North Coast Journal WeeklyIn the News

January 31, 2002

Sunny Brae THP approved

Klamath draft:
farmers over fish

No silence

Plover ordinance proposed

ERS investigation?

Mexican official in Humboldt

Watershed symposium set

CR president acknowledged

Education summit next week

Blue Lake 5th District forum

Sunny Brae THP approved

When Sunny Brae resident Mark Lovelace saw the final version of a timber harvest plan for land in the hills above his home, he noticed something was missing.

"They have taken out three essential elements we had lobbied for to protect safety and quality of life," said Lovelace, who heads the Sunny Brae-Arcata Neighborhood Alliance. The group wanted to restrict herbicide use, limit hours of operation and require pilot cars to escort log trucks as part of the plan.

During the plan's second review, Sierra Pacific and the California Department of Forestry appeared receptive to the alliance's concerns, Lovelace said. The neighbors were allowed access to the harvest site to perform an inspection and added their own analysis to the plan's comments. A series of compromise restrictions were drafted.

Then on Jan. 18 the approved plan came back from CDF.

"The simplest words to describe my feelings are extreme disappointment," Lovelace said. Herbicide use is permitted, pilot cars are not required and the plan's hours of operation are longer than SANA had requested.

The plan includes a specific response to Lovelace's activities as with SANA. CDF notes in the document that Lovelace "took it upon himself to alert other residents of the upcoming harvest plan" and "it appears to be the source of misconceptions by the public reflected in the comment letters."

For Lovelace, there are only two choices left: "I can be angry but live with it or I can pursue litigation."

The alliance will meet Feb. 6 to discuss whether CDF failed to require adequate measures to protect health and safety and if legal action is warranted.

"Litigation seems to be the only language CDF understands," he said.

Klamath draft: farmers over fish

The federal government has released its first plan for this year's Klamath water allocations, and it looks like the farmers are winning over the fish.

The draft environmental assessment scopes out the effects of the Klamath irrigation project. The project, administered by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, feeds water to approximately 200,000 acres of farmland in the high desert of eastern Oregon and California. The largest impact is siphoning water out of the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River, both home to protected fish species.

But that impact receives scarce attention in the report, said Tim McKay, executive director of the Northcoast Environmental Center in Arcata.

"The Bureau of Reclamation is saying they have no obligation to provide water to threatened species because their first obligation is to provide water to farmers," he said.

The bureau is widely believed to have overallocated the water available to it from the Klamath basin, putting farmers dependent on irrigation at odds with the salmon and other fish that inhabit the river system and lakes.

Last year farmers were cut off because the bureau decided the fish needed water. The farmers responded by holding several demonstrations and engaging in civil disobedience by prying open the headgates to the irrigation project. The Bush administration, which oversees the Bureau of Reclamation, expressed sympathy for the farmers. The desire to amend or reinterpret the Endangered Species Act so that it would provide a lower level of protection to species causing economic distress to certain groups was raised by both Interior Secretary Gail Norton and Vice President Dick Cheney.

But when the two needs collide, the federal government has to put the fish first, McKay said.

"The Endangered Species Act commands federal agencies not to engage in activities that will result in `take,'" he said, meaning killing or contributing to the creatures' deaths. Lowering the level of the Klamath Lake and river will kill fish, he said.

The environmental center, which has already been party to multiple lawsuits dealing with the Klamath project, has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Secretary Norton.

Photo of Emily Lyons

No silence

When a bomb went off outside the abortion clinic in Atlanta, Ga., where Emily Lyons [photo at right] worked in early 1998, it almost killed her. She was covered with burns from the blast and peppered with roofing nails that had been packed into the device as shrapnel. While that bomb stole much from Lyons -- her ability to play the piano and her left eye, for instance -- it also took her complacency. "They did not silence me," she said. Lyons was the keynote speaker at this year's Six Rivers Planned Parenthood Choices Breakfast, Jan. 25. She speaks publicly about reproductive rights, she said, "to show the bomber that they did not win."

Plover ordinance proposed

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors has tentatively approved an ordinance governing activities on Humboldt County's beach parks.

The ordinance, which restricts driving, horses, dogs, kites, fires and camping, will be brought before the board in late March for final approval. 3rd District Supervisor John Woolley said that would make the ordinance's implementation coincide with the beginning of the nesting season for the Western Snowy Plover, a small shorebird.

Concerns over the birds, which are legally protected as a threatened species, had triggered the need for a beach ordinance. They are thought to be easily scared from their nests by beach users.

The ordinance has been the subject of public debate because many beach users feared their activities would be curtailed. Some of those fears have been realized -- night driving will be illegal under the ordinance, for instance.

But in general, the county opted to impose as few regulations as possible at this point, Woolley said. Proposed daytime beach driving bans, for instance, were left out of the latest version of the ordinance.

"Rather than overreaching, we're taking this approach," Woolley said.

ERS investigation?

Workers at Eel River Sawmills, upset over alleged mismanagement of the company, are asking for a congressional investigation.

At issue is the company's decline -- and the consequent loss in value of their employee stock ownership plan. Financially, ERS has been on the ropes for some time ("Going, going, gone?" Oct. 25, 2001). Some employees and stockowners maintain the firm's downward slide is the result of criminal mismanagement. They further claim that the employee stock ownership plan was never given the amount of shares it was promised. One lawsuit has already been filed.

A congressional investigation would provide new insight, said Bill Bertain, the Eureka attorney representing the employees. "They may be able to get things we can't."

Elizabeth Murguia, spokeswoman for Rep. Mike

Thompson, said the request was being reviewed. "It's too early for us to say if there is a need for a congressional investigation," Thompson said.

But another investigation is already underway. According to sources close to the controversy, the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, part of the Department of Labor, has begun an investigation. The results are expected in a matter of weeks. (The administration could not be reached for comment.)

Bertain confirmed an investigation by the administration was underway but would not comment on whether he or his clients had helped initiate it.

Mexican official in Humboldt

The top Mexican official in Northern California will visit Humboldt County next week.

Georgina Lagos, Mexican consul general, will tour Humboldt and speak on issues of concern to the county's rapidly growing Latino population.

Chief among those are consular identification cards. The picture identification cards are not accepted as positive proof of identity by the county, but that could change. San Francisco recently became the first agency in the country to accept the cards.

Lagos will speak to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Feb. 7, the first day of her visit. Other stops will include Sun Valley Floral Farm and Humboldt State University.

Watershed symposium set

Humboldt Bay users of all stripes are invited to a party next weekend. The Humboldt Bay and Watershed Symposium will be Feb. 8-9 at the Wharfinger building on the Eureka waterfront

All manner of watershed-related topics will be discussed: land use trends, the bay's natural resources and restoration projects underway. There's even a guided tour of Eureka's new boardwalk.

The symposium is free, although there is a nominal charge for the Friday night banquet and Saturday lunch. Call 443-8369 for more information.

CR president acknowledged

College of the Redwoods President Casey Crabill has won a regional award for success as the institution's public face.

The Pacesetter Award, presented by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, recognizes a community college president who has demonstrated special leadership or ability in communications and marketing.

Crabill, the subject of a recent Journal cover story ("Casey at the helm," Jan. 10) was chosen from among all the nominees in California and the Southwest. She is one of 11 finalists for the national award.

Education summit next week

The North Coast Education Summit, a weekend of education for educators, will be Feb. 8 and 9 at Humboldt State University.

The summit includes workshops, presentations and discussions about how to move education forward. The politically progressive event includes units on gender in the school system, cross-cultural education and helping students face up to the less glorious chapters of America's past -- like the historic treatment of Native Americans.

Also included will be a forum for candidates vying to be Humboldt County school superintendent. Carlos Del Grande and Garry Eagles are running to replace outgoing Superintendent Louis Bucher. The election is March 5.

For more information, call Eric Rofes at 826-3735.

Blue Lake 5th District forum

The six candidates for 5th District supervisor will appear at a forum moderated by League of Women Voters in Blue Lake Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Mad River Grange.

Hoping to replace retiring Paul Kirk are: Vic Taylor, a retired administrative analyst; John Corbett, retired manager of the North Coast Coop; Jill Geist, an environmental compliance analyst for the city of Arcata; Ben Shepherd, a retired elementary teacher; Mike Harvey, an insurance agent; and Daniel Pierce, a machinist.

The candidates will appear Feb. 12 at the Trinidad Town Hall, Feb. 13 in Willow Creek, and Feb. 15 in a televised forum on KEET-TV.


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