News from the Center - Aug/Sep 2014

August, 2014

nid%3D3245%7Ctitle%3D%7Cdesc%3D%7Clink%3DnoneEven as we face a host of environmental challenges—drought, habitat loss, resource depletion, pollution and sea level rise—we cannot say enough what it means to have such a strong support network and the help of so many inspiring, passionate and hard-working people. Only together can we meet the many complex challenges that are at our doorstep and integrate a culture that is truly sustainable and resilient. As donations continue to come in from our most recent fund appeal, I want to say to all who have given so far, “Thank You!” Each donation that comes in—whether it’s $5 or $500—greatly helps to sustain this work. A huge thank you as well to our growing team of environmental advocates, volunteers and staff!

If you have never given before, or if it has been a while since you sent in a donation, please consider giving today and be part of the team that continues to educate and advocate on behalf of North Coast communities, human and wild.

Water: State of Emergency

The late-winter predictions of severely depleted summertime water supplies are now an increasingly grim reality for communities throughout California – drop by disappearing drop. Many of our region’s rivers are at or near record low flows, and many small municipal water supplies are on the verge of running out of water.

In an unprecedented move designed to draw attention to the unsustainable draw-down of municipal supplies, the State Water Resources Control Board voted to authorize fines of up to $500/day for wasteful water use, such as excessive lawn watering, hosing down sidewalks and washing a car without a shut-off nozzle on the hose. The Board also issued a water diversion curtailment to junior water holders, including those on the north fork and main stem of the Eel River.

Each day the list of cities and water districts enacting voluntary and mandatory restrictions of water use grows longer. Meanwhile, illegal water diversions continue to suck dry entire creeks at the expense of those living downstream (and in-stream).

As municipal water supplies and rivers dry up, it is clear that water policy and practice must change if we are ever going to remedy our water woes over the long term. Unfortunately, policy makers are still placing too much emphasis on the outdated modality of piping water from regions with more abundant supplies to areas growing beyond their means. Likewise, unpermitted straws in creeks, rivers and springs are draining the lifeblood of our region. As the Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick points out in this issue, doing nothing is no longer an acceptable option. We must take action now to put an end to wasteful water ways and work to improve efficiency of water use and accelerate efforts for reuse of stormwater and wastewater so that future generations can have access to this most vital of elements.

Trails—Getting a Move on

Thanks to the tireless advocacy of many community members, the stars are finally aligning for construction to begin on the Humboldt Bay Trail—or at least parts of it! The Bay Trail is now being developed as part of a collaborative effort between Humboldt County Public Works, Humboldt County Association of Governments, City of Eureka, City of Arcata, State Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans, North Coast Railroad Authority and numerous other organizations. Arcata is in line to begin construction later this summer on its Arcata City Trail which will extend from the skate park on Sunset down to Samoa Boulevard, eventually connecting to the Bay Trail. The City of Eureka appears to be next in line with several sections along the Bay, eventually connecting the Hikshari’ Trail to the Bay Trail—all in all a 6.3-mile trail along the Eureka waterfront! Humboldt County is heading up probably the most challenging segment between Eureka and Bracut. Even with this final Bay Trail section being at least three years from construction, so long as the momentum is maintained, we are soon going to have a pretty sweet connected trail system providing a host of benefits for residents and visitors alike!

In other trail news, Arcata just completed the South Fork Janes Creek Trail—a multi-use, two mile loop trail which overlaps a section of the famed Arcata Ridge Trail. Special thanks to the Samuels family for donating the conservation easement upon which much of the trail sits to the City of Arcata.  Also, the Redwood Coast Action Agency just completed a study exploring options for extending the Hammond Trail between Little River State Beach and Westhaven. Ongoing community support will be key in showing that this trail is a priority in Humboldt County. Here’s to Humboldt’s countywide trail system coming to fruition!

ReWilding California

We are still celebrating the news from early June when the California Fish and Game Commission voted to list the gray wolf under the state’s Endangered Species Act. Thanks to the Commissioners and to everyone who came out to the Fortuna hearing to be a voice for protecting this splendid and ecologically integral species. The decision could not have come at a better time given the exciting news that OR-7, the famed no-longer-lone wolf, has pups. It is amazing to think that within the next few decades wolves will be roaming the mountains and condors soaring the skies of Northern California so long as we all do our part to restore, protect and celebrate that which connects all life on our fragile yet resilient planet.

Fundraising Dinner Party

Join NEC staff and friends for a Fundraising Dinner in Sunny Brae on Sunday, August 17, 5pm. Tickets are $50/person. Join us for tasty treats, locally brewed beverages, lawn games, music and more. As an entrée, take your pick of fresh salmon or vegetarian lasagna. Space is limited so please RSVP now! To reserve your tickets, call the NEC headquarters at 707-822-6918 or email dan@yournec.org.