Monday, May 2, 2022

First Condor Release Set for Tomorrow

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2022 at 4:53 PM

The Yurok Tribe is preparing for the first condor release tomorrow. - COURTESY OF THE YUROK TRIBE
  • Courtesy of the Yurok Tribe
  • The Yurok Tribe is preparing for the first condor release tomorrow.
Two California condors are slated to be released into Redwood National and State Parks tomorrow, becoming the first to soar over the North Coast in more than a century.

It's a moment the Yurok Tribe has been working toward for 15 years, with the flight not only marking the captive-born birds' first foray into the wild but a new beginning for the endangered species in the northern reaches of its historic range.

The tribe's connection with the bird they call prey-go-neesh goes back to the beginning of time, with the condor considered to be among Earth's first creatures and the one that carries their prayers to the Creator.

“For countless generations, the Yurok people have upheld a sacred responsibility to maintain balance in the natural world. Condor reintroduction is a real-life manifestation of our cultural commitment to restore and protect the planet for future generations,” said Joseph L. James, the Chair of the Yurok Tribe. “On behalf of the Yurok Tribe, I would like to thank all of the individuals, agencies and organizations that helped us prepare to welcome prey-go-neesh (condor) back to our homeland.”

But the first move is up to the condors, which will need to "voluntarily enter a designated staging area with access to the outside world," according to a release from the Yurok Tribe. "If the birds do not enter the transition zone by 4 p.m., a second attempt to release the birds will occur at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 4.

Two of the four young birds that arrived in Humboldt County back in March will be up for release first, with the others following at a later date. The release will be live streamed at www.yuroktribe.org/yurok-condor-live-feed and on the Yurok Tribe's Facebook page.

The last condor sighting on the North Coast was in 1892 after decades of decimation by settlers, who shot and poisoned the birds considered sacred in Yurok tradition.

“The loss of the condor has limited our capacity to be Yurok because prey-go-neesh is such an important part of our culture and traditions. In a very real way, restoring condor habitat and returning condor to Yurok skies is a clear restoration of the Yurok people, homeland, ecological systems, culture, and lifeway,” said Yurok Wildlife Department Director Tiana Williams-Claussen, a Yurok citizen and traditional culture bearer, who has dedicated her entire professional career to condor reintroduction.

“I have a 3-year-old-daughter. She is going to grow up with condors in her sky for her entire life. She is not going to know what it is to miss condors," Willams-Claussen said. "She will always live in relationship with condors, which is really what this project is all about — bringing condor home, back into our communities, back into our conversations, back into our households, and into the minds and hearts of our children on behalf of the hearts of our elders.”

Back in 1982, only 22 remained in a small pocket of mountainous area in Southern California. Five years later, the last of the wild condors were placed into captive breeding programs in a race against time to save the largest bird in North America.

Over the intervening years, the California Condor Recovery Program has seen many success stories, with close to 500 of the largest birds in North American now at release sites operating in California — including Big Sur and Pinnacles — as well as Arizona and Baja California, Mexico.

Now, Northern California is added to the list.

These first four condors (three are male and one is female) will be followed over the years by more releases, with the ultimate hope of creating a sustainable population that will eventually spreads its wings up into Oregon and Washington.

“We are fortunate to be able to develop our program based on an immense quantity of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and 30 years of real-world condor recovery experience from our partners within the California Condor Recovery Program," said Chris West, senior biologist and manager of the Yurok Condor Restoration Program. "We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants. For these reasons, I have no doubt that our reintroduction will serve as a gateway to bring the condor back to the Pacific Northwest.” 

Find the full release below:

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Dive Team Set to Look For Missing Fishermen

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2022 at 4:08 PM

Scott Arbaugh, 70, of Eureka, and his son Josh Arbaugh, 49, remain missing. - HCSO FACEBOOK
  • HCSO Facebook
  • Scott Arbaugh, 70, of Eureka, and his son Josh Arbaugh, 49, remain missing.
Humboldt Bay Fire's Dive Recovery and Rescue Team is preparing for a recovery dive in Humboldt Bay, looking for a father and sonwho went missing near King Salmon while boating in Humboldt Bay on Tuesday.

The team, working in conjunction with the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and California Fish and Wildlife, performed sonar scans earlier today and is currently preparing for a dive in the waters near where the men's boat was recovered Wednesday.

"We ask that community members avoid the area so that our crews can do their work," a press release states. "Even well-meaning self-initiated searchers can inadvertently have a negative effect on the search by reducing visibility and cluttering the waters. We will provide regular updates as they are available."

Scott Arbaugh and his son, Josh Arbaugh, both of Eureka, were reported missing after launching their 16-foot boat into Humboldt Bay to do some fishing. The boat was then found shortly after midnight, partially submerged, about a half-mile from King Salmon, with no sign of the men.

See the full release from Humboldt Bay Fire copied below.

The Humboldt Bay Fire Dive Rescue and Recovery Team along with the Humboldt Bay Harbor District and California Fish & Wildlife are currently continuing search efforts for the two men who went missing near King Salmon on Tuesday, April 26 based off of information received from the U.S. Coast Guard and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

The team, along with Fish & Wildlife performed sonar scans earlier today and are currently preparing for a dive in the waters near where the boat was recovered mid-day on Wednesday, April 27.

We ask that community members avoid the area so that our crews can do their work. Even well-meaning selfinitiated searchers can inadvertently have a negative effect on the search by reducing visibility and cluttering the waters. We will provide regular updates as they are available.
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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Burl Thieves Strike Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2022 at 11:35 AM

The latest damage done by burl thieves. - CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS
  • California State Parks
  • The latest damage done by burl thieves.
California State Parks rangers are asking for the public's help to identify burl thieves who recently struck in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the latest in a rash of incidents involving old growth redwood trees.

The most recent damage left a 4-foot by 3 foot by 2 foot gorge in the base of a tree.

"The redwood burl wood was poorly cut and would likely still be in multiple roughly  block pieces," a state parks release states.

According to the release, park rangers have identified a light-colored Ford F250, carrying two potential suspects, that was missing a license plate and the tail gate as the vehicle connected to this illegal cutting and others.
The suspect vehicle. - CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS
  • California State Parks
  • The suspect vehicle.

Coveted by woodworkers for crafting everything from artisan bowls to clocks and coffee tables, old growth redwood burl can draw a hefty price, but trading in pilfered wood can come with a high cost — not just for a singular tree but also the species' future.

Most commonly found at the base but sometimes occurring higher up, burl is the main way redwoods reproduce — the other being by seed — with the knotty bulbs holding genetic tissue capable of sprouting an exact replica of the parent tree, known as a "clone."

Cutting off the burls can interrupt this propagation process and leave the trees vulnerable to disease and infection.

Anyone with information is asked to call Ranger Kuhnhofer at 946-1818 or the park's tip line at 946-1816.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Wind, Rain and Snow Forecast for Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2022 at 2:56 PM

Some more weather is heading this way Wednesday morning with the arrival of strong southerly winds that are expected to stay around for most of the day.

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for southwestern, northern interior and southern interior areas of Humboldt County, with gusts up to 45 mph.

Meanwhile, more rain and higher elevation snow are also in the forecast, with the coast getting hit first around 5 a.m. before the rain moves inland.

"Steady rainfall will taper off in the afternoon, but showers will continue through Friday morning," according to the NWS.

For more information, visit www.weather.gov/eka.
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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Fish and Wildlife to Ban Crab Traps for Recreational Season

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2022 at 3:50 PM

Effective April 24 at 7 p.m., the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is prohibiting the use of crab traps for recreational catches due to an increased risk of whale entanglement.

"This restriction is being implemented because of the unusually large number of humpback whales that have migrated back to California waters earlier than in previous years and because of several recent humpback whale entanglements involving California commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear and gear of unknown origin," the CDFW announcement states. "This statewide trap restriction will help minimize risk of entanglement as humpback whales continue to return to forage in California waters during the spring and summer months."

The announcement comes one week after the CDFW made the decision to shut down the commercial season early, on April 20, for the same reasons. 

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Monday, April 11, 2022

UPDATE: Snow in the Mountains, Rain, Winds on the Coast

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2022 at 2:16 PM


The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has extended the winter weather advisory to 6 a.m. on Wednesday for interior areas of Humboldt County above 2,000 feet.

"Travel could become difficult at times over some mountain passes at Berry Summit on Highway 299, and at the Collier Tunnel on Highway 199. Chain restrictions may go into effect. Roads will likely become snow- covered and slippery," the advisory states.

The county reports that Horse Mountain has three inches of snow but "the road is open to the towers, and everyone is to carry chains."

Bald Hills Road, meanwhile, has 2 inches, the county reports,  noting that the road is clear and carrying chain is also required.


Enjoy the sun today because the forecast calls for rain and snow.

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for interior areas of Humboldt County starting at midnight tonight, with snow expected above 2,000 feet.

Running through 6 a.m. Tuesday, 2 to 7 inches of snow is forecast to fall, with "higher totals possible in remote backwoods areas," the advisory states, accompanied by "winds gusting as high as 45 mph."

"Travel could be very difficult to impossible," the winter weather advisory states. "The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute."

Meanwhile, coastal areas will see rainy days the rest of the week, including a possible thunderstorm Monday, with some breezy to windy conditions.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

North Coast's Commercial Dungeness Season Closing Due to Entanglement Risk

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2022 at 3:41 PM

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is closing the commercial Dungeness crab season statewide due to "assessed entanglement risk," with the North Coast season now ending on April 20 at noon.

“We received reports of additional humpback whale entanglements and moved quickly to close the fishery to protect migrating humpback whales that are just starting to return to California waters,” Director Charlton Bonham in a news release today. “While this poses an economic impact on certain sectors of our coastal fishing communities, it is important to protect both whales and the long-term viability of the commercial fishery. We will be working with the fishing fleet, researchers and other agencies to better understand these recent entanglement events and find ways to mitigate this risk in future seasons.” 

Closures in areas from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line to the border with Mexico are starting earlier.

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'Kevin' the Baby Seal Has a Name and New Home, For Now

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2022 at 1:34 PM

"Kevin" the seal is being rehabilitated at the North Coast Marine Mammal Center. - EUREKA POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Eureka Police Department
  • "Kevin" the seal is being rehabilitated at the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.
The baby seal rescued by Eureka Police Department officers who responded to a report of a couple taking the pup from near the Samoa Bridge, putting it into an aquarium and driving away has a new name: Kevin.

The young one is under the care of the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, which reports the nonprofit "will raise him until he is old enough and eating fish on his own and then he will be released back into the wild."

Kevin's rehabilitation can be followed on the center's Facebook page.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, the center emphasized that "this, folks, is why you do NOT touch seal pups!!" and if a person is concerned that an animal is hurt or abandoned, they can call the center's stranding line at (707) 951-4722.

Marine mammals, like seal pups, whales and dolphins, are federally protected, with touching or harassing one punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and jail time. During pupping season, mothers will often leave the baby seals on the beach while feeding but know exactly where to find them, the FB post states. However, having dogs off leash or standing too close to a pup will stop the mothers from returning.

Whatever the motivation, the people who took Kevin away from the place where his mother left him in safety has separated a wildlife family.

"We now have a perfectly healthy pup who is orphaned and in our care, that should still be out in the wild with mom," the center's states.

To find out more about the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center and how to help fund the rescue and rehabilitation of animals like Kevin, visit the nonprofits website by clicking here

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Report to California Legislature: Prepare for Devastating Effects of Climate Change

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2022 at 10:43 AM

Wildfire smoke turned Humboldt County skies orange throughout the day in September of 2020. These pictures are from around 9:30 a.m. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Wildfire smoke turned Humboldt County skies orange throughout the day in September of 2020. These pictures are from around 9:30 a.m.
Painting alarming scenes of fires, floods and economic disruption, the California Legislature’s advisors on Tuesday released a series of reports that lay out in stark terms the impacts of climate change across the state.

The typically reserved, nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office outlined dire consequences for Californians as climate change continues to alter most aspects of daily life. Much of the focus of the six-part series is detailing the economic cost as the changing climate alters where and how Californians build, grow food and protect the most vulnerable residents. 

  • Wildfires, heat and floods will force more frequent school closures, disrupting education, child care and availability of free school lunches. More than 1,600 schools temporarily closed because of wildfires each year between 2017 and 2020, affecting nearly a million students a year.
  • Outdoor workers — 10 percent of California’s workforce and mostly Latino — will continue to bear the brunt of extreme heat and smoke.
  • Wildfire smoke may have killed about 20 people per 100,000 adults older than 65 in 2020, and is projected to become more deadly. Just a 50 percent increase in smoke could cause the deaths of nine to 20 additional people among every 100,000 older residents exposed each year.
  • Housing, rail lines, bridges, power plants and other structures are vulnerable to rising seas and tides. “Between $8 billion and $10 billion of existing property in California is likely to be underwater by 2050, with an additional $6 billion to $10 billion at risk during high tide.”
  • Extreme heat is projected to cause nine deaths per 100,000 people each year, “roughly equivalent to the 2019 annual mortality rate from automobile accidents in California.”
  • Lower-income Californians, who live in communities at greater risk for heat and floods because of discriminatory housing practices, will be hit especially hard by climate change and have fewer resources to adapt.
  • Housing will be lost: For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area alone, 13,000 existing housing units and 104,000 job spaces “will no longer be usable” because of sea rise over the next next 40 to 100 years.
  • Beaches will disappear, too: Up to two-thirds of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded by 2100.

The report’s unsaid but unambiguous conclusion: Climate change could alter everything, spare no one in California, so legislators should consider preparing for sweeping impacts.

“These hazards will threaten public health, safety, and well-being — including from life-threatening events, damage to public and private property and infrastructure, and impaired natural resources,” the reports say.

Scientists say it’s not too late to stop the most severe effects, although the clock is ticking. Technologies and other solutions already exist to reduce greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and other sources and prevent more irreversible harm, according to a landmark international scientific report released Monday. But international accords and plans continue to fall far short, with emissions expected to keep increasing

“These hazards will threaten public health, safety, and well-being — including from life-threatening events, damage to property and infrastructure, and impaired natural resources.”

Legislative Analyst’s Office report

California’s legislative analysts did not conduct new research; instead, they compiled existing data and projections, providing a comprehensive clearinghouse for legislators as they enact policies and approve budgets.

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, a Democrat from Fremont and chair of the budget subcommittee on resources, environmental protection and energy, said he plans to turn to the reports as references and rationale for the subcommittee’s budget proposals. 

“It’s impressive,” he said. “(It) turns the climate conversation into an all-hands-on-deck versus, ‘Oh, this is just some tree hugger over here.’” 

The analysts make no explicit policy recommendations but they advise legislators to consider such questions as: How can the state avoid exacerbating climate impacts? How can lawmakers protect the most vulnerable Californians? And how should California pay to prepare and respond to climate change? 

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat from South Gate, asked the Legislative Analyst’s Office to assess the impacts of climate change on a variety of policy sectors, and the reports grew from there. They frame climate change as a complex, multi-disciplinary problem that requires response from all of the state’s agencies.

Project manager Rachel Ehlers said the aim is to assist lawmakers incorporate climate change into decisions outside of traditionally environmental realms, including housing, health and education. For instance, would a new housing policy “have the potential to inadvertently worsen climate change impacts?” she said.

Last year’s budget package reflected the overarching scope of the problem, proposing to spend $9.3 billion over three years to bolster the state’s responses to drought, floods, fire and sea level rise. 

Despite the state’s climate-forward reputation, critics and many legislators note that California’s follow-through has been inconsistent.

The reports come in the lead-up to California Gov. Gavin’s Newsom’s May revision to his January budget blueprint, when the administration can reframe and update its proposals. Thus far, the proposed budget included more than $22 billion for climate change efforts that include protecting communities against wildfires and extreme heat. 

Despite the state’s climate-forward reputation, critics and many legislators note that California’s follow-through has been inconsistent.

“I don’t at all feel that we are leading the world anymore,” Rendon, a Democrat from South Gate, told CalMatters last year. 

Despite the passage of a $15 billion climate budget, California Environmental Voters, an advocacy group, gave the state its first “D” grade for what it called its climate inaction last year. 

“We’re plagued by ‘climate delayers’ in Sacramento – members of the Legislature who talk about climate change but don’t back up those words with action,” CEO Mary Creasman wrote in a CalMatters commentary

Last month, a coalition of California’s environmental justice advocacy organizations pushed for a phase-out of fossil fuels, and warned that clean air regulators have failed to adequately consider public health in crafting the state’s blueprint for curbing greenhouse gas pollution. 

California is already reeling from climate change

The analysis made clear that many of the worst consequences are already here, even as it noted that future impacts are coming sooner and may be worse than scientists had predicted.

Summer temperatures scorched records as the state’s second-largest wildfire tore across Northern California during the third-driest year on record for rain and snowfall. California must brace for yet more climate hazards, the reports warn, from extreme heat to more severe wildfires, whiplash from drought to flood and sea level rise along the coast. 

Drought clutches California and a statewide heat wave forecast for Wednesday is poised to sap the remaining snowpack that supplies about a third of the state’s water. California’s firefighting arm warns that a record-dry start to the year could spell a devastating fire season ahead.

It’s a disaster drumbeat Californians have heard many times before. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has released report after report assessing the state’s climate policies and spending. It has warned that sea level rise will submerge billions of dollars in homes, roads and businesses by 2050, and that the state must accelerate planning to protect state assets including college campuses, prisons and even state workers from soaring heat, flooding, fire and extreme weather.

Newsom’s administration launched a preemptive response to the reports, with the Monday release of its updated climate adaptation strategy. The guidelines pull together plans from 38 departments and address priority issues, such as protecting communities vulnerable to climate change and combating risks to health and safety. 

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the strategy is “a matter of protecting our residents and our communities or natural places from climate threats that are already here.” 

State officials regularly recalibrate the official response to climate change, often in response to dire reports. Four years ago, California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment released under former Gov. Jerry Brown warned that climate change would lead to death and property damage on the order of tens of billions of dollars by 2050. 

Though the reports were focused largely on how California must adapt to the ravages of climate change, the Legislative Analyst’s Office has also warned repeatedly that California’s landmark greenhouse gas market, cap and trade, will fail to meet California’s goals to reduce emissions

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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Eureka Police Save Baby Seal Being Taken Away in Car (with Video)

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2022 at 1:08 PM

The baby seal. - EPD
  • EPD
  • The baby seal.
Eureka Police Department officers saved a baby seal from a couple who took the pup from an area near the Samoa Bridge, put it into an aquarium in their car and were attempting to drive away.

A person who witnessed the incident called police, who were able to locate the car and bring the seal to safety. It is now in the care of the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.

The couple, who were not identified, was detained and the case is being investigated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. They face civil fines of up to $11,000, a year in jail and the forefeit of their vehicle.
This time of year, wildlife mothers, such as deer and seals, often leave their young in a safe spot while they go to feed, including local beaches and mudflats on Humboldt Bay.

"Many people assume the newborn seal is abandoned, but that is rarely the case," the EPD release states. "The best thing to do is keep your distance and leave the animal alone. The mother will return. If people think the animal is in fact abandoned or hurt, they should not approach or touch it and call the North Coast Marine Mammal Center at 707-951-4722."

The EPD gave a special thanks to the witness who called in the incident and provided descriptions of the couple and their car.

Read the EPD release below:

On Saturday we responded to the area of the Samoa Bridge after a caller reported witnessing a couple take a seal pup from the bay and put it in an aquarium in their vehicle. Officers quickly stopped the vehicle and rescued the seal pup. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the North Coast Marine Mammal Center responded to take over the investigation and care for the seal pup.

CDFW says this is the time of year many wildlife species from seals to deer leave their young unattended in safe areas, sometime hidden, while the mother leaves to feed. With seals, this commonly means on a mudflat in Humboldt Bay. Many people assume the newborn seal is abandoned, but that is rarely the case. The best thing to do is keep your distance and leave the animal alone. The mother will return. If people think the animal is in fact abandoned or hurt, they should not approach or touch it and call the North Coast Marine Mammal Center at 707-951-4722.

The occupants of the vehicle were detained and the investigation by CDFW is ongoing. Marine mammals are protected federally by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is unlawful to feed or harass wild marine mammals including dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals and sea lions. If prosecuted, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement could enforce civil penalties up to 11,000, up to 1 year in prison plus criminal fines, and forfeiture of the vessel involved. The public is instructed by NOAA to keep at least 50 yards (150 feet) away from seals. State laws also protect marine mammals and violators can be charged criminally with a misdemeanor.

Thank you to the alert witness who called this in and provided a detailed description of suspects and vehicle!
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