The decades-old battle to protect Humboldt County’s scenic beauty has made some notable gains in recent months.
On October 6, in a surprise move, the Board of Supervisors voted to scrap a proposed ban on electronic and animated billboards as part of their review of the County’s General Plan Update (now in its 14th year). This action resulted in tremendous public outcry including a well-publicized petition drive. The pressure convinced the Board to reconsider, and on November 3, the Supervisors voted unanimously to reinstate the ban of digital and electronic billboards.
Thanks to Michele McKeegan, Jean Gladstone, and Joel Mielke of Keep Eureka Beautiful and the hundreds of people who heeded their call to action, no new digital billboards will sprout in unincorporated areas of the County. Unfortunately, the ban does not apply to the ten or so that have been built in the last decade and it doesn’t stop the potential proliferation of additional static billboards from our landscape. There is still more work to be done to protect our rural and scenic areas. The Board will take up these issues, including whether to designate Scenic Highways, again on December 15 at 1:30 p.m.
A welcome surprise was the removal of two billboards from the scenic area along Humboldt Bay on Highway 255 between Arcata and Manila. Some years ago Caltrans bought the property with these two billboards for wetland mitigation purposes and recently Caltrans chose not to renew the leases, forcing CBS Outdoor to remove these two billboards for good. Recent controversy drawing attention to the billboards around Humboldt Bay has helped encourage Caltrans to do the right thing in this case.
Humboldt Baykeeper will continue to advocate for removal of billboards from scenic coastal areas along the bay, particularly those that remain on public lands in spite of objections by the landowners. To stay up-to-date on our billboard blight campaign and other efforts to protect scenic beauty, coastal resources, and clean water, send an email to email@example.com or visit our website, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
Thanks for a Successful Season of Bay Explorations
Humboldt Baykeeper is profoundly grateful to our Bay Explorations team for another successful season! Our dedicated volunteer docents Rich Ridenhour, Susan Penn, Bob Rasmussen, and Tim Clohessy led free, natural history tours of the bay and the Hikshari’ Trail in Eureka’s Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary, getting nearly 100 residents and visitors out enjoying and learning about Humboldt Bay. Many thanks to the California Coastal Conservancy for funding the program; the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District and skippers Alan Bobillot and Tim Petrusha; the HSU Aquatic Center and the captain and crew of the Madaket; Jen Savage, NEC Coastal Programs Director; and Jasmin Segura, Bay Explorations Coordinator and bilingual guide. Stay tuned for our next tour season beginning in April 2015!
Also, thanks to a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy, Baykeeper sponsored a tour of Humboldt Bay aboard the Madaket for Pam Halstead’s Fortuna High School A.P. Environmental Science class. Students learned about the abundant and rich bay ecosystem and the economic and environmental importance of Humboldt Bay.
King Tide Photo Initiative: January 20
On January 20, Humboldt Baykeeper volunteers and staff will photo-document the highest tides of the year, also known as King Tides, around Humboldt Bay. The highest tide of the 2014-15 winter is predicted to reach 8.36’ at the North Spit tide gage—and could be higher depending on rainfall, atmospheric pressure, and wind. Above-average high tides will also occur on Dec. 22 (8.21’) and Feb. 18 (8.06’). By capturing images of these extreme high tides, scientists and planners hope to gain insight into how rising sea levels will impact coastal areas in the future. The King Tides Photo Initiative is a great opportunity for Citizen Scientists to contribute to a long-term dataset, while helping inform residents and decision-makers about the need to plan for the coming changes to our natural and built environments.
To volunteer to help us document this year’s King Tide, email us at KingTidePhotos@gmail.com.
For more information about King Tide monitoring and sea level rise, visit our website at www.humboldtbaykeeper.org (go to the Sea Level Rise page on the upper left). For more info on shoreline vulnerability, inundation maps, and related issues, visit the Humboldt Bay Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning Project website at www.humboldtbay.org.