Environment / Natural Resources

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hello, My Name is: Humboldt's Flying Squirrel

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 11:20 AM

Humboldt's flying squirrel gnawing a delicious pen cap (not its natural diet). - PHOTO BY NATHAN ALEXANDER
  • Photo by Nathan Alexander
  • Humboldt's flying squirrel gnawing a delicious pen cap (not its natural diet).
Say hello to Humboldt's flying squirrel, formerly known as the northern flying squirrel. Look into his black, marble-like eyes. Look at them. Smaller and darker than the northern variety, with which they share some territory, these little gliders have just been classified as a new species and named for our county's namesake, naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

State Lawmakers Look to Protect Coast from Trump Orders

Posted By on Sat, Apr 29, 2017 at 7:51 AM

Trinidad Head - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • Trinidad Head

California’s iconic coast and offshore waters came under new threat not once, but twice this week as President Donald Trump signed executive orders aimed at undoing both land and ocean protections along the state’s coastline.

On Wednesday, Trump directed the Secretary of the Interior to review all or part of 24 monuments created by presidential proclamation since 1996 that make up 100,000 acres or more. North Coast residents wondering if the three Humboldt locations — Trinidad Head, Lighthouse Ranch and the Lost Coast Headlands — added by President Barack Obama to the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM) back in January would be affected don’t have a clear answer. While the CCNM isn’t expansive enough to be on the initial list, a second part of the order calls for review, "where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.” So, while not immediately on the chopping block, California’s protected coastal lands aren’t exactly off it, either.

A similar announcement Friday morning that Trump signed an executive order opening the door to expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the California coast prompted even more immediate pushback from state leaders, lawmakers and coastal advocates. The move wasn’t unexpected — Just a few days ago North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman was asked about the possibility at a town hall meeting in Mendocino.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Science!

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:31 AM

The March for Science made its way through Arcata with a rising sea of signs. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • The March for Science made its way through Arcata with a rising sea of signs.

Local scientists, students of all ages and other advocates for science-based decision making joined more than 600 other March for Science events in cities around the U.S. to both celebrate Earth Day on Saturday and protest the Trump administration's policies and positions with regard to climate change and other issue.

The largely non-partisan Humboldt March for Science in Arcata, following a science expo and rally at the D Street Neighborhood Center, attracted an estimated crowd of 2,000 or more. The march from the Center to the Arcata Plaza and back was filled with creative signs with quotes that ranged from Aldo Leopold to Dr.Seuss. Others were filled with optimism ("Make America Think Again"), science advocacy and humor.
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Friday, April 21, 2017

101 Closed Until at Least Next Week; Rain Forecast to Return

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 12:27 PM

The slide north of Leggett. - COURTESY OF CALTRANS
  • Courtesy of Caltrans
  • The slide north of Leggett.
Caltrans is estimating a possible reopening of U.S. Highway 101 sometime mid-to-late next week and is warning travelers to expect detours of up to seven hours until the roadway can be safely reopened.

The initial slide that closed down both lanes north of Leggett on April 16 was followed a few days later by another that dumped as much — if not more material — than the first one, according to Caltrans. Special equipment is being airlifted into the area next week.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is forecasting another storm system to move into the area on Monday and Tuesday with 1 to 3 inches of rain expected in Del Norte and Humboldt counties and a half-inch to 1 inch of rain in Mendocino County.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Karuk Tribe Restricts Fishing

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 12:09 PM

Klamath River at Hopkins Creek, close to Weitchpec. - FILE
  • File
  • Klamath River at Hopkins Creek, close to Weitchpec.
The Karuk Tribe announced today that it is restricting subsistence fishing on the Klamath River, a reaction to predictions that this year's run of Klamath Chinook salmon will be the smallest in history. On March 25, the Yurok Tribe announced it would suspend commercial fishing for the second year in a row. The Yurok Tribe cited the ill health of the river and ocean as factors in poor salmon returns, and both tribes added their hopes for the future removal of the Klamath dams.

According to a press release sent out by Craig Tucker, a natural resources policy advocate with the
Karuk Tribe, the tribe will allow the harvest of only 200 Chinook salmon for "subsistence and ceremonial purposes."

Reached by phone today, Tucker explained that traditionally Karuk tribal members who host a dance are obligated to feed those who show up, and have relationships with fishermen who supply them with salmon. This, and subsistence fishing, will be the only permitted harvest of the áama (Áama is the Karuk term for Chinook salmon).

Tucker added that the Pacific District Fisheries Management Committee would also probably release its recommendations for the Klamath today, but as the Karuk Tribe does not have a federally recognized fishing right, it would likely not be included in that announcement. The tribe regulates itself in relation to fishing, and the traditional method of harvesting the salmon below Ishi Pishi falls allows many of the fish to spawn upstream. Tribal members say the act of fishing is an important cultural touchstone for Karuk youth.

"Ishi Pishi is more than a fishery, it's a place where elders teach the youth how to feed their families, how to work hard, and to be thankful for the gifts the creator has bestowed upon us. Losing this opportunity is a cultural tragedy,” said Leaf Hillman, the tribe's natural resources director, in the press release.

This year the Pacific Fisheries Management Council released its predicted Chinook salmon returns for 2017 at 11,000 fish — the lowest on record.


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Sunday, April 9, 2017

TL;DR: There Are No Easy Answers to Last Chance Grade

Posted By on Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 8:45 AM

A March slipout on Last Chance Grade took 10 feet off the road. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • A March slipout on Last Chance Grade took 10 feet off the road.
Didn’t have time to read this week’s cover story? We understand. Life can get hectic. To help out, here are some takeaways from this week’s feature, which delves into the complicated tangle of issues surrounding Last Chance Grade and efforts to move the roadway inland.

Long story short, there are no easy answers to finding a way around the 3-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 just south of Crescent City. Named after a landslide which struck when a wagon road was first cut across the soaring cliffside locale in 1894, Last Chance Grade has been failing for decades.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Community Choice Energy Coming in May

Posted By on Sat, Apr 8, 2017 at 2:38 PM

No matter how much electricity you use, you'll soon have reason to feel a bit better about it. - THINKSTOCK
  • thinkstock
  • No matter how much electricity you use, you'll soon have reason to feel a bit better about it.
Community Choice energy is rolling out in Humboldt County next month, bringing customers cleaner electricity at a lower price.

Redwood Coast Energy Authority recently sent out notices to PG&E customers letting them know that in May their services will switch over to Community Choice. Monthly bills will still come from PG&E, but the program will automatically enroll existing customers in the “REpower” program, which provides electricity from 37 percent renewable sources.

RCEA says that's because PG&E will still maintain power poles and lines, fix outages and deliver monthly bills — and because community choice will honor discount programs like CARE, Medical Baseline and FERA — customers won’t notice a difference, other than possibly “a slight decrease in your electricity bill.”

Customers have the option of opting out of the program — by calling RCEA or visiting its website — but they also have the option of opting up to “REpower+,” which offers customers 100 percent renewable electricity for an additional charge of 1 cent per kilowatt hour. That works out to about $5 extra a month for the average California household.

For more information on the program, or on how to opt out or opt up, visit RCEA’s website here. Check out past Journal coverage of Community Choice here.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ruling Puts Martens Up For Endangered Species Reconsideration

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 2:06 PM

A young coastal marten. - COURTESY OF EPIC
  • Courtesy of EPIC
  • A young coastal marten.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will likely need to revisit providing endangered species protections to the coastal marten after a federal court judge today overturned the agency’s decision not to list the small woodland creature.

The Environmental Protection Information Center and the Center for Biological Diversity had sued the service after the latter unsuccessfully petitioned for the protections back in 2010.

Once thought to be extinct, the cat-like animals — also known as the Humboldt or Pacific marten — were rediscovered in 1996 after years of pelt hunting and timber logging decimated the old growth forest denizens' numbers.

“The magic of the Endangered Species Act is that it puts scientific facts over political games,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “No amount of spin will change the fact that coastal martens are already gone from over 80 percent of their historic range and at serious risk of extinction unless the Fish and Wildlife Service steps up."

Read the full press release from EPIC:
In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Environmental Protection Information Center, a federal judge today overturned an April 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denying endangered species protection to coastal martens.

Coastal martens were believed extinct until 1996 because of historic fur trapping and loss of their old-growth forest habitats, but are now known to occur in three small, isolated populations in California and Oregon. The groups were represented by the public-interest law firm Earthjustice.

“We’re thrilled the elusive coastal marten is back on track to getting the endangered species protection it so badly needs,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science is clear that these fascinating and beautiful animals have been reduced to small, isolated populations and face a host of threats that place them at risk of extinction.”

Small carnivores related to minks and otters, coastal martens are found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon. Once extensively trapped for their fur, the cat-like animals were once common; now fewer than 100 of them survive in California, while an unknown but very small number are still found in Oregon.

“The magic of the Endangered Species Act is that it puts scientific facts over political games,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “No amount of spin will change the fact that coastal martens are already gone from over 80 percent of their historic range and at serious risk of extinction unless the Fish and Wildlife Service steps up."

The martens’ historic range extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. Humboldt martens were rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. Since then researchers have continued to detect martens using track plates and hair snares. In 2009 a marten was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera, the first to be photographed in recent times. Martens are typically 2 feet long and have large triangular ears and a long tail; they eat small mammals, berries and birds and are eaten by larger mammals and raptors.

“This decision is a win for science and common sense,” said Rob DiPerna, California forest and wildlife advocate at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “We thought we'd lost the marten due to bad human decision-making once before, and we could not stand by and watch that happen again.”


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

In 'Crisis,' Yuroks Suspend Commercial Salmon Season

Posted By on Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 12:01 PM

The Yurok Tribe's allotment of Chinook salmon this year equals about one fish for every 10 tribal members. - FILE
  • FILE
  • The Yurok Tribe's allotment of Chinook salmon this year equals about one fish for every 10 tribal members.

For the second year in a row, the Yurok Tribe will not have a commercial fishery — a devastating blow to the tribe’s culture and economy.

“We are in crisis mode,” said Yurok Tribal Chair Thomas O’Rourke in a press release that lamented poor conditions on the Klamath River that have led to historically low salmon returns. “The Klamath is our grocery store, our church and our main highway. It’s our lifeline. We will leave no stone unturned in search of additional short-term and long-term solutions to address the most terrible fisheries disaster in the Tribe’s history.”

The release comes after the Pacific Fisheries Management Council released its predicted Chinook salmon returns for 2017 at 11,000 fish — the lowest on record — and the tribe’s fish harvest allocation at 650 fish, or one for every 10 tribal members. The predicted return comes after two years of disease outbreaks in juvenile fish due to low flows and elevated water temperatures in the Klamath River.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sundberg Selected for Coastal Commission

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Ryan Sundberg - COUNTY OF HUMBOLDT
  • County of Humboldt
  • Ryan Sundberg
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office announced today that Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg has been appointed to the North Coast regional seat on the California Coastal Commission.

Sundberg will be the first Native American to serve on the powerful commission charged with determining the fate of California’s 1,100 miles of coastline.

The McKinleyville resident replaces Del Norte County Supervisor Martha McClure, who suffered a resounding defeat at the ballot box in June. He sought out and was recommended for the post by supervisors in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, as well as the Humboldt County Mayor City Select Committee, which also forward the name of Trinidad Mayor Dwight Miller.

Sundberg takes the seat following a time of upheaval on the quasi-judicial body, including the controversial firing of the former director last year and a series of news reports on the cozy relationships that some commissioners had with lobbyists and developers, including McClure.

Read the announcement from Brown’s office below:
Ryan Sundberg, 41, of McKinleyville, has been appointed to the California Coastal Commission. Sundberg has served as a member of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors since 2010. He was a tribal council member at the Trinidad Rancheria from 1994 to 2010 and an insurance agent at Farmers Insurance from 2003 to 2010. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Sundberg is registered without party preference.

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