Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bus Betterment

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Remember how we mentioned in our bus story (July 18) that a new-and-improved schedule was in the works? One that will restore frustrated local bus patrons' pulled-out hair and diminish their brow furrows – er, ahem, that is, make it easier for them t
o plan their daily excursions?

It's starting Aug. 19! That's what Humboldt Transit Authority's Greg Pratt tells us in a news release. Beginning that Monday in mid-August, Redwood Transit riders traveling between McKinleyville and Fortuna will be able to ride the bus Monday through Friday, Northbound and Southbound, every hour. Passengers riding between College of the Redwoods and Arcata will be able to catch the bus every half hour, Pratt adds.

On the hour, and on the half-hour – bye-bye, randomly-fragmented-time headaches!
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Planned Trinity Water Release Rankles Central Valley Irrigators

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Courtesy the Bureau of Reclamation - TRINITY RESERVOIR
  • Trinity Reservoir
  • Courtesy the Bureau of Reclamation
Another round of the all-too-familiar fight over Trinity and Klamath waters has pulled North Coast congressmen and Central Valley irrigators into the mix.

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) — which controls the release of water from the Trinity Reservoir — announced last week that it was considering an extra release of Trinity water this year in anticipation of a large salmon run on the Klamath. The bureau similarly upped Trinity River flows last year, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill, when low flows and high temperatures on the Klamath contributed to the spread of disease and killed an estimated 33,000 to 65,000 salmon.

But a group of Central Valley irrigators has threatened to sue the bureau because some Trinity Reservoir water is pumped into the Central Valley. The Herald and News reports that the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the bureau regarding its plan to release water downstream.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Report: East-West Rail Would Cost $1 Billion

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 1:07 PM

  • Bob Doran
A whole lot of money and a whole lot of cargo. That’s what a draft report says is necessary to build and pay for a “high risk” east-west railroad between the Samoa Peninsula and the national rail system in the Central Valley. The cargo necessary for a viable railroad would make Humboldt Bay one of the largest shipping ports on the West Coast — provided the necessary infrastructure could be built, the market holds, and the existing, mostly superior competition doesn’t spike the imagined endeavor.

The report, commissioned by the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, is still in draft stage. In it, BST Associates and Burgel Rail Group, of Washington and Oregon respectively, say high construction costs — $1.07 billion to $1.24 billion, depending on the route — come largely from the “extreme ruggedness” of the six prominent ridges and valleys between the Central Valley and coast. And steep, twisty terrain doesn’t just make planning a route and construction different — it increases operating and maintenance costs. The report estimates upkeep would cost $90,000 per mile for an east-west railroad — $18 million to $20 million a year, depending on the route.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Krill Kill

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 3:48 PM

For weeks, now, beach-goers from Bodega Bay to Newport, Ore., have encountered ribbons of pink bedecking their ocean shorelines. It's krill -- millions of the shrimpy critters, many of them impregnated females. A marine ecologist based in Eureka is trying to pinpoint what's causing this major whale staple to wash ashore in such numbers.
Pacific krill - NOAA FISHERIES
  • NOAA Fisheries
  • Pacific krill

According to Our Ocean, Sea Grant California's web page, Sea Grant Coastal Specialist Joe Tyburczy, along with researchers from NOAA, Humboldt State University and Oregon State University, is going to examine several possible reasons for the beachings, including:

"Winds. Mating swarms of krill at the surface may have been pushed ashore by strong storm winds.

"Low-oxygen waters may have contributed to the mortality event by driving masses of krill to shallower-than-normal waters, where oxygen levels are higher, but the animals are also more vulnerable to wind-driven currents.

"A krill pathogen or parasite could have played some role. Some krill have washed up alive, and there have been many reports of surprisingly little predation by birds."

If it turns out to be a parasite, there's sci-fi-like precedent for such horrors. In 2003, National Geographic reported on the discovery of a "one-celled parasite that causes a grisly and fatal infection in krill. Masses of the parasite grow inside the krill, eat its organs, divide, and then burst out of their host's dead body in search of new victims." Brr, Fringe-worthy chills.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. A story by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat said "[s]cientists and fishermen have noted an abundance of krill this year, drawing a concentration of whales off the Marin and Sonoma coasts and putting hefty salmon on anglers' lines." The PD reported that scientists, including our man Tyburczy, don't expect the die-offs to put a serious dent in the prolific krill's population.
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Forget the dredge, gold miners. Start building that starship.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Scientists have discovered what they believe might be the original mother lode -- and it's in an "exploding star system "3.9 billion light-years away," according to a report in the Los Angeles Times today:

"All the gold in the cosmos may have come from stellar cataclysms -- the collision of two neutron stars, which sends bursts of particles and radiation into the universe."

The research was conducted by a team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, led by Edo Berger.
You can read their paper, submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, here.

The researchers estimate that in the one star burst they saw there was an associated "10 times the
moon's mass in gold." Add to that all the gold from all the bursts since time began, the researchers told the LAT, and you get "all the gold in the universe" -- including the stuff embedded in Earth and glittering in our creeks and rivers.

All the gold in the universe. Tempting, Midas, isn't it? Then again, these gold-laying explosions are happening 3.9 billion light-years away. That's a fer piece. And, as Berger notes, even if some resourceful space-traveling
gold miners could access all that treasure, then the element would lose its treasure status because "the price would plummet." So, it'd become just another industrial workhorse, albeit a non-tarnishing and rather pretty one.

Better stick to gold panning and Earth-moving (yikes, not doing so well these days, actually)  for now, miners, and your fight to bring back dredging privileges.
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Kai the "Hatchet-wielding Hitchhiker" Attempts Suicide in Jail

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Kai tried to kill himself yesterday in a New Jersey jail where he's being held on murder charges, Gawker reports. He was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. Kai -- born Caleb McGillivary -- was arrested in May after police found a 73-year-old New Jersey lawyer Joseph Galfy dead in his home. The two reportedly met by chance in Times Square before returning to Galfy's home. 

An Arcata Plaza habitué, Kai rocketed to Internet fame after he stopped an attack on a PG&E worker in February. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stillman Out, Strehl In on NCRA Board After Bizarre Meeting of Mayors

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 7:01 PM

In a meeting filled with passionate arguments, surprise twists and dark insinuations, Arcata City Councilmember Alex Stillman had her appointment to the board of directors for the North Coast Railroad Authority rescinded this afternoon by the same body that appointed her in May. And after some confusion, a vote, more confusion and two re-votes, she was replaced on that agency's board by Fortuna Mayor Doug Strehl.

On its face this would seem to be a "win" -- albeit a messy one -- for die-hard rail boosters, who viewed Stillman's support of environmental causes and rails with trails as a deviation from scripture. Her May appointment to the NCRA board had been called into question by Eureka attorney Bill Bertain, who argued that a procedural technicality had rendered the move invalid.

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Judge Denies Ranchers' Bid on Upper Klamath Water

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Ranchers facing water shut-offs in the Upper Klamath Basin lost a bid to keep their water rights intact while they appeal a state decision that granted Klamath Tribes senior water rights earlier this year.

Klamath Falls Judge Cameron Wogan declined to put the state’s recognition of tribal rights on hold, the Associated Press reports, because an appeal could take 10 years and would violate the “first come, first served” principle of Western water law.
  • Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife

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Catch a Glimpse of the Baby Red Panda

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Red panda Stella Luna carries her newborn cub outside the den for the first time at Sequoia Park Zoo. - PATTY ANDRIESE
  • Patty Andriese
  • Red panda Stella Luna carries her newborn cub outside the den for the first time at Sequoia Park Zoo.

She doesn't even have a name yet, but she's already been on television. The closed-circuit cameras and monitors are up and running at the Sequoia Park Zoo, so zoo visitors can see inside the den of the new red panda cub. The four-week old cub is healthy and growing steadily.

Photo of the red panda cub, taken a few weeks ago, at 10 days old. - PROVIDED BY NICOLE SPENCER
  • provided by Nicole Spencer
  • Photo of the red panda cub, taken a few weeks ago, at 10 days old.

See full press release and additional photo below:

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coastal Commission's Disapproval of Indianola Interchange Could Be Good for a Bay Trail

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 5:30 PM

  • Courtesy Caltrans

Eureka-Arcata trail advocates may soon have a new ally in Caltrans, after the Coastal Commission dealt a blow to Caltrans’ safety corridor plans in a report the commission released at the end of June.

Caltrans’ preferred plan (it has come up with six alternatives) included an interchange at Indianola Cutoff, a signal at northbound Airport Road and closure of other median crossings on the highway. The project requires Coastal Commission review.

In the report, Coastal Commission staff recommended against the project, saying Caltrans did not prepare sufficient mitigation for 10 acres of wetlands that would be filled by the Indianola Interchange.

The plan doesn’t address statewide coastal trail goals either, according to the report, and could make bicycling on the corridor more dangerous as speeds are expected to increase with the development of an overpass. “A coastal trail may eventually be implemented on the parallel rail line corridor, but the implementation and timing of such an alternative trail remains speculative,” the report reads. The report calls for three provisions to Caltrans’ plan:

1. Replace the Indianola interchange with a traffic signal, in a manner minimizing wetland impacts to the degree possible.

2. Provide for a separated bicycle/pedestrian corridor on one or both sides of the highway along the entire corridor.

3. Provide wetland mitigations.

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