Monday, February 12, 2024

Legislators Unveil Measure to Ask Voters for $1 Billion Offshore Wind Bond

Posted By on Mon, Feb 12, 2024 at 11:56 AM

In a step toward building the first massive wind farms off California’s coast, three Assemblymembers on Feb. 8 proposed a $1 billion bond act to help pay for the expansion of ports.

The bill, if approved, would place a bond before voters aimed at helping ports build capacity to assemble, construct and transport wind turbines and other large equipment. Long Beach and Humboldt County have plans to build such expansion projects. 

Port expansion is considered critical to the viability of offshore wind projects, which are a key component of the state’s ambitious goal to switch to 100 percent clean energy. The California Energy Commission projects that offshore wind farms will supply 25 gigawatts of electricity by 2045, powering 25 million homes and providing about 13 percent of the power supply.

The first step to building these giant floating platforms has already been taken: The federal government has leased 583 square miles of ocean waters about 20 miles off Humboldt Bay and the Central Coast’s Morro Bay to five energy companies. The proposed wind farms would hold hundreds of giant turbines, each as tall as a skyscraper, about 900 feet high. The technology for floating wind farms has never been used in such deep waters, far off the coast.

An extensive network of offshore and onshore development would be necessary. Costly upgrades to ports will be critical, along with undersea transmission lines, new electrical distribution networks and more.

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Monday, January 15, 2024

UPDATE: Local Emergency Declared Due to Storm Damage

Posted By on Mon, Jan 15, 2024 at 3:04 PM

Flooding at Hookton Road in Loleta. - CALTRANS DISTRICT 1 FACEBOOK
  • Caltrans District 1 Facebook
  • Flooding at Hookton Road in Loleta.

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal has declared a local emergency due to the “significant impact of floods” during this past weekend's storm, the first step toward being able to request state and federal assistance.

“Significant flooding of small creeks and streams, as well as main stem flooding of the Mad River began on Friday, Jan. 12,” a new release today states. “The extensive flooding resulted in numerous flood rescue operations, extensive damage to local infrastructure, including damage to numerous culverts, cracking, slip outs, and degradation of county-maintained roads, as well as damage to numerous private residences, businesses, and agricultural land; these impacts are exhausting and exceeding available county resources.”

Anyone who experienced damage is encouraged to work with their insurance to file claims, the release states, noting the local proclamation “does not guarantee individual or financial assistance for damages incurred during the flooding event.”

They are also asked to report damage to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services (OES) by filling out the January 2024 Flooding Damage Report form here. Those reports will be used to assess damage sustained across the county.

“Though the immediate response has subsided, Humboldt County Public Works crews are still actively engaged in conducting emergency road repairs, exploring options for alternative routes, and cleaning up storm and flood debris along public rights of way,” the release states.

Find the full release at the bottom of this post.


This weekend’s storm system dropped record amounts of rain on Saturday, pushing the Mad River to its highest levels in 60 years and closing down roadways across the county, including U.S. Highway 101 at two points, due to flooding.

How many people were displaced due to flooding, the locations of the areas worst hit and estimates for the extent of damage countywide were not immediately available from the county Office of Emergency Services but more information is expected tomorrow, according to Sheriff William Honsal.

“We are doing damage assessments right now for the lower Mad River areas,” he said in a text to the Journal. “There was damage to some homes, but mostly damage to roadways and infrastructure. We will get some preliminary numbers tomorrow and consider declaring a local emergency based upon the initial damage assessments.”

The Mad River peaked at 27.26 feet at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, with surrounding areas from Blue Lake to Tyee City and the Arcata Bottoms being inundated as a result, according to the NOAA hydrologic prediction service.

Flood stage for the Mad River is 22 feet, with 24 feet considered moderate flood stage and 28 feet major flood stage.

In a social media post, OES described it as the “most significant flooding of the Mad River since 1964.”

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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

McKinley Statue Rises Again in Canton

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2023 at 5:10 PM

Karl Rove, far left, stands next to Gov. Mike DeWine and other officials during the unveiling of the President William McKinley statue in Canton, Ohio, Oct. 21. - FACEBOOK/MIKE DEWINE
  • Facebook/Mike DeWine
  • Karl Rove, far left, stands next to Gov. Mike DeWine and other officials during the unveiling of the President William McKinley statue in Canton, Ohio, Oct. 21.
 More than four years after being taken down from the Arcata Plaza in the dead of night, the statue of President William McKinley is back on a pedestal again after an Oct. 21 unveiling ceremony in front of the Canton, Ohio, courthouse where the 25th president felled by an assassin's bullet once practiced law.

The Canton Repository reported that a number of officials — from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to political strategist and McKinley historian Karl Rove — lauded the new location and took a few digs at Arcata’s jilting of the more than 100-year-old bronze work by artist Haig Patigian.

"It's great to have the statue here from our friends in California," DeWine was quoted as saying to laughs, before going on to thank the Timken Foundation of Canton for its work in bringing the sculpture to the city.

McKinley’s return to the spotlight — and the outdoors — comes after being cloistered away by the Timken Foundation for years, basically ever since the sculpture was placed in a bed of tires in the back of a flatbed truck back in March of 2019 for the 2,600-mile trip from Arcata to Canton, McKinley’s one-time home and final resting place.

During that time, the foundation had the statue restored, with decades of patina removed and a coffee-brown wax layer applied to protect the bronze work underneath.

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Thursday, September 7, 2023

Humboldt Wildlife Center Puts Out 'Code Red' Call for Help

Posted By on Thu, Sep 7, 2023 at 12:37 PM

Baby raccoons being cared for at the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center in 2017. - FILE
  • File
  • Baby raccoons being cared for at the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center in 2017.
The Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/Bird Ally X is putting out an emergency call for help after what the nonprofit describes as one of the business wild baby seasons in its more than four decade existence, all while trying to rebuild after moving to a new location.

In an update this week, Monte Merrick, HWCC and Bird Ally X director, said the only wildlife hospital on North Coast is running critically low on funds to continue the work that gives injured and orphaned animals — from fawns and foxes to racoons, skunks and swallows — a second chance at life in the wild, describing the situation as "code red."

Serving an area from Mendocino to Oregon and east to Weaverville, just a few months after moving into the new Manila location in April, the center had taken more than 750 animals.

“I hate to say that we are desperate, but truly without support now, we won't be able to pay our bills, we won't be able to keep our lights on, we won't be able to buy the food our patients need, we won't be able to respond to calls for help for wild animals in distress,” Merrick stated, sharing several success stories from the summer, including that 20 of 24 nestling and new fledgling swallows that made their way to the center have been released to fly free while two others remain in under care.

Read more about the work of the center in the 2017 Journal cover story "Oh, Mercy" here and in a recent Get Out column here. Find out how to help here and here.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Super Blue Moon Set to Rise

Posted By on Wed, Aug 23, 2023 at 12:10 PM

The phases of the Moon for August of 2023. - NASA/JPL-CALTECH
  • NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • The phases of the Moon for August of 2023.
The second full moon set to rise in the sky Aug. 30 will not be just a “blue moon” — as the two-in-one calendar month lunar phenomena that occurs every two to three years is known. No, it’s going to be a “super blue moon.”

According to NASA, so-called blue moons — and the accompanying phrase “once in a blue moon” — come about because the moon’s lunar cycle runs just shy of a regular month.

“So, eventually a full moon will happen at the beginning of a month, with enough days left for a complete lunar cycle,” NASA’s skywatching site What’s Up states. “When that happens, we get a blue moon.”

But this month, the phenomena brings a little something extra special. It’s happening when the moon is closer to Earth — since the moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle.

“At its closest point, called perigee, it's 14 percent closer than at its farthest,” the NASA post states.”About three to four times a year, the full moon phase happens to coincide with the moon reaching perigee, and we call that event a supermoon. While it technically appears a little bit bigger (and a tad brighter) than the average full moon, the difference is not super noticeable to the eye.”
Comparison of the size of an average full moon, compared to the size of a supermoon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech - NASA/JPL-CALTECH
  • NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • Comparison of the size of an average full moon, compared to the size of a supermoon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Having a blue moon and a supermoon coincide — and hence the super blue moon — “occurs about every 10 years, on average,” according to NASA, which notes “the time between any two occurrences can vary from two months to two decades or more.”

So, here’s to clear skies for this month’s super blue moon.
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Monday, August 21, 2023

CA Officials Respond to Tropical Storm Hilary, Ojai quake and Wildfires with the Possibility of More Lightning in the Forecast

Posted By on Mon, Aug 21, 2023 at 1:35 PM

National Guard units aided in rescue efforts in Palm Springs. - OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
  • Office of the Governor
  • National Guard units aided in rescue efforts in Palm Springs.
California received a one-two punch from Mother Nature as Tropical Storm Hilary unleashed torrential record rains and flooding across Southern California, and an earthquake struck near Ojai — all during what has historically been the state’s wildfire season. The wild weekend prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to head south, declaring a storm state of emergency even before crews began struggling to respond across a wide swath of the state.

On Sunday afternoon, the tropical storm made landfall in the northern Baja California peninsula, with wind speeds over 60 miles per hour as it barreled northward across Southern California’s coastal cities and pushed inland, swamping parts of the desert in knee-deep flood waters. Though Hilary had been downgraded from a hurricane, officials early today continued urging residents not to underestimate the damage it could bring — including flash floods, mudslides, thunderstorms, strong winds and power outages. 

The storm is the “wettest tropical cyclone in state history” according to Newsom’s office, and the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years. The National Weather Service issued what it termed “life threatening” flash flood and tornado warnings, the Navy pulled its ships out of San Diego’s harbor, Death Valley National Park shut down, and public schools in Los Angeles and San Diego announced they would close today, with plans to resume classes tomorrow. 

The state deployed 7,500 personnel in Southern California — including 3,900 Highway Patrol officers and 2,000 Caltrans workers — to aid local communities, and it dispatched resources for swift water rescue teams in high-risk areas.

  • Newsom: “There’s an old ancient curse that loosely is translated to, ‘May you live in interesting times.’ It’s certainly interesting times — tornadoes, lightning strikes, I’ve got CalFire worried about wildfires…. I walked out of the Office of Emergency Services in San Bernardino, check my phone and learned about an earthquake.”

A tropical storm is a rare problem for California, particularly in August. The state has been historically protected from hurricanes because of its cold Pacific Ocean ocean currents, a wind pattern that pushes out major storms from the mainland and a downward air flow. But as The Los Angeles Times explained, “an unusual set of weather patterns” and warm ocean waters (“essentially hurricane fuel”) enabled the tropical storm to take shape. The last time California experienced a tropical cyclone was 1939, when one made landfall near Long Beach and claimed nearly 100 lives on land and at sea.

Tropical Storm Hilary serves as another watery test for Newsom. Earlier this year, when devastating floods upended thousands of Californians, the governor said the state would provide relief to victims who did not qualify for federal emergency relief, namely undocumented residents. Months after his promise of “rapid response,” his office announced $95 million in assistance for those flood victims.

How the state will handle similar cases in the wake of Tropical Storm Hilary remains a question.

Just hours after Hilary made landfall, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake rattled the Ventura County community of Ojai and its nearby region. Though no significant damage was reported, the two simultaneous events prompted internet-goers to dub Sunday a #Hurriquake.

And in a challenge more typical of California in August, on Saturday the 3,000-acre Deep Fire forced residents and resort-goers to evacuate in Trinity County, and the National Weather Service issued a warning in Eureka for elevated fire weather conditions caused by lightning strikes.

The South Fork Complex, comprising four fires and a combined 950 acres burned, with a priority on the Pilot Fire being "to prevent any runs up to the PG&E KV transmission line that supplies electricity to Eureka and surrounding communities on the coast, according to today's update.

"In some ways this is an easier fire to fight as there is no recent fire history to create snags that complicate safety issues for firefighters," the update states.

An in-person community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 6 p.m. at the Veteran’s Hall - VFW Post 9546 in Hayfork.

The Six Rivers Forest Complex, with seven fires, has burned 4,435 acres in areas of Hoopa and Orleans and closed portions of Redwood National and State Parks. 

More on the storm: Although a Fox News-televised political debate between Newsom and his conservative political foil, Ron DeSantis, looks less likely to happen, the Florida governor did reach out on Saturday.

  • DeSantis, on X (formerly known as Twitter): “In Florida, we know how challenging storms can be and have significant experience responding in their wake — we stand ready to help the people of California in any way we can.”

Newsom did not immediately respond, but Politico reported that “California officials said they appreciated the offer of support.” Governors routinely offer one another disaster assistance, of course. Yet DeSantis, running for the Republican presidential nomination, no doubt is also aware that this state is home to more than 5 million registered Republican voters (nearly a quarter of the voting populace).

(This is an abridged version of the CalMatters newsletter What Matters with additional information added by the Journal.)

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Friday, July 28, 2023

North Coast Condor Flock Spreads Its Wings

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2023 at 1:04 PM

A2 and A3, the first two condors to take flight locally in more than 100 years, interact after A3 returns to the enclosure site after a two-week absence. - YUROK TRIBE FACEBOOK
  • Yurok Tribe Facebook
  • A2 and A3, the first two condors to take flight locally in more than 100 years, interact after A3 returns to the enclosure site after a two-week absence.
Humboldt County’s eight California condors are branching out, venturing for an overnight stay on the Yurok Reservation near Blue Creek earlier this week, marking their first exploration of the lower Klamath River.

A little more than a year has passed since the first two of the endangered birds with a nearly 10-foot wingspan, known to the Yurok Tribe as prey-go-neesh, took flight into Humboldt County skies for the first time in more than a century.

Since that day in May of 2022, six additional condors have joined the flock now flying free as part of the Northern California Condor Restoration Program, a partnership between the Yurok Tribe and Redwood National and State Parks.

“Though some of the condors have visited the reservation in the past, for short periods of time, this is the first instance of birds roosting overnight on tribal lands near the river,” a social media post by the tribe states, noting where the birds were was about 20 miles from the release site in the Bald Hills area. “Though 20 miles may not seem far for a species that can fly as many as 200 miles in a day, this is a significant distance for these young birds who are still learning their new home, and without the benefit of an older established population to show them the way. As large soaring birds, condors are reliant on high winds created by mountains, river corridors, and coastal areas to maneuver across the landscape. Yurok and surrounding territories are ideal in this respect, as our complex topography provides ample condor ‘highways.’”

According to the post, the condors — which are tracked using transmitters attached to their wings — have also traveled as far south as Kneeland and as far north as the Klamath River near Weitchpec.
  • Courtesy of the Yurok Tribe
  • Condors A3 and A2.

“As the condors soar over new landscapes, they are constantly searching for food and good roosting opportunities, and becoming more familiar with wind and weather patterns within their range,” the post states. “When the birds reach breeding age, at about 5 or 6 years, these exploratory flights will also reveal potential nesting locations.”

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Thursday, June 22, 2023

Stickers Threatening Violence Against Queer People Found in Arcata Marsh

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2023 at 3:56 PM

While out on a walk at the Arcata Marsh, a concerned Journal reader found several stickers displaying homophobic slurs, threats of violence and anti-Semitic sentiment. The stickers were placed on at least five traffic signs in the area near the Arcata Marsh parking lot. The reader took the stickers down but shared photos of them with the Journal. The Arcata Police Department has not received any reports of similar vandalism.
A reader removing a threatening anti-LGBTQ+ sticker from a sign at the Arcata Marsh. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • A reader removing a threatening anti-LGBTQ+ sticker from a sign at the Arcata Marsh.

One sticker, using a homophobic slur, suggests queer people should “report to the rope,” an allusion to hanging. Another sticker depicts two adult figures shielding young figures from a rainbow, reflecting the common anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric that children should not be exposed to LGBTQ+ people or topics. Yet another sticker included an anti-Semitic message about pedophilia. The reader, who is queer themselves, feels the threat of violence against queer people should be taken seriously. They recounted times they had been called slurs on the Arcata Plaza and had glass thrown at them.

“To know there's folks around me that see me and my partner holding hands, and it makes them think I belong at the end of a hanged rope. It makes me feel unsafe, and for all the kids on the queer continuum coming to age, just trying to exist, and they're being met with prejudice. Same with other minoritized groups.”

The stickers are similar in phrasing and appearance to the ones vandals placed in a McKinleyville park in October of 2022. The stickers used an anti-transgender slur to say that trans people would “get the bat” and depicted a figure beating another with a stick.

Ollie Hancock (they/them) is a staff writer at the Journal. Reach them at (707) 442-1400, extension 317, or [email protected].

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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Happy Condorversary! Today Marks the Return of Prey-Go-Neesh to Local Skies

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2023 at 1:57 PM

Members of the first cohort sit on top of the enclosure with the new cohort  and mentor bird No. 746 inside. - COURTESY OF THE YUROK TRIBE
  • Courtesy of the Yurok Tribe
  • Members of the first cohort sit on top of the enclosure with the new cohort and mentor bird No. 746 inside.
What a difference a year makes.

On this date one year ago,  A3 and A2 took their first flights into the wild, marking the historic return of California condors to North Coast skies after a more than 130 year absence.

Now eight of the birds known to the Yurok Tribe as prey-go-neesh are flying free, with A5 "Neee'n" and A6 “Me-new-kwek'" recently spotted soaring high above Redwood Creek. The North California Condor Restoration Program reported in a post this week that all the birds are doing well.

(Read more about the Yurok Tribe-led program in the June of 2022 cover story, "Coming Home," here.)

Mentor bird No. 746, the first of the birds held sacred by the Yurok Tribe to arrive on Humboldt County soil in more than a century and the first to provide a local feather for the regalia worn by dancers during the World Renewal ceremony  since that time, remains at the Oakland Zoo.

Known as "Paaytoqin," the bird that helped teach those now riding the thermals high in the air how to be a condor was moved in December due to concerns about avian flu. An outbreak has killed 20 California condors in the Southwest flock  along the Utah and Arizona border as of April 28, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

No cases have been detected  in condors living in California or other populations of the largest bird in North America, which still teeters on the brink of extinction after decades of recovery work. The Northern California Condor Restoration Program is the latest release site to join the fold.
The mentor condor at the release enclosure's pool. - YUROK TRIBE FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Yurok Tribe Facebook page
  • The mentor condor at the release enclosure's pool.

So let's take a walk down memory lane and remember the day that prey-go-neesh returned to Yurok County skies and watch the moment caught on video.

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Friday, April 28, 2023

State Parks, Trinidad Rancheria Sign Agreement on Tribal Access to Ancestral Lands

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2023 at 12:57 PM

The signing ceremony. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The signing ceremony.
The Trinidad Rancheria and California State Parks signed an agreement this week that allows tribal members to access and gather on their ancestral lands and “recognizes that a collaborative approach will better facilitate managing and preserving cultural and natural resources in the North Coast Redwoods District,” according to a joint announcement.

The five-year memorandum of understanding was formally entered into Monday at Sumeg Village in Sue-meg State Park.

According to the announcement, the MOU also “establishes a protocol for continuing open discussions and outlines the responsibilities of State Parks and the Trinidad Rancheria to promote successful cooperation and partnership between the parties for the mutual benefit of State Parks and the Trinidad Rancheria.”

“I would like to thank State Parks for their acknowledgment of equal standing and rights for all tribes within shared ancestral territory,” Trinidad Rancheria Tribal Chair Garth Sundberg said in the release.

State Parks Director Armando Quintero said the agreement will remove barriers for Trinidad Rancheria tribal members.

“State Parks also formally acknowledges the benefits of traditional ecological knowledge in the land management of these lands and processes as we better learn how to care for and sustain the land in which we all live and love,” he said.

Under the agreement, the release states, Trinidad Rancheria and State Parks “shall develop a mutually beneficial approach for the maintenance of traditional cultural practices by providing the Trinidad Rancheria tribal members access to places within the park units and properties covered in this MOU, including sacred and spiritual places.”

“This is a small but significant step toward restoring and acknowledging the inherent relationship of the people to the land from which we come,” said Rachel Sundberg, Trinidad Rancheria Tribal Programs director and Tribal Historic Preservation officer. “For years, we have been required by the State of California to be permitted to exist in relationship with the lands of our ancestors. As the original people of this land, with the responsibility to take care of our plant relatives, many of us have rightfully refused to be permitted. We have always gathered the plants and medicines gifted to us by the wo-ge in these lands. We have done it according to the way our grandmothers taught us and their grandmothers before them, sustainably and with consideration for those who would come after us.”

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