Photo: Martin Swett



News From the Center

By Dan Ehresman

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.




In Praise of Wild Rides on Wild Rivers

By Dan Sealy

As autumn turns to a much-hoped for wet winter, North Coast residents will begin to dream of sunnier days and imagine the next big adventure.  Surely as long as people have come to river shores, they have used them for transportation, sources of food, inspiration and recreation. So important are rivers to life, people have established sacred connections with flowing waters in cultures around the world. 

Photographer and river guide, John Blaustein, has had an inspiring personal connection to one of America’s most iconic rivers, the Colorado, through one of the most spectacular landscapes, the Grand Canyon, since the 1970’s. The photos in his book, The Hidden Canyon: A River Journey are stunning, while the accompanying journal entries by the late Monkeywrencher, Edward Abbey, will make you laugh and wish you were in the canyon. 




Protecting Watersheds Needs to be Top Priority in Pot Ordinance

By Dan Ehresman

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.



Are Green Plastics Really Green?

By Julie Layshock, Zero Waste Humboldt

Bioplastic, biodegradable, plant-based, recyclable, and compostable are popular terms on single use plastic products and packaging. While these green marketing words sound good, clarity is needed to understand the flood of new plastic products. Often used interchangeably and in combination with each other, these terms have very different meanings. “Bioplastic” and “plant-based” indicate the source materials used to make the plastics. “Biodegradable,” “recyclable,” and “compostable” describe possible options after use.




Regional Water Board Proposes Rules to Protect Water Quality from Impacts Associated with Marijuana Cultivation

By Scott Greacen, Friends of the Eel River

A substantial crowd was on hand May 7 at Eureka’s Wharfinger Building as the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (generally known as the Regional Water Board) held a public workshop at its board meeting to discuss a draft framework for regulating water quality impacts associated with cultivation of marijuana and similar crops. The proposal will be open for public comment through June 8, 2015. If adopted by the Board, as early as its August meeting, the new program could go into effect as soon as the fall of this year.




Global Carbon Levels Surpass 400ppm for First Time Ever for Entire Month

By Sarah Lazarre, Common Dreams

Marking yet another grim milestone for an ever-warming planet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed on Wednesday that, for the first time in recorded history, global levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged more than 400 parts per million (ppm) for an entire month—in March 2015.

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, in a press statement. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”






Goodbye Jen, Hello Delia!

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!

Welcome to our new MPA Outreach Coordinator, Delia Bense-Kang!

 Jen Savage and Delia Bense-KangJen Savage and Delia Bense-Kang

Greetings, my name is Delia Bense-Kang and I am excited to be the NEC’s new MPA Outreach Coordinator. Born and raised in Arcata, I have a deep appreciation and vested interest in the unique ecosystems of the North Coast. Marine Protected Areas are of special importance to me as much of my livelihood depends on surfing, kayaking, or simply enjoying a walk on the beach.

I studied at UC Santa Cruz for two years and am now in my final semester at Humboldt State University earning a degree in Environmental Management and Protection with an emphasis in planning.  At both schools I have held the position of Project Coordinator and Team Manager for PowerSave, a student-run energy efficiency and water conservation organization.  I have also been involved with the Humboldt Surfrider Chapter as Volunteer Coordinator and will now be taking over as Chair. 

I believe this position fits beautifully with my local knowledge, previous experience, love for surfing, and interest in protecting the environment.Jennifer Savage has left me well prepared and I will do my best to follow in her footsteps. I look forward to working with the team at the NEC and everyone here on the North Coast.