News from the Center - Oct/Nov 2015

October, 2015


This time of year often drums up echoes of a conversation I had with a wise elder next to an Arctic lake in late August of 2002. The leaves were falling, the sun was dipping down in the sky and frost was starting to encase the banks of a nearby stream. I spoke of death and how close it can feel sometimes. She responded that fall is the time when life takes a breath to ready itself for the long winter ahead; a time of passing over.

So now we find ourselves after the autumnal equinox; after the blood moon eclipse that got many of us outside (and inundated social media with a multitude of pictures of the red-tinted lunar body). Temperatures are starting to drop. Fires that have been running rampant are finally settling down. We’ve even felt a few drops of rain. In this time when life is taking a breath, it is an apt time to bid thanks and wish a fond farewell to those who have left us.

Since the last EcoNews went to print, our bioregion has lost several important environmental voices.

Closest to home, Sidney Dominitz—who was a critical part of the NEC for nearly 40 years—passed away in the early hours of Saturday, September 12.

Sid took the helm as EcoNews copy-editor in 1976 with his first article on the cover of the December 1976 issue. Its title: “Buddy, Can You Spare a Nickel? Strip Mine Looms Over Eel River.”

Over the next several decades, Sid shaped the monthly publication into a respected newspaper with his wit, ability to distill down details and his no-holds-barred approach to editing. Sid continued at the helm as editor until 2006. Even after his “retirement”, Sid was a regular contributor to EcoNews with the ever-entertaining Eco-Mania and the back-page
“fundometer” up until the time of his passing.

Although his red pen was most renowned, Sid was perhaps proudest of his role in founding NEC’s Adopt-A-Beach program and his efforts as part of Coastal Cleanup Day. Sid was cleaning up beaches before it became a statewide and now global phenomenon—and he takes the prize for the longest-running beach cleanup site captain with over 35 years under his belt. It is fitting that the graphic for this year’s California Coastal Cleanup Day is a heart-shaped shell with a crack down the middle—for the beach will indeed need more love with Sid’s departure to wherever whip-cracking editors and eco-heroes go. And  EcoNews will assuredly need more attention. [Note: for those who have been meaning to submit an article, now would be an appropriate time.]

On August 11, naturalist and advocate for the wild Wendell Wood died after collapsing while hiking in the redwoods near his Crescent City home. He was 65 years old. In the early 70’s when Wendell was attending Humboldt State, he volunteered at NEC office when it first opened and also served as “publicity chairman” writing press releases. Wendell considered his activities with the NEC as a foundation for his lifelong environmental advocacy. He spent the last three decades working with Oregon Wild in various capacities, most recently as wildlands interpreter. Wendell was a tireless advocate for the Klamath Basin and he was at the frontlines of the fight to save ancient forests. Wendell was definitely one of those rare, big trees for which there is no replacement.

On September 7, our North Coast also lost Zeke Grader, long-time executive director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). Zeke was a celebrated advocate for fish, fishing communities, rivers and the Bay-Delta. He was passionate about protecting West Coast fisheries, a strong advocate for removing the Klamath River dams and a tireless crusader against central valley irrigators in order to preserve river flows for fish. Zeke was not afraid to take a stand and was known for not backing down. He also was incredibly adept at building coalitions and influencing legislation. Current PCFFA director and friend Tim Sloane perhaps said it best, “You would probably not be eating a wild California salmon today if it were not for Zeke.”

Let us remember the legacies of those who came before.


Klamath Conundrums
With an apparent deadlock in Congress, a December 31 deadline fast approaching, and stakeholders shifting restlessly, the Klamath Basin agreements are on shakier ground than ever. In mid-September the Yurok Tribe announced that they intend to withdraw from the agreements given that previously agreed-upon conditions have been altered. The Karuk Tribe and Klamath Tribes of Oregon also warned they will withdraw from the agreements if legislation does not move by the end of the year. If the agreements go up in smoke, 2016 will likely be a pretty tough year for all involved parties.

Polar Bears Declare Victory
As this column started in the Arctic, so shall it end there. Just days before going to print, multinational oil barons Royal Dutch Shell announced they are pulling the plug on their Arctic oil and gas exploration “for the foreseeable future.” This is a substantial victory for the climate (see more on page 6) Next step: it is past time for our elected representatives to take a decisive stand and say no more fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic. Period.

Bon Voyage to Jen Savage
After nearly two sunshiny years, we are losing our Coastal Programs director Jennifer Savage to the greener (or should we say browner?) pastures of So Cal. We feel fortunate to have been able to keep here the short time we have but alas she has a great opportunity awaiting her in her new role as CA policy director for Surfrider Foundation. She promises to stay in touch but we will see how long that lasts given the distance and what we would expect to be a huge workload. Regardless, have fun out there, Jen, and though you may be near Hollywood, don’t break a leg!



A bodacious oceanic bouquet to Jennifer Savage for your energy, enthusiasm, creativity and uncanny ability to time and time again pull of a pretty darn entertaining raffle regardless of the occasion. Best of luck riding the waves with your grand new gig! We will miss you!

A beauteous backyard bouquet to Jan and Gary Friedrichsen for going above and beyond in hosting this year’s wonderful patio party & fundraising dinner. We cannot thank you enough. Bountiful blue blossoms to our sponsors: Arcata Scoop, Ramones Bakery, Moonstone Crossing Winery, Coast Seafoods; to our key party people: Terry Roelofs, Erica Upton, Leah Bond, Chuck Krull, Stephen Rice, John Woolley, Dan Sealy, Jen Kalt, Larry Glass, Gary Falxa, Keytra Meyer, Emily Sinkhorn, John Cortenbach, Jasmin Segura, Alicia Hamman, Morgan Corviday, Madison Peters, Anne Maher; to the musicians Good Company and to all the other volunteers and guests who made it such a success—Thank you!