Though The Nation is indeed august, and very much a New York-based periodical, the suggestion that author Seth Zuckerman is an 'outsider' to Humboldt County does not bear up well under scrutiny. Seth still owns his place in Petrolia; more to the point, he invested many years in building the Mattole Restoration Council's programs and reputation.
HiHoe Silver sure doesn't let his ignorance get in the way of a good slur:
"However, any board of directors member who immediately starts publicly spouting incomplete facts about corporate bank accounts of a fiercely competitive company she is, by doctrine of position, obligated to protect is proof that she is unqualified and CERTAINLY not interested in strengthening the NCRA. The value of this resource demands better husbandry than inaccurate procedural methods and unprofessional people occupying the board positions."
Ms. Stillman was discussing the finances of the NCRA, a (nominally) public agency, not those of the privately-held NWP Co. (There is good argument to be made that the public deserves to know a great deal more than has yet been revealed about the finances of the NWP Co and its owners.) Stillman picked these issues up quickly, true. Much more quickly than Supervisor Fennell, who though extensively briefed by Bill Kier, hasn't deigned to note the very serious challenges facing the NCRA - except to bash environmentalists.
Sam's confused, or he's being deliberately confusing. He should maybe read the report.
11.5-18.5 million metric tons/yr is the low-end estimate for volume of rail traffic needed to support an E-W route. It reflects construction costs of $1.066 billion and a very low 3% discount rate on borrowing that money. But note, just above Table 9 on page 31, the authors say "For a project of this scale and risk, the higher discount rate is most appropriate." Volumes would need to be somewhere between 24 and 42 million tons at a 7% discount rate - or 56.5 to 100 at a 15% rate (depending, again, on the construction costs). ***The biggest volume port on the West Coast - Portland - does somewhere between 11 and 13 million tons a year of dry bulk.***
To finance the estimated $600 million dollar cost of rebuilding the N-S NCRA line through the Eel River Canyon (over my dead body), the authors calculate the line would need to carry between 5.6 and 9.1 million tons at a 3% discount rate, or 11-18 at 7%, or 26 to 42 at a 15% rate. Again, at the very lowest end that would have the NCRA shipping as much dry bulk as the port of Tacoma. (It is, to say the least, telling that we have never seen this kind of analysis from the NCRA or Doug Bosco and John William's NWP Co.)
This report looks just at dry bulk exports because that's where the high volumes of traffic are. The authors said imports are very unlikely to provide anything like the volumes needed to finance such construction costs. But whether it's imports or exports, freight _volume_ is the key variable because rail shipping rates don't flex.
The authors were able to look at the conclusion of the 2009 Drewry report commissioned by Rob Arkley's Security National on containerized imports, but not the report itself. (No doubt that's because it's full of compelling data about how likely Humboldt is to capture a big chunk of containerized imports that peaked in 2005 and are now the focus of intense competition all over the west coast.)
Note that those construction estimates are all low-end. They leave out port facilities, connections with the national lines, environmental mitigation, landslide mitigation, sidings. So a real number is probably in the range of 2-3 billion for the whole package, and volumes would have to reflect that.
I did a really interesting interview for the EcoNews Report on KHSU with Sam Wasser and Lisa Hayward of the Center for Conservation Biology on their NSO research in the Shasta-Trinity NF that aired March 24 of 2011. If anyone would like an mp3 copy I'd be happy to forward to them; you can reach me through Friends of the Eel River at 707/822-3342.
At least as important as the use of dogs to find owls - far more effective than even the best human surveyors, as Heidi notes - is the CCR's work with trace hormones in scat to evaluate critters' stress levels. Hayward was able to show startlingly high levels of stress response to what one might've expected to be relatively minor intrusions in owl habitat by motorized vehicles, particularly OHVs.
As well, Sarah Potter, who interned with EPIC for a couple of summers, is now working with the CCR in Puget Sound, running around on motorboats with dogs trained to sniff out orca poop. Amazing work.
"Which of course raises the question: If it’s so cheap and easy to locate the trail off to the side, why not locate it there in the first place? At which point the trail advocates revert back to the first claim, that doing so would be unaffordable. I have not heard any explanation of why it’s so difficult and unaffordable to build the trail off to the side from the get-go, yet would magically become cheap and easy to move it off to the side in the future.
Can you explain that?"
TRA needs to try math.
Trail alone: $4.1 million in available dollars.
Rail reconstruction: $31 million plus. "Plus" here doesn't actually include all the other parts of restoring rail operations - like turnarounds, the rails themselves, let alone connections to anything. The real figure for putting a functioning railroad back on that stretch is almost certainly closer to $50-80 million. None of that money is presently on offer, for some reason. Something about no business demand...
If and when a feasible business plan for a Humboldt Bay railroad is ever laid out to justify rebuilding the line, the cost of rebuilding the rail line with a trail adjacent will not be significantly greater than the cost of rebuilding without a trail. (Think about it.)
The demand that trail advocates pay to rebuild a railroad to nowhere alongside a trail - "no trail without rail" - is a promise to keep blocking the public's preferred use of the public right of way. It's unconscionable, it's stupid, and it needs to stop.
I voted for the NHS billboard, because global warming is about the ugliest thing I can think of.
Did any of you catch the statement Commission ED Peter Douglas made re the Ft Bragg project? He was talking about how a project can really work for everyone - proponents and other interests - when the proponent and the city take the time to work with folks who have concerns, the Coastal Commission etc. It sounded like one of those things a parent says to the good child so the misbehaving kid will hear...
In Print This Week:
Mar 13, 2014
vol XXV issue 11
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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