EcoNews Vol. 45, No. 4 - Aug/Sep 2015

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EcoNews Vol. 45, No. 4 - Aug/Sep 2015

 
 

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- In This Issue -

 

 

Regulars:

News From the Center

Shore Lines: Coastal Programs Update

Kin to the Earth • (This feature will return with the Oct/Nov issue)

Eye on Washington

EcoMania 

Creature Feature • Bobcats

Kids Page • Tick Talk

The Backpage Fundo • Corpulent Canines

 

Features:

Protecting Watersheds Needs to be Top Priority in Pot Ordinance

World's Oceans Could Rise Higher, Sooner, Faster Than Most Thought Possible

Coastal Cleanup Day - Saturday, September 19

Help Protect Wild & Scenic Rivers from Strip Mines

Oregonians Rally Against Liquid Natural Gas

Historic Peace Ship is Re-Launched

Lawsuit Challenges Loopholes in New EPA Rule Exempting Wetlands and Streams From Clean Water Act Protections

 

 Online-only:

 

 

News from NEC Member Groups:

Zero Waste Humboldt Zero Waste Crew Needs YOU to Help Reduce Waste at the North Country Fair

Humboldt Baykeeper Impaired Waters Designation Finalized by EPA

Friends of the Eel River Drought, Data and Water Conservation Workshops

EPIC Wildlife Advocates Attend Hearings to Ban Bobcat Trapping

Mattole Restoration Council  Community Hub Provides a Cool(er) Center

California Native Plant Society, North Coast Chapter • Happenings • Native Plant Sale

Redwood Region Audubon Society • Sandpiper (4MB pdf)

 

 

 

News from the Center - Aug/Sep 2015

August, 2015

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On July 18, one week ago today as I sit typing, my colleague and good friend called with unfathomable news. He called to say his 11-year-old son was killed in an ATV accident. My heart cracked in that instant—both for the loss of one whose sweet energy and exuberance for life touched so many and for my friends who just lost one of the most important beings in their world.

As time ticked by, my eyes gradually opened to the gift that Owen left in his passing.
I remembered the times with him, during his visits to the office or out and about in the world beyond, when he reminded me to play; to celebrate life and love and connection to this planet and to one another. And it impresses me to no end this gift he shared with all who knew him.

Yet, with his passing, with everybody who has come out of the woodwork to lend their support and condolences, I cannot help but think of how easy it is to take life for granted; how easy it is to become subtly or not-so-subtly disconnected from those we care about and from our surroundings. I cannot help but think how our detachment perpetuates many of the difficulties in our world.

This past June was the warmest on record and July, with many days like a furnace blast, is on track to pop previous records as well. In this heat wave, our region’s waterways are warming up with undue haste. Fisheries experts on the Klamath River are raising the warning of a likely fish kill given extremely high levels of a drought-loving parasite in juvenile salmon. Domestic water supplies are concerningly low throughout many parts of the state. On top of that, fire season is well underway.

With change as the never-ending constant, forecasters are projecting a very wet El Nino this fall that may lend some relief to these dry times. A flipside to this rainy onslaught from the heavens—should it be as intense as anticipated—biologists predict an unraveling of North Coast watersheds that have been abused by shortsighted timber barons and are now being wrecked at the hands of those seeking fortunes in a relentless green rush. No doubt our collective indifference has contributed to the series of calamities in this region and throughout the world.

Life has a way of articulating the tragedy of disconnection and despair; but it also has the uncanny knack for illuminating the wonder and spectacle that is creation, and reminding us that we all have a role to play. Even when it feels that all is lost, the world has a way of bringing us back together to explore not-too-distant peaks and immerse ourselves in sacred waters, to dig in sand and build sculptures on the beach, to eat and breath and laugh and cry together and to take comfort in each other during times of remembrance, of celebration, of renewal.

So here’s to that blessed buffalo boy whose spirit carries on, and here’s to being present and supporting one another in our life together on this wild and wondrous living earth.

Click the image at right to view or download the memorial page for Owen printed in this issue of EcoNews. 

 

 

 

Hands in the Sand

At this year’s Friends of the Dunes’ Sand Sculpture Festival, the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Madison Peters and Sydney Stewart sculpted a tribute to life on our planet with the beautiful message: “Lend a Hand.” The sculpture was created in loving memory of those who have left us, in support of those who are grappling with the loss of their loved ones, and as a reminder to care for one another and for our wild and wondrous home.  Many thanks to Madison, Sydney and Roman for your care-full sculpting!

 

 

 

 

Bouquets

A bouquet  of Lilium humboldtii (Humboldt lilies) to Lucille Vinyard for over 50 years of adventurous leadership to save Redwood National Park, our Northern California Wilderness Areas and inspiring generations of
conservation activists.

A bouquet of airwaves to Mike Dronkers, whose dedication to the environment was evident in his daily KHUM 104.7 FM radio show and manifested in seven years of “Coastal Currents,” a feature focusing on Humboldt’s ocean, beach, bay and watershed stories. We greatly appreciate Mike’s use of his stage to highlight important issues facing our community. HIs unwavering support of a better Humboldt brought true and qualitative difference to our world.

A bouquet of celestial light to Pope Francis, for highlighting the crisis posed by climate change in his recent papal encyclical. While environmentalists and religious figures have not often found themselves on the same side, the Pope’s encyclical—which warns of serious consequences from climate change and strongly criticizes relentless resource exploitation—has profound potential to foster a new sense of stewardship and ecological urgency not only in the Catholic Church, but also other faiths and leadership worldwide.

Eye on Washington - Aug/Sep 2015

August, 2015

 

Proposed Changes in Forest Management Would Limit
Public Voice

Some members of Congress are using the public’s fear and misunderstanding of fire to circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is the foundation of our nation’s environmental laws and, most importantly, the mechanism by which federal agencies are required to inform citizens of their plans, use the best available science, and consider public input.

The NEPA process takes time, but reduces the unsustainable rate of logging within our national forest that can leave our watersheds eroded and forests uninhabitable for many rare, native species. This July, however, a bill passed the full House of Representatives with a mostly partisan vote (262 vs 167) that would make it more difficult for communities or organizations to file lawsuits when an agency neglects the law.

HR 2647, ironically titled the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, gives the U.S. Forest Service sweeping powers to log up to 5,000 acres with virtually no public input, and pushes some post-fire logging timelines up making them also nearly impossible to stop, even in the face of potentially significant environmental impact.

Many conservationists are also very concerned that Congress is using this bill as a test for destroying our other environmental laws. In the Senate, leaders of both parties have made clear that they want to apply similar changes to other Forest Service activities. Some members of Congress have been candid—they know they cannot get rid of NEPA, the Clean Air, or the Clean Water Act, but they can destroy them incrementally. 

There are also several other related bills of varying degrees of “bad for conservation.” One such  Senate bill is SB 132, supported by Oregon Democratic leaders. SB 132 would open the way for logging important spotted owl habitat in the “O&C Lands”—a checkerboard of private and public lands in southern Oregon managed for sustainable yeild.

The effects of clear-cut logging on the private lands are clearly visible from roads and from the air. This bill would allow much of the public lands to be cut in a similar fashion in spite of the potential effects to threatened species and watershed protection. A possible compromise bill would include creation of  the Wild Rogue and Devil’s Staircase wilderness areas and more than 200 miles of new wild and scenic river designations in Oregon. These elements have been applauded by some wilderness advocates. 

A final Senate version is expected to get a vote later this summer or autumn.  The resulting bill could pose a major concern for conservation organizations and communities located in or adjacent to our national forests.

The Northcoast Environmental Center was one of over 30 conservation organizations across the nation to send a letter in opposition of HR 2647.

Drought Politics—Western Style

Water has driven politics in the West since early settlement. Unlike in the eastern US where frequent rains fills rivers and reservoirs throughout the summer, Western states rely on winter rain and snowmelt to fill reservoirs for use in the summer. This cycle has guided a system of Western water rights that goes back generations, but overdevelopment and changes in weather patterns have stressed the water systems for the past several decades.

Now, with climate change, politically motivated over-allocation of limited water resources, and changes in agricultural practices that prioritize nut crops, some people are left without water. Into this continuing drama steps freshman Rep. Valadao, from California’s 21st District (southern half of the Central Valley), and others who would like to start from scratch to determine who gets water and how water will be stored and conveyed. His bill, HR 2898, not only throws uncertainty to communities, farmers and river ecosystems, but this bill could also increase the robbing of northern waters to feed rapidly growing communities and unsustainable agricultural practices in the south.

The Northcoast Environmental Center joined many other local and national conservation organizations to oppose HR 2898. Our district Congressman, Jared Huffman, authored competing legislation that would support tactics to solve the West’s water problems through more sustainable means such as reclamation, recycling and improved infrastructure.

HR 2898 passed the full House on a vote of 245 - 176.  Many conservation organizations from Trout Unlimited to the Sierra Club vigorously opposed HR 2898 and the NEC joined in writing letters opposing the bill and supporting Congressman Huffman’s bill. The Senate companion bill is sponsored by Senator Barraso (R-WY) and is equally troubling to Western conservationists.  Senator Feinstein has said she could not support HR 2898 and has been working on her own version, which has also raised concern.

Congress Gets Into the GMO Business

In late July, the House Rules Committee reviewed a bill (H.R. 1599) that was introduced “to avoid the patchwork of state laws dealing with biotech food labeling,” Some members on both sides of the aisle have expressed interest in preempting state laws aimed at labeling food that contain GMO products.  Representatives Conaway (R-Texas) and Peterson (D-Minn.) clarified that the bill does not address any areas other than labeling “…such as cultivation of crops.”

The Environmental Working Group fear this bill could “stop state and local governments from regulating any process related to production of GMO crops.”

HR 1599 would create an Agriculture Department certified “non GMO” program similar to the existing program for “organic” products.

 

The Big Picture

Why is so much bad legislation being pushed by Congress right now? Simple: the 2016 election cycle. Currently, the Republican Party has the majority in both chambers, meaning they occupy the chairmanships of every congressional committee and thereby determine the
legislative agenda.

Shore Lines: Coastal Programs Update Aug/Sep 2015

August, 2015

Summertime! Hopefully you’ve had the chance to enjoy the long days with some time at the river, the beach, in the mountains or diving into a lake. It’s important to make the time to enjoy nature, in between fighting to preserve and restore it.

Marine Protected Area Enforcement Improvements

Our colleagues at the Natural Resource Defense Council have compiled a report on potential technology options for improving marine protected area enforcement has been published and can be read at http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/ca-mpa-enforcement.asp. From NRDC: “The report summarizes technology options that could help enhance enforcement of MPAs in California’s ocean waters and identifies tools that are compatible with existing resources, can help provide reliable data that will stand up in court, and have a track record of successful application with appropriate scale.”

In most cases, the tools prioritized will benefit fishery management as well as MPA enforcement. Options include predictive policing, vessel monitoring systems and potential targeted use of radar and cameras to be promising tools. Recommended steps call for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife to take the following initial steps, with support from the Fish and Game Commission, Ocean Protection Council, legislative budget committees and other relevant entities:

• Take prompt action to implement an electronic records management system (RMS) that is compatible with those in Oregon and Washington. That undertaking should include an assessment of the bare minimum of data types needed for enforcement of California MPAs and fisheries regulations, identification of personnel responsible for managing the data, consideration of ways to make relevant information accessible to the public, and collaboration with the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) on program design and funding.

• Investigate the feasibility of requiring violators of MPA or fisheries regulations to install and use vessel monitoring systems (VMS) for any future fishing by that operator and vessel. If     that option is deemed feasible, CDFW should implement such a requirement as quickly as possible.

• Determine how many vessels would need VMS in order to achieve coverage of the entire California commercial fleet.

• Investigate whether sufficient radar units are in place to allow radar surveillance of locations where hot spots of MPA violations and related incidents have been identified. This analysis would help determine the feasibility of targeted radar surveillance in
those hot spots.

Keep in Touch

Follow along on marine and coastal issues at the Lost Coast Outpost with “Your Week in Ocean,” and on the ocean-themed episodes of The EcoNews Report—usually the last Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. on KHSU 90.5 FM. The EcoNews Report airs each Thursday with rotating hosts and covers a variety of subjects.

Protecting Watersheds Needs to be First Priority in Pot Ordinance

August, 2015

Of all the serious environmental issues we face in our region, promoting meaningful marijuana policy and action is one of the most significant local issues that we have a real chance of influencing before it gets even worse. Policy makers on the North Coast and throughout California are working to fill regulatory holes left after passage of Proposition 215 while also preparing for the anticipated legalization of recreational weed in 2016. The impacts relating to an unchecked industry that is fragmenting forests, tapping watersheds dry and expanding every year have been previously discussed in EcoNews. Current legislation will have an impact—for better or for worse—on our region’s burgeoning cannabis industry.

In advance of legalization, several bills are making their way through the state legislature with the aim to put in place a functional regulatory framework for medical marijuana while supporting responsible cannabis businesses. Current frontrunners in this field are AB 243, AB 266 and SB 643. After summer recess in early August, lawmakers will have three weeks to get bills through appropriations committees and onto Governor Brown’s desk by October 11 for signature or veto.  

After summer recess in early August, lawmakers will have three weeks to get bills through appropriations committees and onto Governor Brown’s desk by October 11 for signature or veto.

Assembly Bill 243—Indoor and Outdoor Medical Cannabis Cultivation (introduced by North Coast Assemblymember Jim Wood) would authorize local oversight of commercial cultivation and generate revenue by imposing a tax that would be directed to fund program oversight, law enforcement, environmental oversight, and habitat restoration.

Assembly Bill 266—Medical Cannabis Regulation and Licensing (introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta) would establish the Governor’s Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation to coordinate and provide oversight of the licensing and regulation of various commercial cannabis activities. The bill would also establish the Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation within the State Board of Equalization, to license and regulate medical cannabis operations.

Senate Bill 643—Medical Cannabis Regulation (introduced by North Coast State Senator Mike McGuire) would establish the Office of Medical Marijuana Regulation within the Bureau of Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency and would require the bureau office to license and regulate dispensing facilities, cultivation sites, transporters, and manufacturers of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products, subject to local ordinances.

On the regional stage, Trinity County community members have come out in force to urge their Supervisors to enforce the County’s existing marijuana cultivation guidelines to stem the expansion of large-scale grows. Meanwhile, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors continues to defer to industry group California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH) to write their own land use ordinance guiding cultivation on rural parcels larger than five acres.

CCVH Ordinance—Digging deeper

On June 30, 2015, CCVH unveiled their seventh draft cannabis cultivation land use ordinance. Despite having nearly a year and six drafts to incorporate concerns from environmental advocates and other concerned members of the public, CCVH’s leadership has instead retained core components that will perpetuate irresponsible, large-scale grows at the expense of healthy rivers, forests and communities.

• All grows must be held to standards that protect North Coast streams and salmon.
Unfortunately, the CCVH draft does nothing to stop water withdrawals from streams during times when fish and downstream residents need water most. Any proposal that moves forward must ensure that operations are either connected to a stable municipal water supply or have enough water storage to meet 100 percent of the dry-season irrigation needs without withdrawing from waterways during summer months when stream flows are low. Further, any ordinance needs to make clear that cultivators cannot be reliant on water trucking—an unsustainable loophole in the existing draft.

• Conversion of forestland to commercial marijuana production must stop.
CCVH’s draft gives a free pass to commercial cannabis grows on forestlands and  provides a pathway for other landowners to clearcut forests—thereby fragmenting wildlife habitat—to make way for even more large-scale grows. The timber industry has done tremendous damage to our forests and watersheds for decades; clearing hillsides and building more roads will only exacerbate the problems.

• Watershed carrying capacity needs to be addressed.
CCVH’s draft does nothing to address the cumulative impacts of cultivation activities within a watershed. As a whole, existing operations—including public land trespass grows and irresponsible grows on private property—are resulting in unacceptable impacts to waterways, wildlife and downstream communities. New commercial grows should not be permitted until each watershed has been assessed and all cultivation activities are in compliance with
environmental regulations.

• The use of pesticides and herbicides must be prohibited.
CCVH’s draft allows for use and onsite storage of pesticides. Current practices allow growers to determine what pesticides are used—a health risk for wildlife and humans alike. Pesticide use should be explicitly prohibited.

• A sustainable revenue source is needed to ensure adequate enforcement.
CCVH’s land use ordinance suggests an unrealistic fee structure that would fall far short of the sum needed to run the program itself, much less to support the enforcement that will be needed to get a handle on the environmental damage from existing water diversions and sedimentation from unregulated roads and clearings.

• Support sustainable, small-scale cannabis cultivators and take a firm stand against irresponsible grows that are doing harm.
 CCVH’s draft allows an unlimited number of permitted grows over 10,000 square feet. The draft also allows existing grows up to 10,000 sq ft canopy size (potentially over two acres of cultivated area) to continue with no environmental impact review. Due to the high market value of marijuana, allowing operations of this size and larger would effectively be a green light for mega-grows on over 14,000 parcels throughout the county. Our watersheds are already under severe strain from past logging practices and ongoing extreme drought. If there is to be a future for our region’s salmon—and a truly sustainable cannabis industry—irresponsible grows must be reined in.

World's Oceans Could Rise Higher, Sooner, Faster Than Most Thought Possible

August, 2015


This article was originally published online at CommonDreams.org.

New research shows that consensus estimates of sea level increases may be underestimating threat; new predictions would see major coastal cities left uninhabitable by next century

If a new scientific paper is proven accurate, the international target of limiting global temperatures to a 2°C rise this century will not be nearly enough to prevent catastrophic melting of ice sheets that would raise sea levels much higher and much faster than previously thought possible.

According to the new study—which has not yet been peer-reviewed, but was written by former NASA scientist James Hansen and 16 other prominent climate researchers—current predictions about the catastrophic impacts of global warming, the melting of vast ice sheets, and sea level rise do not take into account the feedback loop implications of what will occur if large sections of Greenland and the Antarctic are consumed by the world’s oceans.

A summarized draft of the full report was released to journalists on Monday, with the shocking warning that such glacial melting will “likely” occur this century and could cause as much as a ten foot sea-level rise in as little as fifty years. Such a prediction is much more severe than current estimates contained in reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the UN-sponsored body that represents the official global consensus of the scientific community.

“If the ocean continues to accumulate heat and increase melting of marine-terminating ice shelves of Antarctica and Greenland, a point will be reached at which it is impossible to avoid large scale ice sheet disintegration with sea level rise of at least several meters,” the paper states.

Separately, the researchers conclude that “continued high emissions will make multi-meter sea level rise practically unavoidable and likely to occur this century. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.”

The Daily Beast’s Mark Hertsgaard, who attended a press call with Dr. Hansen on in July, reports that the work presented by the researchers is warning that humanity could confront “sea level rise of several meters” before the end of the century unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed much faster than currently contemplated.

This roughly 10 feet of sea level rise—well beyond previous estimates—would render coastal cities such as New York, London, and Shanghai uninhabitable.

This apocalyptic scenario illustrates why the goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius is not the safe “guardrail” most politicians and media coverage imply it is, argue Hansen and 16 colleagues in a blockbuster study they are publishing this week in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry. On the contrary, a 2C future would be “highly dangerous.”

If Hansen is right—and he has been right, sooner, about the big issues in climate science longer than anyone—the implications are vast and profound.

In the call with reporters, Hansen explained that time is of the essence, given the upcoming climate talks in Paris this year and the grave consequences the world faces if bold, collective action is not taken immediately. “We have a global crisis that calls for international cooperation to reduce emissions as rapidly as practical,” the paper states.

Hansen said he has long believed that many of the existing models were under-estimating the potential impacts of ice sheet melting, and told the Daily Beast: “Now we have evidence to make that statement based on much more than suspicion.”

Though he acknowledged the publication of the paper was unorthodox, Hansen told reporters that the research itself is “substantially more persuasive than anything previously published.”

For his part, Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate, said the “bombshell” findings are both credible and terrifying. Holthaus writes:
To come to their findings, the authors used a mixture of paleoclimate records, computer models, and observations of current rates of sea level rise, but “the real world is moving somewhat faster than the model,” Hansen says.

The implications are mindboggling: In the study’s likely scenario, New York City—and every other coastal city on the planet—may only have a few more decades of habitability left. That dire prediction, in Hansen’s view, requires “emergency cooperation among nations.”

In response to the paper, climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University affirmed: “If we cook the planet long enough at about two degrees warming, there is likely to be a staggering amount of sea level rise. Key questions are when would greenhouse-gas emissions lock in this sea level rise and how fast would it happen? The latter point is critical to understanding whether and how we would be able to deal with such a threat.”

The new research, Oppenheimer added, “takes a stab at answering the ‘how soon?’ question but we remain largely in the dark.  Given the state of uncertainty and the high risk, humanity better get its collective foot off the accelerator.”

And as the Daily Beast’s Hertsgaard notes, Hansen’s track record on making climate predictions should command respect from people around the world. The larger question, however, is whether humanity has the capacity to act.

“The climate challenge has long amounted to a race between the imperatives of science and the contingencies of politics,” Hertsgaard concludes. “With Hansen’s paper, the science has gotten harsher, even as the Nature Climate Change study affirms that humanity can still choose life, if it will. The question now is how the politics will respond—now, at Paris in December, and beyond.”

Coastal Cleanup Day - Saturday, September 19

August, 2015

While scientists, inventors, governments and agencies try to figure out how to clean up the estimated millions of tons of garbage already in the ocean, the rest of us can help staunch the flow by participating in California’s Coastal Cleanup Day.

As longtime EcoNews readers know, Coastal Cleanup Day has its humble beginnings right here in Humboldt County as a program of the NEC. Now international, the event is celebrated worldwide and is the single largest volunteer event in support of the marine environment.

Last year, with your help, over 1,000 Humboldt County Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers removed over eight tons of trash and recyclables from our beaches, rivers, bay and estuaries. Coupled with efforts throughout the state and around the world, Coastal Cleanup Day makes a quantitative difference in how much trash enters our ocean.

In cooperation with the California Coastal Commission, the Northcoast Environmental Center will again organize at least 40 cleanups throughout Humboldt County—a feat requiring an immense amount of staff time and community coordination. Therefore, in addition to seeking site captains and volunteers, we’re also currently seeking financial sponsorships to cover coordination costs. Contact Jennifer Savage at jsavage@yournec.org for details on benefits to fit your budget.

 

How to get involved:

Be a site captain! Site captains are the main points of contact for the cleanup teams at each site and work with the NEC’s Cleanup Coordinator, recruiting teammates, gathering supplies, overseeing the successful cleanup of their site and reporting cleanup data back to the NEC. Check the NEC’s website at yournec.org for a list of available beaches. 

Join a team! Be part of the group cleaning up your favorite beach. All you need to do is show up and pick up.

Sponsor Coastal Cleanup! This is a fantastic way to support local cleanup efforts and publicize your business or organization as a friend to the ocean. The NEC has a number of sponsorship packages available and all include your logo on county-wide posters and recognition.

Spread the word! Passing info on to colleagues, friends, family, school teachers and civic minded groups.  The more hands we have on deck, the more impact we can make!

Stand together to put a stop to trash! If a product can’t be reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.

After the cleanup all are welcome to stop by the NEC’s booth at the North Country Fair—and join us Sunday, September 20 for the All Species Parade! 

For more details, visit www.yournec.org/coastalcleanup,
email coastalcleanup@yournec.org or call us at 822-6918.

Help Protect Wild & Scenic Rivers from Strip Mines

August, 2015

 

The southwestern corner of Oregon contains the headwaters of the premier wild rivers in the West, including the Wild and Scenic Smith and Illinois Rivers. Sparkling emerald water flows through forested canyons to the ocean, these rivers are important fish and wildlife habitat and provide clean drinking water that local communities depend on. The rivers and streams flowing though these public lands provide outstanding opportunities for boating, swimming, hiking and sport and commercial fishing.

But mining companies want to excavate a series of nickel strip mines in the pristine headwaters of the Wild and Scenic Smith and Illinois Rivers in the heart of California and Oregon’s much loved Wild Rivers Coast. They also want to mine in the coastal streams of Hunter Creek and Pistol River. These devastating proposals would turn these wild and pristine watersheds into a wasteland of haul roads, ore smelters, and piles of
toxic mining waste.

There is a unique opportunity to temporarily protect this wild region from industrial nickel strip mining with the Southwest Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act, while Congress considers more lasting protection. The “mineral withdrawal” will protect against new mining claims and require existing claims to be tested to determine legitimacy. The withdrawal area includes botanically rich serpentine terrain in the West Fork Illinois River watershed—which hosts the highest concentration of rare plants in Oregon—and the headwaters of Hunter Creek and the North Fork Pistol River—two cherished native salmon and steelhead streams on the Wild Rivers Coast.

Effective support for this campaign will come from large numbers of US citizens who sign-on to the public comment letter to the Bureau of Land Management by the end of the comment period on September 28th, 2015.

Take action to save one of America’s most beautiful natural wonders by signing the petition asking that the Kalmiopsis Rivers and the Wild Rivers Coast remain free
from toxic pollution!

Sign-on today at kalmiopsiswildrivers.org/submit-a-public-comment

To learn more, click here to watch the video Emerald Waters of the Klamath-Siskyou.

Click here for Forest Service updates about public comments and meetings.

 

Oregonians Rally Against Liquidified Natural Gas

August, 2015

For more than 10 years, gas companies have been pushing plans for huge Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals on the Columbia River and Coos Bay, and Oregonians have stood firm to protect our farms, forests and rivers. Today, hundreds of Oregonians including farmers, ranchers, business owners and conservationists are working to send a clear message to Oregon’s new Governor that the time has come for Oregon to reject fracked gas export terminals.

LNG is super-cooled methane gas that requires massive amounts of energy and fresh water to produce. Energy companies have been working for ten years on two proposals for large gas pipelines and LNG terminals in Oregon, and the companies now intend to use the proposed terminals to sell fracked gas to overseas markets.

In May, a groundswell of opposition across Oregon inspired a statewide rally encouraging Governor Kate Brown to stand with Oregonians against proposed LNG projects.  Community activists from across the state organized more than 600 people from 10 counties in Oregon and Washington to rally on the capitol steps in Salem and march to the Department of State Lands. The Protect Our Home Rally included speeches from tribal leaders, impacted landowners and a keynote speech from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Oregon is viewed as a leader in combating climate change, yet the fossil fuel industry is pushing to make Oregon a trafficker of fracked gas to the entire world through these LNG export proposals,” said Kennedy. “Oregon should stand firm in protecting iconic salmon-bearing rivers like the Rogue and Columbia, and in the process reaffirm its goal of reducing climate pollution by rejecting LNG export terminals and pipelines.”

Oregon faces two LNG export proposals—The Jordan Cove project in Southern Oregon and the Oregon LNG project near Astoria-coupled with associated proposals to construct hundreds of miles of new natural gas pipelines throughout Oregon and Washington. The Jordan Cove project would quickly become the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the entire state of Oregon. Opposition to the LNG projects has created unusual alliances, inspiring rural landowners near proposed pipelines to join forces with conservationists and climate activists.

“As a proud conservative Oregonian, I oppose the pipelines for LNG exports because it would destroy valuable farmland and forestland,” said rancher Bill Gow of Douglas County, Oregon. “There’s no way these companies are going to put a big scar through the middle of my ranch.” Like Gow, hundreds of Oregon and Washington families may have their land condemned to install a pipeline to export gas to overseas markets.

The statewide No LNG Exports coalition is calling on Oregon decision-makers to use the state’s power to protect Oregon from LNG projects while supporting clean energy, healthy rivers and forests, private property rights, safe communities and a stable climate.

Don West, Manager of the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria and owner of the Astoria Crest Motel, plans to call on Gov. Brown to take a firm stand against LNG exports. “The future of our community and our business—a future that creates jobs by drawing people to iconic, salmon-bearing rivers like the Columbia—depends on the State of Oregon rejecting LNG exports,” West states. “I’m inspired to be one of many voices from all walks of life joining this common call for Gov. Brown and state leaders to protect our home.”

“The Jordan Cove LNG terminal poses an unacceptable safety risk to our community,” said North Bend resident Jody McCaffree. “We are also concerned about the impacts this project would have to existing jobs in the timber, fishing, crabbing, clamming, oyster, tourism and recreation industries in Coos Bay area.”

Both LNG project proposals require permit approval from a litany of federal and state agencies before moving forward. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is expected to issue its final permitting decision on the project by January. Oregonians are asking Governor Kate Brown to use her power to challenge FERC’s likely approval of the project as Governor Kulongoski did in 2008.

“We are looking to our Governor to protect the interests of Oregonians and make our state a leader in addressing climate change by steering Oregon away from exporting climate-changing fossil fuels like LNG” says No LNG Exports campaign organizer Sarah Westover. “Money invested in green energy provides 17 times as many jobs as the same amount invested in fossil fuels. Our country should be moving toward sustainable renewables, not taking a step backwards with new fossil fuel export infrastructure.”

For more information and updates on the progress of Oregon’s No LNG Exports’ campaign, please visit www.nolngexports.org.

Historic Peace Ship Is Re-Launched

August, 2015

This article was originally published online at CounterPunch.org.

Along the rugged coast of northern California’s Humboldt County, maritime history is being made. June 20 marked the launch ceremony of the rebuilt sailing ketch, the Golden Rule, after four years of hard work by a restoration team led by Veterans for Peace. The Golden Rule is no ordinary sailboat.

In the 1950s, the U.S. military used the Marshall Islands as the primary site for its atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. As is now known, those huge nuclear detonations in the Western Pacific were wreaking havoc on the environment and human health. In fact, with each monstrous explosion, readily detectable clouds of radioactive fallout wafted around the planet, and contamination began to turn up in cows’ and mothers’ milk. Increasingly, skepticism grew about government assurances that there was no danger.

Then, in 1958, the Golden Rule arrived on the scene. The Hugh Angelman-designed 30-foot ketch was purchased by a group of activists who set out on a voyage of nonviolent protest toward the Marshalls. Their plan, which was well publicized, was to sail into the target zone and sacrifice both boat and crew if need be to bring a halt to the tests.

The Golden Rule and its crew never made it to their destination. The Coast Guard stopped the vessel in Hawaii and arrested everyone on board. The publicity surrounding the crew’s trial and imprisonment helped ignite worldwide public outrage against atmospheric testing.
That outrage turned the tide. By 1963, the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom signed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and outer space. No nuclear tests took place in the Marshall Islands after 1958.

Just as importantly, the use of nonviolent direct action as a fundamental guiding principle of the Golden Rule’s crew would also influence future generations of activists, as would their abiding respect for the humanity and dignity of those with whom they disagreed. The seas of the world have never been quite the same since.

The Golden Rule fired the imagination of a generation, and was the forebear of the many peace and environmental protest boats that followed, from New Zealand’s Vega, to the Australian Pacific Peacemaker, to the Sea Shepherds and Free Gaza flotillas.

The connection to Greenpeace is direct. In 1971, Golden Rule supporter Marie Bohlen attended a meeting in Vancouver, Canada of people concerned about nuclear weapons testing. She suggested a voyage toward the U.S. nuclear test site in the Aleutian Islands á la the Golden Rule. Soon, the rusty trawler Phyllis Cormack was renamed the Greenpeace and headed north toward the Alaskan Archipelago. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sadly, after the 1958 voyage, the Golden Rule was sold and slipped from public view. The ship wound up in Humboldt Bay, California, badly neglected. She finally sank in a storm in late 2010.

When a group of Northern California members of Veterans for Peace learned the damaged ketch was nearby and might be salvageable, they leapt at the chance to raise the vessel from the depths and restore it to its former peacemaking glory.

In large measure, the purpose of the rebuild of the Golden Rule is to honor the original crew. They stood firm for peace and nonviolence before it became fashionable. Two of them, Albert Bigelow and James Peck, later were among the original 13 Freedom Riders in 1961 in the American South.

The other crew members were equally noteworthy. One led United Nations development programs, and another became a founder of Peace Brigades International.

The team that has rebuilt the Golden Rule is honored to carry on this legacy by bringing the feisty little ketch back to life. While sponsored by Veterans for Peace, the Golden Rule Project brings together an eclectic mix of historic boat lovers, environmentalists, peace and religious activists, and progressives. It’s open to anyone interested in working to keep the boat sailing and promote its mission.

Now that the re-build is complete, the Golden Rule will soon ride the waves as a living museum and floating classroom. Her crews will educate future generations on the risks of nuclear technology, the importance of the ocean environment, and above all, the power of peacemaking.

Arnold “Skip” Oliver is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. Visit VFPGoldenRuleProject.org for more information.

Lawsuit Challenges Loopholes in New EPA Rule Exempting Wetlands and Streams From Clean Water Act Protections

August, 2015

This article was originally published online at Waterkeeper.org.

In Bow to Industry, EPA Rule Hurts Water Quality, Human Health and Wildlife Across Country

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit on July 22 challenging last-minute exemptions for industries in the new “waters of the United States” rule that could open the door to more pollution of wetlands, streams and other waterways. The rule, finalized in May by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, defines which waterways can be protected against being destroyed, degraded, or polluted without a permit under the Clean Water Act.

The new rule reaffirms longstanding federal protections for some types of waters, but largely as a result of industry pressure, arbitrarily exempts and removes safeguards for critically important streams, wetlands and other waterways, many of which had been protected since the 1970s. These unprecedented exemptions are contrary to clear scientific evidence demonstrating the importance of these waterways for drinking water, recreation, fisheries and wildlife.

“Communities deserve the broadest protection of waters consistent with sound science,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director at Waterkeeper Alliance. “We need to advocate for the strongest rule possible so that we move forward in restoring our nation’s waters by controlling the discharge of pollutants into the smaller tributaries that feed into them.”

Under the new rule, wetlands, ponds and other small water bodies can only be protected if they are within 4,000 feet of a stream or river.  However, if a wetland is just one foot over the arbitrary 4,000-foot line, it cannot be protected—even if it is vitally important in preserving downstream water quality. In their drive to placate industry interests, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ failed to ensure that these types of exemptions do not jeopardize the survival of hundreds of endangered species as required by the Endangered Species Act. Endangered salmon and sturgeon on both coasts, California red-legged frogs, and bog turtles are among the many species that depend on clean, unpolluted water and will be harmed by the exemptions created by this rule.

“Freshwater species in the United States are already going extinct hundreds of times faster than terrestrial species, and these loopholes will make survival even harder for them,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s no question that eliminating protection for thousands of wetlands waters will hurt people and wildlife for generations to come.”

In another last-minute concession to industry, the agencies substantially weakened Clean Water Act protections for streams, wetlands and ponds that are adjacent to streams and rivers if those water bodies are currently used in farming, ranching or silviculture activities. Contrary to science and the requirements of the law, the final rule categorically reduced protections for tributary streams, wetlands, streams that have been ditched or channelized, and for water bodies that are only connected to protected downstream waters by subsurface water flows.

“This rule change will weaken protection for waterways on and near big agribusiness operations, likely resulting in more agricultural pollutants on our food and in our environment,” said Adam Keats, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “The EPA and the Army Corps should be working to strengthen, not gut, the laws that keep industrial agricultural pollution in check.”Despite these unprecedented concessions to industry, opponents of the final rule have mounted a massive misinformation campaign claiming the agencies are expanding the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.  In reality, the EPA and the Corps have improperly relinquished jurisdiction over historically protected waters and admit that: “The scope of jurisdiction in this rule is narrower than that under the existing regulation.

Fewer waters will be defined as ‘waters of the United States’ under the rule than under the existing regulations, in part because the rule puts important qualifiers on some existing categories such as tributaries.”

The coalition, represented by Earthrise Law Center, Lewis & Clark Law School’s environmental litigation clinic, and Stanford Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic, includes Waterkeeper Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, Humboldt Baykeeper, and several other conservation organizations.

Zero Waste Humboldt: Zero Waste Crew Needs YOU to Help Reduce Waste at the North Country Fair!

August, 2015

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On Saturday and Sunday, September 19-20, 2015, the annual North Country Fair will once again take place on the Arcata Plaza.  We invite you to join the Zero Waste team and be a part of the fair’s waste reduction crew!  Last year, the Fair’s board, the Same Old People, Inc., became the first festival in Humboldt County to adopt a zero waste policy.  This policy is the first essential step for a long-term commitment to work
toward zero waste.  

In addition to vendor commitment, it takes a huge team of trained volunteers to successfully reduce and recycle the waste.  Working with Zero Waste Humboldt, the Fair will have trained volunteers taking shifts at each of the 6 stations on the Plaza during the 2-days to help the public to deposit materials for “Compost,” “Recycling,” or “Landfill.”  There will also be a 7th station where trained volunteers will weigh and sort recyclables.

The North Country Fair and Zero Waste Humboldt are pleased that its large crew of volunteers have ranged from age 14 to 75, and included people from many backgrounds. The Fair’s zero waste crew includes family members, housemates, co-workers, HSU classes, Arcata High School Green Club, and sports teams. Volunteers have enjoyed scheduling shifts with family and friends.  The one-hour zero waste training is required for volunteers and will be offered on Sunday, Sept. 13th at 10 a.m. on the plaza or Wednesday, Sept. 16th at 5:30 p.m.  
This year, we are excited to add Cub Scout pack 95 of Arcata to our volunteer crew. With adult supervision, these cub scouts will be learning about Zero Waste and will be the first youth group to participate in the All Species Parade as Zero Waste Zebras.

Last year, the North Country Fair banned the sale of single use plastic water bottles during the event and provided three water coolers for fairgoers to fill their own refillable bottles.  “We plan to have even more convenient water coolers this year.  Please bring a refillable water container,” Stevens said.

One of the other key elements in the North Country Fair zero waste program has been attention to the details of measurement and monitoring.  “It takes more work, but the outcome is that we really know how much and what type of waste the Fair generates and how much we are actually reducing each year,” states Zero Waste coordinator Nancy Stevens.
Fairgoers have really taken notice and have responded very positively to the Zero Waste Humboldt volunteers.  It’s been a fun way to enjoy the music, food and crafts, AND work for a good cause at the same time!  We encourage you, your family, and your co-workers to join the zero waste crew by contacting zwhvolunteers@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Humboldt Stores Want Bag Information

This May, Jud Ellinwood of Zero Waste Humboldt and Humboldt State School of Business Intern Tim Combley reported to the Board of Supervisors on a survey they conducted of store owners and operators in the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County covered by the California’s Single-use Plastic Carry-out Bag Law (SB270).  Even though 138 local governments in California have already adopted a ban on single-use plastic carryout bags, implementation of SB270 has been suspended until the outcome of a state November 2016 ballot measure. 

The study included 28 interviews of local store owners and managers of all the types of stores covered by SB270 to assess their familiarity with the law and what they need to know to prepare for compliance.  100% of the store owners and managers surveyed expressed a need for information from the County.  Survey results provide clear evidence that in order for local stores to voluntarily stop providing single-use plastic carryout bags, or to comply with SB270, or to comply with a County ordinance should the Board of Supervisors pass it, they need information.

To read the report and its conclusions, go to www.zerowastehumboldt.org/advocacy.

Humboldt Baykeeper - Impaired Waters Designation Finalized by EPA

August, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impaired Waters Designation Finalized by EPA

On June 26, the U.S. EPA made its final determination that Little River, Widow White Creek, Jolly Giant Creek, Campbell Creek, Lower Elk River, and Martin Slough are impaired by bacteria, namely E. coli, a species of fecal coliform that lives in the guts of warm-blooded animals. The U.S. EPA’s approval of the 303(d) listing finalizes the August 2014 recommendation by the North Regional and State Water Quality Control Board, which was based on Humboldt Baykeeper’s Citizen Water Monitoring data collected between 2005 and 2010.

Of California’s more than 200,000 river miles, over 40,000 are not meeting at least one water quality goal, and still need clean-up plans. Many clean-up plans are years behind schedule, including a plan to address dioxin contamination in Humboldt Bay.

Now that state and federal agencies charged with protecting and restoring water quality have formally recognized the bacteria pollution that has troubled Humboldt Bay’s oyster industry for years, clean-up plans will be prioritized.

The U.S. EPA also upheld the listing of several Humboldt County beaches as impaired by bacteria: Clam Beach at the mouth of the Mad River and at Strawberry Creek, as well as Luffenholz, Moonstone, Trinidad State Beach, and Old Home Beach, which is also known as Indian Beach. This list includes all beaches monitored by the County, leaving the public to wonder how many other local beaches are similarly polluted.

On June 16, Clam Beach was given the dubious distinction of being the third most polluted beach in California in the annual Beach Report Card compiled by Heal the Bay, a non-profit in Santa Monica. This is Clam Beach’s second year in a row on the “Beach Bummer” list due to unacceptably high levels of fecal bacteria detected by Humboldt County’s Ocean Monitoring Program (for more info, including weekly sampling results, visit http://humboldtgov.org/1696/Water-Quality-Test-Results). Levels higher than allowed for swimming were found in 80% of the samples from the surf zone on Clam Beach near the mouth of Strawberry Creek. Again, the sources of this water pollution are unknown, but Baykeeper is coordinating with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to identify the sources so we can work toward effective solutions.

Humboldt Bay is not considered polluted by bacteria during dry weather, but each major rainstorm flushes polluted runoff into the bay from tributaries, closing commercial oyster beds according to public health regulations. Finding solutions to bacteria pollution will protect the commercial oyster industry as well as people who harvest wild clams and mussels. Clean water must also be restored to ensure that local waterways are safe for swimming, surfing, wading, and other water-based recreation.

Although the sources of bacteria remain unknown, Humboldt Baykeeper has received funding to identify the sources through molecular analysis of water samples. Thanks to Coast Seafoods, the Humboldt Area Foundation, Environment Now, Moonstone Beach Surf Camp, and hundreds of individual supporters, we are developing sampling plans for pilot studies in Little River and Janes Creek. We hope to begin sampling later this summer. Once sources are identified, solutions can be developed to restore clean water to ensure that our local waterways are fishable, drinkable, and swimmable.

What can you do to help prevent water pollution?

• Clean up pet feces
• Have your septic system inspected
• Clean up trash that attracts birds and other wildlife
• Fence livestock out of streams and away from streamside areas
• Make sure nothing but rain goes down the storm drains.
• Become a member of Humboldt Baykeeper
• Donate to our Water Quality Program

 

Swim Guide App

Waterkeeper Swim Guide is a mobile phone app that delivers the latest beach water quality information right to your smartphone. The Swim Guide shows current and historic status of the most popular beaches so you can determine if the water is safe for swimming. For more information and to download the app, visit www.theswimguide.org.

 

Explore Humboldt Bay/ Explora la Bahía

Interested in exploring Humboldt Bay while paddling a kayak or from the deck of a motor boat? Baykeeper has partnered with the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center and the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District to offer tours covering a variety of topics on Humboldt Bay. Thanks to a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, our staff and docents lead tours in Spanish and English. Boat tours are for ages 8 and older. Space is limited and reservations are required.

Upcoming motor boat tours with the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District are scheduled for 9:30 to 11 a.m. on these dates:
Saturday, August 15
Saturday, September 26
Saturday, October 10

Call 707-825-1020, or email tours@humboldtbaykeeper.org for more info or to reserve your Bay Tour. Se habla español.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more Humboldt Bay news and info, visit www.humboldtbaykeeper.org,
like us on Facebook, sign up for action alerts by emailing us at alerts@humboldtbaykeeper.org,
and tune in every 3rd Thursday at 1:30 for the EcoNews Report on KHSU - 90.5 FM!

Mattole Restoration Council - Community Hub Maintains a Cool(er) Center

August, 2015

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Even more than the family dinner table, a community center can be a place of renewal, celebration, education, nourishment, boundary-setting, storytelling, memorializing and bonding—all essential to the social fabric of our lives. The Mattole Valley Community Center (MVCC) in Petrolia, California, is a social keystone for the whole Mattole River Valley and
its hill communities.

Founded in 1975, MVCC has been a hub for classes, events and community projects. When the 1992 earthquake struck, the building served as the Emergency Services center where FEMA set up an intake office. The Center raises funds for local schools and the Lost Coast Camp through its thrice-yearly Cabaret. A Farmer’s Market takes place year round every Sunday. The MVCC hosts public meetings—for fundraisers or projects, to address a local issue, or to provide a public forum regarding proposed changes at the county or state level that may affect the community. It is a venue for all kinds of classes and get-togethers that range from Chi Gong to ping-pong. The MVCC has also sheltered the Mattole Restoration Council (MRC) since its founding in 1983.  

Last fall, MRC applied for funding to reduce dangerous fuels from resident Eucalyptus tree around the MVCC property. Eucalyptus stands are notoriously volatile—producing extremely hot fires. Their pungent leaves and shredding bark can quickly spread fire to nearby areas by releasing flaming embers. The flammable oils of the trees themselves can explode in a fire.

Several trees were identified by the MVCC board as a hazard. In particular, the public skateboard ramp was overhung with heavy branches that regularly plunked Eucalyptus buttons on the ramp—and sometimes the skaters. For a few years the MVCC and a cook or two have nurtured the community with pizzas fresh out of a cob oven; however, large tree branches were looming. Older trees had produced many slender offspring, creating a dense thicket. A professional tree climber and fuels reduction crew was needed to help keep the MVCC the safe, creative haven it had become.

The MRC proposed the Mattole Valley Community Center Fuels Reduction Project for a Title 3 federal grant administered through the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (HCFSC). The project proposed that MVCC and the Mattole Valley Resource Center (MVRC) would make a matching contribution of volunteer labor and equipment.

The project was approved and implemented in February 2015. A tree climber and a  chipper crew were hired, and at least ten volunteers labored for several days to implement the project.
Larger pieces of Eucalyptus were cut into firewood and given to low-income seniors. MRC was able to hire a local youth team to shoot a cool video of the experience.
See the video here: https://youtu.be/p9IbJg9YnSE.

MRC has been successful in implementing fuel reduction projects both large and small for the past decade. It helped in the development of the Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council (LMFSC) and continues to provide capacity for project development. LMFSC developed its Community Wildfire Protection Plan in 2002 and the Lower Mattole Fire Atlas in 2004. Building on
the planning effort by identifying and prioritizing projects, MRC implemented a handful of fuels reduction projects through the CA Fire Safe Council, with funding from the USDA along with County-administered federal funds.

The Petrolia Fire Department and the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company are integrated into the processes, plans, and projects of the Fire Safe Council. Both fire service communities, with help from LMFSC and MRC, have had Firewise Community status since 2010. Forming a Fire Safe Council, having a completed plan, an atlas and Firewise status truly helps in securing project funds.

To get those crew boots on the ground, or in this case, up in the trees, we encourage communities everywhere to not only start or maintain a community center, but to start or maintain a Fire Safe Council and become a federally-listed Firewise Community. Most grants require matching labor in the form of volunteers or other kinds of matching funds. Sometimes it can seem like a lot of preparation and paperwork, but when it coalesces into a community-sponsored project it is a beautiful way to reconnect to the hub and spark everyone involved to reduce any fuels buildup they might have on their own property. Just after this project, we got more calls to rent our chipper than ever before.

Even on the North Coast, weather predictions forecast longer, drier summers, providing ever more reason to reduce fuels, conserve water, stay cool and maintain your Center.

Friends of the Eel River - Drought, Data and Water Conservation Workshops

August, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

As everyone in our region should be aware by now, far less water is flowing in the Eel River than is healthy for the ecosystem or sustainable for our livelihoods.

A variety of different methods are used to measure how much water is flowing through our watershed. Several stations in the Eel River watershed measure the flow and stage, or height, of the river. These stations are managed by a range of agencies including PG&E, United States Geological Service and the California Department of Water Resources, and are located on the mainstem, south fork, and middle fork. Data collected at these stations is made available to the public through the California Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center (www.cdec.water.ca.gov). You can see below how little water is running through our immense watershed in graphs obtained from the California Data Exchange Center. The graphs represent the rate of flow, measured in cubic feet per second (cfs) beginning May 25 and ending July 24. The downward trend on these graphs is severe, each station measuring less than 20cfs by the end of July. For comparison, the average rate of flow between 2001 - 2012 for July 24 at the Fort Seward station is 115cfs.

While it seems awfully late to just start now, it is important to conserve water however we can and to keep excess sediment out of our rivers and streams. The Salmonid Restoration Federation is hosting two upcoming opportunities on the North Coast to learn about registering water rights and reducing sediment impact.

First the North Coast Water Rights Workshop on Tuesday, August 11 from 6 - 8:30pm at the Willits Community Center, where topics will include riparian and appropriative rights, DFW permit 1600, calculating water use and more. This workshop is hosted in partnership with the Mendocino Resource Conservation District and Trout Unlimited.

Then, Wednesday, September 16 is the Sediment and Erosion Control Workshop at the Piercy Community Center from 9am - 5pm. This workshop, hosted with Pacific Watershed Associates, will cover identifying and evaluating sediment sources, creating erosion control methods, and more.

To register or learn more about either workshop, visit www.calsalmon.org.

EPIC - Wildlife Advocates Attend Hearings to Ban Bobcat Trapping

August, 2015
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Bobcats are still trapped throughout California, and their pelts are sold in the international fur trade market. Recent spikes in demand from countries like Russia and China have increased prices for bobcat pelts, resulting in a boom in bobcat trapping throughout the State of California.

On October 11, 2013, the Governor approved the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 (AB1213), which directs the California Fish and Game Commission to increase bobcat protections, and now the Commission is considering two options for bobcat trapping restrictions: Option 1 proposes a partial closure of the state to bobcat trapping by establishing closure boundaries around protected areas; and Option 2, which EPIC supports, would implement a complete ban on commercial trapping of bobcats throughout California.

The Commission is slated to make a decision to adopt new bobcat trapping regulations at their August 5th hearing, which will be held at 8 a.m. at the River Lodge at 1800 Riverwalk Drive in Fortuna California.  EPIC will join bobcat advocates from around the state to rally for the protection of bobcats at 7:30 a.m. before the hearing. Two days before the hearing, on Monday, August 3rd from 6-8 p.m., EPIC and our allies will host a teach-in and poster making session in the Arts & Crafts Room at the Arcata Community Center at 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

The trapping industry has openly opposed the state wide ban, and will likely send a spokesperson to speak at the August 5th hearing in favor of bobcat trapping. This is why it is important for bobcat allies to make a presence and show the Fish and Game Commission that the overwhelming majority of people are in favor of a statewide ban.

The law on the books allows bobcat trapping season to take place between November 24 and January 31, and anyone possessing an easy-to-obtain trappers’ license can trap as many bobcats as desired until a statewide total of 14,400 bobcats are killed for the season. The nearly unrestricted statewide cap is based on out of date population estimates from the 1970’s of 72,000 individuals. This baseline number is deeply troublesome. Over thirty years ago, in 1982, a court found that the science behind the 1970’s population estimate was too flawed to qualify as the basis for a bobcat management program. Yet, no additional surveys have been conducted since.

Bobcats are shy creatures that do not threaten public safety, and while no one knows what the current bobcat populations are, there is anecdotal evidence that trapping has greatly diminished localized bobcat populations, throwing ecosystems off kilter. In fact, the state legislature recognized that bobcats are important apex predators that play a significant role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, reducing rodent populations and preying on populations of many animals that are considered “nuisance” animals such as raccoons, opossums and skunks. Bobcat trapping hurts more than bobcats; it hurts our forests and fragile ecosystems.

In addition to protecting bobcats for ecological reasons, there is a moral obligation to end the cruel and inhumane methods of killing bobcats. Because their pelts are worth more without bullet holes or other marks, trappers often strangle, stomp or bludgeon them to death. California should lead the nation and outlaw this cruel and harmful practice.

The Fish and Game Commission will be accepting public testimony on this matter at their May 5th hearing in Fortuna, and bobcats need you to speak up for them! The last time wildlife supporters banded together and attended a Fish and Game Commission hearing in Fortuna, we helped sway the Commission to protect gray wolves in California and with your help, we can do this again for the bobcats! Visit wildcalifornia.org to sign our action alert and learn how you can get involved. Last year we rallied for the wolves, this year join us to speak up for the bobcats!

ACTION DATES:

August 3rd, 6-8 p.m.—Teach-In & poster making night at the Arcata Community Center crafts room, 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

August 5th, 7:30 a.m.—Rally & Hearing  at the Fish and Game Commission Hearing at the River Lodge at 1800 Riverwalk Drive in Fortuna.

Sierra Club, North Group: Forest and Fisheries Restoration Funding from Wood Product Sales & North Group Events

August, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Forest and Fisheries Restoration Funding from Wood Product Sales

Forty isn’t old, some say, if you’re a tree. Forty years it’s been since I first set foot in Redwood Country, my adopted home. Forty years of seeing countless log trucks with forty-to-eighty-year-old trees on their way to industry and commerce. And forty years since our watershed restoration movement started to hit its stride with real accomplishments on the ground, overcoming logging excesses of the 1950s and 1960s and beyond, attracting strong and meaningful support from the community and from elected officials.

This summer, I hear voices in the woods—vireos, tanagers, scolding jays, groaning firs, and yarder whistles—in Forest Glen, Summit Valley, Lacks Creek with its forty-foot-tall second growth. From Sacramento, there are echoes from an evocative number: AB 1492.

This law, officially the “Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund Program,” made major revisions to the original Forest Practices Act of 1973, enacted during the first Jerry Brown administration. Funded by a new one-percent tax on retail sales of wood products, the revised program is administered jointly by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and CalEPA, coordinated by a newly created CNRA Assistant Secretary for Forest Resources Management position. A total of $4 million in new grant funding over the next two years has been allocated for “forest restoration projects to benefit listed salmonids.” Annual staffing expenditures have risen to over $22 million. A series of budget reductions have left California Department of Fish and Wildlife at less than one-third of that amount for Timber Harvest Plan review—a level that is no longer a “functional equivalent” of judicial review, according to comments filed by CNPS, EPIC, Forests Forever, Center for Biological Diversity and many others.

Concerns linger among conservation advocates that watershed-scale cumulative impacts analysis, opinions from the public and from independent scientists should be considered independently from the “Effectiveness Monitoring Committee”—a holdover from the original structure within the existing Board of Forestry staff. AB 1492 calls for the creation of “Ecological Performance Measures,” which would in concept be more independent of economic or political concerns since the costs of regulation and restoration are borne by the lumber-buying public, not just the permittees or the General Fund. Policies are still being developed by and for various working groups this fiscal year and next, according to a Preliminary Executive Summary on CNRA’s website.

As I, a layman, look out over these (mostly) green landscapes today, in the latest year of our latest drought, I can see that an uninformed skeptic might inquire, “Why does the forest need restoration? It’s recovering by itself.” But forest restoration must include watershed-wide and species-inclusive restoration. Impacts on watercourses and fisheries are mostly unseen—the deranged hydrology, the debris and disturbance that present-day hands on the land are painstakingly remediating.

It’s a right livelihood, and a growing one. Over the past forty years fluvial geomorphologists have studied how our region’s magnificent rivers have changed as a result of industrial logging practices and restoration efforts. The result is that today workers are using big machines to enhance in-stream habitat, creating conditions that salmon need to thrive. Today’s successful in-stream restoration projects include placement of “large woody debris,” i.e. whole trees and logs, using helicopters and track-driven excavators, to create critical habitat for juvenile and mature salmonids.

The implementation of AB 1492 coincides with historic drought, with its recurring hazards of fish mortality and disease. It will take scientific research, documentation and just plain hard work in the watersheds to sustain our wild creatures, and, ultimately, to sustain ourselves. This is a good time to contribute to the current discussion, or to find out how to make a living in this exciting field of fisheries/forests restoration for our salmonids. They need us! Do add your voice, and get out in the woods.

And let’s wish the 1973 California Forest Practices Act, however imperfect, a belated Happy Fortieth.

 

Events

The North Group offers the following hikes in September. All our hikes are open to the public. Contact hike leaders for more information:

Sunday, August 2—North Group Sierra Club Redwood National Park Skunk Cabbage Trail Hike. Bring water and lunch. No dogs.  Moderate difficulty, 7.5 miles round trip, less than 1000 feet elevation change. Carpools: Meet 9 a.m. Ray’s (Valley West) Shopping Center, 10 a.m. trailhead, clearly marked left turn 1 mile north of Orick. Leader Ned, nedforsyth48@gmail.com, 707-825-3652 message phone.

Sunday, August 23—North Group Sierra Club Redwood National Park Emerald Ridge Loop Hike.
A gentle descent through lush forest to Redwood Creek, then we head downstream to the Tall Trees area. Back on shady trail, we’ll hike Tall Trees Loop, and ascend back to our trailhead. Bring water, lunch, sunscreen, and footwear suited for trails, loose gravel, and water. No dogs. Moderate difficulty, 5 miles, less than 1000 ft. elevation. Carpools 9 a.m. Valley West (Ray’s) Parking Area. Meet 9:45 a.m. Kuchel Visitor Center (Hwy. 101, one mile south of Orick) leader Melinda 707-668-4275.

Saturday, September 12—North Group Sierra Club Mad River Buttes 6 Rivers National Forest Hike. 
Come explore this beautiful potential wilderness area. Sturdy boots a must. Bring lunch and plenty of water. No dogs. Moderate difficulty, 8 miles round trip, less than 1000 feet elevation change. Carpools: Meet 9 a.m. Ray’s (Valley West) Shopping Center. Leader Ned, nedforsyth48@gmail.com, 707-825-3652 message phone.

CNPS Happenings and Native Plant Sale

August, 2015

 

 

Beginners and experts, non-members and members are all welcome at our programs and on our outings.  Almost all of our events are free.  All of our events are made possible by volunteer effort.

Evening Programs

At the Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Rd., near 7th and Union, Arcata.  Refreshments at 7:00 p.m.; program at 7:30 p.m.

September 9, Wednesday. 7:30 p.m. “Tropical Fungi: New Insights from the Guiana Shield and Congo Basin.”   Dr. Terry Henkel, mycologist at Humboldt State University, will review his work in both Guyana (South America) and the Congo (Africa) exploring the world’s largest areas of intact tropical forests to document  new species of fungi and study their ecological relationships with green plants.  His work surprised ecologists by finding on both continents that fungal diversity approached that of species-rich temperate forests.  The discovery of forests dominated by pea family and  dipterocarp family trees  stimulated research into their ecology and mycology.  Ectomycorrhizal relationships between fungi and trees emerged as important ecological forces.  On this virtual tour of tropical forests, Dr. Henkel will give us an appreciation of what we can’t see under our feet as we appreciate the majesty and beauty of forests above our heads.


Field Trips and Walks

August  9, Sunday. Pine Ridge Prairies Day Hike.  Prairies and the oak woodlands mixed with them are two of our shrinking habitats, as lack of fires and reduced grazing allow conifers to grow, shading out a diverse mix of grasses and herbs, as well as the oaks.  Many of our favorite sun-loving wildflowers thrive in these open habitats.  A few may still be blooming when we explore the prairies of Pine Ridge, making use of new trails created by the BLM, Redwood Coast Mountain Bike Association, and the Humboldt Trails Council on this ridge in the BLM’s Lacks Creek Management Area (north off Bair Rd., between Redwood Creek and Hoopa). We will hike about 4 miles.  Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Pacific Union School.  Dress for mountain weather all day (3,600 ft. can be hotter or colder than on the coast).  Bring lunch and water.  Return late afternoon.   RSVP to Carol at 822-2015.

September 26, Saturday.  Insect-aided Botany: learning about plants by studying galls. Like flowers, different species of insect galls on plants appear in different seasons.  With naturalist John DeMartini we will find new galls that were not there in June in the Titlow Hill Rd. and Horse Mountain area in Six Rivers National Forest (off Highway 299). Oaks, silktassel, manzanitas, and tobacco brush are likely gall hosts, but we will look at anything botanically interesting among the diverse shrubs and trees in this nearby mountain area, including any late-blooming flowers.  Be prepared for walking off-trail at various roadside stops and for changeable, mountain weather (cold or hot).  Bring lunch and plenty of water, and if you have one, a hand lens.  Meet at Pacific Union School at 9:30 a.m. to carpool. Return by 5 p.m. (or sooner, driver’s choice).  RSVP to 822-2015.

September 13, Sunday. Elk River Spit Day Hike. Where there’s water, there will be plants still green, maybe even blooming. Elk River Spit has salt water, fresh water, and sand, so we’re sure to find something interesting.   We will walk about 3 miles, mostly on firm sand, including crossing the river on a train trestle.  Bring lunch and water; be prepared to be outside all day.  Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Pacific Union School to carpool, or at 9:45 at the Park & Ride at Herrick Ave. exit at the south end of Eureka. Return mid- to late-afternoon. RSVP to Carol at 822-2015.

 

Native Plant Sale

Saturday, Sept. 12
10am - 3pm

Alert!!
New location at our nursery! 
2182 Old Arcata Rd., Bayside
(Jacoby Creek Land Trust’s Kokte Ranch)

Come see our great variety!  We have many hundreds of volunteer-raised plants and plants from our partners Samara Restoration Nursery, Lost Foods Nursery, and Brant Landscaping. 
Our knowledgeable, friendly volunteers will be available to help you.

PLUS: Every half hour, starting at noon, for 10 minutes a different expert will show and tell about his or her favorite plants available at our sale. 

For your drought tolerant garden, native plants are the way to go.

For your backyard edible and medicinal garden, native plants are important additions. 
For butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds we offer monkeyflowers, penstemons, sages, buckwheats, phacelias, California fuchsia, beeplant, columbine, and more. For birds and their insect food we have shrubs, many of them berry-producers, to create a hedgerow, screen, or thicket.  For shade we have wild ginger, inside-out flower, sugar scoop, miterwort, piggy-back plant, boykinia, and ferns.  For form and year-round interest we have six species of grasses, both tall and short.   For groundcover we have beach strawberry, silverweed, and modesty. 
So many plants; so little space in your yard!

For more information check our website (www.northcoastcnps.org) or contact us at 822-2015 or 826-7257 or theralphs@humboldt1.com or eabern@aol.com.

Creature Feature: Bobcat

August, 2015

 

 

 

Lynx rufus

The bobcat is a featured creature rarely seen, yet present throughout much of North America. Roughly twice the size of your housecat, the bobcat is known for its elusive nature and beautiful coat of dense, dappled fur. Coloration varies from buff gray to red brown, darkening along the spine, and lightening to white along the underbelly. Melanistic black cats are also occasionally reported. The species’ uniquely “bobbed” tail distinguishes it from most other felines, but is actually a shared characteristic among all members of the Lynx genus, along with tufted ears, facial ruffs, and relatively long legs.

The bobcat’s greatest strength is its adaptability. Arid desert, deciduous and coniferous forest, subtropical swamp, snowy mountain, and, increasingly, the urban edge are all habitat for this species. Sightings have been confirmed across nearly all contiguous U.S. states, northern Mexico, and southern Canada.

Lynx species prefer a solitary lifestyle, wandering large home territories that vary in size depending on the animal’s sex, time of year, and abundance of prey. Bobcats prefer to feed on rabbits and hares, but will also take rodents, squirrels, insects, birds, and even deer when necessary—no small feat for an average 15 (female) to 21 (male) lb. cat. Hunting occurs primarily at night, dusk, or dawn. Particularly large kills may be partially buried for later consumption.

Mother bobcats give birth to litters of 1-6 kittens in early spring. Kittens will remain with their mother until they mature between 8 and 11 months of age. A bobcat’s life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years in the wild, and over 20 in captivity.    

The bobcat has three close cousins: the (1) Canada lynx, (2) Eurasian lynx, and (3) Iberian lynx. The larger, Canada lynx overlaps in distribution with the bobcat along the US-Canada border. However, the lynx is scarcer in this area, and tends to prefer the cool northern stretch of forest and tundra in Alaska and Canada where it lives closely tied to its main prey, the snowshoe hare. The Eurasian lynx is the largest of the four species, and inhabits the forests of Europe and Siberia. The Iberian lynx, native to the Iberian Peninsula, is considered to be the most endangered feline in the world by many conservationists. The last few hundred cats are confined to two isolated populations in southern Spain.   

Bobcats were historically hunted in great numbers throughout the Midwest and Eastern US for their spotted coats. Today, hunting is more closely regulated and the majority of bobcat populations are considered rebounded and stable. Still, this species is threatened, like so many others, by continued habitat loss and fragmentation, which reduces gene flow and makes the animals vulnerable to disease and inbreeding. The California Fish and Game Commission is considering the adoption of new rules to regulate bobcat trapping at a meeting in Fortuna on August 5, so if you’d like to weigh in the time is right meow.

The Kids' Page: Tick Talk

August, 2015

 

 

 

 

Ixodes scapularis, the common deer tick. Photo: Macroscopic Solutions, Flickr.com CCIxodes scapularis, the common deer tick. Photo: Macroscopic Solutions, Flickr.com CCDid you know that ticks have eight legs and are closely related to spiders? There are about 900 tick species split into two families based on the hardness of their bodies (700 hard-bodied vs. 200 soft-bodied).  

Ticks go through a metamorphosis that has three stages. Emerging from eggs as larvae, ticks grow into nymphs, and then finally transform into adults. They need to eat in order to develop into the next life stage. Ticks are ectoparasites, meaning they live on the outside skin of their host where they feed on blood.

There are several diseases transmitted to humans by ticks. The best known is Lyme disease. It’s important to check your body and hair for ticks after playing in the woods or tall grass. Since ticks can’t fly, they crawl up vegetation and wait to grab onto a host animal like a dog, cow, bird, or human. Tucking in your pant legs and wearing long sleeves helps to protect from tick bites.

If you happen to find a tick on you, don’t get scared. Have an adult firmly pinch the tick with tweezers close to your skin and pull it out. Keep the tick in a little jar of rubbing alcohol just in case you need to go to the doctor where they can identify the species. A fever, rash, or red ring around a tick bite is a sign to see your doctor. Ticks are hard to squish. If you find one on your shirt or pants simply flush it down the toilet or place in rubbing alcohol.

To view or download the Kids' Page as printed in EcoNews, click the Word Search below.

 

 

 

 

 

The Backpage Fundo: Corpulent Canines

August, 2015

 

 

 

 

One out of every four dogs in the world’s biggest dog show is overweight.

According to analysts at Britain’s Crufts show, 26 percent were fat while none were underweight.

Show dogs are assumed to be perfect specimens of their breed, but pugs were 80 percent fat, Basset hounds 68 percent and Labradors 63 percent. Obesity causes significant health problems in dogs, such as arthritis and diabetes.

Here at the NEC, we have no show dogs. Staff doesn’t suffer from obesity, and we like to think that they are perfect examples of their breed.

But they still need your help. So offer them some time or send in a donation—or both.

They’re busy barking at environmental ripoffs and sniffing out potential risks.

So give them a pat or two: memberships are as low as $25 a year—and you’ll get a subscription to this fine paper as well.

Thank you.