Sunday, January 5, 2020

HSU Wildlife Professor and Arcata Marsh Pioneer Stanley "Doc" Harris Dies at 91

Posted By on Sun, Jan 5, 2020 at 9:14 AM

Stanley Harris at a scholarship reception at Humboldt State University. - HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY
  • Humboldt State University
  • Stanley Harris at a scholarship reception at Humboldt State University.

Stanley “Doc” Harris, a retired Humboldt State University wildlife professor, passed away Dec. 27. He was 91 years old. In addition to having inspired thousands of students, Harris helped establish Arcata's wastewater facility as a wildlife sanctuary and shared his love of ornithology with birdwatching hobbyists in the North Coast.

Harris ,who worked as a professor at HSU  from 1959 to 1992, helped shape the wildlife department into the renowned department that it is today as “he quickly assumed leadership in the department and was one of the early members who grew it to the size that it is now,” said Mark Colwell, a a fellow wildlife professor at HSU and good friend of Harris'.

Harris also contributed significantly to bringing the ornithology program to the university, said Rick Botzler, a retired HSU wildlife professor who also worked with Harris.

Botzler and Colwell both said Harris cared tremendously for his students and wanted to see them succeed, adding that he was also a big influence on them.

“If you look across the western United States, you’re likely to encounter people who were influenced by Stan,” Colwell said. “Fifty-plus graduate students finished their Master’s degree with him.”

On top of teaching waterfowl and wetlands classes, Harris played a significant role in creating the Wildlife Museum that houses more than 14,000 species in the wildlife department building.

“In my opinion, he more than anyone was responsible for the development of the museum,” Botzler said. “Lorie, his wife, also contributed. She was an artist who helped paint the finishing touches and put together the museum. They were a team.”

Colwell said that to the end of his days, Harris was still a part of the department, adding that not too long ago Harris visited the museum to meet with its curator and offer advice on the live mount of the California condor that was going on display.

“He took great pride in the department and always showed his inquisitiveness for wildlife,” Colwell said.

During his time at the university, Harris was a strong believer in and advocate for field-based learning. He believed in incorporating practical experience in his teachings to give his students hands-on experience. According to Botzler and Colwell, Harris took his students on field trips to local national and state wildlife refuge centers, the Arcata Marsh and wherever there were waterfowl or wetlands, so much so that in 2001 the city of Arcata dedicated a low-lying pond at the Arcata Marsh in his name.

According to the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary map and guide pamphlet, No-Name Pond — which was named by Harris and a few of his students — was dedicated to Harris to honor his work in local ornithology and wetland ecology.

Harris was also one of the “original proponents” who sought to upgrade the wastewater treatment facility into a natural wetland, said Julie Neander, the deputy director of the Community Services department for the city of Arcata — who also grew a relationship with Harris over the years.

A bouquet of flowers sits below the No-name Pond plaque at the Arcata Marsh days after Harris' passing. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • A bouquet of flowers sits below the No-name Pond plaque at the Arcata Marsh days after Harris' passing.

“He was instrumental in [the city] having good data to continue to make the marsh better,” she said, adding that, like many other professors and students at HSU, Harris played a pivotal role.

Along with helping create the Arcata Marsh, Harris also brought the world of ornithology to people outside of the professional realm of HSU. Botzler said that Harris spent time identifying and documenting which species lived in the North Coast.

“He opened up the opportunity for them to understand each species, habitats and the larger species composition,” Botzler said. “He was a good person and he will be missed.”

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Friday, January 3, 2020

The Biggest Wave and Bomb Cyclone: A Record-Breaking Year of Wild Weather

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2020 at 3:57 PM

Looking back at 2019 from a weather standpoint, things were a bit on the wild side at times. So, the Journal reached out to climate specialist Matthew Kidwell in the Eureka office of the National Weather Service, who compiled what he saw as the most notable weather incidents to take place last year.

Along with those events, 2019 hit a record for breaking records, with 18 total set, according to Kidwell, that included 11 high temps and seven minimum temps.

The closest other years were 2004 and 2014, which saw 10 and nine record highs, respectively. But 2013 edged out 2019 to stay in the lead for most minimum records at 10.

Damaging Waves in Shelter Cove: On Jan. 17, waves upward of 30 feet crashed into eight homes on Lower Pacific Drive in Shelter Cove causing extensive damage, included flooding, mud covered floors, broken windows and ruined furniture.

Cheryl Antony, spokesperson for Shelter Cove Fire, told Redheaded Blackbelt at the time that one of the homes had approximately 10 broken windows and some had up to 4 inches of water inside.
A member of Shelter Cove Fire inspects the damage including water on the floor of this custom-built home. - CHERYL ANTONY OF SHELTER COVE FIRE
  • Cheryl Antony of Shelter Cove Fire
  • A member of Shelter Cove Fire inspects the damage including water on the floor of this custom-built home.
“We had to put life jackets on to walk around [to assess damage],” Antony said. “We have never seen waves like this before. One came over the whole deck we were standing on. We had to run.”

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Gray Whale Found Washed Up on Agate Beach

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2019 at 3:20 PM

This photo of the gray whale washed up on Agate Beach was taken under permits NOAA 19091-01 and CA Parks 18-828-52 . - SUBMITTED BY DAWN GOLEY
  • Submitted by Dawn Goley
  • This photo of the gray whale washed up on Agate Beach was taken under permits NOAA 19091-01 and CA Parks 18-828-52 .
A gray whale was discovered washed up on Agate Beach yesterday amid an elevated number of strandings along the west coast of North America this year that has scientists working to uncover the reason for the anomaly.

The adult male’s beaching comes about two weeks after a humpback whale that was found entangled in fishing nets on Samoa beach, resulting in the animal being euthanized after a specialist determined the female would not be able to survive the trauma.

NOAA Fisheries recently declared what is known as an "Unusual Mortality Event," freeing up resources and triggering a multi-faceted scientific review to figure out why gray whales are dying at higher than normal rates.

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 212 stranding were been reported along the coast from Mexico to Alaska, with 121 occurring in a U.S., including 34 in California, according to NOAA’s gray whale Unusual Mortality Event” page.

  • NOAA
Dawn Goley, a zoology professor at Humboldt State University and director of the Marine Mammal Education and Research Program and the HSU Marine Mammal Stranding Program, says the parks service reported this most recent beaching.

A team has taken blubber samples and other measurements to be sent to NOAA to help determine the cause of death, although — in this particular case — the whale was already well into the decomposition stage, making it harder to pinpoint why the animal died.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Fortuna Police: Evidence Indicates Students had the 'Means' to Carry Out Attack

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 2:30 PM

The two male Fortuna High School students arrested yesterday afternoon for allegedly plotting to harm fellow students may have had the means to carry out the attack, Fortuna Police Chief Bill Dobberstein told the Journal after a press conference this morning.

“There is some evidence that they did have the means,” Dobberstein said, adding the extent of those means is still under investigation.

The police chief declined to answer whether that meant access to firearms or other weapons, but said evidence collected last night at the suspects’ homes, one in Rio Dell and one in Fortuna, indicated the students may have had what they needed to follow through with their plot. Dobberstein also said at this point there are no additional suspects in the case and he doesn’t believe there is any ongoing threat to the public.
Fortuna Union High School District Superintendent Glen Senestraro spoke to parents about how they were notified of the incident and the short notice between the announcement and the press conference. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Fortuna Union High School District Superintendent Glen Senestraro spoke to parents about how they were notified of the incident and the short notice between the announcement and the press conference.
At a joint press conference, Dobberstein and Fortuna Union High School District Superintendent Glen Senestraro stressed that they are limited in what they can release to the public at this point, noting the suspects are juveniles and have certain confidentiality protections and that they don’t want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.

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Alleged Plot to 'Harm' Students Thwarted at Fortuna High School

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 11:05 AM

Two minors are being held at Juvenile Hall after Fortuna police and Fortuna High School thwarted what they believe was a plot to “harm other students,” according to a joint press release.

According to the release, the high school received information of the possible plot yesterday afternoon. The two students were quickly detained, with “information found on their persons indicating the validity to the original report.” The students were taken into custody and search warrants were served at both their homes, according to the release.

Details are minimal at this point but the school and police department plan to hold a joint press conference at noon today. Police ask anyone with information pertinent to the investigation to call 725-7550.

See the full press release copied below:

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Author Chag Lowry to Talk About Yurok WWI Book at Multiple Events

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 3:31 PM

Formerly local author Chag Lowry, whose graphic novel Soldiers Unknown was the subject of the Journal’s Sept. 26 cover story, will be speaking at a couple local events this weekend.

Lowry, whose book tells the story of three young Yurok men drafted to serve in World War I, will be speaking at Humboldt State University at 1:30 p.m. Friday in room 162 the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building before a presentation and book signing at Northtown Books in Arcata at 7 p.m.

Then, on Saturday, Lowry will be speaking briefly at a screening of the film Wounded Knee to Standing Rock at 7 p.m. at the Eureka Theater.

For more about Lowry’s book and the inspiration behind it, see past Journal coverage here.
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Large Power Outage in SoHum

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 10:44 AM


Power was restored around 10:50 a.m.


A widespread outage in Southern Humboldt has left 4,200 PG&E customers without power and forced Southern Humboldt Unified School District to shutter its campuses for the day, with power expected to be out until this afternoon.

Power went out last night at 11:09 p.m. to almost all of the Southern Humboldt region. While PG&E had planned maintenance in the area today, a company spokesperson says the outage is unrelated — noting it is also not a part of any of the company's planned Public Safety Power Shutoffs — and the company has helicopters, which took off as soon as the fog lifted this morning, out checking lines from Bridgeville to Garberville.
  • Screenshot of PG&E's outage map
“Multiple personnel are in the area working on the issue,” the spokesperson said, adding that the outage appears to stem from a pocket of outages in the Leggett area.

According to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services, “The Humboldt Alert test scheduled for 10:17 this morning has been canceled due to the unscheduled power outage in southern Humboldt. Drills and notification tests are always subject to cancellation if the message or activity may be confusing during a real event.”

PG&E representative Deanna Contreras sent the following press release:

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Turmoil Continues in SoHum School District

Posted By on Fri, Oct 11, 2019 at 9:33 AM

Students and parents face another transition after Southern Humboldt Unified School District Superintendent Don Boyd and South Fork High School Principal Cyndi Aguiar handed in their resignations during a closed session school board meeting last night.

“I was surprised,” said board member Michelle Bushnell when reached by phone last night. “And disappointed for our community.”

She said she couldn’t comment on the reasons the two resigned.

The last two years have seen a number of high profile conflicts in the district. A South Fork High School coach of 14 years and eventually its athletic director, Andy Olsen resigned in 2018, there was a lawsuit after Student Service Technician Ann Constantino's job was eliminated, a dispute over closing Agnes Johnson Elementary School in Weott and the controversial release of long-time music teacher Paul Schmollinger.

Boyd and Aguiar, both of whom were hired in 2017, are slated to finish out the school year.

“We negotiated with them to stay until June 30,” Bushnell said.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

3rd UPDATE: PG&E to Open ONE Local Resource Center with Water, Bathrooms During Blackout

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 7:40 AM

According to Pacific Gas and Electric spokesperson Deanna Contreras, the company will only be opening one community resource center in Humboldt County — not the two previously indicated — and it won’t be up and running until 8 a.m. tomorrow.

The center will be located at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds and will offer bottled water, restrooms and an electric charging station.

Humboldt Bay Fire is also opening up a charging station for medical and other electronic devices at its classroom at 3030 L St. in Eureka.

The city of Arcata has announced that Arcata House Partnership is open and will be oeffering lunch and dinner until 6 p.m. to community members in need today at its annex, located at 501 Ninth St.

Additionally, the nonprofit is partnering with the Arcata Police Department to deliver meals to community members with mobility or transportation challenges. To arrange for delivery, call Arcata House at 298-7610 or APD at 822-2424.

Pacific Gas and Electric will be opening two community resource centers today, offering bottled water, restrooms and electronic device charging stations, at College of the Redwoods and Redwood Acres Faigrounds during the ongoing blackout, according to Humboldt County Deputy Administrative Officer Sean Quincey.

With Humboldt County having gone dark around 1 a.m. as a part of PG&E’s massive grid shutdown to prevent wildfires, which is impacting customers in 34 California counties, the county is holding a press conference at 10:30 a.m. to provide additional information. But Quincey told the Journal that the county will also be setting up a medical device charging station at 3030 L St. in Eureka.

Quincey urged local residents not to call 911 unless there is a critical incident or medical emergency. Additionally, the county is asking residents to conserve water and sewer service.

For those in need of supplies to get through the blackout, which is expected to last at least into tomorrow afternoon and may extend into next week, a few stores and gas stations are open this morning, running on generator power. Specifically, Target in Eureka, Murphy’s Markets in Sunny Brae and Westwood in Arcata, and Valley Grocery in Ferndale are confirmed to be open, as is Blue Lake Rancheria’s gas station near Blue Lake Casino.

The North Coast Community Blood Bank, meanwhile, is in need of donations and remains open, with bloodmobiles at Hoopa High School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Arcata Co-Op from noon to 4 p.m.

And for those needing something to get them through the blackout, EcoCann dispensary in Old Town Eureka will be open all day.

“Everything else may be closed, but this is Humboldt County!” exclaimed one excited man leaving the dispensary around 9 a.m.

Check back shortly for additional information from this morning’s press conference and scroll down below our original post to see a full press release from the county.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

SECOND UPDATE: County Office of Ed Posts Outage School Closure Page

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 3:56 PM


The Humboldt County Office of Education website server is being shut down at 8 p.m., so the page with school closures related to the PG&E outage will not be available after that time. The office said in a release that its Facebook page will be kept up to date as much as possible and parents should check there for the latest information.


The Humboldt County Office of Education has started a PG&E public safety power shutoff information page for parents. As of 4:30 p.m., Trinity Valley Elementary School (others in the Klamath-Trinity will remain open), Big Lagoon School and all of the Southern Humboldt Unified School District campuses were slated to be closed tomorrow.

The website can be found here and states that information will be updated as “warranted.”

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