Environment / Natural Resources

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Yurok Tribe to Buy Mad River Brewing

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 12:23 PM

Hold onto your Steelhead. The Yurok Agricultural Corporation, which is owned by the Yurok Tribe, announced today it’s in the process of purchasing the 30-year-old Mad River Brewing and its taproom and restaurant. This will make the Yurok Tribe one of the few tribes in the U.S. to own and/or operate a brewing company, along with the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma, the Stillaguamish Tribe in Washington and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians in San Diego. The sale of the shareholder-owned company is expected to take some 60 to 90 days to complete.
Mad River Brewing's restaurant and taproom in Blue Lake. - FILE
  • File
  • Mad River Brewing's restaurant and taproom in Blue Lake.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

SECOND UPDATE: Shutdown to Hit Humboldt

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 6:47 PM

UPDATE: PG&E has notified the county that “all customers” in Humboldt County will lose power at midnight due to a power shutoff in another county, affecting major transmission lines to Humboldt.

“Please prepare for an extended power outage. 9 1 1 should only be used for life threatening emergencies,” an alert from the county states. “The Sheriff's Office will issue more information when P G & E provides outage or restoration time estimates. Please check on family and neighbors with medical needs.”


The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services says it is preparing for the potential of a PG&E power shutdown due to gusty winds and dry conditions.

PG&E describes the region as being in the “potential scope of this PSPS, in addition to the 30 counties identified Monday.”

"The company has been notifying potentially impacted customers and will continue to do so, via automated calls, texts and emails. However, customers not impacted by the PSPS may experience power outages due to PG&E equipment damaged during this major wind event; those customers will not be notified in advance," the PG&E release states. "It is very possible that customers may be affected by a power shutoff even though they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their specific location. This is because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions."

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dozens 'Die' on HSU Quad to Protest Climate Change

Posted By on Sun, Sep 29, 2019 at 8:55 PM

Bodies were strewn across the Humboldt State University quad Friday afternoon as students staged a die-in to bring awareness to the global climate crisis.

Dozens participated in the protest, which spanned about an hour. Local photographer Mark McKenna was there to document the protest and share the following slideshow.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

Hundreds Turn Out as Humboldt Participates in Global Climate Strike (With Slideshow)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 6:28 PM

Zoe Reiss, an Arcata High School senior, addressing the crowd at Arcata's Global Climate Strike. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • Zoe Reiss, an Arcata High School senior, addressing the crowd at Arcata's Global Climate Strike.

As community members waited on the Arcata plaza, their climate-action signs in hand, loud chanting emerged from Ninth and G streets, “Save the Earth!” “Save the Earth!” Hundreds of Humboldt State University and Arcata High School students started to flood the plaza in a massive wave. They were ready to set make mark as part of the Global Climate Strike.

About 5,000 strikes in 156 countries around the world (including 500 strikes in the U.S.) participated in the Global Climate Strike today to call for action against the climate crisis. Spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who works to highlight the climate crisis, thousands of students and adults walked out of schools and workplaces to participate. The strike comes a few days before the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City, where officials are scheduled to create new efforts to combat climate change under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

In December of 2015, world leaders from 195 countries came together and established a plan to combat climate change and dubbed it the “Paris Climate Agreement.” According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the agreement is a framework for global climate action and “provides a road map for cutting emissions of greenhouse gasses.”

Almost all of the countries around the world signed on, including the U.S. under President Barack Obama. However in 2017, President Donald Trump announced the U.S.’s intent to withdraw from the agreement. According to NRDC, exiting the Paris Climate Agreement is more extensive than it sounds. To withdraw from the agreement, the plan has to be enacted for at least three years and, on top of those three years, the U.S. has to wait another year before it can actually leave the pact (meaning that the earliest it can leave is Nov. 4, 2020, a day after the presidential election). However, after President Trump’s announcement, a combination of U.S. cities, states and businesses signed the “We Are Still In” declaration, affirming their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

At noon today, HSU and Arcata high school students marched from Arcata High School down to the plaza, where local climate activists, students and community members voiced their frustrations of the growing climate catastrophes, rising greenhouse emissions and very few policy and cultural changes that could spark solutions.

Students marching towards the center of the Arcata Plaza. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • Students marching towards the center of the Arcata Plaza.

“We are passed the point of viewing climate crisis as a debate,” Zoe Reiss, an Arcata High School senior, said to the crowd. “It exists and humans need to be held accountable.”

Neesh Wells, a senior at HSU, said that they never saw themselves participating in an event for climate action but, over the past year, they began focusing on changing their own habits to help reduce climate change by bringing Tupperware to restaurants, using reusable coffee cups, and shopping locally and at thrift shops instead of online. Wells also began interning for Zero Waste Humboldt, an organization that focuses solely on waste reduction solutions.

“People need to be aware that [climate crisis] is only going to get worse,” Wells said. “There’s a lot of passionate people here and we need to continue what we see today and implement that passion into our everyday lives.”

Many community members joined the strike, including Kate Mckinnon a Humboldt County resident who says she wanted to join the schools in the strike for climate change to try to make a difference.

“Congress remains inactive on climate action issues, in spite of data that’s been presented by scientists that the Earth is in danger,” Mckinnon said adding that she’d like to make a difference in her own way, by participating in these kinds of events. “It does make a difference, it’s getting people to really think about [climate action].”

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Mountain Lion Spotted 'Chilling' on Bayside Porch

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 4:21 PM

A mountain lion spotted from a Bayside window. - PORTIA HERGER
  • Portia Herger
  • A mountain lion spotted from a Bayside window.
What appears to be an adult mountain lion took a stroll through a Bayside neighborhood this afternoon and even relaxed a bit on one woman's porch.

“We saw it around 2 o’clock,” said Portia Herger, who lives with her housemates off Bayside Road, which she describes as “pretty busy.”

“My housemate saw it first and thought it was just a cat,” she said, adding that they could just see its head. “It was kind of chilling on our porch steps.”

Later it it went under their deck and began moving around their yard.

“It was making sounds,” she said. “It was chirping almost like a house cat but a lot more powerful. ... It was there, from when we noticed, until it left … for five … 10 minutes.”

Editor's note: This story first was first published on www.kymkemp.com and is reposted here with permission.
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Watch Out for Wandering Wildlife in the Roadways

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 10:57 AM

A school bus traveling north toward Orick gives students a little extra study time as elk cross U.S. Highway 101 near Big Lagoon. - FILE
  • File
  • A school bus traveling north toward Orick gives students a little extra study time as elk cross U.S. Highway 101 near Big Lagoon.

Wildlife is on the move this time of year, which means drivers need to be even more cautious while traveling the region’s rural roads and highways.

According to a joint release from Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, vehicle-wildlife collisions “typically peak” this time of year, when animals are migrating to their winter haunts or preparing for hibernation.

“It is vital that drivers be especially alert now through December to avoid collisions with wild animals,” the release states. “These crashes not only harm wildlife, but they can damage vehicles and cause injury and death to drivers and passengers.”

California Highway Patrol stats show 15 people died and 810 people were injured in 4,368 collisions with animals on state, county and local roadways throughout California between 2017 and 2018.

“From September through December, wildlife often exhibit natural behaviors that can increase their movements and activity nearer to humans and roadways,” CDFW Conflict Programs coordinator Vicky Monroe said in the release. “That makes large animals such as deer, bears and mountain lions more likely to be killed or injured by wildlife-vehicle collisions.”

This young deer was rescued after its mother was killed by a car. - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • This young deer was rescued after its mother was killed by a car.
Read the release from Caltrans and CDFW below:

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Monday, August 19, 2019

'The Bay is Back in Business' After Dredging

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 1:38 PM

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation and Recreation District announced today that shipping restrictions have been lifted after roughly 1.1 million cubic yards of sediment were removed from the Humboldt Bay entrance channel.

During the winter, “significant sediment deposits” accumulated near buoy No. 9, which caused “extremely dangerous shoaling conditions" and the closure of Humboldt Bay to commercial shipping, according to the district.

The North Jetty. - USCG
  • USCG
  • The North Jetty.
With breaking waves inside the bay in an area dubbed “Rock and Roll Alley” by local fishermen due to the often rough conditions, boats became susceptible to tipping over and an emergency was declared on the local and state level.

Harbor district Executive Director Larry Oetker says it’s very fortunate that no one was injured.

“We owe the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Congressman Jared Huffman and Leroy Zerlang a debt of gratitude for all the extra effort they put into removing the hazardous conditions,” he says in the release. “The bay is back in business.”

Read the harbor district release below:

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Reflections at Richardson Grove

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 3:29 PM

Watch for falling rocks and stars in the Upside-Down. (We loved the reflection). - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Watch for falling rocks and stars in the Upside-Down. (We loved the reflection).
As you read on your computer or mobile device, remember that you, too, can unplug, go outside not too far from where you are now and experience a night something like the one in this image. I took a break from plugged-in things for a week and camped for part of it in Southern Humboldt’s Richardson Grove State Park with family. It’s not a wilderness area, but it is in a beautiful natural setting among hills covered in redwood and mixed forests along the South Fork Eel River.

Sitting in the shade in our camp in Oak Flat campground, we counted eight different tree species and a myriad of plants and shrubs without leaving our seats. Not that we sat around all day, although while sitting and tuning in to the surroundings there was plenty going on around the campground to keep me entirely fascinated, whether it was the activities other campers or things happening in the surrounding forest.

It has been a while since I last backpacked in the wilderness, but I used to a lot and I know what it is like to really get away from everything people-related. This wasn’t that. It is a campground. One hears and sees other campers. Even U.S. Highway 101 goes by not far away, though as a two-lane road weaving through giant redwoods. No it isn’t the wilderness, but you are in the forest, with nature all around. Sitting in it and soaking it in absolutely recharged me. Even listening to the wind while unplugged was recharging. We humans are part of nature, not part of the internet. Nature recharges us.
My brother Seth and I watch the world go by one summer night on the banks of the South Fork Eel River in Richardson Grove, Humboldt County, California - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • My brother Seth and I watch the world go by one summer night on the banks of the South Fork Eel River in Richardson Grove, Humboldt County, California
I hadn’t seen the South Fork Eel River looking so good at this time of year in many summers, and it had been longer since I last enjoyed a good dip in it. The Eel was clear and comfortably cool, with far more water in it than I had expected. It’s shallow near the bank where you see my brother and me standing beneath the night sky, easy to wade in. It gets gradually deeper until near the far shore my brother couldn’t reach the surface with his outstretched arm while standing on the bottom. It’s a tranquil stretch with a very slow current. It would be nice for the entire family.

Humanity disappointed me when we came upon the jarring sight of plastic trash left on the bank of the river by swimmers the previous day. I want to express how unutterably lame that is, but I find my vocabulary temporarily reduced to four-letter words. Some … let’s call them jerks, had brought their candy and plastic-wrapped crap to the riverside — and then left the trash there. I wonder what level of care they had, if any. Did they leave it for someone else to pick up? Thanks, that’s really crappy. Or did they not even care that much? Either way we were disgusted with them (“Houston, we’ve found lower life forms!”). We decided we would come back later with trash bags to clean up after them.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rollback of Endangered Species' Protections Raising Fears

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:53 PM

  • Courtesy of Redwood National Park
  • A wild-hatched condor.
The Trump administration’s move to weaken what many see as key aspects of the Endangered Species Act is garnering outrage and pushback, with critics fearing a greater deterioration of the natural world amid the planet’s growing biodiversity crisis.

Credited with saving the bald eagle — among many iconic species, including several on the North Coast — and giving others —  like the condor — a fighting chance, the ESA was enacted in 1973 by then-President Richard Nixon.

That year, fewer than 500 pairs of the United States’ national symbol were left in the wild while today some 10,000 sets of the stealth raptors with a distinctive snowy white head are found just in the lower 48 states alone.

While the ESA has seen many successes over the years, the rollbacks expected to be enacted soon come on the heels of a United Nation’s report released in May that found “the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world.”

According to an Aug. 12 joint announcement from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ESA regulatory changes are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century.”

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal —recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, an attorney and former oil industry lobbyist, said in the release. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

Meanwhile, conservation organizations like Center Biological Diversity are sounding the alarm bells about what these changes could spell for already at-risk species like the polar bear and are mounting a campaign to reverse the alterations.

“We can stop this disaster, but it's going to require pulling out every stop,” a post on the center’s website states. “Tell your member of Congress to do everything in their power to defend wildlife and uphold the Endangered Species Act in this time of extinction crisis.

Read the USFW and NOAA release below:

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Coastal Commission: If Trinidad Rancheria Can Find Water, it Can Build its Hotel

Posted By on Sat, Aug 10, 2019 at 8:29 AM

The California Coastal Commission went against the recommendation of its staff Thursday and gave the Trinidad Rancheria the go-ahead — or a “conditional concurrence” — to build a five-story hotel on its property off Scenic Drive south of the city.

This means that the Coastal Commission, which is tasked by law with protecting the California coastline, will not stand in the way of the Bureau of Indian Affairs granting the Rancheria a lease and a loan guarantee so that the project can start. The “conditional” part of the concurrence means the commission is giving the Rancheria six months to come up with a reliable water source — either through an agreement with the city of Trinidad or by proving its newly drilled well has the capability to provide the 14,000 gallons of of potable water per day that the hotel will require without draining neighboring wells. According to Trinidad Rancheria CEO Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, the well can produce 8,040 gallons per day.

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.
The decision came at the very end of an eight-hour meeting, much of which was devoted to the problems of other communities along California’s long coastline. By the time the hotel project was heard, the audience, which earlier in the day had overflowed the Wharfinger building’s main hall, had largely thinned out. Nonetheless, enough members of the public stayed to fill an hour with comments praising or criticizing the project.

The commission had also previously received about 190 public weighing in an all sides of the hotel.

This is the third time the hotel proposal has appeared before the commission. The previous two times, the commission objected to the proposal, effectively blocking it. Like all federally recognized tribes, the Trinidad Rancheria has the legal status of a sovereign nation, meaning it is not subject to state or local authority, which includes the California Coastal Commission. However, it is subject to the authority of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). In order to approve a project, the BIA has to affirm that the project will not conflict with any state laws, hence the need for the Coastal Commission’s “concurrence.”

An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad. - SUBMITTED
  • An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad.
The issue that has drawn the most public attention has been the hotel’s size and corporate appearance. Many residents — and some who live outside the area but vacation here — feel the hotel would clash with the serene forested look of the Trinidad Bay coastline.

The issue of most concern to the commission, however, was not the building’s appearance but the lack of a confirmed water source for the project.

The Rancheria hopes to be able to hook up to the city of Trinidad’s municipal water system but the city is unsure of its ability to meet the future needs of its own residents. It has commissioned a series of studies that will not be completed until December and the city has said it will not make any commitments to other entities before that time.

The amount of water reportedly needed by the hotel seems to be a moving target, decreasing each time it comes before a public body. The draft Environmental Assessment for the hotel stated that 18,860 gallons per day would be required. This later went down to 14,184 gallons per day. On July 26, a letter from the Rancheria said that a more accurate figure would be 9,000 gallons per day, although this low figure only reflected 60 percent occupancy, obviously a less-than-desirable outcome for the hotel’s backers.

(The water-related material sent to the Coastal Commission can be found online here; scroll to Item 12b and click on Appendix C).

At the Aug. 8 hearing, the project was first reviewed in depth by the commission staff; then project proponents and opponents each got to have their say; and last, the long-suffering members of the public each got their two or three minutes to speak. Amy Deutschke, the BIA official in charge of the project, started the debate by insisting that the only things being considered were a loan guarantee and a lease — the actual building was immaterial. The Coastal Commission disagreed with her.

Trinidad Rancheria Chair Garth Sundberg then said that the Rancheria had listened to everybody’s concerns about the view and tried to address them.

“We love the view from here,” he said. “We need economic development on the Rancheria. … It will create jobs, benefit the health and welfare of our members ... I want you to know that although we want the permits, we are going to go forward anyway.”

Hostler-Carmesin then gave the 100-year-old history of the Trinidad Rancheria, described a 10-year planning process for the tribe’s commercial development and emphasized the many contributions the Rancheria had made to the greater community. She then announced that the Rancheria had successfully drilled for water on its own land, and estimated that “our pumping capacity is at 8,640 and it is indicating that we have an adequate supply of water for peak usage.”

Then, Trinidad resident Richard Johnson spoke representing Humboldt Alliance for Responsible Planning (HARP), a grassroots group opposed to the project.

“We may have differences of opinion but we are all in this together and we all share the same limited resources,” he said, adding that while his group supports the Rancheria’s efforts to improve its economic status, approval of the project as it was presented would violate federal and state laws.

There was not yet enough evidence, he said, to determine whether or not the Rancheria’s new well could provide enough water to serve the hotel on a long-term sustainable basis.

“We all live in the Luffenholtz watershed and we have a finite amount of water,” Johnson continued. “Development of any well, whether on the Rancheria property or in other areas of our watershed, could affect other nearby wells by increased water withdrawal. It’s important to recognize that there is development planned for the future based on the Rancheria’s comprehensive community-based plan … Likely, the water requirements for the Rancheria will increase due to that development.”

For the next hour, members of the public spoke, some stalwartly defending the Rancheria’s right as a sovereign nation to do whatever it pleased with its land and others criticizing the project’s design and the perceived inadequacy of information about water.

Eventually, public comment closed, and the members of the commission got down to the gritty task of coming to some sort of conclusion.

The commission was clearly conflicted, with some members resonating more to the theme of past racial injustices inflicted upon Native Americans and others more concerned with the apparent inconsistencies with the Coastal Act pointed out by the commission’s staff. Motions were made, amended and withdrawn. Some commissioners worried that if a decision was made in favor of the Rancheria that it would set a precedent allowing other projects of questionable legality to be approved.

The question of what will happen if the city does not provide water and the well water is not potable, or reliable — or for that matter, how the hotel will make up the difference between the estimated water from the well and its projected needs — was an item of strong concern to most commission members.

During one emotional exchange with the commission, Hostler-Carmensin insisted vehemently that enough water would somehow be found, that the tribe intended to move ahead and added that the tribe had already sunk more than $5 million into the project.

“Passion does not equal water,” Commission Chair Dayna Bochco retorted. “What happens if you build the hotel and there is no water?”

Hostler-Carmesin said in that case, the hotel would be unable to open. That final decision, she said, would be up to the Trinidad Rancheria Tribal Council.

Speaking to her fellow commissioners, Bochco described the visuals of the project as “disappointing” and said that she understood why the community was not happy.

Nonetheless, the commission eventually voted 6 to 3 to grant a conditional concurrence to the BIA. The passed motion specifies that “prior to commencement of construction,” the BIA shall provide commission staff that either the city of Trinidad has agreed to provide water to the project or that the Rancheria has found an alternative source and conducted an analysis on its effects on coastal resources pursuant to the California Coastal Act.

Newly seated Commissioner Mike Wilson, Humboldt’s Third District County Supervisor, voted with the majority to approve the conditional concurrence.

Editor's note: This story has been updated from a previous version to correct an editing error regarding the commission's discussion of the project's visual impacts, and to correct the spelling of Jacque Hoster-Carmesin's name. The Journal regrets the errors.
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