Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Today's Temps Another One for the Record Books

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 3:08 PM

Well, this summer’s record list just got a little bit longer today, with the National Weather Service reporting that the temperature at the Woodley Island office hit 78 degrees just after 1 p.m. today, taking away another title.

So far this summer, the coast has broken a few records, including the June 11 heatwave where the mercury hit 85 degrees — taking the hottest day ever in June since records began title — and Aug. 13 when another daily record was set at 71 degrees.

Editor's note: A previous version incorrectly stated a famous event that took place on the previous record holding date.
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North Coast Night Lights: Metal Beast and Stardust Skies

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 12:07 PM

  • David Wilson
Late one night along a dirt road in the hills in the middle of nowhere in southern Humboldt County, California, a couple of guys rendezvoused to photograph an old metal beast crouching in the dirt beneath the stardust skies of the cosmic realm through which we float, as a species almost completely unaware of the larger significance of our tiny insignificance. I was one of them, and my friend Kris was the other.

The opaque blue sky ceiling of daytime shutters our eyes to the space in which Earth floats, and insulates us against thoughts of our minute scale in the vast scheme of things. But at night our vision punches through the blue dome and we see the magnificence of the greater cosmos in which our little dustball drifts. Most of our waking lives we don’t even see the stars, let alone consider our place among them.

Growing up under the dark skies of a rural area allowed me to enjoy the heavens whenever it was clear. If ever I forget how precious that gift is, when I take folks who are coming from the city out to enjoy our relatively dark skies, their oohs and ahhs remind me how awe inspiring the sight of a sky full of glittering stars truly is. If your mind can grasp it, you will see how tiny we are and how large the rest of the Universe is — whereby “we” I mean all of humanity on Earth, not just you and a few pals. “We” are all together on this little ball drifting through the cosmos. Compared to the rest of it, Earth is smaller than a bit of dust from a crushed grain of sand out there, and all of us scurrying around on it are as the smallest of sub-sub-microscopic organisms. We are a serious lot for being so tiny.
My friend Kris photographed the old Grader sitting beside a dirt road in the hills of rural Southern Humboldt County, California. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • My friend Kris photographed the old Grader sitting beside a dirt road in the hills of rural Southern Humboldt County, California.
Rural life also gave me respect for private property and a skepticism for the rural roads shown on maps. Long before my family’s time there, a stagecoach used to run right though our property, even using the old house that was there as a stop, and continue to either Piercy on the South Fork Eel River or west toward the coast. Traveling in a westerly direction from what would become our place, the road followed Indian Creek up past the old logging ghost town of Moody to the Whitethorn Road and Usal Road, and from there one could go down to Bear Harbor, or north to Shelter Cove. The Usal Road even connected with U.S. Highway 1 to the south. Long after the stages had ceased to run automobiles continued to use the road.

That was a lot of access out the little road, but the through access had closed down by some time in the mid-20th century, before my time. We landed on the property in the 1970s, and all of the connections through it to Piercy and the coast had long since been obliterated, lost to private property and timberland crisscrossed with logging and skid roads. But from town out to our place the road remained intact. It was still the same dirt road that used to run north-south through there so many years before our arrival, only now we were at the end of the line. Beyond us was logging and ranching land with different lines of access.
A meteor streaked over the old Grader as I photographed. The bright star next to the meteor’s tail is the planet Saturn. Jupiter is the largest, brightest point in the sky just above the grader’s roof. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • A meteor streaked over the old Grader as I photographed. The bright star next to the meteor’s tail is the planet Saturn. Jupiter is the largest, brightest point in the sky just above the grader’s roof.

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Local Officials Warn Against Cannabis Use During Pregnancy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 10:33 AM


Officials from the local group Perinatal Substance Use Disorder Project presented research on the risks of cannabis use during pregnancy to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The group — which started meeting in 2016 to examine the high rates of perinatal substance use in the county — informed the board that research shows cannabis use during pregnancy can increase the risk of low birth weight and affect a baby’s brain development. The group also posed “a resolution stressing the importance of women who are pregnant, contemplating pregnancy or breast feeding to avoid using cannabis.

“With the legalization of cannabis for adult use, the conversation about recommendations for the use of cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding has been emphasized statewide. Without research-based messaging, women are relying on their peers and CBD or cannabis businesses for information.” DHHS Public Health Director Michele Stephens said in a release from the Department of Human Health and Services. 

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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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Newsom Signs Landmark Police Use-of-Force Bill

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:25 PM

California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed today that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento.

Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events.

The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisis intervention methods.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill. - PHOTO BY DAN MORAIN, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Dan Morain, CalMatters
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill.

“I would hope that if AB 392 had been law last year, that our family would not have to be mourning Christopher’s first angelversary today,” Barbara Okamoto said in a statement.

Her grandson, Christopher Okamoto, was killed in Bakersfield last Aug. 19, when police responded to a domestic violence call. He had a pellet gun.

The law reflects a compromise between civil-rights advocates who want to limit when police can shoot and law enforcement groups who said earlier versions of the bill would have put officers in danger.

Under the new law, which takes effect January 1, police may use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.”

That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says officers can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.” One of the most significant changes will allow prosecutors to consider officers’ actions leading up to a shooting when deciding whether deadly force is justified.

“This will make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who carried the legislation.

The law doesn’t go as far as civil libertarians originally proposed and will likely leave it to courts to define what a “necessary” use of force is in future cases. The negotiations led a few early supporters, including the group Black Lives Matter, to drop their support and major statewide law-enforcement organizations to drop their opposition. After a year of contentious testimony over how to reduce police shootings, the final version of the bill sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

UPDATE: Missing Humboldt Hiker Found Dead After Massive Search Effort

Posted By and on Sun, Aug 18, 2019 at 5:17 PM

A massive search effort for a missing hiker ended today after rescuers recovered his body in a remote wilderness area near Mirror Lake in the Trinity Alps.

According to the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, the body of Daniel Komins, an EMT and volunteer with Blue Lake Fire, was located after a California Highway Patrol helicopter crew spotted what appeared to be a backpack and 
Daniel Komins sent this photo to his girlfriend Sunday from the top of Thompson Peak in northern Trinity County. The last time he was seen was Monday morning as he headed to L Lake. - TRINITY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Trinity County Sheriff's Office
  • Daniel Komins sent this photo to his girlfriend Sunday from the top of Thompson Peak in northern Trinity County. The last time he was seen was Monday morning as he headed to L Lake.
search efforts narrowed in on the area.

Komins, 34, was an experienced hiker. He was reported missing when he did not return home as planned on Aug. 14.

In a Facebook message, Blue Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ray Stonebarger thanked the rescue teams who searched for Komins as well as those who spread the word he was missing on social media and donated to the search efforts.

“For all of us that knew Daniel, we were blessed. For those that never had the pleasure, I’m sorry that you didn’t get that opportunity,” he wrote. “He really did put a smile on your face. Let’s keep his family and friends tight in our arms and guide them through these coming days.

According to the release, a preliminary investigation indicates that he “may have fallen in the steep and rocky terrain.”

“Although this was not the outcome that was wanted, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office as well as family members of Komins, wanted to thank the Search and Rescue members as well as all other volunteers, for assisting in bringing Daniel Komins home,” the release states.
Read the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office release below:

The Search and Rescue efforts pertaining to Daniel Komins continued throughout the day of August 18, 2019.

The twelve Search and Rescue teams, referenced in previous press releases, began searching their respective areas around first light.

During the late morning, a California Highway Patrol helicopter observed what appeared to be a backpack. The backpack had been off trail, between L Lake and Mirror Lake.

Ground search teams, who were already near the area, went to the location of the backpack in an effort to recover it. The backpack was recovered and later determined to have belonged to Komins.

Search and Rescue members continued to search the area near the backpack, and later located Komins, who was deceased.

Komins’ remains were flown from the area via helicopter.

A preliminary investigation appears to indicate that Komins may have fallen in the steep and rocky terrain.

Although this was not the outcome that was wanted, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office as well as family members of Komins, wanted to thank the Search and Rescue members as well as all other volunteers, for assisting in bringing Daniel Komins home.

Once additional information is obtained, further press releases shall be issued.

Persons of Interest:
Daniel Komins, Date of Birth: April 12, 1985

Agencies involved:
Trinity County Sheriff’s Office
Trinity County Search and Rescue
Trinity County Sheriff’s Auxiliary
Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit
Butte County Search and Rescue
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
California Highway Patrol
California National Guard
Contra Costa County Search and Rescue
Marin County Search and Rescue
Civil Air Patrol
Shasta County Search and Rescue
United States Forest Service
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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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Gist Hall Re-Opens After Asbestos Shutdown

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 1:12 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
After a presence of disturbed asbestos found in a “space used to help circulate air” closed down Gist Hall in May, Humboldt State University has announced the building reopened this week.

Right before the spring semester ended, HSU closed down the building to test for traces of asbestos. Tests later confirmed no asbestos fibers were found in the air but some materials did contain asbestos, leading the school to close down the building.

Throughout the summer, the school worked with an outside firm to clean the building and hired a contractor to remove the “disturbed material” before the fall semester. The school passed the final air clearance test and has reopened the building.

Gist Hall’s reopening will be celebrated Thursday, Aug. 15, with light refreshments, a release states. Classes resume Aug. 26.

Read the full press release below:
After final air clearance test results showed that no asbestos fibers were detected in the air, Gist Hall re-opened as scheduled on Monday, August 12 at 8 a.m.

HSU will celebrate the re-opening on Thursday, August 15 in the lobby of Gist Hall starting at 8:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.

On May 10, Gist Hall was shut down out of an abundance of caution following the discovery of the possible presence of disturbed asbestos. The disturbed material was found during a check of the building’s systems following reports of heating issues. It was discovered in a plenum — a space used to help circulate air — behind an access panel on the second floor.

After an extensive evaluation, the building was closed that day to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. Classes were relocated, all activities were suspended, and the campus community was notified. Various tests conducted over the next few weeks showed: No asbestos fibers were in the air.

The material presumed to be disturbed asbestos contained some asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers were not present in similar loose material that had been found in various areas of the building. Contractors removed the disturbed asbestos and the University passed the required final air clearance test.
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Eureka Hit a Record High on Tuesday

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 11:25 AM

If you were wondering, the coast did set a record temperature for the day yesterday at 71. That bested the 2003 high of 70, according the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

Of course that’s nothing in comparison to the what-the-heck highs of early June, when the 11th saw Eureka hit a scorching 85 degrees, a tie for the month’s record, followed by another record the next day when Woodley Island hit 71 by 9 a.m.

The normal temperature for the day was 64 and last year the high was 59.

If another record is to be set or hit today on the coast, temps will need to reach 74 on the coast. The forecast for Eureka is a high of 72 but inland the mercury is expected to soar, with Garberville looking at 95 degrees and Hoopa at 97.

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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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