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Over 40 Years of Environmental News


Arcata, California

Vol. 42, No. 4 Aug/Sept 2012

NEWS Published by the Northcoast Environmental Center Since 1971


Heat is


Our planet is heating up What are we doing about it? Bay [T]rail Update | Humboldt’s Energy Future | Labeling GMOs Fisher Mortality | 50 Years After Silent Spring | Coastal Cleanup Day - Sept 15!



1385 8th Street - Suite 215, Arcata, CA 95521 PO Box 4259, Arcata, CA 95518 707- 822-6918, Fax 707-822-6980 EcoNews is the official bi-monthly publication of the Northcoast Environmental Center, a non-profit organization. Third class postage paid in Arcata. ISSN No. 0885-7237. EcoNews is mailed to our members and distributed free throughout the Northern California/ Southern Oregon bioregion. The subscription rate is $35 per year.

Editor/Layout: Morgan Corviday, Advertising: Proofreaders: Karen Schatz, Midge Brown Writers: Sid Dominitz, Morgan Corviday, Dan Ehresman, Sarah Marnick, Dan Sealy, Jim Zoellick, Rees Hughes, Kay Schaser, Ankush Ganapathy, Scott Greacen, Rob DiPerna, Andrew Orahoske, Chris Butner, Vanessa Vasquez, Hezekiah Allen, Dan Equinoss, Erica Terrernce, Craig Tucker, Regina Chichizola, Marily Woodhouse Cover Photo: Loco Steve , CC BY 2.0 NEC Programs Manager: Dan Ehresman,

NEC’s Mission

To promote understanding of the relations between people and the biosphere and to conserve, protect and celebrate terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems of northern California and southern Oregon.

NEC Board Of Directors

Safe Alternatives for our Forest EnvironmentLarry Glass, President., At-Large, Trinity County Rep. - Bob Morris, Vice-President, At-Large - Chris Jenican Beresford, Treasurer, California Native Plant Society - Jennifer Kalt, Secretary, Humboldt Baykeeper - Beth Werner, Redwood Region Audubon Society CJ Ralph, Sierra Club North Group, - Richard Kries, At-Large - Tom Preble At-Large - Scott Greacen

Member Groups

North Group/Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club, Redwood Region Audubon Society, North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Humboldt Baykeeper, Safe Alternatives for Our Forest Environment.

Affiliate Groups

Environmental Protection Information Center, Friends of Del Norte, Mattole Restoration Council

NEC Sponsored Groups

Healthy Humboldt Coalition, Green Wheels

The ideas and views expressed in EcoNews are not necessarily those of the NEC.

Every issue of EcoNews is printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. Please, Recycle!

News From the Center

With all the divisive issues we deal with, it is refreshing to gear up again for two of our most positive, proactive annual events. We are in the midst of planning for the 28th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 15th, and the All-Species Parade the very next day. These longstanding NEC events are such a success because of the great many participants who come out to celebrate and lend a hand (or wing or fin). Read more on pages 11 and 12 about how you can get involved! It is vitally important to celebrate this wondrous planet we live on. But it’s also necessary to maintain a realistic perspective on the very difficult issues we face. This summer of 2012 is one for the history books with record-setting drought conditions and polar icemelt throughout the northern hemisphere. Failed crops, dry riverbeds, and shrinking glaciers paint an alarming picture of what lies ahead for our planet—especially if we neglect to take action. At the NEC we are committed to continue engaging on issues that

relate to global climate change and, specifically, the North Coast’s energy future. With Shell WindEnergy’s recent announcement that they are pulling out of Humboldt County, we hope the region can move towards a more civil dialog on the work we need to do to wean ourselves (and our society) off fossil fuels. The reliance on oil to power our vehicles is, of course, a major component of this region’s energy footprint. Over the next few months there are a number of hotly debated issues will be up for consideration including the Bay [T]rail proposal, port and rail development, and safe routes to school. Our elected and appointed officials will be deciding whether to design our roadways and communities to be good for motorized vehicles alone or in a way that benefits all residents, whether they choose to walk, bike, bus or drive. Here on the North Coast we are also preparing for the height of our dry season and the return of salmon to our rivers. Within the last year, the County’s Planning Commission discussed, and

unanimously approved, a suite of recommendations relating to watershed restoration and waterwise development practices. If enacted, it would be a huge step in the right direction to address some of the grievous, ongoing water abuses. In the coming months the Board of Supervisors will be making the final decision on these recommendations. The NEC will be watching to ensure the Board moves the community consensus on water forward. On the Klamath River, given a remarkably abundant run of fall Chinook salmon this year coupled with low water levels, there is fear of another massive fish kill similar to the one of 2002. In an effort to avoid such a tragedy, the Bureau of Reclamation has proposed a plan to release 92,000 acre-feet of water from the Trinity Reservoir to restore flows in the lower Klamath River. The NEC has joined with numerous agencies, organizations, and individuals to support this effort. Stay tuned to see what you can do to help ensure salmon survival and recovery across the North Coast.

Catch the NEC’s EcoNews Report

Every Thursday, 1:30pm on KHSU - 90.5FM Join us each Thursday for our half-hour radio show, the EcoNews Report! Each show features interviews with experts on a variety of important environmental topics! EcoNews Report hosts include: Dan Ehresman (NEC), Jen Kalt (Humboldt Baykeeper), Beth Werner (Humboldt Baykeeper), Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel River), Gary Graham Hughes (EPIC), and Kirk Cohune and David Narum (Greenway Partners). Past shows are also archived on our website for listening online anytime!

Bouquets A huge bouquet for Beth Werner, the outgoing Executive Director of Humboldt Baykeeper, for her tireless efforts to protect the health of the Bay and local waterways. Best wishes in your future endeavors, Beth! Congratulations to Pete Nichols, former NEC Board President, for his recent promotion to National Director of Waterkeeper! Wow, Pete, way to go! Ankush Ganapathy, we really appreciate the time you’ve put into the Archive Project this summer! Good luck with your fall semester! And Katie Alford, thank you for stepping in as our summer Office Assistant! You’ve been a great help, and we wish you could stay with us longer!



We are people-powered! Volunteer with the NEC! Opportunities include: EcoNews production Archive Project, EcoNews distribution, radio show transcribing, office assistance, and more!


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World on Fire..............................this page

Humboldt Baykeeper..........................13

What’s Next for Humboldt’s Energy? 4

Friends of the Eel River......................14

Advocating for a Bay [T]rail................4


Rare Forest Carnivores Poisoned...........5

Mattole Restoration Council.............16

Your Right to Know-Labeling GMO’s ...6

Sierra Club North Group News.........17

Legislative Watch..................................8

CA Native Plant Society........................18

Kin to the Earth.....................................9


Green Wheels......................................10

Creature Feature.................................21


Kids’ Page............................................22

Climate Change is heating things up!

Research into our sustainable alternatives.

An update on the progress, or lack thereof.

Rat poison discovered to cause fisher deaths.

You are what you eat. What is in your food?

Rescinding Wild & Scenic and other compromises

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring turns 50!

Get Involved with your local cycling community.

Coastal Cleanup, All Species Parade, Sandpiper

County Bag Ban update.

What’s really holding up railbanking?

Clearcutting triggers hotter fires.

A New Paradigm for the Timeber Economy.

News and conservation updates. News and event Happenings.

Melange of Salient Sillies.

Arliomax spp., banana slugs!

Discover the Oak Woodland Ecosystem.

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EcoNews is e x p a n d i n g to include web-only content! In addition to the articles available in the print edition of EcoNews, look for more articles to appear on our website in the coming months. Visit our website today to check out what else is new!



Greetings from the North Cascades, I was pleased to read Dan Sealy's story on his "Return to Emerald Creek" (June/ July issue), and am encouraged to learn that the 1970's devistation, pre-park expansion, is actually beginning to heal. I did want to add, however, that our mentor should be noted. Dr. Rudolph W. Becking, professor of Natural Resources at HSU, and the driving inspiration for not only Emerald Creekers, but hundreds, if not thousands, of students who were influenced and enlightned by his knowledge, wisdom, and foresight. "Rudy" and his family, invited and embraced us all, and for this we are forever greatful. He passed on last year, but I have no doubt that his spirit walked with Dan, John, and Sungnome last summer when they returned to the lands he introduced to us. Thanks for keeping the flame alive,

This issue’s web content, available only online:

• Troubled Waters at Battle Creek • Another Klamath Fish Kill? • Plaza Point • 17th Coho Confab • Scott River Roundup • Good News • and more!

it feels good Article submissions welcome! Full articles of 300-600 words may be submitted, preferably by email. Please pitch your idea to the editor prior to submitting a draft. Include your phone number and email with all submissions, to

We want to hear from you! Aug/Sept 2012

Dan Ehresman At the NEC we try to maintain an air of optimism in our work and in what we publish and broadcast. We believe that change is possible—why else do what we do? But sometimes that optimistic outlook feels fleeting when faced with the realities of our warming, increasingly-populated planet. The world is on fire—literally and figuratively. This summer has seen record-setting drought throughout the U.S., catastrophic fires blazing in the Southwest, and unprecedented melting of Greenland’s ice sheet (over 80% of surface ice in just 4 days). Species are on the move as well—at least the ones who have the ability to do so; some—like our beloved redwoods—may not be able to move or adapt fast enough to keep up with the rapidly changing climate. Despite the clear indications that anthropogenic sources of CO2 are largely, if not completely, to blame for climate change, our U.S. representatives continue to act as cheerleaders for fossil fuel development. With the recent approval of more oil exploration in the Arctic, increased coal mining on public lands, and the renewed move to approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, it is pretty clear the current energy policy in the US is driving the planet even closer to the precipice, beyond which is likely a fiery plummet. Current projections show that much of the North Coast may be one of the few regions that maintain tolerable temperatures and.. Continued on page 3


Plumes of smoke and ash, high above the San Juan National Forest, CO. The 2012 Little Sand Wildlife was sparked by lightning. Photo: USDAgov, CC BY 2.0 Flickr. com

Send your letters to: NEC Editor, PO Box 4259, Arcata 95518, or


World On Fire


World On Fire

Continued from previous page

...a comparatively abundant freshwater work ahead, given that the majority of our lifestyle supply—a sought after place for climate refugees. choices contribute to climate change—and we at However, we will also experience the loss of lowthe NEC will continue to work at this level. But lying land (to sea-level rise) and the collapse of local efforts may not be enough. marine food webs (to ocean acidification). Despite In his recent piece in Rolling Stone, climate the obviously dire situation, our world’s leaders scientist Bill McKibben points to some sobering continue to cast many a blind eye towards one of numbers that show just how dire the situation is— the most—if not THE most—critical issue of our and that the time for serious action on the personal time, with consequences reaching far into the future. level was 20 years ago. (More on this in the column Our problems, though, do not begin—nor do they end—with our appointed leaders. Even with icecaps melting and veritable flames licking our doorsteps, much the populace remains jaded, and polarized to the point of stalemate. Here on the North Coast, seemingly common-sense discussions can lead to division—even within the ranks of those who consider themselves environmentalists. Conversations about how to grow our communities, how to care for our rivers, or how to feed our growing energy needs, have devolved into demonization of—and mistrust among—fellow Flames tower over the tree line near Colorado Springs, CO. Photo: Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock, U.S. Air Force. AirmanMagazine, CC BY-NC 2.0 community members. So how do we move forward, to get from this to the right.) McKibben points out that, despite time of division to an era of action, in order to the various means by which people have sought to address the great many threats we face related to confront global warming over the course of the past global climate change? The answer seems simple two decades, the process hasn’t been moving fast enough: take action and encourage meaningful enough. These actions “have so far produced only dialog along the way. gradual, halting shifts.” McKibben concludes this Community groups such as the NEC, Humboldt thought stating, “…what all these climate numbers Village, and many others are actively brainstorming, make painfully, usefully clear is that the planet does researching and educating about ways to indeed have an enemy—one far more committed address the issues of community independence to action than governments or individuals. Given and sustainability. this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel Plan It Green’s 6th Annual Building Green industry in a new light. It has become a rogue Communities conference, organized under the industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is theme of “Adaptation: Creating a Resilient Future,” Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our is an example of such efforts. The workshops at the planetary civilization.” conference focused on a wide array of adaptation Standing under the harrowing clouds of strategies that will be crucial in meeting the any number of this summer’s intense storms, or challenges ahead: the topics ranged from local running from a raging wildfire, we catch glimpses renewable energy sources and transportation of what will become the “new normal”. Oceans strategies to sustainable food systems and reare rising, whether we prepare or not—will we envisioning business models. wait until our coastal towns are under water to These strategies are an important part of the consider what to do?

Climate Change by the Numbers

A recent Rolling Stone article by climate activist Bill McKibben is provocatively titled, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” In it he discusses three numbers that we should be watching in order to know how close we are to climate collapse: • 2ºCelsius (3.6F) is the heat ceiling as set by the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009. • 565 gigatons of new carbon in the atmosphere— this will bring us up to that 2 degree Celsius increase. • 2795 gigatons of carbon still in the ground—the known amount the industry wants to extract and sell us.

We know the more carbon we put in the atmosphere, the more the climate warms up. The goal is to stay below a 2ºC rise—the heat ceiling— or, as McKibben says, we’ll cook the planet. The increasing extreme weather experienced in recent years is the result of the 0.8ºC rise that’s already occured—and indicate stronger effects than were predicted. Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels right now—temperatures are expected to rise at least another 0.8ºC, just from what exists already. Those processes are already in motion. One would think this would encourage drastic action, right now, to halt adding more carbon to the atmosphere, yet fossil fuel use shows no sign of abating. What’s truly frightening is that the amount of carbon in the coal, gas and oil reserves in the ground that the industry plans to extract and sell (number three above) is five times the maximum amount climate scientists believe might be “safe” to burn (number two above)—might be—but the odds aren’t good. The great irony is that this third number—2795 gigatons—was determined by financial analysts in London who, in an effort to educate investors about protecting their stock portfolios from the risks of climate change, poured through available records of known oil, gas, and coal reserves to come up with potential carbon totals. As McKibben points out, you can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet—but not both. The fossil-fuel industry is undermining the planet’s physical systems for profit. So far environmental efforts to tackle climate change have failed. This is a wake up call for the need of regulations, and the fight to keep the carbon in the ground.

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Aug/Sept 2012


What’s Next for Humboldt’s Energy Future? Jim Zoellick With the proposed Shell wind project for Bear River Ridge now dead, some people are breathing a sigh of relief. However, many of us also see this as a lost opportunity, and the question that remains is “what next?” For the last two and a half years, the Schatz Energy Research Center and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority have been working on a plan to develop renewable energy resources in Humboldt County. The study, called the Humboldt Renewable Energy Secure Community (RESCO) project has been funded through a grant from the California Energy Commission. The goal is to prepare a plan for local renewable energy development that maximizes energy, environmental, and economic benefits to our community. About two thirds of Humboldt County’s

energy is imported as petroleum and natural gas. The remaining third primarily comes from local biomass. Although the petroleum used for transportation accounts for only one third of our energy use, it makes up about 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Because of our remote, isolated location our connections to the larger energy infrastructure are tenuous. For this reason we already generate the majority of our electricity locally, primarily at the PG&E Humboldt Bay Generating Station, which runs on natural gas, and three local biomass power plants. Schatz’s research indicates Humboldt County has tremendous opportunity to secure a sustainable energy future. With a wealth of local renewable energy resources, primarily in the form of biomass, wind, wave and small hydro, use of these resources will substantially reduce our carbon footprint. Renewable energy is also good news

for our struggling local economy. Development of our local energy resources will mean a significant increase in local economic activity and jobs— more energy dollars will circulate in our local economy. However, the use of any energy resource has impacts. The key will be to develop them in a responsible, environmentally sensitive way that is acceptable to the local community. One sentiment people have expressed is a preference for small, distributed energy systems, like rooftop solar. People like to be able to do things themselves and like the feeling of independence that comes with a home energy system. In addition, they don’t want the impacts associated with largescale projects, nor the large corporate influence that often comes with them. While rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources should be further developed, these resources alone will not be Continued on page 6 adequate to meet our needs.

Advocating for a Bay [T]rail Rees Hughes It has been some 15 years since the last train ran on the tracks around Humboldt Bay. While dreams of a return of freight traffic continue to proliferate (most recently in the incredibly ambitious “East-West” rail line), the reality is that even in the most optimistic scenarios it will be years—if not decades—before trains might once again rumble around the Bay. The cost of reviving the railroad through the Eel River Canyon is prohibitive, the development of a local short line could just as easily utilize the Schneider Dock in Eureka, and the right-of-way between Eureka and Arcata continues to deteriorate. This past winter, local businessman Dennis Rael, publisher of the North Coast Journal Judy Hodgson, and retired HSU administrator Rees Hughes united over a shared desire to re-start a plan for a multi-modal trail along the right-of-way along the east side of the Bay. Meetings began with a variety of stakeholders including representatives of the Timber Heritage Association (THA) in an effort to find common ground for a compromise that might allow for a realistic, unified vision for the use of the right-of-way. From these conversations, the Bay (T)rail Plan emerged including the following components: 1. Railbank. Using the long-established federal option to protect railroad rights of way, request that the North

Coast Rail Association (NCRA) railbank the Northwestern Pacific (NWP) line from Eureka north through Arcata to Fairhaven, the end of the line. 2. Using the rail-to-trail option, design and build a multimodal trail connecting Arcata and Eureka. This choice has been driven by the price tag on the rail-withtrail option between Eureka and Arcata, which is estimated to be a daunting $30plus million (2007 Humboldt Bay Trail Feasibility Study) ,versus the do-able $4 million for a rail-to-trail conversion. 3. Using the rail-with-trail option, design and build a multimodal trail from Arcata to Samoa. 4. Tourist train infrastructure. Bring the rail line from Arcata to Samoa/ Fairhaven up to current standards needed to operate a tourist train on existing tracks.

Bay [T]rail buttons, distributed at the recent NCRA Board meeting.

Although some of the same resistance that has kept the (t)rail in limbo for years still exist, a number of allies were discovered in unlikely places, including long-time THA members like Don Banducci (who subsequently joined the By [T]rail team) and Board members Pete and Jen Johnston, the chair of the NCRA (Clif Clendenen) and board member Bill Kier, and strong support from the HCAOG technical advisors and staff. Community advocacy groups and hundreds of

individuals signed on through our website. Buoyed by a strong staff report from County Public Works Director, Tom Mattson, and the voices of many community supporters, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to request that the NCRA Board establish a committee to “evaluate the concept of railbanking the NWP line from Eureka to Arcata and Samoa, as a potential means to achieve rail and trail improvements around northern Continued on page 7 Humboldt Bay.”

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(707)822-3256 EcoNews

Aug/Sept 2012


Rat Poison Threatens Rare Forest Carnivores

Morgan Corviday and threats. Fishers are reclusive creatures that prefer remote forest areas, far from human centers. A recent study aimed at identifying and The discovery of rampant rodenticide poisoning understanding threats to California’s fisher was a surpise, as rat poison is typically a problem populations discovered a disturbingly high rate of associated with proximaty to urban centers. Illegal fisher mortality from an unanticipated source— pot grows on public lands became the prime suspect. ingestion of rat poison. At just one abandoned grow site, for example, The University of California, Davis, study, located on public land in documented fisher territory, led by Mourad Gabriel (president of Blue Lake’s Integral Ecology Research Center), makes a direct connection between large marijuana cultivations on or near public lands in California, and negative effects to wildlife. Almost 80 percent of fishers found dead across the state by researchers between 2006 and 2011 had been exposed to high levels of anti-coagulant rodenticides—rat poison —which inhibit the ability of blood to clot. Lethal doses result in the animal internally bleeding to death. Exposure may occur by direct ingestion of poison pellets, but in A Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti) carries its prey. ingestion of rodenticides by eating poisoned carnivores is more likely to prey is a primary cause of fisher mortality in California. Photo: KS Wild, occur by ingesting contaminated prey. Evidence over eight pounds of rodenticide was discovered— suggests that rodents that have ingested subenough to kill 9000 mice, 1500 rats, or up to 20 fishers, lethal doses may become easier prey targets, thus according to Gabriel. increasing the chances of passing the toxin up As with many other environmental issues, the the food chain. Evidence also indicates that the debate often brings up the question of who should chemical may pass to young kits from the mother, take responsibility. Are the rodenticide producers, via placental transfer or nursing. or the retailers to blame? What about personal Many other forest carnivores also depend up responsibility for the purchase and use of the product? on similar prey species, so the dire implications of How should a community address practices that do this study extend farther than just fishers. Northern not reflect the larger principles of ecologic health? spotted owls, for example, also prey on forest The July 17, 2012 episode of KMUD’s Environment rodents—as does the Humboldt marten. With only Show discussed some of these ideas. around 100 individuals thought to be alive, marten At issue here is not a question of whether mortality from rat poison could devastate their marijuana cultivation is good or bad, but one of remaining population. ethics in practice. This study shines a harsh light Data on fisher life history and ecology is lacking, on a serious threat to the survival of a disappearing hence the need for studies like these to assess status species. What’s needed is a solution.

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Lamprey Return to the Eel River

Morgan Corviday Instead of the typical fall blockwater release, this year a large amount of water was released from the Van Arsdale Dam on the Eel River in spring, in an effort to encourage young salmon in the river to start their seaward migration. The released water from the surface of the resevoir was warmer than the regular flow of cool water, and may have helped trigger the salmon’s migration instinct. The release also yielded an unexpected result— the return of hundreds of adult lamprey trying to get upriver to spawn, only to be blocked by the dam. Lamprey, while not as iconic or handsome as salmon, are a unique and important species in the river system, and as well as traditional native foodsource. They look somewhat like eels—in fact this misidentification is how the Eel River got its name— but there are three key differences that distinguish lamprey from eels: they are jawless, cartilaginous, and lack paired fins. North Coast populations of lamprey have been in decline for many years. When the flows in the river peaked, it triggered the lamprey holding below the dam to attempt to climb the fish ladder. Lamprey cannot jump, as salmon can. They can, however, climb (using their suction-cup mouths) even up near-vertical surfaces. But because fish ladders were not designed for climbing, human intervention was required to assist their upstream migration. More than five hundred eels were captured in one night and transported by trash can to the top of the dam to be released. This event served as an eyeopener regarding the needs of the lamprey at fish ladders and for alternative designs.



Corner 5th & J Arcata 822-2228 reservations

Aug/Sept 2012



Continued from page 4

For example, if a 3-kW solar electric system were installed on every residence in Humboldt County (all 54,000 of them, a 100-fold increase over our current installed solar electric capacity) and assume they all had optimal solar access (which is not the case), these systems would only meet 20% of our existing electricity needs at a cost of almost $1 billion at current installed prices. Because of economies of scale, one large-scale biomass or wind power plant could be installed to meet the same needs at a small fraction of that cost. In any electric power system, supply must match demand at all times. Biomass and hydro power plants can adjust their output to meet demand; however, wind and solar plants only produce when the wind blows and the sun shines. Therefore, a mix of resources will be needed—including energy sources like biomass and hydro that can provide a steady output. Generators that can quickly ramp power output up and down as needed will also be important—like the PG&E Humboldt Bay natural gas power plant, which was recently rebuilt to work well with local intermittent renewable resources. Other key findings from our work show that energy efficiency is the cheapest “energy resource” and should be maximized (this is a no brainer). Switching to electric vehicles for transportation and electric heat pumps for heating can also enable us to cost effectively decrease fossil fuel energy use and associated carbon emissions. So how do we build public support for a local sustainable energy plan? The loss of the Shell wind project offers us an opportunity, as people appear to be ready to engage in a discussion about energy. The keys to building public support are to involve the community in the planning process, identify their concerns with particular projects, and work together to find acceptable mitigations.

For more information on the RESCO project, visit and click on the “RESCO” link on the left side of the page, or see www. A draft strategic energy plan will be released in the next few weeks. We look forward to your input! Jim Zoellick is a Senior Research Engineer at the HSU Schatz Energy Research Center and is the project manager for the Humboldt RESCO project.


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Aug/Sept 2012


If You Are What You Eat, Do You Know What You’re Eating? Kay Schaser

Pesticide-producing agricultural crops comprise an increasing percentage of the U.S. and global marketplace. The same chemical industry that told us DDT, PCB and Agent Orange were safe maintains that crops genetically engineered to produce toxins—as well as those designed for other characteristics—pose no health risks for humans. Scientists and consumers, however, question the accuracy of those claims, and a growing nationwide movement is now demanding that products containing genetically-engineered organisms (GMOs) be labeled as such. One of the toxins of concern is Bt (bacillus thuringiensis), a soil-dwelling bacterium, that is naturally found in strains that are toxic only to specific classes of insect. When a target insect ingests Bt, the alkaline pH of its digestive tract liberates toxins which essentially create holes in cells of the gut, killing the insect. It has been a valuable tool for U.S. organic and conventional farmers since spraying began in 1958, with no reported negative health or environmental effects. Bt producing plants ingested by humans, however, may be a different story. In 1995, potatoes genetically engineered to produce Bt toxin were approved safe by the EPA, becoming the first pesticide-producing crop in the U.S. The following year Bt corn and cotton were added. After just 10 years, they accounted for slightly over 11% and nearly 34%, respectively, of global plantings. Industry has always maintained that Btproducing crops are safe for human consumption because the human gut is acidic and an alkaline gut is required to release the toxin. This assumption has been called into question by a recent study published in Reproductive Toxicity. Blood from 39 non-pregnant women and 30 pregnant women,

along with fetal cord blood, was tested. Traces of Bt toxin were found in 69% of the non-pregnant women, 93% of the pregnant, and 80% in the cord blood. This is particularly disturbing because it indicates the possibility of passing the toxin to a future generation. Serious concerns have also been raised about a number of other genetically-engineered animals and plants, such as fast-growing GMO Aquabounty salmon. Opponents of GMOs claim that, at the very least, consumers should have the right to know which foods contain genetically engineered ingredients—of any kind. Citizens of 50 other countries, including the EU, Japan, Australia, South Africa, China, Russia, India—even Saudi Arabia and Algeria— have that right. In the U.S., however, all efforts to require labeling have been beaten back by industry. The recent defeat in Vermont is a case in point. With overwhelming support within the state, the legislature was poised to pass a labeling regulation this year, only to back down when Monsanto threatened to sue the state. Californians have now stepped up to the plate, bypassing the legislature with a peoples’ initiative. Nearly a million signatures were collected statewide to qualify for the ballot, with Humboldt County showing strong support. Since successful passage in California will pave the way for the rest of the nation, the opposition is reportedly willing to spend up to $100 million to defeat Prop. 37. We have a right to know what we are eating. Draw a line in the sand and demand the labeling of GMOs! This initiative will only pass if YOU get involved. Talk to your friends and neighbors, your clubs, your service groups. Check out the CA Right to Know website at To contact the Northern Humboldt Coordinator, Kay Schaser, write to



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707-834-5340 6

Bay [T]rail

Continued from page X At the July 11 NCRA Board meeting interested parties packed the chambers. The opponents to the formation of this committee relied heavily on John Williams’ (NWP Co) opposition and a number of misconceptions about railbanking to dilute the original request. Eventually, NCRA directors agreed “to support formation of a Humboldt Bay Rail Corridor Committee to evaluate creation of trails, restoration of the rail prism [the rail bed] and restoration of rail service consistent with NCRA trail policy”. Williams admitted that he has no current plans to restore rail service to the north end of the line and suggested that Humboldt County develop its own plan. While at first glance this sounded like a win for trail proponents, the catch is the “consistent with NCRA trail policy” clause. Director John McCowen pointed out repeatedly that the NCRA only has a policy on rails-with-trails—trails alongside rail line. It has no “rail-to-trails” policy, which would allow removal of the existing line to create a bicycle and pedestrian trail along the bay. However, there is some disagreement in this interpretation. The committee is currently in the process of being formed which will be detailed at the August 8th NCRA meeting in Marin County. On July 17 the Eureka City Council voted 5-0 to participate in the committee. What next? The intent of the Bay [T]rail project is to continue to support the process and push the NCRA to recognize the indefensibility of doing nothing to the right-of-way from Eureka north. There may be other angles to pursue. Check the website ( for the most current information. We have been so grateful for the tremendous support we have received from a real diversity of people from around the County. It helps us know that we are close to reaching the tipping point when those who have long been on the fence on this project will join the coalition. We still believe that the time is now. Join us at! Rees Hughes Don Banducci

Judy Hodgson Dennis Rael

Dredge Mining Ban Extended Indefinitely

S. Craig Tucker

In the latest chapter in a long-running battle pitting Tribes, fishermen, and conservationists against recreational gold miners , river advocates won a major victory last month with the approval of a state budget that included language that effectively banned suction dredge mining indefinitely. In addition, the new law requires all identified impacts to wildlife, water quality, and historic resources to be avoided or mitigated before mining can resume. Permit fees will be required to cover costs of the mining program. The new law doesn’t technically ban dredge mining, but given that Fish and Game’s current Environmental Impact Report states that dredging has significant and unavoidable impacts on water quality and historic resources, any new regulations meeting these new standards will be very restrictive. Suction dredge mining, which mines for gold using machines that vacuum up gravel and sand from river bottoms, pollutes rivers by reintroducing

mercury from historic mining to the water column. According to numerous studies and expert testimony, it harms wildlife by destroying habitat for fish, amphibians and songbirds, and damages American Indian cultural and historical resources. A temporary ban on dredge mining was imposed earlier this year until new regulations could be developed. The new regulations however, fell short of the protections needed, prompting State Senator (now US Congressional candidate) Jared Huffman to propose language in the budget effectively banning suction dredging. The downside is that the ban on dredging has led to an increase in other destructive small scale mining techniques such as highbanking and power sluicing. The Karuk Tribe and many local conservation groups around the state are closely monitoring these activities and plan to take action if the activities put fisheries, water quality, or cultural sites at risk. S. Craig Tucker is the Klamath Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe.

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There’s more news out there than we can fit in these 24 pages! Read about other important environmental news topics on our website at! This month’s online-only articles include: • A “Scott River Roundup”, by Erica Terrence of Klamath Riverkeeper • Efforts to avoid another Fish Kill on the Klamath, by Regina Chichizola, communications coordinator for the Hoopa Valley Tribe • Info on the upcoming 17th Annual Coho Confab on the Trinity River, by Dana Stoltzman of the Salmonid Restoration Federation • Troubled Waters of Battle Creek, by Marily Woodhouse of Battle Creek Alliance • Mycorrhizal fungi and Symbiosis, by Dan Equinoss of High Tide Permaculture


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Aug/Sept 2012


Legislative Watch - D.C. HeatsUp As the temperatures heat up in D.C., so do the politics. Over the summer and into autumn, three major pieces of legislation include content of interest to North Coast conservationists: the Transportation Bill (already passed,) the Agriculture or “Farm Bill,” and the big one— Appropriations. There is sure to be a showdown over the latter.


The final Transportation Bill was passed just hours before the current bill would expire. Although the focus was highways and transportation, the bill is of interest to conservationists both for what it included and what it did not include. Removed from the draft versions:

• Authorization of the Keystone Pipeline bypassing current studies requested by the President before a final decision. • The “Sportsman’s Heritage Act”, relating to motorized access in wilderness and hunting on public lands. (It was deemed unrelated to highways and roads—amazing!) Unfortunately included in the bill:

• Changes and cuts in funding for nonmotorized transportation. As the America Bikes Coalition reports, the bill cuts available biking and walking funds by 60 to 70 percent. • Eliminates dedicated Safe Routes to School funding. • Weakens local control. This last item in particular may worry North Coast conservationists. The bill, driven by the House, gives states the ability to opt-out of much of the funds potentially available for local biking and walking projects. Whereas the bi-partisan Senate bill allowed local governments and planning entities to compete for 1% of transportation funds, the new House bill allows states to opt-out of the local grant program completely. This means Sacramento would decide how Californians will use transportation funds and how much would go for non-motorized programs.

RescindingWild & Scenic

Two rivers protected by Wild & Scenic Rivers (WSR) Act designation have been targeted for action that may diminish their protection. The actions could set a bad precedent and indicate trouble for our local rivers—and wild rivers everywhere—in the future. First, in March, construction of a new bridge over the St. Croix River (between Minn. and Wisconsin ) was authorized, in spite of the fact that the project was found to be in non-compliance with the WSR Act. Then, in June, the U.S. House passed HR 869, authored by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-CA, to allow raising spillways at the New Exchequer Dam on the Merced River below Yosemite National Park. The project would back water up into a half-mile section of the river designated as Wild & Scenic, degrading historic sites and negatively impacting endangered species. Central Valley politicians are, once again, using the false choice of “jobs vs. environmental protection” saying the increase in water storage is needed for farmers. Congressman Denham said: “We should be able to adjust these boundaries, especially if it improves the greater good…”, a subjective criteria not based upon science or consideration of future generations. “Never before has Congress reversed course and eliminated federal protection to allow this kind of harm to a previously protected river,” Friends of the River and other conservation groups wrote recently, adding that “our wild and scenic rivers are as important as our national parks and equally deserving of truly permanent protection.” This bill also exempts immigrant control projects (border fences) along Mexico and Canada from some 39 different environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act, sparking concern by many environmental organizations. It may seem a local issue, but it sets a national precedent—the first time Congress would lift protections of a section of a designated Wild & Scenic River. Senators Feinstein (D-CA)and Boxer (D-CA) have not endorsed the bill language, but neither have publicly opposed it. Feinstein may ultimately play a role in deciding the fate of this river, as the bill also includes renewal of a Northern California timber harvest plan she initially co-authored.

The Good News

The Van Duzen River and will be better protected as a result of a court decision challenging an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) including areas of National Forest in California which could be impacted by new energy corridors. A small portion goes along the Van Duzen River from Six Rivers National Forest in Trinity County to eastern Humboldt County. The Wilderness Society won a lawsuit against the federal government, including Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service and Department of Energy, related to construction of energy transmission corridors (“West-wide Energy Corridors”) across western states. These corridors could create mile-wide swaths through forests and along rivers to construct oil, natural gas and hydrogen pipelines and electricity transmission facilities. The EIS did include alternatives to address some environmental concerns. Nada Culver, with the Wilderness Society, said in a statement that the settlement “puts federal agencies and potential developers on notice that certain corridors are no-go areas for environmental reasons.” When Congress returns from their annual August recess and as time runs out to pass legislation, we will be watching for bills with amendments and riders that either favor or hurt conservation -amendments that are passed out of desperation rather than careful consideration. Here in DC, we are hearing the term Christmas Tree to describe these rambling bills with unrelated riders. Dan Sealy is the NEC’s Legislative Analyst— our eyes and ears in Washington, D.C.

Robert Berg, D.D.S.

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Aug/Sept 2012


Kin to the Earth: RACHEL CARSON 50 YEARS AFTER SILENT SPRING Ankush Ganapathy

Rachel Carson (1907-64), a marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was gifted with the ability to translate her passion for the natural world and scientific knowledge into words. Her career began writing educational pamphlets, later becoming editor-in-chief of all of the department’s publications. She then wrote a series of full-length books detailing the life in and around the sea. Carson is primarily remembered, however, for her 1962 book about the ecological effects of pesticides, Silent Spring. Though highly controversial, Silent Spring played a large role in the recognition of ecology as a valid science, and is credited with launching the worldwide environmental movement that continues today. This September marks Silent Spring’s 50 year anniversary. Carson’s groundbreaking and provocative exposé criticized the increasing use of pesticides due to adverse health effects on humans and wildlife, at a time when chemicals were seen as revolutionary and a safe marvel for industrial agriculture and domestic pest control. She unleashed her study before environmental concerns were deemed legitimate, before the existence of pollution and hazardous waste regulations, or conservation laws such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, or the Clean Water Act. The book received heavy criticism, primarily backed by the chemical industry, which launched a campaign defending pesticides, while criticizing Carson’s thesis as a “return to the Dark Ages”. Attempts were made to discredit her because she specialized in marine biology, and the Secretary of Agriculture even suggested that she was a Communist (and therefore unreliable) because she was unmarried—a “hysterical woman”—revealing the sexism Carson had to endure as a female scientist. Chemical lobbies threatened to sue for libel and many critics falsely accused Carson of calling for a ban of pesticides while in truth, she only urged careful use and awareness of the ecological side effects. Many attribute the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 to her

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work. The eventual banning of DDT nationwide in 1972 due to its devastating impacts on birds and other wildlife is perhaps her best known (and still criticized) legacy, although DDT continues to be produced in the U.S. and sold to other areas of the world. Even today, critics blame her “false alarm”

Rachel Carson. Photo: Smithsonian Institution Archives.

about DDT for food shortages around the world and millions of malaria deaths. While it is undeniable that we have made significant advances in the half-century since Silent Spring’s publication, as a whole government and society have fallen short of the environmental and ecological goals set forth decades ago. Since Rachel Carson’s time, thousands of chemicals have been allowed to enter the market and our environment without a comprehensible understanding of their full effects on the Earth’s water, soil, and wildlife, or even human health. A large percent of

scientific information on chemicals is hidden from the public, legally safeguarded as “confidential business information”. Today, we are still fighting for adequate regulations, and chemicals often do not receive proper testing for ecological and health concerns until after the damage has been done—at which point it is nearly impossible to retract the harmful chemicals from the environment. Existing regulations and institutional practices evaluate and regulate one by one, often replacing one toxic chemical with a new equally hazardous one, leaving us in a vicious cycle. In addition, the consequences of compounded effects and bioaccumulation are often unrecognized or ignored. Leniency toward chemical manufacturers may have contributed to ongoing health epidemics that many argue are related to toxic chemicals, such as autism, asthma, ADHD, autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and many more. Carson herself succumbed to cancer at far too early an age. She was only 57 when she died from a battle with breast cancer, likely caused by exposure to the very chemicals she was working tirelessly against. She had only recently visited the west coast for the first time, confined to a wheelchair. It is likely that without her work shedding light on the environmental dangers of man-made chemicals, the regulatory environment would be less restrictive, and more would have suffered. Scientists are still hounded and ostracized for their studies of pesticides and chemical contamination, however—a continuation of the abuse that Carson suffered during the wake of Silent Spring. Fifty years after Silent Spring, the importance of Rachel Carson’s work cannot be underestimated. Her legacy lives on in environmental conservation movements worldwide. It is clear, however, that our progress towards a world in which chemicals are used with caution and awareness of consequences has been slow. With the endless pressure government receives from chemical corporations to support market growth at the expense of nature and human health, it is up to each of us to counter that with even more pressure to do the right thing.

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Aug/Sept 2012


Get Involved With Your Local Cycling Community As bicycle usage increases across the country, it’s becoming more important than ever to maintain bicycle infrastructure that’s already established. With the newly released transportation bill, federal funds are limited and states are already strapped for funding. The cost of maintaining current infrastructure isn’t as high as installing it brand new. On a local level, I’d like to remind our city officials about the new transportation bill. This will cut federal funding significantly, but doesn’t go into effect until October 1, 2012. This means we still have time to apply for current federal funding opportunities so it’s important to take advantage of this while we still can. I want to urge city officials and staff, state legislators, and our governor that many citizens of California desire complete streets. This includes all street users: cars, bikes, pedestrians, etc. Please help set aside some funding for these important mobility assets. Green Wheels would like to see our local government as well as the state of California fund complete streets projects.

Chris Butner

What can we do to maintain bicycle infrastructure?

Maintain road markings like bike lane paint and sharrow stencils. As the paint fades away, identify those spots and project a timeline to have those markings reapplied. Green wheels would like to establish a list of these trouble spots in Arcata so that the locations can be looked at as future projects. If you would like to get involved in creating this list, please contact Green Wheels. If you live outside of Arcata, we encourage taking initiative in your own city. You can also perform brush maintenance. Overgrown vegetations impede bike lane zones. Your city’s public works department should be able to accommodate this type of work. It’s best to call and tell them the location along with any other relevant details. Generally this is an easy fix to help maintain a safe bike lane. I’ve communicated with Arcata public works and they’ve been very accommodating. I‘d like to thank them for fast responses to these types of work orders. The crews have been doing a wonderful job! If you’re a giving type of person, you can have fun by doing your own brushwork or you can join Green Wheels as a group to go out on brush bike lane afternoon projects. It’s fun work, and it feels good to give back to the community. When brushing, it’s also good to survey the riding surface to make sure that the lane is clear of debris like large branches, glass, etc. If you are interested in this type of volunteering, please contact Green Wheels.


Aug/Sept 2012

The Sharrow stencil. Remember to share the road folks!

Some upcoming Arcata bike lane improvements Arcata will be receiving some green paint in coming months. A few locations in downtown should have this paint implemented. Basically you will see a green lane in the center of the right lane. These are typically seen when one-way traffic has two lanes. Likely we will be seeing some of these in Arcata at limited locations in the near future. Arcata is positioning itself very much as a bike friendly town. Green Wheels would like to assist in this process. Ten percent of the working population of Arcata uses a bike to commute to work. This number is based on census bureau data available to view online. To put it into perspective, the national average is 0.55 %. This does not include bicycle riders doing errands, riding for recreation, or biking to school. This 10% is strictly the working population biking to work. Let’s keep up with the growing demand of bicycle commuters in Arcata, so that as a community we can all help keep the streets safe by following the rules of the road. Green Wheels applauds Arcata for all of its bike friendly efforts thus far, and we look forward to working with the city the future.

What’s the next step up in maintaining bicycle infrastructure? If you enjoy working with your city on bike related infrastructure, learn the guidelines or standards the city follows; for example, the appropriate width for a bike lane. Arcata has created its own pedestrian and bicycle master plan. Are you riding in areas where the infrastructure does not seem to meet the minimum guidelines? If so, discuss it with city staff to find out if they are aware of the location. Perhaps your city has transportation safety committees. If you are not sure where to begin, inquire at the city managers office for insight. Or bring up your concerns at a city council meeting. Any of these outlets should be able to give you some feedback. This will then allow you to decide how to move forward. Feeling a little shy, or not sure about something? You can also contact Green Wheels for advice. Or just simply team up with us. Group efforts can often be more effective than individual efforts because it may produce more pressure— especially if it is a safety issue that really needs to be fixed.


the NEC Presents the 28th Annual

The Northcoast Environmental Center is very proud to present California’s 28th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day! On Saturday, September 15th, from 9am to noon, thousands of volunteers will set out to remove litter from beaches and waterways throughout the state in what is California’s largest volunteer event. With humble beginnings here on the North Coast, Coastal Cleanup Day has morphed into an internationally celebrated day of action. Thirty-six years ago the NEC received federal funding for its Humboldt Beach Beautification

and Restoration project. The goal was to develop a program combining beach cleanup with community education, out of which came the NEC’s Adopt-A-Beach campaign. Today, the 34-year old Adopt-A-Beach program is a statewide event coordinated by the California Coastal Commission. What’s more, this effort inspired the creation of California Coastal Cleanup Day (lead by the Coastal Commission) and the International Coastal Cleanup (lead by the Ocean Conservancy). Since its first beach cleanup in 1986, the International Coastal Cleanup has included all 50 U.S. states and 130 countries. Last year over 598,076 volunteers from around the world covered 20,776 miles of shoreline and cleaned up 9 million pounds of debris. While much of the garbage contaminating the sea originated from

cargo ships, cruise liners, and military vessels disposing of waste overboard, an estimated 6080 percent of beach garbage originates on land. Even as the debris from the devastating tsunami in Japan begins to hit our Pacific coastline, we still face a tsunami of debris originating on our own shores. Cigarette butts, fishing line, six-pack rings, bottles, cans, syringes, tires are just a few of the items commonly found polluting our beaches and waterways. Marine debris is not only an unsightly inconvenience, it also is a health and safety hazard for those wishing to enjoy the beach. It is also one of the world’s most pervasive marine pollution problems: ¤ Studies have documented 276 species negatively affected by marine debris worldwide. ¤ Albatross and other seabirds ingest small plastic items, mistaking them for food, and then feed it to their young – leading to a slow death by starvation. ¤ Sea turtles, fish, and marine mammals get entangled by derelict fishing line, rope and other debris; cutting into the flesh of young animals as they grow and often resulting in drowning or strangulation. ¤ Sea turtles eat floating trash and plastic bags thinking it to be their favorite food: jellyfish.

Coastal Cleanup Day wouldn’t be such a success without your help! The best way to help is by signing up to clean a beach, river, slough, or any other waterway near you. The NEC is also seeking sponsorships from business and organization to support the Coastal Cleanup effort. If you’d like to volunteer, or to learn about sponsorships, call Dan at the NEC at 707-822-6918 or e-mail

S andpiper



Redwood Region Audubon Society

Welcome to the Inaugural Edition of Redwood Region Audubon Society’s “Least Sandpiper”! Its purpose is to highlight some of the articles that appear in our Sandpiper newsletter, which is now published exclusively online at Visit our website for complete information on the items below and more!

Highlights of the August/September 2012 Sandpiper (posted at or reached by clicking on “News” from our home page and selecting “The Sandpiper” by date):

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• RRAS monthly programs resume on 7

September 14, as Steve Shunk enlightens us about the 11 species of woodpeckers that breed in the “State of Jefferson.”

• Come help bash ivy near Houda Point, 7

Trinidad, as RRAS joins BLM and other partners to celebrate National Public Lands Day. This second (and final) event under our Toyota Together Green grant will occur on September 29.

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Shorebirds are the focus of 2 special field trips during August. On the 16th, join Ken Burton for all or half of a 2-part “Shorebird Blitz” to Cock Robin Island and Mad River County Park. Then on August 26, Rob Fowler will lead a trip to Del Norte’s Lake Earl in search of migrating shorebirds.

Set sail on the Shenandoah from the new Trinidad Pier on September 8 on a Pelagic Trip led by Rob Fowler. RRAS is now on Facebook! Like us at: or through our home page.

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RRAS and Friends of the Arcata Marsh collaborated on 2 special events at the Marsh this summer: a wildlife biology camp and a salt marsh restoration day (our first Toyota Together Green event). Enjoy photos and summaries by Sue Leskiw. eBird liaison Rob Fowler provides 2 eBird tips about selecting and entering “hot spot” locations.

Tom Leskiw explains the game of “I Saw This Bird…” in his amusing essay.

Go to to view these—and other— articles in their entirety.

County Bag Ban Update! Just one month after Hawaii became the first state to pass an ordinance banning single-use plastic carry-out bags, the Humboldt Waste Management Authority (HWMA) board took the next step towards developing a bag-ban ordinance for member agencies. The joint powers organization approved a model ordinance designed after successful ordinances from other California communities including Marin County, Fort Bragg, San Francisco and Ukiah. HWMA member agencies will now weigh in on the ordinance and decide how to implement specific carry-out bag bans. At the June 14th meeting, board members also discussed the need to satisfy requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and ways to avoid litigation from the San Franciscobased Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, an industry lobby group. A unanimous vote decided to move forward with the development of an initial study on the implementation of a bag-ban ordinance and to see if a full environmental impact report is needed for CEQA requirements. The development of an initial study will take up to 100 days. A completed model ordinance will now be circulated among HWMA member agencies to

The Bag Monster advocates for bag ban outside local stores. Photo: Humboldt Baykeeper. review and vote on. to address and recycling statistics on plastic bags HWMA does not have the authority to pass an are appallingly low. In mid July, Santa Cruz ordinance, but member agencies, which include joined 49 other communities in California to Arcata, Eureka, Blue Lake, Rio Dell, Ferndale and ban plastic carry-out bags and implement a 5 Humboldt County, will individually choose to cent charge for paper bags. If you would like to adopt the model ordinance and adapt it to their support the ban on single-use bags in Humboldt specific needs and constituency. County, visit Humboldt Baykeeper’s website Communities near the ocean are good ( to sign the online places to introduce a single-use plastic bag ban. petition, or call 707-268-8897. Plastic pollution in the ocean is especially hard

Explore the Bay with Humboldt Baykeeper!

Humboldt Baykeeper offers free, natural history tours of Humboldt Bay every weekend this summer! Bay Explorations tours are fun, informative excursions on Humboldt Bay led by knowledgeable volunteer docents trained in the ecology and history of our amazing watershed. The Baykeeper, a 25-foot Boston Whaler, fits about six participants for these hour-long adventures. Getting out on the Bay is a great way to spend a morning with family or friends, not to mention the best opportunity to see first-hand the waves and wildlife that make this place special. Children of all ages will enjoy the chance to cruise on the Baykeeper and experience the magic of Humboldt Bay. Bay Explorations invites you aboard for our 2012 season – don’t miss out! Call (707) 268-8897


for reservations and information about Saturday and Sunday morning tours departing at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Please keep in mind that tours fill up quickly and need to be scheduled two weeks in advance. Humboldt Baykeeper works to safeguard our coastal resources for the health, enjoyment, and economic strength of the Humboldt Bay community through education, scientific research, and enforcement of laws to fight pollution. Learn more about our other programs at www., or call (707) 268-0664.

A very special thank you to our volunteer Docents and Skippers (both new and old) who make this community program a success!

Aug/Sept 2012


What’s Really Holding up Railbanking on the North Coast? logging bonanza, the deep-pocketed Union Pacific The flip side of the NCRA’s deference to Scott Greacen gave up on the line, and a small operator went broke NWPCo is the agency’s dismissive rejection of It’s easy to explain trying to run it. any attempts to hold it accountable to the public why the North Coast To keep the line and its right of way from interest. Despite the efforts of NCRA board Rail Authority (NCRA) being lost, a group of North Coast politicos member Bernie Meyer, a Marin County attorney, has rejected the Bay got the California State Assembly to create the and others to persuade the NCRA board to address [T]rail campaign’s NCRA to take over the line. At the heart of the the utterly one-sided lease agreement, it remains proposal to consider NCRA’s disfunction is its capture by the network the basis of the NCRA-NWPCo relationship railbanking the of power and infl uence centered around former today. Resolving the twin problems of the Eel defunct rail line Congressman and Santa Rosa kingmaker Doug River Canyon and Humboldt Bay may require between Eureka and Bosco. Bosco and his business partner, railroad reforming the agency itself. It will certainly require Arcata: John Williams reshaping the relationship between the NCRA consultant John Williams, cut a deal in secret with told them to. Williams and the NWPCo. Bosco’s longtime aide, Mitch Stogner, who is now is the head of the In our lawsuit, the NCRA has denied they have the executive director of the NCRA. In 2007, the Northwestern Pacific plans to rebuild the Eel River Canyon portion of NCRA granted Bosco and William’s Northwestern Railroad Company the old line. (Otherwise, they’d be admitting that Pacifi c Railroad (NWPCo) a lease that the agency (NWPCo). The NCRA they’ve failed to comply with CEQA tells the press and public is good for five years. But is a public agency being by addressing the cumulative impacts of that the actual terms include a set of 99-year options run by, and for the benefit of, William’s NWPCo, a part of the larger project.) Williams has stated which NWPCo can exercise for the same price they privately held but politically connected company that NWPCo has no plans for the Humboldt that could care less what Humboldt County paid for the overall lease: nothing. Bay section. He has also claimed citizens want. that railbanking that section What takes a bit of work to explain is would harm his interests. These why the NCRA, a public agency, would statements could be true— ignore a request from a unanimous but they can’t all be true at Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, the same time. and why the agency’s leadership is so Rumors have long circulated hostile to citizens and environmentalists that if the NCRA can find a who ask tough questions about what the way to avoid CEQA review, and NCRA and NWPCo are doing with the the requirements to mitigate public’s resources and money. environmental harm that go with it, The NCRA’s reaction to the proposal they’ll rebuild the line through the to consider railbanking illuminates the canyon on the cheap, start hauling legal fight FOER is in with the agency. At gravel and rock, and punch the line its root, the suit is about our concerns on up to Humboldt Bay. Realistic or for the Eel River Canyon and its fisheries, not, if that is the plan that Williams, but the NCRA keeps trying (and failing) Bosco, and the NCRA leadership is to use it to reject the idea that it has banking on, it would explain much to comply with environmental laws. It that seems otherwise inexplicable. is impossible, however, to square the The whole affair reminds NCRA’s contention that it has no plans to reopen the line through the Eel River River rafters point at a rail tanker from the historic Northwestern Pacific line submerged in the me of one of the great scenes from the movie Chinatown. Jack Canyon with William’s claim that even Eel River. Photo: Scott Greacen. Nicholson, as Jake, is asking the man at the heart to consider railbanking for a few miles of track The result of this giveaway is that the NWPCo of the scheme to steal water from Owens Valley will harm his interests. actually controls the NCRA, but without any of to fuel growth in LA a question we might ask The old Northwestern Pacific line—what’s now the obligations or liabilities that usually go with Bosco and Williams: “Why are you doing it? the NCRA line— was always an economic and ownership. NWPCo has even been providing How much better can you eat? What can you ecological failure. It worked, more or less, for most the cash that NCRA uses to keep its doors open. buy that you can’t already afford?” To which of a century because there was a lot of valuable Because the NCRA is set up to carry all the potential old man Cross replies, “The future, Mr. Gittes! old growth timber ready to ship south to support liability for the line, including responsibility for The future.” the line’s very high maintenance costs, but also environmental compliance, the fact that the NCRA because it was built when ecological costs could be, is always broke is, from the point of view of the Scott Greacen is Executive Director of Friends of and were, routinely ignored. After the old growth NWPCo, an advantage. the Eel River.


Aug/Sept 2012


EPICs 35th Anniversary Fall Celebration! With Delhi 2 Dublin Friday November 2nd, 2012 Mateel Community Center, Redway CA 145 G Street, Suite A, Arcata, CA 95521

The Environmental Protection Information Center

(707) 822.7711

Clearcutting Triggers Hotter Fires and Reduces Water Supplies State Regulators Ignore the Best Available Science

Rob DiPerna and Andrew Orahoske The dry season is upon us and the likelihood of forest fires will grow while our creeks and rivers drop ever lower. The potential for forest fires coupled with the paucity of water presents serious concerns to natural and human communities alike. Recent events across the country and within California have us wondering: What are the impacts of the industrial forestry model of clearcutting and dense, mono-culture tree plantations on fire behavior and water availability? The best available science shows that young, dense tree plantations are prone to higher severity fire than comparable natural forests with older trees and greater ecological complexity. A recent study out of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station (Miller et al 2012) clearly shows that tree plantations are prone to high severity, stand replacing fires. These findings are consistent with other research implicating tree plantations as tinder boxes. This contrasts sharply with low and moderate severity fire behavior generally displayed within natural forests on public lands with older trees and complex structure. Similarly, intensive industrial forestry is simply not compatible with the conservation of water resources. Many municipalities that source their water supply from forested watersheds have protected them from damaging logging practices. Portland, Oregon and New York City are two examples where a century of foresight to protect forested watersheds yields a reliable supply of

clean water. In California, numerous watersheds throughout the Sierra Nevada, Cascade, Trinity Alps and Klamath Mountains provide water to millions of people, agriculture and diverse ecosystems. While some of the watersheds are protected in national forests, millions of acres are in private hands and much of that is extensively clearcut. Natural forests with older trees provide reliable, clean water supplies because they shade the ground and contain complex aquatic habitat and pools. In contrast, industrial forestry landscapes are often devoid of any vegetation or contain simplified plantations that do not provide the same benefits for water supplies. Additionally, recent research has uncovered a critical variable that is often overlooked. Stubblefield et al (2012) compared overall water usage by young, dense Douglas-fir tree plantations versus older, natural forests in the Mattole River watershed. The study concludes that tree plantations use more water than older forests, adding an additional indictment of the industrial forestry model. Meanwhile, California’s regulations for private industrial forestlands continually fail to account for these threats. California’s Forest Practice Rules allow intensive clearcutting across entire watersheds. The specter of past, ongoing, and foreseeable cumulative impacts resulting from a century and a half of logging continues to threaten endangered fish and wildlife species. The best available science implicates the lack of adequate state-level regulations to prevent significant adverse cumulative impacts to our forests and water resources. In the midst of this ongoing crisis, California’s

regulators are completely disconnected from realities on the ground. Even worse, current proposals do nothing to address the ongoing threats posed by industrial forestry, and instead are nothing more than industry giveaways. Governor Brown wants to institute a cap on liability stemming from damages caused by forest fires in response to the federal prosecution of Sierra Pacific Industries for the Moonlight fire. Such meddling in long established law would undermine the ability of the public to recover costs and restore landscapes damaged by the negligence of private logging operations. The Governor also proposes a new consumer tax on lumber that would be used to fund regulatory agencies’ review of private timber harvest plans. The proposed tax would give the timber industry the ability to freely pass the cost of public trust analysis onto the consumer. This approach provides no incentive to engage in sustainable, selection forestry, but instead allows business as usual for those large industrial landowners that clearcut forests across California. Instead, a progressive fee-based program should be created that promotes good practices. Damaging logging plans that include clearcutting require more intensive review by state agencies, and therefore should be more expensive to permit. Genuine stewardship of California’s forests and water resources by landowners should be rewarded with reduced fees for selection forestry. Holding the timber industry accountable for the damage they have wrought on our natural landscapes and human communities is imperative for charting a new path forward to restore California’s forests.

Doubling Down on Protections for the Northern Spotted Owl Andrew Orahoske

Recently, EPIC filed two petitions designed to increase protections for the Northern Spotted Owl. First, EPIC filed a petition with the Secretary of the Interior to change the status of the owl under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) from “threatened” to “endangered.” Second, EPIC filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to list the owl as “endangered” under the


California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The Northern Spotted Owl was first protected under the federal ESA as “threatened” in 1990. Despite these protections, a recently published large-scale demographic study (Forsman et al. 2011) found that the species has been declining at about 3% annually from 1985-2008. The population decline is accelerating due to continued habitat destruction and ongoing invasion by the nonnative Barred Owl. On state and private lands, owl declines are significantly greater than on federal lands because of higher rates of nesting habitat loss and inadequate regulatory mechanisms. In addition, another study (Funk

et al. 2010) provides evidence for recent genetic bottlenecks in Northern Spotted Owls that increase the vulnerability of the owl to extinction. While Northern Spotted Owls have been listed under the federal ESA for over 20 years, the State of California has never protected the species under the California ESA. This clear oversight is out of step with the best available science and should be immediately corrected. With state-level protection in place, the California Department of Fish Game must review projects, including private timber harvest, for potential impact on the owl. As a result, state and private forestlands would be better managed for owl recovery.

Aug/Sept 2012


The objectives and purpose of the Mattole Restoration Council are the protection and restoration of natural systems in the Mattole River Watershed and their maintenance at sustainable levels of health and productivity, especially in regards to forests, fisheries, soil, and other native plant and animal communities.

707-629 3514

A New Paradigm for the Timber Economy Hezekiah Allen Privately owned working forests can provide many public benefits, such as wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and watershed protection for fish and humans alike. These ecosystem services are compatible with sustainable timber harvest, but the increasing cost and complexity of obtaining the necessary permits has made it hard to log this way—particularly for owners of small to medium-sized blocks of forestland. Instead, some have logged more intensively to defray the costs of navigating the regulatory requirements. Other landowners have found themselves financially unable to steward their forests leaving a landscape overstocked with dense fuel loads, riddled with untreated legacy sediment sources, and vulnerable to financial pressures for development. To address these challenges and achieve a balance between economically-viable and environmentally-robust, the Mattole Restoration Council (MRC) worked with a broad range of stakeholders of diverse backgrounds to define a set of light-touch harvest methods that promote the development of older forests and are compatible with economically viable logging operations, but can receive streamlined review because of their

Music for the Mattole:

Berel Alexander Ensemble and the

P-Town Freaks August 15 at the Mattole Grange, right next to A W Way Campground Music from 7-11 PM Come discover the Mattole watershed, enjoy great camping, great music, and learn more about the Mattole Restoration Council and our many diverse projects! Suggested donation $5-20 or free for new members!


Aug/Sept 2012

additional environmental protections. Called the Mattole Forest Futures Project (MFFP), the group created a Program Timber Environmental Impact Report (PTEIR) to include these harvest methods for the entire Mattole basin. Authorized by the state Forest Practice Rules (Sec. 1092), PTEIRs include many of the environmental reviews that individual projects would normally undergo, such as wildlife studies, watershed issues, and cumulative effects, saving landowners from having to repeat the same reviews in their logging plans. Nearby projects can be evaluated View through the forest in the Mattole watershed. Photo: Mattole Restoration together instead of piecemeal, making Council Archives. the environmental analysis more closely reflect the analysis contained in the EIR itself. In the words of overall impact. The Mattole PTEIR was approved Rob DiPerna, Industrial Forestry Reform Advocate in September 2011. for EPIC, “the Mattole PTEIR brings into fruition “After decades of studying the impacts of a possible model of the type of sustainable forestry timber harvest, California foresters have a pretty that EPIC wishes to promote across the landscape good idea of what makes good forestry: leaving in Northwest California and beyond. The PTEIR generous riparian buffers, steering clear of will have a tremendous benefit for the environment unstable areas, preventing roads from degrading and the community, particularly small landowners.” watercourses, and harvesting thoughtfully from For many, the Mattole PTEIR is a first step the forest so that it develops a mature, complex toward a future when forests are the backbone of structure for wildlife habitat, instead of re-setting a sustainable local economy while simultaneously the process of ecological succession through providing the clean air, clean water, habitat, and even-aged management,” states Paul Mason, Vice spiritual value that only they can provide. President of Policy and Incentives for the Pacific Now, as the chainsaws are being sharpened Forest Trust. “The Mattole Forest Futures Project at the first few harvest units, we can look back on requires its participants to do all of these things.” the years of hard work that this project required According to Mike Miles, a forester and and share a few words of advice for our friends Watershed Sciences Manager for Humboldt and neighbors. Whether you are a logger or a Redwood Company, states that the MFFP “represents tree-sitter, an RPF or a politician, take the time to a remarkable, multi-stakeholder collaboration engage with collaborative efforts to develop between several non-profit organizations, private solutions, support those timber operators who are interests, and state and federal resource agencies.” using light touch practices, and remain vigilant This collaboration is a key element to the future of in the face of archaic operators who still employ the forest industry in Northern California. harvest tactics of yesteryear. It is this collective Ever since the landmark 1985 court decision commitment—to working together, to best of EPIC v. Johnson, California forestry regulation practices, and to progressing past failed business has sought ways to analyze the cumulative impacts models—that will ultimately nurture in a new of timber harvest. It has tried to consider these paradigm for forest management in Northern impacts plan by plan, even though cumulative California, marked by healthy economies and a effects are inherently larger in scope than any healthy environment. single logging job. The Mattole PTEIR takes a Hezekiah Allen is Executive Director of the Mattole different approach: harvest plans are only eligible Restoration Council. if they are consistent with the cumulative effects



Events and Updates ~ North Group, Redwood Chapter SIERRA CLUB WEIGHS IN FOR EXPEDITIOUS DAM REMOVAL


National Sierra Club recently wrote a letter to the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) urging that board to stop delaying Clean Water Act review for PacifiCorp’s Klamath Hydroelectric Project (KHP).

The regular meeting of the North Group takes place on the second Tuesday of each month at Eureka’s Adorni Center beginning at 7 p.m. The June 12 meeting will be preceded by a special presentation, pizza and refreshments beginning at 6 p.m. Science Fair Award recipient Paloma Herrara-Thomas (7th grade) will share her winning project (more on her project below). The following outings are offered to members and the general public during August and September:

North Group members and friends enjoy a hike to the Tall Trees Grove on Redwood Creek. All North Group hikes are open to the public.

Saturday, Aug. 11—North Group, Humboldt Lagoons State Park, Stone Lagoon. Hike north up the beach from Dry Lagoon, wind over the wooded hillside to Stone Lagoon, then follow the lagoon shoreline to the ocean, where we will lunch before returning along same route. Bring water, lunch and sturdy shoes. No dogs. Class M-6-A. Carpools: Meet 9:15 a.m. McKinleyville Safeway parking lot or 10 a.m. Dry Lagoon Parking Lot (west of Hwy. 101, across from red schoolhouse). Leader Bill 707-839-5971. Rain cancels.

Sunday, Sept. 2—North Group, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, West Ridge/Zig Zag #2/ Prairie Creek Trails. This loop highlights vegetation differences between old growth redwoods on a ridge and along the pleasant stream below. Bring water, lunch and sturdy shoes. No dogs. Class M-9-A. Carpools: Meet 9:30 a.m. McKinleyville Safeway parking lot or 10:30 a.m. outside Elk Prairie Visitors Center off Newton Drury Parkway. Leader Bill 707-839-5971. Rain cancels. Saturday, Sept. 15—North Group, Redwood National Park, Emerald Ridge/Tall Trees Loop. Enjoy late summer in deep old growth redwood forest and along low-flowing Redwood Creek. Starting from Tall Trees Trailhead, we follow Emerald Ridge Trail 580 vertical ft. down to Redwood Creek. We then follow the creek along gravel bars, with several crossings, ~1.5 miles downstream to Tall Trees Trail, returning by this trail to trailhead. Bring water, lunch, sun protection, poles and footwear for stony wading. No dogs. Class M-5-A. Carpools: 9:00 a.m. Arcata Safeway. All meet 9:45 a.m. outside Kuchel Visitor Center to consolidate vehicles to gated trailhead. For more information, contact leader Melinda 707-668-4275 or


CREDIT FOR SUCTION DREDGING BAN North Group members are celebrating a new ban on in-stream suction dredge mining in California. The preponderance of scientific information confirms that suction dredging harms fish habitat. In addition, the practice mobilizes mercury locked deep within bottom sediments. The mobilized mercury is toxic and poses a very real threat to humans and especially to pregnant women and children. In stream tailing piles created by dredgers do attract spawning salmon. However, salmon eggs deposited in these unstable gravels almost never survive high winter flows. The new ban is covered elsewhere in this edition of EcoNews. We want to call attention here to the individual who more than a decade ago began organizing to end so-called “recreational” suction dredging in prime salmon habitat. That individual is Leaf Hillman – a traditional Karuk Indian who has also served on the tribal council and who currently directs the tribe’s natural resources department. Through Hillman’s vision and perseverance, California’s rivers, streams and associated public lands can once again be enjoyed by citizens without fear for their own health and that of the environment.

Recognizing the inevitable delay of the Secretarial Determination due to the obvious lack of action around the “Klamath Basin Economic Restoration Act of 2011” legislation, the Board has the power and opportunity to secure an improved future for the Klamath River ecosystem. The Section 401 certification remains the single and most important obstacle to relicensing of the KHP. Therefore, without further delay, we urge the Board to take action as soon as possible to enforce Section 401 certification of PacifiCorp’s KHP. Continued postponement of this process will only result in sustained poor water quality and habitat for the fish and wildlife of the Klamath Basin. Again, it is our hope that this action by the Board will restart the licensing process now held in abeyance, and that this action will result in a more successful re-engagement by the settling parties and other stakeholders, and therefore a more expeditious and certain licensing and permitting action by FERC and the Board. —Excerpt from letter, signed by David Scott, Vice-President for Conservation

If the SWRCB were to end issuing “abeyances” in order to take up and complete clean water certification for PacifiCorp’s Klamath Dams, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would be forced to stop issuing annual licenses for the Klamath Hydroelectric Project and would have to resume the dam relicensing process as recently requested by the Hoopa Tribe. The Hoopa Tribe and some Klamath River activists believe a return to the FERC process would lead to more expeditious dam removal as compared to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) dam deal which is currently languishing in Congress. The Sierra Club is a democratically run organization where—unlike other national environmental groups—members have real power. In order to generate a National Sierra Club position on a regional issue like the Klamath Dams, those Sierra Club chapters impacted by the issue (in this case, the Oregon, Redwood and Mother Lode Chapters) had to reach agreement on a position. Redwood Chapter and North Group Conservation Chair Diane Beck worked many hours to facilitate the agreement necessary for National Sierra Club to weigh in. North Group members appreciate Diane’s efforts for the Klamath River and Klamath Salmon. Unfortunately, on July 17the SWRCB ignored the request of National Sierra Club and others and agreed to give PacifiCorp and KHSA dam deal promoters another year to try to get Congress to approve the controversial deal. This is likely to further delay removal of four Klamath River dams owned by PacifiCorp.

Aug/Sept 2012


HAPPENINGS ~ News and Events from the North Coast Chapter Beginners and experts, non-members and members are all welcome at our programs and on our outings. Almost all of our events are free. All of our events are made possible by volunteer effort.

EVENING PROGRAMS Second Wednesday evening, September through May. Refreshments at 7 p.m.; program at 7:30 p.m. at the Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Road, near 7th and Union, Arcata. Botanical FAQ’s: At 7:15 p.m. Pete Haggard or some other presenter shares a brief, handson demonstration and discussion of some botanical topic. September 12, Wednesday 7:30 p.m. Dr. James P. Smith “Botanical Exploration in California.” Dr. James P. Smith, professor emeritus of botany at HSU, will review the accomplishments of several major botanists who contributed so much to our knowledge of California’s diverse flora. Botanical Book Recirculation Night. At 7:00 p.m. Find plant books you never knew you needed, at prices you can afford. To donate books call 822-2015. October 10, Wednesday 7:30 p.m. “Floral Jewels Among All that Rock at Lassen National Park” In this “Bermuda Triangle of Vegetation Mapping,” Ken Stumpf and Chris Stumpf will present a

stunning, colorful, and informative pictorial tour of the floristic features found in this confluence of the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades, and the Great Basin.

FIELD TRIPS AND HIKES August 11, Saturday. Boy Scout Tree Trail Day Hike. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park—a 5.6-mile, out-and-back, somewhat strenuous trail from a trailhead on Howland Hill Rd. Bring lunch and water; dress for the weather. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Pacific Union School or arrange another place. Return late afternoon. Information: Carol 822-2015. September 9, Sunday. The Mad River from Hiller Park to Clam Beach, Day Hike. Wetland and riparian plants will be the focus of this roughly 3-mile trek along both active and abandoned bed of the Mad River. We will re-visit wetlands we visited in September 2006, where the Mad River changed course in 1999. We will probably stay dry at this time of year, but wading into the shallow ponds could be fun. After shuttling cars to the Letz Ave. access to the Hammond Trail, we will walk from Hiller Park through the spruce forest, down to the river, north along the river bed past Widow White Creek and below Vista Point to meet the Hammond Trail to get to the cars. Dress for the weather and walking all day; bring lunch and water. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Pacific Union School or arrange another place. Please advise Carol (822-2015) that you are

coming, to help plan the shuttle or to learn if the plan has changed. October 14, Sunday. Day hike. Save the day for being outside, at either Jacoby Creek Forest to see the old-growth western red cedars or Horse Linto to see fall colors of black-fruited dogwood. Dress for the weather; bring lunch and water. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata). Tell Carol (822-2015) you are coming, in case the plan changes.

Native Plant Sale!

September 15, Saturday. 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Native Plant Sale. It’s planting time! Find the perennials, grasses, bulbs, shrubs, trees, ferns, and even annuals you need to create native habitat in your yard. Experienced gardeners will be on hand to help you choose. Cash or check accepted. Bring a box to carry your plants home. In the parking lot of the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center, 569 South G St., Arcata (5 blocks south of Samoa Blvd.) 8260259 or 825-6991.

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Aug/Sept 2012


Blast from the Past... More But Historic articles selected from the EcoNews Archives.

What will Northwest California be like in 1990? What kind of situation will e nv i ro n m e nt a l i s t s have to face? In this article I give some of my own predictions, based on extrapolations of current data. Some utopian fantasies of northwest California portray a state of Alta California without air pollution, without dependence on the automobile, without massive new water projects and with a more organic lifestyle. People who want to play at being backwoodsmen, hillbillies or urban dropouts may retreat here, a place which economists see as an underdeveloped and underutilized backwater that may serve as an escape valve from the frenzy of economic activity and competition in the cities. But I predict more of the same for the year 1990, only more on a bigger scale. In 1990, California is expected to have eight million more people than today’s 22 million. The new residents and the increasingly affluent older residents will place unprecedented demands on air resources, water, energy and transportation. It is highly likely, therefore, that the Peripheral Canal will be completely by 1990 and the infrastructure for transporting water from the Eel and other North Coast rivers to Southern California will only lack the big dams. Besides demands from L.A. for more water, there will be demands for more timber for North Coast mills during the 1980’s. By 1990, the timber


Not Better

industry will be demanding that wilderness areas be logged of old growth. The timber industry and its allies—the foresters—will pull out more and more computer programs and promised of “scientific management” in demanding an end to all old growth in National Forests. More and more oak and other hardwoods will be logged for pulp and no replanting will occur. If oil is discovered in significant quantities off northwest California, there will be demands to build major oil processing facilities in Eureka. The Eureka city council has already gone on record asking for a more rapid leasing program of the outer continental shelf off Humboldt County. Demographic changes before 1990 will provide new opportunities for political organizing and new environmental issues. Both Arcata and McKinleyville will increase so much in population that Arcata will have to face the question of what maximum population is desirable by 1985. All the growth allowed under the current masterplan will be accomplished within the next five years, at current rates of build-out. With the sewer and water supply systems completed, suburban development in McKinleyville will increase so dramatically that by 1990 McKinleyville will be the largest urban area on the North Coast. However, a greater rate of increase in population will be found in rural rather than urban North Coast areas composed of white anglo-saxon ex-urbanites. Land prices will escalate and more and more large ranches will be sub-divided into second home

Dec. 1978 by Bill Devall

subdivisions or into 40 to 120-acre parcels which will be further subdivided by owners into two, three or four parcels. These little parcels will not be used for farming or ranching but for homesites who residents by 1990 will be commuting 50 to 100 miles each way to work in urban areas of Humboldt. At current rates of build-out, by 1990 the population of the coastal areas of the North Coast will have tripled. What open spaces which remain, such as the King Range, will be invaded by thousands of motorcycles and other ORVs every weekend. The political power of these recreational vehicle owners will continue to grow and backpackers will be condemned for “not contributing to the economy by their recreation.” How will environmental groups face these issues? The NEC will still be around, but if some people have their way it will be a profit-making corporation selling goods and services to the growing sector of consumers who want picture books of extinct birds (such as condors) or want to buy a token redwood seedling to plant on their rural estate. NEC, Inc. After being reorganized as a closed corporation in the early 1980’s, the NEC will be a member of the Chamber of Commerce and other community service organizations. Some of the active environmentalists who lived in Humboldt County in the 1970’s will be living in retirement in Oregon and Montana in 1990 on some of the remaining free-flowing rivers in those states.

Aug/Sept 2012



PIPER WANTED: The German town of Hamelin is in need of another Pied Piper after a fresh infestation of rats. According to the fairy tale, the Pied Piper of Hamelin lured rats away from the town to their death in the River Weser with his magic pipe. Spokesman Thomas Wahmes said the town was now dealing with a growing legion of rats that “chewed through electricity cable and caused problems with traffic lights.”

A Merry Melange of Salient Sillies... NAVEL EXERCISE: The Belly Button Biodiversity Project has released the first results from 95 samples and found a whopping total of more than 1,400 bacterial strains. In fact, 662 of the microbes could not even be classified to family. This “strongly suggests that they are new to science,” commented the leader of the study at North Carolina State University.

EGGS-PENSIVE: Norma’s restaurant at New York’s Le Parker Meridien Hotel features the world’s most expensive omelette, costing $1,000 and containing six eggs, an entire lobster and exclusive sevruga caviar. Meanwhile a British chef, Tristan Welch, has made what is claimed to be the world’s meatiest sandwich, which stands 15 inches high, 24 inches wide and weighs 15 pounds. It is crammed with 41 cuts of meat and reportedly takes 10 hours to eat. And in Ankara, Turkey, 10 chefs have combined to cook the world’s biggest kebab, made from seven cows, weighing 2,635 pounds, standing almost eight feel tall and requiring a crane to move it into position.

FRUIT KILLS: Cedar waxwings live on a diet that is 84 percent fruit, the most fruit-rich diet of all North American birds—and that’s what killed whole flocks of them after they tipsily crashed into windows and fences in broad daylight in the Los Angeles area. After overindulging in berries from the Brazilian pepper tree, flocks of cedar waxwings flew drunkenly to their doom, according to a new report in the Journal of Ornithology. YAK, YAK, KAYAK: L.L. Bean has created as kayak that is longer than a football field, in hopes of getting it into the Guinness Book of Records. To celebrate the firm’s centenary, the firm created the 407-foot-long kayak out of 100 standard kayaks—and 100 company employees took it out on its successful maiden voyage on a lake in Freeport, Maine. NEW THREAT: Seagrass holds as much carbon per acre as the world’s forests—and is now among its most threatened ecosystems. In the past century, 29 per cent of seagrass has been destroyed globally, mostly by water pollution, dredging for new developments and climate change. Because seagrass meadows are disappearing at an annual rate of about 1.5 per cent, about 300 million tons of carbon are released back into the environment each year—seriously adding to global warming.


Aug/Sept 2012

TURNING TURTLE: Two giant turtles, both 115 years old and together since they were young, are now—despite counseling, romantic food and joint games—refusing to share their cage at an Austrian zoo. “We get the feeling they can’t stand the sight of each other anymore,” said zoo boss Helga Happ, adding that the female, 220-pound Bibi, attacked the male, Poldi, and bit off a piece of his shell. Staffers say Bibi wants the cage to herself, although it’s very rare that animals that are a pair will part after so many years together.

BEE-DEVILED: Honey bees love oilseed rape (canola) flowers, but the neonicotinoid pesticides commonly used to protect the crop may be a reason the bees are declining. One neonicotinoid, called imidacloprid, dramatically slows their spring population growth. Another neonicotinoid, thiamethoxam, makes bees less likely to return to their hives after foraging, suggesting that the pesticide impairs their ability to navigate. The findings will add weight to calls for neonicotinoids to be banned or more strictly regulated. Germany, France and Slovenia already have strict limits on their use, and U.S. beekeepers recently petitioned the EPA to ban another neonicotinoid, clothianidin.

GOING TO BLAZES: At least 21 large wildfires are burning in the West, with the majority largely uncontained by Forest Service fire crews—and this number is set to increase over the next 30 years, primarily because of increasing temperature trends. However, increased rainfall in the equatorial regions actually could cause a drop in fire activity there, especially in tropical rainforests. CRYING CONDIMENTS: A variety of salts manufactured from tears—of sorrow, laughter, anger, while chopping onions or from sneezing—is going on sale in London, each one having its own taste, a company spokesman says. He adds, “Salt Made From Tears combines centuries-old craft with the freshest human tears, which are gently boiled, released into shallow crystallization tanks, then harvested by hand and finally rinsed in brine.”


Creature Feature

Banana Slug

Ariolimax spp.

Rick Park and Morgan Corviday

“Go Slugs!” It hardly seems a motto likely to breathe fire into your average football or baseball team, but such is the burden at UC Santa Cruz, where the student body voted (by a 15-1 margin) to proclaim the banana slug their school mascot. This oddly charismatic invertebrate is also the official California State Mollusk. The three species of banana slugs—of the class gastropoda (“stomach-foot”), subclass pulmonata (“with lungs”), genus Ariolimax—are common and easily-identified critters in the Coast and Olympic ranges, and can be found plentifully in the normally damp underbrush throughout the region, as a stroll through the forest will quickly verify.

Save the Dolphin Save Yourself

More information at

Blue Dolphin Alliance 888-694-2537

Slowness, in slug and snails, is a double-edged sword. Escaping from predators—such as newts and salamanders, shrews, moles, and even mosquitos (not to mention Yuroks and Europeans, who first leach away the slime with vinegar, and in particular the French, who consume 45,000 tons of snails per year—rolling them in corn-meal and feeding them on it for two weeks, to A yellow banana slug moves along the forest floor. Photo: Jon Wiley, Creative Commons, clean their digestive systems of substances toxic will gag on it, potentially giving the slug time (and to humans)—is problematic. But slowness also it needs plenty) to escape. Slugs can be, in fact, provides the simplest sort of camouflage: by quite the escape artists! When in high places, they remaining virtually motionless, the slug seems not can generate a rope-like slime cord, on which they to be a living thing to the casual eye, but merely slowly descend to the ground. They can swim as well, a fallen leaf on the forest floor. The bright yellow undulating like a seal, as only seems appropriate, as color of banana slugs also raises a red flag (so slugs evolved from mollusks in the sea. The slug is to speak) to predators—bright colors generally amongst the more primitive of its many cousins, indicate a potentially unpleasant or toxic meal. which include snails, oysters, mussels and squid. Banana slugs are reportedly the slowest of the Banana slugs also come also in brown and slow—having won the title of the slowest mollusk spotted varieties (like an overripe banana). Usually in the world. A large banana slug was clocked weighing in at about 4 ounces, they often grow to covering 6.5 inches in 120 mintues (0.000023 m/s). 6-8” long, sometimes reaching as long as 10”. They Unfortunately, this also makes the banana slug begin life as part of a clutch of dozens of translucent easy prey for other more aggressive slugs, like the eggs, each only about ¼” in diameter, that the mother invasive Great Grey Garden Slug, Limax maximus, deposited in the soil. After hatching, banana slugs known to move 4 times faster than its yellow cousins. may live three to six years, depending on their luck. Slug-slime is essential to slug locomotion— A banana slug will eat nearly anything, acting as kind of a continuously generated carpet excreted by a forest-floor clean-up specialist. It has thousands the animal’s underside. It is also a discouragement of tiny teeth which line its tongue, that continuously to many predators. Dogs and ducks, for example, break off and regenerate as it munches leaves (even (Left) Banana slug love! Slugs are hermaphroditic, which means poison oak), seeds, bulbs, lichen, algae, fungi, living they have both male and female parts. As they coil around each and decaying flora, and even small fauna—but it other, always clock-wise, they eventually engage in mutual penetrawill not eat a redwood sapling! Instead, it will eat tion—which can last up to 24 hours. Sometimes, one may need to the surrounding and competing vegetation, clearing nibble the other’s penis off in order to separate. Photo: Such a Groke, Creative Commons, the path for its mighty partner, sempervirens.

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Aug/Sept 2012


the Kids’ Page:


The last in our ecosystem series on the Kids’ Page is the Oak Woodland ecosystem. There are many types of woodlands around the world. A common one in our area is the oak woodland. It is called a woodland instead of a forest because woodlands tend to have more open areas, and typically the crowns of the trees are further apart. This allows more sunlight to reach the ground. As you may guess, there are oak trees found in this ecosystem, such as Coast and Canyon Live Oaks, Tanoak, White Oak, and Black Oak. There are also other trees such as Madrone, California Bay, Walnut, Manzanita, Bigleaf Maple, and Western Redbud. Plants that typically live in the understory (under the canopy of the trees) include blackberry, ferns, huckleberry, rhododendron, and poison oak—just to name a few. Many animals can be found in the oak woodland. There are many types of insects that larger animals feed upon, such as birds, bats, the northern fence lizard and the skink. Insect eating amphibians such as tree frogs, wood frogs and salamanders can be found in the understory. There are many birds such as the acorn woodpecker (which collects and stores oak acorns in holes made in the tree trunks), hummingbirds, owls and hawks. Small rodents such as mice, chipmunks, and squirrels are food for other animals such as rattle snakes, rat snakes, and owls. There are also raccoons, foxes,

deer, porcupines, and sometimes mountain lions. One of the major threats to our oak woodlands is Sudden Oak Death. This disease is caused by a fungus that is spread by water. The fungus is present on different types of plants and when it rains, the droplets of water splash the spores from the fungus to surrounding plants. The little streams of water created by the rain will wash the fungus around the forest. The fungus causes sores on the tree and eventually the trees die. Not all plants die from this fungus, however. Some are “carrier” plants, which means they are a type of plant that may have the fungus on it but isn’t affected by it, and the plant doesn’t die. Other plants, like the Coast Live Oak and the California Black Oak, are very sensitive to the fungus. Forest managers try to help the spread of disease by treating sick trees when they find them, but the fungus needs to be found early in order to help save it. What can we do to prevent the spread of Sudden Oak Death? We can clean off our shoes, tires, camping gear, and anything else that has come into contact with the ground in the woods. These items can carry fungus spores without us knowing about it because they are super small—our eyes can’t see them if they’re there. You can help protect our beautiful oak woodlands, and all the creatures who depend on the oak trees to survive.


Aug/Sept 2012

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SNAKE SYNDROME UNDERSTORY WOODLAND (Below) Live oaks. Photo: godutchbaby, Flickr Creative Commons

by Sarah Marnick


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EcoNews Aug/Sept 2012  
EcoNews Aug/Sept 2012  

EcoNews is the official bi-monthly publication of the Northcoast Environmental Center, a non-profit organization. Third class postage paid i...