in the northeast and mid-Atlantic?

Two hundred people learned these and buckets of other facts at the Humboldt Bay Symposium, held Sept. 13 and 14 at the Adorni Center in Eureka.

They heard from scientists who study the bay, business owners who use it, paddlers who play on it and tourism boosters who promote it.

From public agencies like the city of Eureka and the Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation District they heard about plans to expand shipping and build bayside trails.

Cheryl Siedner of the Table Bluff Wiyot described traditional eeling and clamming practices, as well as the annual ceremonies on Indian Island that ended with a tragic massacre in the mid-1850s. Arlene Hartin talked about European-American settlement. And Humboldt State University Professor Gary Carver described the bay's geologic past and future.

About 10,000 years ago it was an upland valley, according to Carver, with the ocean 10 miles to the west. As the continental ice caps melted into the sea, salt water encroached and slowly turned the valley into a bay. Earthquakes dropped the land down a few feet every 400 or 500 years and (in case you haven't heard) we're due for another "catastrophic" quake sometime in the next 200 years.

In the meantime, some bay boosters want to develop a full-fledged marine terminal for containerized shipping with rail and truck connections. Others think it should be designated a "National Marine Estuary." The two directions might not be compatible, but that discussion never quite materialized.

Indeed, the lack of well-defined issues was a weak point at the symposium. While every conceivable interest group was present, there was little discussion of how their interests might conflict or how they ought to be balanced. By the afternoon of day two, when the 65 remaining participants shared their "visions of the future," most of the business and government players had already left.

Still most participants seemed to walk away full of enthusiasm about Humboldt Bay. And if information is power, then they're certainly well-armed to make a difference in the bay's future.

To learn about and get involved in Humboldt Bay-related issues, contact: Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation District, 443-0801; Coastal Conservancy, 441-5884; or Redwood Community Action Agency, 269-2066.



The Sept. 15 rally to "save Headwaters" stirred up Humboldt County and reverberated across the nation with coverage by television networks and newspapers from as far away as New York and Washington, D.C.

Environmentalists drew some 4,000 people to their makeshift rally site in Carlotta. Nearly 900 people crossed Pacific Lumber's property line and were arrested by polite sheriff's deputies. Legal and illegal protests continued through the following week.

An opposing "property rights" rally in Eureka the same day drew a crowd reported at 150-200 people. And supporters of PALCO also held a press conference denouncing the demonstrators. Fortuna Mayor Phil Nyberg said that most couldn't tell the difference between "a redwood tree and a bar of soap."

An editorial in the Times-Standard Sept. 17 implied that some protesters were actually paid to attend the rally. The piece cited employment ads in the San Francisco Examiner offering "$200-$500 a week" for "Headwaters Activists." The editorial also said protesters were "overheard discussing how much they were getting paid" at the rally.

However, an Environmental Protection Information Center spokesman denied that anyone was paid to attend the rally. The Journal confirmed that an ad was run Sept. 8 in the Examiner by Forests Forever of San Francisco, which recruits door-to-door canvassers to raise money for Headwaters advocacy and related causes.

"We definitely don't pay people to protest," said Cayenne Harris of Forests Forever. "In fact, almost everyone from our organization went to the protest, and it was all volunteer time, believe me."

As the Journal goes to press, the Department of the Interior and Maxxam/PALCO owner Charles Hurwitz appeared tantalizingly close to consummating a deal to exchange tax credits, timber harvest rights, federal land and a settlement of the federal suits against Hurwitz for the main 4,700-acre old-growth grove and its adjacent second-growth "buffer zone."

However, a final conclusion to the decade-long controversy may be much farther away. As speaker after speaker reiterated at the Headwaters rally, environmentalists want public acquisition or protection of 60,000 acres of land, including Headwaters and PALCO'S five other known old-growth groves.



Neighbors of the proposed Big Lagoon Casino have submitted a formal complaint to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, requesting that the agency rescind the trust status granted to the Big Lagoon Rancheria for the land on which its casino will sit.

The complaint alleges that the Rancheria acquired the land for housing purposes but planned to build a casino on it all along. BIA staff in Redding had not reviewed the complaint as of Sept. 20. A spokesman for the BIA in Washington said that the trust status of Indian lands is considered irrevocable.



The Times-Standard newspaper has been purchased from Thomson Newspapers by Denver-based Media News Inc. The paper was sold along with three dailies in Southern California and one in Pennsylvania.

Sales, acquisitions and mergers of daily and weekly newspapers have become common in the American media business, and the shifts in ownership often produce little change in a paper's editorial character.



Steven Spielberg and his crew and cast left Humboldt County on Sept. 19 after three weeks of filming in state parks, including Patricks Point and Fern Canyon, and on private property in Fieldbrook.

About 30 local folks worked as extras or stand-ins on the production of "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," according to county film commissioner Kathleen Gordon-Burke. Butchers and produce sellers did business with the production and lots of Hollywood money was spent on lodging and restaurants.

Thanks to cooperative local newspapers and TV stations, the filming times and locations were not generally known. The "don't tell" policy was requested by Gordon-Burke, who explained that filmmakers don't want to deal with big crowds at their filming locations. "You want everyone to be excited about it ... but we also want other movies to come. Hollywood's the smallest universe in the world."

Another film, "Edwards and Hunt," was filmed at locations on the Trinity River and Trinidad Beach earlier in the summer.



A new Gay and Lesbian Community Center will open in October at 235 4th St. in Eureka. The non-profit center will celebrate its opening on National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11.

Organizers of the center say that while Humboldt County is a relatively tolerant area for gay men and lesbians, "homophobic and heterosexist attitudes here restrain many gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgendered persons from feeling a part of the general community," said Kate McCay, spokeswoman for the Center.

McCay and other supporters hope the Center will create an "extended family atmosphere" and help support "education for the general public," according to a press release.



A new sewage system in Manila uses a natural marsh and wetlands to treat sewage without chemicals. Like the landmark Arcata Marsh wastewater treatment system, the Manila system provides a mecca for wildlife.



The latest big development in the once-small town of McKinleyville will be a 63-home gated subdivision, called Sand Pointe, overlooking the shore at the end of Murray Road. County supervisors approved the developer's plans on Sept. 3 over opposition by some community members who promised to take the issue to the state Coastal Commission.



The tragic case of a popular priest who sexually molested an unknown number of pre-teen and teenage boys came to a close Sept. 20 in Humboldt County. Father Gary Timmons was sentenced to eight years in prison for molesting a 12-year-old Eureka boy in 1992. The sentence will be served concurrently with an eight-year sentence Timmons received in Sonoma County. He will reportedly be eligible for parole in four to five years.

A number of people who accuse the priest of molesting them attended his sentencing at the Humboldt County Courthouse. Because of the statute of limitations, no charges were filed in most of those cases, but the victims have doggedly pushed authorities in Sonoma and Humboldt counties to prosecute the more recent cases.

In December 1995, the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa settled with nine Timmons' victims by awarding $830,000 in damages.



Retiring North Coast Assemblyman Dan Hauser has been appointed executive director of the North Coast Railroad, an entity he championed and helped create during his 16-year term in the legislature.

Hauser will fill a new position created by the North Coast Railroad Authority board "to deal with long-term issues and the financial stability of the railroad," said Hauser. Ed McLaughlin will continue as general manager.

Since June, the railroad has become part of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, which includes Marin and Sonoma counties and the Golden Gate Transit District. The publicly owned railroad remains primarily a freight operation, but it will test tourist excursions from Healdsburg to Willits this fall.

The North Coast Journal Table of Contents

North Coast Journal weekly banner