Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ruling Puts Martens Up For Endangered Species Reconsideration

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 2:06 PM

A young coastal marten. - COURTESY OF EPIC
  • Courtesy of EPIC
  • A young coastal marten.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will likely need to revisit providing endangered species protections to the coastal marten after a federal court judge today overturned the agency’s decision not to list the small woodland creature.

The Environmental Protection Information Center and the Center for Biological Diversity had sued the service after the latter unsuccessfully petitioned for the protections back in 2010.

Once thought to be extinct, the cat-like animals — also known as the Humboldt or Pacific marten — were rediscovered in 1996 after years of pelt hunting and timber logging decimated the old growth forest denizens' numbers.

“The magic of the Endangered Species Act is that it puts scientific facts over political games,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “No amount of spin will change the fact that coastal martens are already gone from over 80 percent of their historic range and at serious risk of extinction unless the Fish and Wildlife Service steps up."

Read the full press release from EPIC:
In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Environmental Protection Information Center, a federal judge today overturned an April 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denying endangered species protection to coastal martens.

Coastal martens were believed extinct until 1996 because of historic fur trapping and loss of their old-growth forest habitats, but are now known to occur in three small, isolated populations in California and Oregon. The groups were represented by the public-interest law firm Earthjustice.

“We’re thrilled the elusive coastal marten is back on track to getting the endangered species protection it so badly needs,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science is clear that these fascinating and beautiful animals have been reduced to small, isolated populations and face a host of threats that place them at risk of extinction.”

Small carnivores related to minks and otters, coastal martens are found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon. Once extensively trapped for their fur, the cat-like animals were once common; now fewer than 100 of them survive in California, while an unknown but very small number are still found in Oregon.

“The magic of the Endangered Species Act is that it puts scientific facts over political games,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “No amount of spin will change the fact that coastal martens are already gone from over 80 percent of their historic range and at serious risk of extinction unless the Fish and Wildlife Service steps up."

The martens’ historic range extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. Humboldt martens were rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. Since then researchers have continued to detect martens using track plates and hair snares. In 2009 a marten was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera, the first to be photographed in recent times. Martens are typically 2 feet long and have large triangular ears and a long tail; they eat small mammals, berries and birds and are eaten by larger mammals and raptors.

“This decision is a win for science and common sense,” said Rob DiPerna, California forest and wildlife advocate at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “We thought we'd lost the marten due to bad human decision-making once before, and we could not stand by and watch that happen again.”


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Deputy Public Defenders Tell Supes New Boss is 'Unqualified'

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
  • Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
In an unprecedented move, all nine Humboldt County deputy public defenders sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors on Friday urging it to reconsider the recent hiring of their boss, Public Defender David Marcus.

“We, the undersigned, write this letter to express our belief that David Marcus is not qualified for the position of Humboldt County Public Defender,” the letter states, going on to contend that Marcus’ lack of experience and expertise “not only jeopardizes the rights of our clients to the effective assistance of counsel, but puts staff at risk of unhealthy and unethical work conditions.”

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Seven Apply to Fill Wheetley's Council Seat

Posted By on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 1:23 PM

Wheetley - CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
Seven hopefuls met Friday's deadline to apply for the Arcata City Council seat left vacant when longtime member Mark Wheetley stepped down earlier this month to become Fortuna's city manager.

The council voted March 1 to move forward with the application process recommended by staff to fill the remainder of Wheetley’s term, which runs through 2018.

Those up for consideration include three Arcata planning commissioners — Jason Akana, Robin Baker and Judith Mayer — as well as educator Michael J. Hart, Minor Theatre owner Joshua Neff, former councilmember Alexandra Stillman and small business owner Brett Watson.

According to the city, a candidate forum is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 13 in the Arcata City Council Chamber.

The council is tentatively scheduled to select Wheetley’s replacement at its April 19 meeting.
Each of the candidate's statements are available on the city’s website.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

HumBug: Come Closer, Said the Fly to the Fly

Posted By on Sun, Mar 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM

A jumping spider preying on a fly. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A jumping spider preying on a fly.
Recently, scientists have calculated that spiders devour between 400 and 800 million tons of insects annually. Right now in my yard, though, on the fence where the white clematis chokes out everything else, there is a massacre going on and spiders are not the center stage players. Golden haired dung flies are chasing and eating flower flies and anything else that moves. Dagger flies (named for their long piercing mouthparts) perch, waiting for some hapless meal on wings to fly into range. Meanwhile, much smaller flies hunt things even smaller than themselves. With mind numbing consistency, I see predatory flies eating other flies.
A dung fly feeding on a larger fly. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A dung fly feeding on a larger fly.

I think the mass of gleaming white flowers beckons to nectar and pollen feeders which are in turn followed by their predators. Like the spiders that hunt them, raptoral flies inject paralyzing venom and digestive juices, making it easy to sip their prey's predigested innards through hollow mouthparts. Many of them can wield this weapon defensively as well as offensively, so it is best to handle them with care.
The first "zombie" fly of the season. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The first "zombie" fly of the season.
Life for the hunters isn't all gravy, though. Today I saw my first “zombie dung fly” of the season. Attacked by a fungus, probably related to Entomophthora muscae, the infected fly migrates to a high blade of grass, lands, locks up and dies. In a day or two you can see the fungus protruding from between the cracks in its victim's exoskeleton so it can release spores to invade another generation of flies.



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TL;DR: The Innovate Business Challenge

Posted By on Sun, Mar 26, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Anna at her stand in 2014. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Anna at her stand in 2014.

Happy Sunday! Too busy to read all of this week’s story about Humboldt County Office of Education’s Innovate Business Challenge? We get it. Here’s the elevator pitch: Since 2010, local high school students have been competing to win up to $8,000 in cash and prizes for their small business plans. They are mentored along the way by successful local entrepreneurs, who help craft their ideas around costs and marketing before the final five competitors go before a Shark Tank-style panel of judges. Past winning ideas include a pencil eraser that doubles as a stylus, a 3D printing program, cruelty-free veal and a clothing company. Check out the full article here, or just enjoy this bonus interview with one past winner, Ferndale High School graduate Anna Gomes.

North Coast Journal: So, Anna, what are you doing these days?

Anna Gomes: I’m getting adjusted to my new classes, I’m in my third year at U.C. Davis, majoring in agricultural and environmental education.


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Kids are More Than Alright

Posted By on Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 2:04 PM

cover.jpg
The Humboldt State University Department of Journalism and Mass Communication just found out a story its investigative reporting students authored for the Journal placed in the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards for Region 11, meaning it was one of the best pieces of student journalism published in California, Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada last year.

The piece, “Homeless State University,” was the JournaI’s Dec. 9 cover story and the culmination of a semester’s worth of work for department chair and NCJ columnist Marcy Burstiner’s investigative reporting class. It explored how Humboldt’s housing crunch impacts students, leaving some homeless while trying to get their education.

If we do say so ourselves, the piece was fantastic and worthy of some regional — and national — recognition. If you haven’t read it already, we encourage you to go back and read the piece and wish the students well. If they finish first in the April regionals in San Diego, they’ll move on to nationals.

No matter how they finish, we’ll take this opportunity to again thank Burstiner and students Sam Armanino (our current rockstar editorial intern), Alexander Badger, Andrew Butler, Brian Cohen, Jessica Ernst, Sarah Fasi, Jonathan Gomez, Ashley Groze, Caitlyn Kaifer, Jen Kelly, Christian Lara, Roxana Moreno, Geneva Peppars, Vanessa Rodriguez and Esther Trevizo for their outstanding work.



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In 'Crisis,' Yuroks Suspend Commercial Salmon Season

Posted By on Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 12:01 PM

The Yurok Tribe's allotment of Chinook salmon this year equals about one fish for every 10 tribal members. - FILE
  • FILE
  • The Yurok Tribe's allotment of Chinook salmon this year equals about one fish for every 10 tribal members.

For the second year in a row, the Yurok Tribe will not have a commercial fishery — a devastating blow to the tribe’s culture and economy.

“We are in crisis mode,” said Yurok Tribal Chair Thomas O’Rourke in a press release that lamented poor conditions on the Klamath River that have led to historically low salmon returns. “The Klamath is our grocery store, our church and our main highway. It’s our lifeline. We will leave no stone unturned in search of additional short-term and long-term solutions to address the most terrible fisheries disaster in the Tribe’s history.”

The release comes after the Pacific Fisheries Management Council released its predicted Chinook salmon returns for 2017 at 11,000 fish — the lowest on record — and the tribe’s fish harvest allocation at 650 fish, or one for every 10 tribal members. The predicted return comes after two years of disease outbreaks in juvenile fish due to low flows and elevated water temperatures in the Klamath River.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Huffman Celebrates Failure of TrumpCare

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 3:41 PM

Huffman - FILE
  • File
  • Huffman
Rep. Jared Huffman issued a press release this afternoon in response to the failure of Republicans to bring the so-called "TrumpCare" bill to a vote. President Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of repealing the Affordable Care Act, indicated today that he would consider drafting a new bill once the ACA "explodes." The Republican healthcare replacement plan was predicted to cost millions of people their health insurance. Huffman, a vocal and vigorous critic of the Trump administration, said the collapse of the plan represented a "tremendous victory." Read his full statement below.


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Updated: Victim in Fatal Crash Near Westhaven ID'd

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 11:31 AM

chp-patch.gif
The California Highway Patrol reports that intoxication was a factor in last night's traffic death of 25-year old Glen A. Roe Jr. The Orick man was in the passenger seat of a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 101 just past Westhaven when the driver, Victor Herrera, of McKinleyville, "failed to negotiate" a downhill curve and left the road, ending up in a creek. His passenger was trapped and sustained fatal injuries. After being treated at
St. Joseph Hospital, Herrera was booked into custody by the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.

This is the 13th road death of 2017.


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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eureka Rotary, Volunteers Go Rogue, Clean up Problem House

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 10:39 AM

Before the cleanup. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Before the cleanup.
After a day's work. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • After a day's work.













What a difference a day, a backhoe and 10 volunteers can make.

A couple of weekends ago, the Rotary Club of Eureka organized a cleanup of a long troublesome property on the corner of Summer and Del Norte streets. The place was a mess. A junk car sat in the driveway, almost consumed by piles of trash and debris, including an old stove, furniture, clothes and even a few hypodermic syringes.

The place has been vacant, save for one tenant is in the process of being evicted and some squatters, and some neighbors have reportedly taken to dumping trash in its front and back yards. The property itself is a foreclosure owned by Nationstar Mortgage, a Texas company with a portfolio of more than $400 billion in properties.

The city of Eureka is currently fining Nationstar $1,000 a day for code violations on the property. The tab is up to almost $100,000, according to Deputy Public Works Director Brian Issa.

“We started fining them as soon as the bank took over (ownership),” Issa said. “It’s very difficult to get these big banks to do something and I don’t like to spend taxpayer money cleaning up their messes. That being the case, I prefer just to fine them to the hilt … I have to admit, I get a little bit of a warm fuzzy out of it.”

Issa said the place on Summer and Del Norte is emblematic of a larger issue, which is that at any given time, there seems to be some property in Eureka owned by a national bank that is left unattended and winds up being a magnet for squatters and illegal dumpers. The city can procure a warrant and send in a crew to clean these properties up, Issa said, but it’s an expensive process (around $10,000) that demands a lot of staff time.

And, generally, Issa said that because the properties are vacant and unattended, they don’t stay clean for very long. Plus, Issa said he has a philosophical problem with spending taxpayer dollars to clean up a bank’s mess. Instead, the city opts for the $1,000 per day fines, which add up quickly.

“If they’re not going to take care of problems that they have all the resources in the world to do,
we’re going to soak them a little bit,” Issa said. “We’re going to make it hurt.”

Ultimately, Issa said the money collected from these fines — typically more than $100,000 a year — goes to other targeted enforcement actions by the department that it believes will have a more lasting impact.

But Issa said he realizes these properties have an immediate impact on those who live around them, which he said makes the recent Rotary volunteer day so welcome. The volunteers were able to do something that would have been much more difficult — and expensive — for the city to take on.

“Technically, what they did is not legal,” Issa said. “Technically, they trespassed. We can’t do that. But kudos to them. They took on a neighborhood problem and addressed it.”

Rotary Club of Eureka President Matthew Owen said about 10 people turned out for the cleanup event, including his wife and Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass. He said the local McDonalds provided breakfast for the volunteers, Pierson Company donated a backhoe and operator for the effort, and Humboldt Recology donated a large Dumpster to haul away the trash.

When people stopped by while the crew was working to ask what they were doing or thank them, Owen said he tried to stress that this is something any neighborhood group can do. He also said he spent some time later that week knocking on doors in the area and encouraging people to take ownership of their neighborhoods and get involved.

He said he was disappointed to drive by a few days later only to see trash again accumulating on the property. For his part, Issa urged anyone with a problem house in their neighborhood to call the building department at 441-4155 or its inspection request line at 441-4043. And he said people shouldn’t delay, as these houses can “spiral out of control quickly.”

Other folks looking to get involved with cleaning up Eureka can participate in a citywide cleanup from noon to 1:30 p.m. on March 25. The group will be gathering in the McDonalds/Park City parking lot near the Bayshore Mall and dispersing from there. McDonalds will provide free lunch to those who participate.

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