Environment / Natural Resources

Monday, June 17, 2019

Four Timber Protesters Arrested in Rio Dell

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 1:36 PM

The 24-foot ladder and protester which blocked the entrance to Humboldt Redwood Co. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • The 24-foot ladder and protester which blocked the entrance to Humboldt Redwood Co.

Before dawn this morning, four protesters were arrested after they allegedly blocked off the entry gate to Humboldt Redwood Co. property on Monument Road in Rio Dell.

According to a Humboldt County Sheriff's press release, when deputies arrived around 3:45 a.m. they found 15 protestors and a 24-foot ladder attached to the company’s gate and tied to several neighboring trees with one protester, Isabel Osheroff, having climbed to the top.

The logging company began timber harvesting plans along Rainbow Ridge, which lies in the Mattole River watershed west of Redcrest, earlier this month. Protests in this area first began July of 2018, when HRC initiated its logging activities on the ridge. Protesters then said they were trying to protect 1,100 acres of “pristine” forest (which they defined as trees that have not been logged) that mostly consisted of old-growth Douglas fir.

Michael John Gammariello, Brittany Krystal Soohoo and Georgia Hanrahan Doremus were arrested and booked into the Humboldt County jail on suspicion of trespassing, resisting arrest and impeding traffic. Sheriff's deputies, with the help of county public works employees, were able to safely take Osheroff down from the ladder, according to the release. She was also arrested on suspicion of  trespassing.

An earlier press release sent by the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters said protesters began demonstrating June 8, when a tree sitter climbed a centuries-old tree that he or she continues to occupy the tree. “The demonstration this morning is, in part, in solidarity and support of the tree-sitter, who goes by the name Rook,” the release stated.

 From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

Four arrested for trespassing during logging protest
Deputy attempts to safely remove protester from ladder while in a boom truck
On June 17, 2019, at about 3:42 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Monument Road, in the county's jurisdiction of Rio Dell, for the report of protesters blocking an access gate to Humboldt Redwood Company property.

When deputies arrived on scene, they located about 15 protesters, in addition to an approximately 24-foot ladder standing in front of the gate, tethered to nearby trees with a subject at the top.

Three protesters, Michael John Gammariello, 32, Brittany Krystal Soohoo, 25, of Los Angeles, and Georgia Hanrahan Doremus, 32, of Arcata, were taken into custody and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and impeding traffic.

Humboldt County Public Works responded and deployed a boom truck to assist deputies in lowering the ladder in front of the gate. The protester on the ladder, Isabel Xochitl Osheroff, 24, of Berkeley, CA, was safely taken into custody and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of trespassing.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public to obey all laws when protesting a cause. Sheriff’s deputies will continue to respond as needed to Monument Road if further violations of state law occur.

From the Bay Area Coalition of Headwaters: 

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Coastal Commission Laments Timeline, 'Objects' to Trinidad Hotel Project

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 at 10:48 AM

An artistic rendering created by the Trinidad Rancheria of what its proposed Scenic Drive hotel project would look like from Trinidad Bay. - TRINIDAD RANCHERIA
  • Trinidad Rancheria
  • An artistic rendering created by the Trinidad Rancheria of what its proposed Scenic Drive hotel project would look like from Trinidad Bay.

A conflicted California Coastal Commission voted 6-3 yesterday to object to the Trinidad Rancheria’s proposed 100-room hotel project on Scenic Drive, finding it inconsistent with state coastal protections.

Commissioners made clear during the nearly two-hour hearing in San Diego that the main consistency issue lies with water, and namely whether the city of Trinidad has the capacity to supply water to the project. The city currently has several studies underway but can’t commit to providing water to the proposed five-story hotel adjacent to Cher-Ae Heights Casino until they are complete, which is expected to happen before August.

Multiple commissioners lamented that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has jurisdictional oversight of the project because it is on sovereign tribal land, repeatedly declined staff requests to postpone Wednesday’s hearing until the commission’s meeting in August, which would have allowed for more local input and — potentially — completion of the water studies. Before the vote, several commissioners indicated they intended to vote to object to the project at this time but urged the Rancheria to resubmit its application so it can be heard at the August meeting.

After the meeting, Trinidad Rancheria Economic Development Corporation CEO David Tyson told the Journal in an email that the Rancheria would decide how to proceed after conferring with BIA officials.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Yurok Tribe Awarded UN Honor for Forest Management Practices

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2019 at 4:21 PM

Yurok fisheries technician Nick Folkins records data on Coho salmon in a recently restored stretch of McGarvey Creek. The Yurok Tribe implements large-scale river restoration projects throughout the Klamath River Basin. - COURTESY OF THE YUROK TRIBE
  • Courtesy of the Yurok Tribe
  • Yurok fisheries technician Nick Folkins records data on Coho salmon in a recently restored stretch of McGarvey Creek. The Yurok Tribe implements large-scale river restoration projects throughout the Klamath River Basin.
The Yurok Tribe recently became the first indigenous community in the United States to be awarded the Equator Prize by the United Nations Development Programme, which honors “innovative nature-based solutions for tackling climate change, environment and poverty challenges.”

“We are honored to receive recognition for our traditional ecological knowledge and western science-based approach to managing the temperate rainforests in our region,” tribal Chair Joseph L. James said in a release about the June 5 announcement. “Our tribe is rebuilding biodiversity in our forests and restoring resilience within our community. This time-tested strategy for rehabilitating critical habitats can be duplicated all over the world to reduce the impact of climate change.”

Created by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the United Nation Development Programme “works to eradicate poverty while protecting the planet” by helping countries “develop strong policies, skills, partnerships and institutions so they can sustain their progress,” according to the program’s webpage.

The Equator Prize, awarded since 2002, comes with a $10,000 award and the opportunity for each of this year’s 22 winners from around the world to send two representatives to attend a week-long summit in New York City during the 74th UN General Assembly. The honorees will also be recognized at a ceremony Sept. 24.

The Yurok Tribe was selected for reclaiming more than 60,000 acres of ancestral lands that were stolen in the 19th century and clear-cut over the ensuring decades. Those forests, according to the tribe, are now managed by Yurok citizens to “re-create the diverse ecological conditions that existed on these lands for millennia” and provide for “the production of traditional foods, medicines and basket materials, as well as carbon sequestration.”

Engrained in the Yurok Constitution's principles to "preserve and promote" the tribe's culture, language and religious beliefs — which includes the reintroduction of the California condor as well as restoring their land's natural resources — the tribe financed the purchase with its carbon-offset forest project, which was the first developed under California protocols for the state’s cap-and-trade system back in 2014.

“We are blending the knowledge of ancestors with contemporary science to fix our forests and improve ecosystem health within our homeland,” said James. “We are very grateful for the recognition of this essential endeavor. We have made tremendous sacrifices to reclaim our right to determine our own destiny and be a strong steward of our land.”

Read the full release from the Yurok Tribe:

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Eureka Slough Railroad Bridge

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 12:23 PM

  • David Wilson
I remember when the rails in Humboldt County rumbled to the passage of great trains rolling regularly through the county. Looking back, I took far too little advantage of the photographic opportunities they afforded while their time and mine here overlapped. Now we have them in memory only, and photographing the remnants of their steel carriages and rusting rails evokes ghosts of a bygone day.

With thoughts of capturing some of that once mighty line’s remains in the stark light of the modern night I found myself on the old railroad bridge over the Eureka Slough at the north end of Eureka, Humboldt County, California. Here the Old meets New, as this section of the former track is slated to become part of the Humboldt Bay Trail, connecting Eureka with Arcata for non-motorized traffic

In photography’s early days images were monochromatic, reproducing all the vibrant colors of a scene as a range of gray values from white to black. Film was an ideal medium for capturing history, and the early history it recorded lives on today as black and white images. For over a hundred years photography recorded a world without color for posterity.
A night on the old Railroad bridge over the Eureka Slough at the north end of Eureka, Humboldt County, California. Trains thundered down these tracks regularly back in the day. Photographed June 7, 2018. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A night on the old Railroad bridge over the Eureka Slough at the north end of Eureka, Humboldt County, California. Trains thundered down these tracks regularly back in the day. Photographed June 7, 2018.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Deadline Looms for Comments on Controversial Wind Power Project

Posted By on Tue, May 28, 2019 at 2:11 PM

An artistic rendering of what the turbines will look like from the town of Scotia. - TERRAGEN
  • TerraGen
  • An artistic rendering of what the turbines will look like from the town of Scotia.
With the deadline to comment on the draft environmental impact report fast approaching, debate over a proposed wind farm on a ridgeline to the south of the Eel River Valley is heating up.

The project, developed by Terra-Gen, a large, San Diego-based renewable energy company owned by the private equity firm Energy Capital Partners, would see up to 60 large wind turbines built atop Monument Ridge and Bear River Ridge. Once operational, the farm would contribute an estimated 155 megawatts of renewable energy annually, enough to continuously power 40,000 homes, according to the company. The project is slated to come before the Humboldt County Planning Commission — the governing body with authority over the project permits unless its decision is appealed to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors — in July. The deadline to comment on the project’s draft EIR is June 5.

Project proponents point to global climate change, stressing the urgency of transitioning local and national energy grids away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy sources, stressing that time is running out to reverse course. And while they concede the project comes with environmental impacts, they argue that those have to be weighed against the carbon footprint of doing nothing and carrying on with an energy grid largely tied to natural gas. To some extent casting critics as NIMBYs who want other communities or regions to suffer the impacts of their energy consumption, proponents argue that it’s only fair that Humboldt County shoulder the impacts of its energy usage.

“What is the environmental impact of more of the same?” Natalynn DeLapp, a project consultant, said on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine, adding that one of the impacts outlined in the draft EIR is the visual impact of placing as many as five dozen 600-foot-tall turbines dotting the ridgelines. Some might view that as a blight on the landscape, but DeLapp said she chooses to look at it differently.

“Personally, I look at them and see innovation and our human capacity to evolve and look for new solutions to our ongoing energy needs,” she said.

The project is also slated to create some 300 jobs during construction, as well as 15 permanent ones, and generate an estimated $2 million annually in local tax revenue once operational.

But critics of the project — including some in the environmental community, the Bear River Rancheria and the Wiyot Tribe — believe there has to be a better way. They stress the scope of environmental impacts associated with construction of the wind farm and its continued operations.

Adam Canter, tribal biologist for the Wiyot Tribe, said Bear River Ridge is a special place to the Wiyot, considered a “prayer spot,” from which one can see almost all of the tribe’s ancestral territory. He noted that the proposed site is a “giant coastal prairie” with high coverage of native grasses and plants that would be forever impacted by the project.

Additionally, Canter said the tribe worries about impacts to wildlife and migratory bird species, most acutely the California condor, which is planned to be reintroduced to the North Coast in 2020.

“It is probably the tribe’s most sacred bird and part of the Wiyot creation story,” Canter said.

The tribe believes in the urgency for renewable energy, Canter said, adding that most residences on the Table Bluff reservation have solar panels, but believes the proposed project “is going to be pretty catastrophic.”

Ken Miller, describing himself as a concerned citizen, appeared with DeLapp on the KMUD show and stressed that while many of the farm’s environmental impacts will be plain to see — 17 miles of newly paved access roads, a 25-mile clear-cut transmission corridor and thousands of trips by 90-foot trucks — he said others will be hidden. He charged that in all of its estimates of carbon-reduction, Terra-Gen has failed to factor in the carbon costs of construction and materials, which include tens of thousands of yards of concrete, more than 2 million pounds of carbon fiber for the turbine blades and some 24,000 gallons of oil annually to operate the turbines.

Canter and Miller both referred to the project as “green washing,” with Miller noting Terra-Gen is owned by Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm with some $19 billion in energy sector holdings and just Monday announced the acquisition of all of Canadian Utilities fossil fuel-based electricity generation assets, which were valued at $621 million.

Having crunched the numbers, Canter points out that based on Terra-Gen’s own carbon displacement estimates, the proposed local project would reduce carbon emissions by 372,000 metric tons a year.

“You would have to build 162 wind projects of this capacity to reduce the national footprint by just 1 percent,” he said.

The problem with rejecting this project, DeLapp said, is there currently isn’t a better proposal on the table. Nearly a decade ago, she said she opposed a similar proposal from Shell Wind Energy and heard a bunch of concerns similar to those being voiced now. But times have changed, DeLapp said, and there’s more urgency than ever to move away from fossil fuels.

“Here we are 10 years later and Humboldt County is still no closer to having a decentralized energy system … and we are not meeting our energy goals,” she said in the KMUD interview.

Terra-Gen will be hosting a community meeting on the project this evening, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Old Steeple, 246 Berding St. in Ferndale, with another planned for 6:30 p.m. on June 3 at the Winema Theater, 125 Main St. in Scotia. Click here to read more about the project — including the 800-page draft EIR. Comments on the EIR can be sent to: Humboldt Wind Project Planner, County of Humboldt, Planning and Building Department, 3015 H St., Eureka, CA 95501 or emailed to CEQAResponses@co.humboldt.ca.us.

The deadline to comment is June 5.
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Friday, May 24, 2019

Indian Island Likely to Return to Wiyot Tribe Next Month

Posted By on Fri, May 24, 2019 at 3:45 PM

A view of Indian Island's Tuluwat site during a king tide. - FILE
  • File
  • A view of Indian Island's Tuluwat site during a king tide.

After an unexpected delay, the unprecedented repatriation of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe is poised to come before the Eureka City Council for final approval next month.

City Manager Greg Sparks said the return of the tribe’s sacred ancestral land — approved in principal by the council in principle Dec. 4 — was delayed due to an issue with the State Lands Commission, which is responsible for protecting natural and cultural resources, as well as public access rights on publicly owned land.

“We think we have resolved that,” Sparks said. “It seems like we’re just about there.”

Sparks said he is looking to get the matter back before the council next month, either on June 18 or at a special meeting.

The council voted unanimously Dec. 4 to declare more than 200 acres of city-owned land on the island “surplus property” and directed Sparks to negotiate its return to the Wiyot Tribe, for whom the island was home for at least 1,000 years, according to an archaeologist, and since time immemorial, according to the tribe. In Wiyot culture, the island — which is home to the sacred village Tuluwat, where the tribe held its annual World Renewal Ceremony — is the physical and cultural center of the universe.

The largest of three islands in Humboldt Bay, Indian Island is comprised mainly of tidelands and spans about 280 acres, stretching nearly a mile long and a half-mile wide. In late February of 1860, the island was the site of one of a series of coordinated attacks by white settlers on the Wiyot people, when militiamen invaded the island while the Wiyot men were away from the village gathering supplies and brutally massacred more than 60 unarmed women, children and elders.

The massacre came just weeks after Robert Gunther purchased the island from John T. Moore, who had legally seized the land from the tribe by submitting a claim with the federal government. The island then endured more than a century of environmental abuse. It was diked and drained to create grazing land, then became home to a number of lumber mills and a dry-dock boat repair shop, all of which left toxic legacies.
The Wiyot Tribe's acquisition of Indian Island - NORTH COAST JOURNAL/JONATHAN WEBSTER
  • North Coast Journal/Jonathan Webster
  • The Wiyot Tribe's acquisition of Indian Island
In 2000, after years of fundraising efforts, the Wiyot Tribe purchased a 1.5-acre parcel on the island that included Tuluwat from the city of Eureka for $106,000. Several years later, the city donated an additional 40 acres to the tribe, which secured a variety of grants to clean up the contamination left by the lumber mills and boat yard, and in 2014 tribal members gathered on Tuluwat to finish the World Renewal Ceremony that had been interrupted by the massacre.

The council’s decision in December to return the other 200 or so acres of city-owned land on the island free of charge is considered unprecedented, according to experts consulted by the Journal, all of whom said that while there are examples of the federal government, nonprofits and private landowners returning native land, they believed Eureka is the first local municipality to take such a step.

“I think it’s a big deal,” Bob Anderson, director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law who for six years served under Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit, providing legal advice on issues of Indian law and sovereignty, told the Journal in December. “It sets an important precedent for other communities that might be thinking about doing this. They can say, ‘Yes, it’s been done before in California.’ … This is a significant example of sort of forward-looking, modern good relationships between tribal government and non-tribal government. It seems this could be a shining example of what’s possible. It’s very important to Indian Country.”

Wiyot Tribal Chair Ted Hernandez was not immediately available to comment for this story but we'll update the post if we hear back from him.
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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Reward Offered in Poaching of Roosevelt Elk

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2019 at 5:39 PM

A reward is being offered for information about a December elk poaching case. - FILE
  • File
  • A reward is being offered for information about a December elk poaching case.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the December shooting deaths of four Roosevelt elk, including a pregnant cow.

In a release, CDFW states the investigation is continuing, “including processing evidence left at the crime scene. The department also thanks the four organizations — California Bowmen Hunters, California Houndsmen for Conservation, the Oranco Bowmen from Ontario and the Orange Belt Field Archers — for pledging the reward money."

Wildlife officers responding to a poaching report found the slain animals Dec. 9 in the Maple Creek area, southeast of Blue Lake.

“This poacher shot these animals and left them for dead,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division District Capt. AJ Bolton. “The vast majority of hunters are ethical and law-abiding citizens, but this is poaching, plain and simple.”

Read the CDWF release below:

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Lack of Water Threatens Trinidad Rancheria Hotel Project

Posted By on Fri, May 10, 2019 at 1:32 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 planned 100-room Trinidad Rancheria hotel at Cher-Ae Heights Casino appears stalled at the state level because of an inability to come up with a definite source of drinking water for the facility.

Located on the bluffs of Scenic Drive, a mile south of city limits, the planned hotel is outside of Trinidad's water service area, which is designated by the city's General Plan. The city is in the process of studying its own limited water supply from Luffenholz Creek and does not yet know if there would be enough water to accommodate all present and future users within the existing service areas and the hotel, especially during drought years.

Approval for the hotel is currently being considered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) but it won't move forward until it receives "concurrence" from the California Coastal Commission that the project will not violate the California Coastal Act, which requires that developments in the coastal zone have a definite source of drinking water.

The California Coastal Commission has found other problems with the plans for the five-story building, as well, including incongruity with the pristine ocean views around Trinidad Head, possible issues with wastewater disposal and its location upon an unstable bluff top. Coastal Commission staff has recommended it object to the project.

Although the commission was initially scheduled to hear the project in April, the BIA — acting on behalf of the Trinidad Rancheria — requested it delay holding a public hearing on the project to allow the Rancheria to provide additional information. The Coastal Commission responded by re-scheduling the project hearing from April to June, when it will meet in San Diego.

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Friday, May 3, 2019

McGuire Hosts Offshore Wind Discussion

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2019 at 8:17 PM

North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire sits with Assemblymember Mark Stone at the four panel discussions on offshore wind's potential this Friday at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka. - NATALYA ESTRADA
  • Natalya Estrada
  • North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire sits with Assemblymember Mark Stone at the four panel discussions on offshore wind's potential this Friday at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka.
North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) hosted four panel discussions this afternoon at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka about the prospect of offshore wind farms — a concept that isn't new but still holds some mystery.

Exactly when the turbines are set to be constructed depends on the multiple environmental assessments by various state, local and federal agencies, as well as a federal bidding process. An approximated date of 2025 was given, but it is not set in stone because a number of factors can influence the timeline. One of the main concerns held by some of the community is that the partially submerged wind turbines structures will endanger coastal bird species and marine mammals.

“California needs to ensure this new green energy source does not harm our fisheries, wildlife and the local economy that depends on a thriving natural resource,” McGuire said while highlighting that the number one goal of the meeting was to hear from the community and start formulizing the regulatory process.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Huffman Announces Release of Nearly $30 Million in Fisheries Disaster Funding

Posted By on Mon, Apr 29, 2019 at 10:57 AM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
More than a year after Congress appropriated the funds, members of the the North Coast's commercial fishing industry and a local tribe are slated to receive federal disaster support in the coming months, Rep. Jared Huffman announced this morning.

“Tribes, hardworking fishermen, their families, and coastal communities have been stuck in limbo for far too long waiting for the federal support they deserve,” said Huffman in a press release. “Congress provided this disaster relief funding more than a year ago, but the Trump administration has dragged out the process. Their delays and roadblocks have added unnecessary pain for the tribes and fishing communities who are already dealing with closed fisheries and serious economic hardship.”

The $29.7 million in federal assistance funding is slated to be released to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission on June 1, then distributed to local businesses and individuals, per the press release. The funding was made available through an appropriations bill passed in February of 2018 in response to fisheries disasters dating back to 2015, which included the closures of the 2015-2016 Dungeness crab season and the Yurok Tribe’s 2016 salmon season.

See the full press release from Huffman’s office copied below:

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