Environment / Natural Resources

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Fire & Light is Closing Its Doors, Searching for a New Owner

Posted By on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 at 1:17 PM

Fire & Light is closing. - COURTESY OF FIRE & LIGHT
  • Courtesy of Fire & Light
  • Fire & Light is closing.
Fire & Light, an iconic Humboldt County business story that mixed creativity with sustainability, is closing unless a buyer can be found.

According to a Facebook page post today, the Arcata-based company known for its colorful glassware “is no longer financially feasible for the company to continue to operate without another significant investment of cash” due to a number of factors.

“At one point, Fire & Light glassware was carried in over 1,100 stores around the country. During the great recession, nearly 500 of those stores closed,” the post states. “Other market factors also have changed significantly since the recession, causing rising overhead costs, dwindling markets, and supply chain complications. Unfortunately, the company never fully recovered from those difficulties despite improved economic conditions.”

The note from owners John and Natali McClurg says they tried to postpone the decision as long as possible and tried to keep the doors open, but the company will be selling its remaining inventory at its showroom through Saturday.

The McClurgs thank their employees — saying they are like family — and the community for its support. They also said they are continuing to search for a buyer.


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North Coast Night Lights: Smoky Coastal Skies and Milky Way

Posted By on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 at 11:30 AM

The Milky Way looms over the Pacific Ocean, standing out over the smoky, misty air along California’s North Coast. Smoke from inland fires lingered in the sky. August 2015. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The Milky Way looms over the Pacific Ocean, standing out over the smoky, misty air along California’s North Coast. Smoke from inland fires lingered in the sky. August 2015.
At the end of the summer of 2015, my brother and I were out around midnight on a great rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean, enjoying the view between ourselves and the rest of the Universe. Fires inland had been burning for weeks, their pall of smoke glowing orange in the sky to the south of us, illuminated from below by the lights of coastal Humboldt County habitations. From out of our view in front of us, a lighthouse cast a cold blue light onto the Pacific to contrast with the orange color of the smoky sky. Above it all, rising from the fog of smoke and ocean mists loomed the Milky Way, a great galactic structure in the sky reminding us of our small part in the cosmic dance around us.

The night sky is a precious gift, a window out into something much larger than we are, a view into the cosmic splendor of which we play such a tiny part. It’s a window denied to those who reside in the city, but we on the California North Coast are fortunate to live where there are few major light sources at night and we can easily get away from them to enjoy rich starry skies. Here we find the natural beauty of the Earth by day, and at night we have the majesty and beauty of the universe to behold. It doesn’t get much better than that for those who love the natural world.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

'We Were Blindsided:' Crab Fishing Closure Could Mean Millions in Losses

Posted By on Sun, Apr 14, 2019 at 10:40 AM

A truck unloads crab pots at the Trinidad Pier. - ELAINE WEINREB
  • Elaine Weinreb
  • A truck unloads crab pots at the Trinidad Pier.
At the April 9 Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting, the security check-in station resembled a metropolitan airport with a long line of people stretched out the courthouse doors and halfway down the stairs to Fifth Street. All seats in the chamber were filled, the space between the chairs and the wall was filled with people standing, and others waited outside the door for a chance to speak.

The source of the commotion was a sudden and unexpected closure of the Dungeness crab fishery. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife had ordered all crab fishermen throughout the state to remove their gear from the ocean by April 15.

The supervisors had prepared a resolution of support for the crab fishermen, which was supposed to appear on the consent calendar, where routine or non-controversial matters are collectively approved with a single vote and without discussion. However, Supervisor Rex Bohn removed the resolution from the consent calendar and opened it for conversation, giving an opportunity for members of the audience to speak.

For the next hour, an array of commercial fishermen and their supporters, ranging in age from grizzled old-timers to fresh-faced teenagers, told the supervisors how they had suddenly and without warning lost their sole means of support.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Reflections From Trinidad

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 at 12:37 PM

The stars arc across the sky in their nightly parade in this view looking south from Boat Launch Beach, or Indian Beach, beneath the town of Trinidad, California. January 30, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The stars arc across the sky in their nightly parade in this view looking south from Boat Launch Beach, or Indian Beach, beneath the town of Trinidad, California. January 30, 2019.
I opened the camera’s shutter and waited.

It was already high tide, and I didn’t expect any waves to reach me. When I had arrived half an hour earlier I’d set up where the small waves coming in across Trinidad Harbor lapped nearly at my feet. I’d taken a few photographs from there, but the incoming tide periodically sent the odd wave farther than the rest and had pushed me back up the beach.

It must have been a message to me that I needed something more interesting in the foreground, for I found myself guided to a heavy wave-sculpted piece of driftwood I hadn’t noticed before in the darkness. Its contours would help bring the foreground to life.

Now as I waited through the long exposure I thought about the light falling around me. Most of the light on the beach came in from the boat launch area some distance to the right of me. It lay across the sand and surf in interesting patterns of shade made by various forms near the boat launch.

Light skimmed gently across the upper surfaces of the driftwood, accentuating its contours and illuminating a mound of sand around it. Some of the light also struck the camera, so I stood and waited where my body could shade the bulbous face of the wide angle lens. I wasn’t sure I had to, but it couldn’t hurt. It was a long exposure and I didn’t want any slight lens flare to build up during the course of it.

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Bass, Wilson Seeking Coastal Commission Seat in Round 2

Posted By on Mon, Apr 8, 2019 at 3:09 PM

california-coastal-commission-logo.jpg
UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously April 9 to send forward the names of both Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass and Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson for possible appointment to the California Coastal Commission.

PREVIOUSLY:
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will consider Tuesday sending the names of at least one supervisor and one city council member from the North Coast region for possible appointment to the California Coastal Commission after Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a second round of nominations.

Supervisors Virginia Bass and Mike Wilson are both requesting to have their names put forward to fill the open seat representing Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties.

The agenda item is being brought back after Newsom declined to appoint from of the previous nomination pool, which included Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo and Arcata Mayor Brett Watson — who had both received letters of support from the board in February.

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Staff Recommends Coastal Commission Object to Trinidad Hotel Project

Posted By on Sat, Mar 30, 2019 at 9:17 AM

An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad.

California Coastal Commission staff issued a highly critical report on the Trinidad Rancheria's plans for a new hotel on the bluffs of Scenic Drive near Cher-Ae Heights Casino and is recommending the commission object to the project's tentative approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The 28-page document criticized the Rancheria for failing to provide sufficient data on many issues, including the hotel's water supply. Although the Trinidad Rancheria Economic Development Corporation (TREDC) hopes to purchase water from the city of Trinidad for the hotel, the city has not agreed to supply this water because it does not not know if its own limited water supply will be adequate for future needs. The Coastal Act requires that adequate public services be available for planned development.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Huffman Introduces Bills to Keep U.S. in Paris Agreement, Ban Offshore Drilling

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 9:31 AM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
It’s been a busy week for North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, who joined Democrat colleagues this week in introducing two major pieces of environmental legislation.

On Tuesday, Huffman, a member of the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis, joined colleagues in introducing legislation that would keep the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement and develop a plan for meeting the nation’s commitment to reduce emissions. Then Wednesday, Huffman and freshman Representative Joe Cunningham (D-South Caroline) introduced a bill that would permanently ban oil and gas leasing off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

In a statement supporting House Resolution 9, the Climate Action Now Act, Huffman said his constituents know the impacts of climate change are “all too real and all too urgent.”

“I have communities in my district who are still rebuilding from devastating wildfires, and others are reeling from historic floods this year, made worse by a changing climate,” Huffman said in the statement. ““The President has refused to lead on climate change, so Congress must act. Staying in the Paris climate agreement is critical, and it’s just the starting point in our work to address the greatest moral, economic, and environmental imperative of our time.”

Meanwhile, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act introduced Wednesday, which builds on the West Coast Ocean Protection Act that Huffman had previously introduced, has widespread public support, Huffman said.

“The Trump administration’s drill-everywhere plan has run into a wave of public opposition. Americans from coast to coast have made it very clear that they do not want to see more oil rigs in their oceans,”  said Huffman, who is chair of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. “The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act will halt Trump’s oil and gas drilling spree in its tracks, protecting coastal communities and fragile ecosystems from environmental catastrophe. In California, we know that our coastal economies would be placed at unacceptable risk by offshore oil and gas drilling, which threatens the tourism, recreation, and fishing industries. I’m glad to work together with Joe Cunningham on this ongoing effort to block offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and to shield both of our coastlines from dangerous exploitation.”

See the full press releases from Huffman’s office copied below.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Trinidad Rancheria Unveils its Revised Hotel Proposal

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 12:11 PM

An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad.

The Trinidad Rancheria recently presented its revised concept of a 100-room hotel on the bluffs of Scenic Drive but it aroused little enthusiasm from the residents of Trinidad.

David Tyson, CEO of the Trinidad Rancheria Economic Development Corporation (TREDC), gave the presentation during the March 13 meeting of the Trinidad City Council to an audience of about 40 people. Tyson said the Rancheria had reviewed the hundreds of comments received last October about the planned five-story Hyatt hotel and tried to address the concerns expressed. TREDC has hired a new developer, architect and hotel operator. Nonetheless, the plans still depict a five-story building, which is considerably larger than any other structure on the Trinidad coast.

The height of the building was reduced by about 20 feet, and the exterior now displays exposed timber and rock, which Tyson said is typical of northwestern architecture.

The audience was generally polite, with many people expressing appreciation for the Rancheria's continued work to improve the project, but was clearly skeptical of the proposal, with 18 of the 19 people who addressed the council speaking critically of it.


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North Coast Night Lights: Here at the Edge

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 10:57 AM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
The vastness of things often comes home to me while I’m photographing at the edge of the continent or beneath the stars. To the east is the grounding solidity of the great North American land mass, to the west the immense Pacific Ocean stretches far beyond the horizon, and above, the field of stars. And there I am, just a tiny thing standing unnoticed.

Right next to that thought is the realization that it’s all relative. How very small these things are, like landmasses. Or the planet itself. Think about it: If you stood far enough out from our globe that the Earth was about golf ball size in your view, how small would be that film of atmosphere clinging to its surface? Could you even see it? At that scale, it wouldn’t take much to wipe it right off …
Lights from shore illuminate this great chunk of rock here where the wild coastline intersects with humanity. Above, a satellite’s eye in the sky so high crawled slowly past Orion. Humboldt County, California. February 22, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Lights from shore illuminate this great chunk of rock here where the wild coastline intersects with humanity. Above, a satellite’s eye in the sky so high crawled slowly past Orion. Humboldt County, California. February 22, 2019.
It’s easy to get lost in a feeling of tininess when I realize that everything we understand about the universe is, in fact, a ridiculously minuscule amount of information next to what’s out there not yet understood, most of which will never be known by us. We learn and grow in our understanding of the universe around us all the time as we observe and experiment, but we will never be able to fit into our heads, nor into all the computer banks our civilization will ever produce, a complete model that describes it all. There are a lot of variables.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

State Approves $40 Million for Environmental Studies at Last Chance Grade

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 9:45 AM

Workers gather data from load sensors on a retaining wall at one of the fail points. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Workers gather data from load sensors on a retaining wall at one of the fail points.

The California Transportation Commission has agreed to provide $40 million in funding to complete environmental studies of the Last Chance Grade project, North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire announced this morning.

“We all made a commitment four years ago to get the job done with the Last Chance Grade and today’s vote moves the project forward, more than ever before in history,” McGuire said in a press release. “We have been grateful to partner with Assemblymember (Jim) Wood, Congressman (Jared) Huffman, the Del Norte Board of Supervisors, Crescent City Council, the California Transportation Commission and Caltrans on this critical project. This is a true testament of what can be accomplished when we all work together for the North Coast.”

The roughly 4-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 just south of Crescent City known as Last Chance Grade has been failing for years. As the main artery for people and goods to travel between Eureka and Crescent City, the risk of a massive slide and a long-term closure carries large economic impacts, which is why officials have been scrambling for years to find a solution.


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