What are all of the environmental impacts of the cannabis industry in Humboldt County, and what are the best ways to minimize those impacts from an enforcement and planning perspective?
Virginia Bass: Quite frankly I think we really don’t really know ALL of the environmental impacts of the cannabis industry…over time more will be discovered. We need to work closely with DFW to closely monitor the applications that come in and be sure that they are accurate as to on the ground operations and focus enforcement on those who have not yet tried to come into the system. We should continue to forbid grows in TPZ areas and encourage growers to move out of the hills and take advantage of the RRR program which is meant to help minimize impacts.
Dani Burkhart: Illegal water diversions, sediment discharge from poorly maintained and improperly developed infrastructure, runoff from pesticide and herbicide, light pollution are some of the impacts of irresponsible cannabis cultivation within the County. Implementation of a properly regulated industry that can be taxed to generate the revenue for enforcement throughout the County is critical to protecting our wildlife and watersheds. Regulated farms must be inspected on a regular basis. The County should consider partnering with local community groups for farm inspections to maintain transparency and to utilize resources available due to limited county staffing compared to the size of the industry.
Steve Madrone: There is dewatering of streams, soil disturbance and erosion and sedimentation of our streams and rivers, and pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers affecting water and wildlife. It is important to note that not all cannabis farms cause these problems. Many small farmers with organic grow it in the sun techniques have a very small to no impact on the land, water, or wildlife. What is important is how we grow. You can learn more about my ideas to incentivize good land stewardship and sustainable agriculture on my web site www.votemadrone.com. The news article is titled It’s How You Grow Not What You Grow.
What do you think of locating/zoning cannabis extraction, manufacturing facilities and other industrial activities near critical public drinking water sources and important fish and wildlife habitat?
Virginia Bass: It’s important to listen to the concerns of the community and weigh the evidence carefully. In the case of the operation that was planned to be located near the source of the water for the HBMWD, the concerns of the public and the district were clear. Their board was united on this issue and if you look at their board you see they are cut from very different political cloths... that tells me that this goes beyond political boundaries. However, for me to take that instance and overlay it over any other issue that could come forward would be presumptive.
Dani Burkhart: I oppose irresponsible development near critical drinking water sources. I have publically opposed the re-zone and subsequent cannabis extraction facility proposed by Mercer Fraser on the banks of the Mad River which is the drinking water source for 88,000 residents of our community. I support the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District’s appeal of the rezoning and cannabis permit.
Steve Madrone: I oppose that type of planning and development. It is careless and not sustainable. The problem with this type of development was created by the weakened updated General Plan (GP). New GP designations encouraged these type of projects in the floodplain. When water districts and customers, and neighbors find out about the projects then there are protests and appeals. The county gets sued either way and we as taxpayers lose. I support and am experienced at sound land use planning and implementation. Developers and community win with sound land use planning because they avoid spending money on bad planning.