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March 18, 1999


Mountaineering Oscars

Landmark ruling on Mattole

More layoffs at Pacific Lumber

Trash sites narrowing

Local bank on the rise

Mountaineering Oscars

THEY'RE NOT THE OSCARS. BUT ORGANIZERS expect a big thumbs up for the international mountaineer's version of the Academy Awards due to rappel its way into the hearts and minds of outdoor and film enthusiasts in Humboldt County next month.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival makes a second-year appearance at 7:30 p.m. April 17 at the Van Duzer Theatre on the Humboldt State University campus.

"I'm excited. People have asked me all year about (the film festival)," said Larry Buwalda, event organizer and Adventure's Edge manager.

The theater was added last year to the list of more than 150 worldwide locations in line to show mountaineering short-film finalists selected to go on tour from Banff, Alberta Canada.

Every November, the small Canadian mountain town hosts the three-day festival and contest, featuring more than 30 films geared to outdoor culture vultures and adventure seekers.

Then, organizers choose a handful from the best of the fest in a variety of categories to go on the tour, winding its way through North America, Europe, South Africa, Iceland, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan. More than 74,000 people from around the globe have seen the films on the tour, now in its 23rd year.

Last year, Buwalda secured the film tour for at least 300 eager viewers who flocked to the Arcata Theater. This year he needed more room to satisfy the demand of climbers, kayakers, skiers and wannabes.

The German film, Pure the festival's special jury award-winner takes two snowboarders carving the powder slopes of the Swiss Alps and turns the experience into a psychedelic adventure for armchair riders.

The ride becomes more intense in the American film Ode to Avalanche, which demonstrates the rolling white stuff's balance between beauty and danger in the Rocky Mountains.

Another American film, Ice in Iceland, follows extreme X-Games winners Will Gadd and Kim Csizmazia on their pursuit of the world's hardest climb of rock and ice.

Extreme kayaker Shawn Baker shows another side of Iceland in his hair-raising water descents in Kayak Islanda. This Italian film won the festival's best mountain sport category.

The grand prize winner in a mountain environment class goes to the American film, Bhutan, the Last Shangri-La. The small village enveloped by the Himalayas between Tibet and India marks a place where time stands still.

The Face Six Great Climbing Adventures from Scotland takes the viewer on one of two separate journeys with two of the climbing world's most accomplished Lynn Hill and Greg Child.

Child climber extraordinaire and author talked about climbing life as the keynote speaker at the Banff festival last fall.

The safer of his skills, the 38-year-old Seattle, Wash., resident has written Thin Air, (note: before Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air), Mixed Emotions and his collected works Postcards from the Ledge, (with apologies to Carrie Fisher, author of Postcards from the Edge).

The latter is featured in the Banff Mountain Book Festival days before the film festival and available for sale by Adventure's Edge at the Van Duzer the night of the Arcata film tour. The book is a culmination of climbing experiences some embarrassing, some enlightening, some heartbreaking.

In one of the book's chapters, Mother Knows Best, Child describes his apparent modesty at falling off the rock in front of his mother. Like most mothers, she never quite supported his undaunted desire to climb and worried instead.

"Mom never watched me climb," Child said during a telephone interview months ago.

A reader need only turn to Child's section of the book titled Death and Love to understand his mother's apprehensiveness. He reflects on the tragedy that claimed the lives of seven climbers a few years ago on K2. The world's second-highest mountain is considered a more technically challenging pursuit than Mount Everest.

This incident, which killed one of the world's finest female alpinists Alison Hargreaves was only overshadowed in intensity by one climber's will to survive. In a harrowing, 32-hour descent, Jeff Lakes escaped the murderous 140 mph winds, only to die in the tent later that night.

"Every year, I've lost a lot of friends," Child said. "(But), I've never thought I'd ever stop wanting to climb."

In 27 years of the sport, Child has climbed most of the corners of the world including the North Coast.

Adventure's Edge staffer and climber, Paul Humphrey, 27, was surprised one day to see Child pop up at a little-known location near Burnt Ranch in the Trinity Alps.

"Hey, you're Greg Child," Humphrey said, recounting his star-struck amazement. Humphrey has gained his own brush with stardom. He was written up in Rock and Ice magazine a few months ago as an almost-reluctant tour guide to the hidden climbing spots of Humboldt.

Ticket prices for the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour are $6 at the door and $5 in advance at Adventure's Edge, 650 10th St. in Arcata or at the Center Activities office at HSU.


Landmark ruling on Mattole

Representing himself, a Petrolia resident won a ruling last week from a Humboldt County Superior Court judge when he challenged the California Department of Forestry's approval of two Pacific Lumber Co. timber harvest plans in the Mattole River watershed.

A cattle rancher who lives near the mouth of the river, Michael Evenson, 53, said CDF "failed to seek and heed the advice of other state agencies," which warned against potential landslides on the steep terrain with an already diminishing fish habitat if the area is clearcut.

Judge Bruce Watson agreed with Evenson. Watson said CDF violated state law when it disregarded the recommendations of several agencies and gave PL the go-ahead to log nearly 200 acres above Sulphur Creek last July. That summer, the debate sparked a protest by neighbors and environmentalists.

Evenson, for one, said CDF hadn't adequately evaluated what logging in the region along the north fork of the Mattole River would do to the animal, fish and human habitat.

But CDF's attorney Michael Neville cried foul, saying the agency conducted a "very extensive analysis," as evidenced by thick documents filed in the court records. Neville said he'll decide within a month whether to appeal the "disappointing" decision.

The judge ruled CDF abused its discretion when agencies expressed concerns of cumulative impacts on a large portion of a small watershed. "CDF simply incorporated the documents in the file and appeared to ignore the input," he said in the ruling.

Watson cited objections raised by California Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, U.S. Geological Survey and federal Environmental Protection Agency.

In a letter to CDF, the EPA chief in Northern California called the terrain in and around Sulphur Creek as "geologically unstable as evidenced by extremely steep slopes and noticeable landslide features."

"It's tragic what's happened in the last 10 years. We've seen evidence of all (PL's) clearcuts," Evenson said, referring to previous landslides. The Petrolia man points out that given his area's rainfall, logging on steep slopes makes for a dangerous combination.

More layoffs at Pacific Lumber

Pacific Lumber Co. is laying off another 300 workers over the next few weeks until the log inventory is built up again.

PL spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkel said she expects the company to call the workers back when more logs are on hand, stressing the move as a "temporary workforce reduction."

Mill workers in the Fortuna, Carlotta and Mill A Scotia locations are affected by the layoffs, which followed 72 pink slips in recent weeks. The layoffs have somewhat dented the workforce of Humboldt County's largest private employer, which just turned 130 years old days before it sold the Headwaters Forest property to the government.

Bullwinkel said the workforce reduction would be enforced until the company smooths out operations under its new habitat conservation plan, which mandates how the company manages its remaining 200,000-plus acres.

The $480 million Headwaters agreement with federal and state governments restricts logging in old-growth redwood areas, in buffer zones along environmentally sensitive streambeds and on steep slopes where mudslides may occur.

During the deal's 11th-hour negotiations, PL pushed for allowances to harvest 230 million board feet a year to remain economically stable. When all was said and done, the harvest-cap compromise settled in at about 178 million board feet.

"We would not have agreed to a plan that's not economically viable," Bullwinkel said.

Trash sites narrowing

It's not selected as the primary location. But Manila residents seem to be holding their breaths until the Samoa site is out of the running as the permanent waste transfer station locale.

The Humboldt County Waste Management Authority designated Rockin R an 8-acre parcel off U.S. Highway 101 near Herrick Road as its first choice last week. Still, final approval is contingent upon completion of appraisals on the property and a draft environmental impact report, said Gerald Kindsfather, the waste authority's general manager.

The Samoa site as one of two alternates, however, is still too close for comfort to some peninsula-area residents, who object to a waste transfer station in their neighborhood.

"We're going to be nervous until we're off the list," said Linda Lee, who's lived in Manila for 20 years. The other two sites still in the running to handle the county's trash come November 2000 include the City Garbage Co. transfer station on Hawthorne Street and one on Hilfiker Lane. The city of Arcata has agreed to handle the trash at the Arcata Recycling Center until then.

"There are no perfect sites," Kindsfather said. He explained they all have their advantages and disadvantages from adequate space to rail access. The former consideration is met by the waste authority's first option. The latter is fulfilled by the Samoa site, for example.

This is all the more reason why the peninsula residents in the small and informal but vocal coalition feels they're not out of the woods yet.

"I'm worried about increased traffic," Lee said of her major objection to the proposed site south of the bridge crossing Humboldt Bay off Samoa Road. "Everyone in town has a horror story of being run down by big trucks."

"Certainly, their concerns have influence," waste authority board member Jim Test said of the residents' concerns. "Rockin R seems to be the best site," he added. But an unfavorable environmental impact report could force the board to look elsewhere, he admitted.

Meanwhile, the Cummings Road landfill in Eureka is filling up, with its 1978 estimate of reaching capacity in 20 years looming.

Construction is due to begin on the selected site in the spring of 2000.

"If we get a permanent station up and running, the next big step is recycling and reuse (measures)," Test said.

Kindsfather agreed. The waste authority will begin to launch an educational campaign to teach residents to consider what happens to the items they buy. The agency wants to turn ideas on how to reduce the number of materials in the wastestream into a small business incubator.

Those who have an idea of their own may contact the waste management authority at 707-445-7429.

Famed urologist dies

Eurekan Dr. Stanwood Schmidt, a world-renowned urologist considered the first person ever to successfully perform a vasectomy reversal, died last week from cancer of the esophagus. He was 80.

Schmidt was also well known within the community for his philanthropic interests. He founded the annual Rhododendron Parade and promoted efforts to restore and maintain Fort Humboldt. He was also a founding member and past president of the Ingomar Club.

After arriving in Humboldt County from San Francisco in 1951, Schmidt helped found what is now the Northern California Community Blood Bank. He also promoted the polio vaccine in the 1950s by using his own children as his "laboratory assistants" he placed sugar cubes on their tongues to show a television audience how easy administering the vaccine could be.

Tom Schallert, administrator of the NCC Blood Bank, said Schmidt was "a kind person who was fun to be around" and as a board member of the blood bank, Schmidt "never missed a meeting."

"He was always prepared (at the meetings) and was never afraid to give his opinion." Schallert said. "He invited my family down to the Mattole several times ... and we squeezed a few apples for cider together. He was a really, really friendly, kind person."

Schmidt is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. At his request, no funeral service is planned. A memorial will be scheduled at a later date. The family has requested that donations be made to one of Schmidt's community projects or to Hospice of Humboldt.

Local bank on the rise

Come August, Humboldt Bank will add two more locations to its list.

The bank is buying two California Federal Bank branches, one in Eureka at Burre Center and the other in Ukiah. The conversion is contingent upon regulatory approval.

This purchase raises Humboldt Bank's deposit tallies by $74 million. Total assets will number nearly $400 million.

No California Federal staffers are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the sale, Humboldt Bank President Theodore Mason said. They'll join 250 employees of Humboldt Bank, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Humboldt Bank first opened its doors in Eureka in 1989, with the Fortuna branch added in 1991. The Arcata and McKinleyville branches were brought on board in 1993. Two years later, the bank bought three branches of U.S. Bank in Loleta, Willow Creek and Weaverville. In 1997, the Cal Fed branch in Garberville came on board.

California Federal Bank is a subsidiary of Golden State Bancorp. Inc.


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