Over 40 Years of Environmental News
Vol. 45, No. 1 Feb/Mar 2015
Published by the Northcoast Environmental Center Since 1971
Our Water, Our Future
Ongoing Efforts to protecT the lifeblood of our communities Humboldt’s Trinity Water Rights | Klamath Coalition Presses Congress | Blue Creek Returns to Yuroks Rail Case Goes to Supreme Court | Oregon Caves Expands | Tim McKay Birdathon
News From the Center The year’s end and the new year’s beginning is an important time at the Northcoast Environmental Center in assessing the past, taking stock of what we have and setting a path for the days ahead. During this time of reflection and planning, one tool greatly helped in our assessment: the NEC Questionnaire that was sent out with our end-of-2014 letter. Thanks to everyone who provided such an invaluable response! Much of the feedback affirmed the work we are currently engaged in, but there were some surprises as well. In the most popular part of the survey, respondents rated issues they felt were most important for the NEC to engage on. The top seven issues (out of 42) were: salmon restoration and protection, wilderness protection, local land use policy, protecting open space (farms, forests, wetlands), watershed restoration (including dam removal), climate change action (including sea level rise adaptation and renewable energy), and addressing the environmental impacts of marijuana grows. The top strategies selected were: political advocacy (local, state, and federal),
1385 8th Street - Suite 226, Arcata, CA 95521 PO Box 4259, Arcata, CA 95518 707- 822-6918, Fax 707-822-6980 www.yournec.org EcoNews is the official bi-monthly publication of the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC), 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 and Southern Oregon bioregion. The subscription rate is $35 per year.
The ideas and views expressed in EcoNews are not necessarily those of the NEC.
environmental education (K-12), and general community outreach and education. We agree! We reaffirm our commitment to the priorities identified and we will continue seeking ways to be even more effective. In feedback about EcoNews, over half of the respondents have been loyal readers for over 10 years, and the vast majority read almost every issue. A special thank you to those who have stuck with us through
Editor/Layout: Morgan Corviday Hollis, email@example.com Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org Proofreaders: Karen Schatz and Midge Brown Authors: Sid Dominitz, Dan Ehresman, Sarah Marnick, Dan Sealy, Jennifer Kalt, Scott Greacen, Jennifer Savage, Felice Pace, Tom Stokely, Matt Mais, Craig Tucker, Joseph Vaile, Cassie Pinnel, Ali Freedlund, Jud Ellinwood, Amber Shelton Cover Photo: Martin Swett Artist: Terry Torgerson
NEC Staff NEC Executive Director: Dan Ehresman, email@example.com EcoNews Editor/Web Manager: Morgan Corviday, firstname.lastname@example.org Coastal Programs Director: Jennifer Savage, email@example.com Coastal Education Staff: Justin Zakoren Programs Assistant: Madison Peters Office Assistant: Cherry Sirpan Membership Associate: Sydney Stewart
Dan Ehresman, Executive Director thick and thin—YOU are the reason EcoNews continues to get out the environmental news that matters most on the North Coast! Of all the great feedback, we were perhaps most surprised by the response to one question, “How much of an impact do you feel your donation makes?” Over half of the respondents selected either “a little” or “a moderate amount.” After seeing the final tally it is plain to see we are not getting the message across to our donors about how grateful we are and how important each and every contribution is. Every person who gives to the NEC is critical to protecting this special place—without you, the NEC would not exist today. The power of each individual donation, no matter the amount, is cumulatively significant. The majority of the money we raise comes from donations of $10, $25 and $50 at a time. Hundreds of individuals giving the basic membership of $35 goes a long way towards protecting the land, water, air and all inhabitants of the North Coast. To top off all the valuable input were testimonials from both new and long-standing members. What follows are just a few of our favorite
NEC Board Of Directors President - Larry Glass, Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment, firstname.lastname@example.org Vice-President - Bob Morris, Trinity County Representative, email@example.com Secretary - Jennifer Kalt, Humboldt Baykeeper, firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer - Chris Jenican Beresford, AtLarge, email@example.com Gary Falxa, Calfornia Native Plant Society, firstname.lastname@example.org CJ Ralph, Redwood Region Audubon Society, email@example.com Richard Kreis, Sierra Club, North Group. firstname.lastname@example.org Scott Greacen, Friends of the Eel River, email@example.com Dan Sealy, At-Large, firstname.lastname@example.org Keytra Meyer, At-Large, email@example.com
Fiscally sponsored by the NEC Director: Jennifer Kalt, firstname.lastname@example.org Bay Explorations Staff: Jasmin Segura, email@example.com
free-form responses. (As we did not have time to ask permission, we chose not to include names of survey respondents. If you submitted a response and are comfortable with us sharing your name in future publications, please let us know.) We are forever grateful to everyone who contributed—both financially and with your heartfelt participation. Our North Coast is that much stronger for it!
In your view, what is one thing that NEC excels at? What is one thing we could improve? “NEC makes environmental stewardship a credible goal. You are believable and respected. We need that with such division in the populace.” – Eureka “[NEC] provides excellent information and education through radio, the internet and Econews. We should always to try work cooperatively with the environmental agencies and the government to achieve our goals.” – Burnt Ranch “Getting news about what is happening in our local environment.” – Eureka Continued on page 10
NEC Member Groups Humboldt Baykeeper
Sierra Club,North Group, Redwood Chapter www.redwood.sierraclub.org/north/
California Native Plant Society North Coast Chapter www.northcoastcnps.org
Redwood Region Audubon Society www.rras.org, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of the Eel River www.eelriver.org, email@example.com 707-822-3342
Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment (SAFE) www.safealt.org
NEC Affiliate Members
Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC)
www.wildcalifornia.org, firstname.lastname@example.org 707-822-7711
Friends of Del Norte www.fodn.org
Mattole Restoration Council www.mattole.org, email@example.com (707) 629-3514
Zero Waste Humboldt
Many thanks to all of our donors, advertisers, and other community partners. In our 43rd year, we have again been sustained by so many friends and allies. From all of us at the NEC, thank you so much for your support in protecting our wondrous North Coast and all of its inhabitants!
Alan & Ashley Tenscher Alan & Barbara Wilkinson Alan & Jean Jackman Alan Justice Alan Laurent Aldaron Laird Alec Cooley Alexandra Stillman Andrea Armin Andrew Araneo & Roz Keller Andy Alm Andy Lane Angi Sorensen Anita & Tim Gilbride-Read Ann King Smith Ann N Michelini Anna Morris & Jay Ingebretsen Anne & Lisa Crouse Anthony & Nancy Wareika Antonia Dobrec Arcata Garbage Company Arcata Playhouse Archie & Sue Mossman Arnold Whitridge Ayala Talpai B. G. Hicks B. Thomas Parry & Julie McDonald Barbara & Robert Froehlich Barbara Barratt Barbara Cline & Geoffrey Proust Barbara J Kennedy Barbara Kalt Barbara Kelly Barbara Reisman Barbara Taylor Bella Vista Tax Services Ben Henshaw Bernadette Cheyne Bernadette Webster & Jack Glick Beth & Clarke Moore Beth Abels Beth Eschenbach and Wesley Blivens Beth Maizes Bette Berg Betty & Ellen Briggs Bettye Etter Beverly Zeman Bill Birmingham Bill Rodstrom Bill Thompson & Jane Riggin Bob & Joan Walsh Bob Felter Construction Bob Morris Brant Electric Bret Harvey Brian & Laura Julian Brian Ormand Bruce & Pam Kessler Bruce and Marlene Ehresman Bruce Campbell Bureau of Land Management Byrd Lochtie Byrean Blacksmith & Sharon J. Phillips C. Robert & Rosella Pace Cafe Mokka & Finnish Country Sauna & Tubs California Coastal Commission California Coastal Conservancy California Native Plant Society Carl Birks & Michael Seeber Carl Fagerskog Carlo Capaldi Carol & CJ Ralph Carol & John Wiebe Carol & Ken Ampel Carol Brant Carol Davis Carol Toffaleti & Bill Croft Carol Whitehurst Carol Woods Caroline & David Moyer Carolyn & Peter Lehman Catherine B. Hanafi
Cathy Taylor Chandler & Paula Dawson Chapala Cafe Charles B. Mills Charles Chamberlin Charles Minton Charlie Butterworth Cherry LaForge Cheryl Lisin Chip Sharpe & Celestine Armenta Chris & Richard Beresford Chris & Wendy Cole Chris Ursich Christopher Matthews Cindy Torgersen & Daniel Platter Cistercian Monastery City of Arcata City of Eureka Claire and Eugene Perricelli Clark A. Fenton Clay Knopf Clifford Anderson Connie Stewart Corinne Frugoni Corrina Cohen & Alex Marc Robbi County of Humboldt Craig Knox Crestmark Architectural Millworks, Inc Dale & Pat Thornburgh Damian Centanni Dan Berman Dan Coleman Dan Raleigh Dan Sealy Dan Sheldon Dana Flint Danco Dandelion Herbal Center Daniel & Claire Grunbaum Daniel Wassenaar Darlene Amann Darus Kayn Trutena Daryl & Phyllis Chinn Dave and Leah Alcyon David & Susan Dean David Baxter David Humes David Kiel & Amey Miller David Ledger David She’om Rose David Thomas & Karyn LeeThomas Deanna R. Thrift Deborah J. Fitzgerald Debra Harrison & Greg Blomstrom Debra Hartridge Dennis Rael Dennis Therry Denny Dorsett Diana L. Clark Diane & Barry Welch Diane Fairchild Beck Diane R. Venturini Dianne Rosser Dick Scheinman Display Name Don & Sharon Gillespie Don Allan Don and Trudi Walker Don Jackson Donald & Andrea Tuttle Donald & Kathleen Morris Donald & Melinda Groom Donald E. Schmoldt & Sally Walters Donna Knight Doris Gildesgaard Dorothy Tobkin Doug Kent Dr. & Mrs. Nancy Slenger Dr. James Lynch Dr. James P. Smith Jr. Dr. John G. Hewston Ed & Bobbie Gross
Edge Gerring & Melanie Kasek Elaine J. Weinreb Ellen Taylor Emily Sinkhorn EPIC Eric & Joan Grantz Eric Alan Olson, MA Erich Schimps Erin Kelly Eugene D. Schnell Eureka Grocery Delivery Eva Laevastu & Katherine Blume Felicia Oldfather Foster Boone Fox Farm Soil & Fertilizer Company Frances & Francis Ferguson Frances Harmon & Steven Martin Francis Taylor Frank Many Fred & Marilyn Wadsworth Fred and Joan Ann Tempas Friends of Arcata Marsh Friends of Del Norte Friends of the Dunes Friends of the Eel River Gail Coonen Gail Popham Garrison Tucker Gary Falxa & Gayle Garman Gary Garcia Gena Pennington George & Margaret Strong George Burtchett George Cocks Gerald Dickinson Gerald Drucker & Lynda McDevitt Gil & Mediha Saliba Gillian Oglesby Gilly & Jeff Black Glenda Nikolauson Glenn Siegfried Gloria Purcell Gordon Leppig & Julie Neander Gordon Pfeffer Grant Werschkull Green Library, Stanford Greenway Partners Greg & Kay Gibson Greg & Kay Olsen Greg & Linda Rose Gregory & Rene Nesty Gretchen Ziegler Guy & Cindy Kuttner Gwen Baluss Gwen Thoele Hal & Wendy Harden Hanna Sturtz Harriet Hass Harry Lowther and Ursula Bredow Harry Spehar Hart Welsh, Jr. Heinrich and Peggy Kaestle Henry and Mody Hollomon Hezekiah Allen Hilary Hacker Holly & Melvin Kreb Holly Hall Hospice of Humboldt Hoopa Valley Tribe Hope Woodward Howard Freiman & Barbara Rich Howard Williams Humboldt Baykeeper Humboldt Herbals Humboldt Sanitation Humboldt State University Library Periodicals Dept. Humboldt Waste Management Authority Ilene Mandelbaum & Steve Barager Integral Ecology Research Center Irith Shalmony Jack & Christina Miller Jack & Gina Rimson Jack Storm Jade Rathmann Jaffa Dugan Wahlberg Jaime O’Donnell James & Susan Bentz James & Virginia Waters James A. Kealey James Benson James Derden Jr & Judith Little James Elliott James H. Diego & Shirley Reynolds James Hildebrandt James Matthews James McIntosh James Moore James O’Brien Jan & Bob Mountjoy Jan Ramsey
Jane & Richard Wilson Jane Cole & John Sawyer Janet Romine Janice Murayama Janis Irvin Janis Schleunes Janis Taylor Jared Rossman Jay Bonestell Jay Sooters Pure Water Spa Jay Ziegler Jean McCord Jeanne Ferroggiaro Jeanne Pendergast Jeanne Pfeiffer Jeff & Tracy Boyer Jeff & Zina Hogue Jeff Russell Jennifer Kalt Jennifer Wood Jerry Martien Jill Drove & Kevin Hendrick Jim & Dee Keyser Jim & Donna Clark Jim Froland Jimmy & Julia Johnson Joan Del Monte Joan Levy & Steve Salzman Joann & Eric Olson Joanne & Robert Fornes Jodi Greene Joe & Patricia Dougherty Joe Bob & Lily Hitchcock Joe James Joe, Sally & Tyler Gillespie Joel Armin-Hoiland John & Barbara Brimlow John & Darsty McAlinn John & Dona Blakely John & Judith Longshore John & Laura Hennings John & Lillian Scofield John & Marsha Maxwell John & Patty Richards John A. Church & Cathy Torres John and Rebecca Shockley John Coonen John Crater John Hunter John Jennings John K. Moore John M. Rice John Mertes John Porter & Eda Bachrach John R. & Nancy A. Bridenbaugh John R. Swanson John Sacklin & Mary Hektner John Stokes John Yoakley Jon D. & Cynthia J. Forsyth Joshua Asarian Joyce Hough & Fred Neighbor Joyce King Jud Ellinwood & Andrea Webb Jude Power Judeikis Family Judith Hinman Judith Mayer & Yvonne Everett Julie & Lonnie Haynes Julie Fulkerson Justin Smith Karen & Jim Havlena Karen Isa Karen Shepherd & Bradley Thompson Karen Smith Karin Engstrom Karuk Tribe Katherine A. & Michael G. Clark Kathleen Carter Kathleen Imfeld & April Quigley Kathryn Radke & John Williams Kathy Weber Katie & John Amodio Katrina Nystrom Ken Carpenter Ken J Collins Ken Miller Kenneth & Virginia Mulalley Keytra Meyer KHSU KHUM Kim Nash Kit Crosby-Williams Kit Davenport Klamath Riverkeeper Kurt Lauer Kurt Stegen L N Dolbeare L. Sherby & Jim Lamport Larry Glass Larry L. Karsteadt Larry Schlussler Laura Ann Rains Laurel & Scott North Laurey Morris
3 3 4 5 6 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22
Humboldt’s Trinity Water Rights McKay Tract Update Klamath Coalition Presses Congress Enviros vs NCRA to Supreme Court Blue Creek Returns to Yurok Tribe Oregon Caves NM Expands Shore Lines/Bag Ban Stalls Eye on Washington Weed Ordinance Update Kin to the Earth: Martin Litton Zero Waste Humboldt Humboldt Baykeeper Friends of the Eel River EPIC Mattole Restoration Council Sierra Club, North Group California Native Plant Society Eco-Mania Creature Feature: Eelgrass Kids’ Page: Defense!
Lauri Rose Laurie Richmond Laurie, Kurt & Ben Lingemann Laverne McCullough Lawrence & Ann Wieland Leah Mahan Leilani Fullmer Leon & Kathryn Kos Leroy E. French Les Schwab Tire Center Lesa Lyon Lew Litzky & Suzanne Simpson Lilyan Haigh Linda M. & John M. Gaffin Lindsay Merryman & Robert Wiele Linnea Mandell Linsey Jones Lori Dengler and Thomas E. Lisle Lorraine Miller-Wolf & Richard Wolf Los Bagels Lost Coast Outpost Louise Hayes Lynn Halpern Lynn Ryan Lynne Manget Conway Mad River Union Madeline & Joseph Myers Manette & Philip Gerstle Marcia Ehrlich Marcia Miller Marcia Rautenstrauch Margaret & Mark Shaffer Margaret & Steve Cole Margaret Brown Margaret Nulsen & Chris Frolking Margot & Chris Neamtzu Marial Delo Marian L. Perry Marie Kelleher-Roy Marilyn & Nick Letsos Marilyn Foote & John Christianson Marjorie Early Mark & Melinda Bailey Mark & Valorie Lovelace Mark G Ellis Mark Mills-Thysen Mark Northcross Mark Rebelo Mark S. Wilson Martin R. Haase Marvin Goss
Mary & R. Patrick Greene Mary Anderson Mary Ann Madej Mary Ann Matthews Mary Gelinas & Roger James Mary Jo Kenny Mary Jo Weisgerber & Roberta Welty Mary McNelis Mary Schroeder Mary Scott Marybeth Howell Matt & Elicia Goldsworthy Matthew Marshall Mattole Restoration Center Maureen Davison & Marc R. Williams Maureen Hart Mayer Segal Melissa & Christian Stepien Melody & Gerald Hamilton Merle Friel Merodie Mullis Michael Buettner & Vikki Lore Michael Evenson Michael Gompertz Michael Kauffman Michael Perensovich Jr. Michael Rizza Michael Turner Michele & Doug Kamprath Michele Olsen & Roland Lamberson Michelle Large Midge Brown & Kevin Patzkowsky Mike & Jane Minor Mike Diggles Mike Strande Mike Wilson Milo & Dee Johnson Milton J. Boyd, Ph.D. Mona Beaver Mordechai Liebling & Lynne Iser Mr. & Mrs. Watty Mr. & Mrs. William B Hansell Ms. Linda M. Barker Ms. Lydia Garvey Nancy & Daniel Carter Nancy Ihara Nancy Lewis Nancy Reichard
Continued on page 8
Federal Legal Opinion Favors Humboldt County’s Claim on Trinity Water
Tom Stokely, California Water Impact Network In a major reversal of past Interior Department legal opinions, the department’s solicitor, Hilary C. Tompkins, affirmed in January that Humboldt County’s 50,000 acre-foot contract for Trinity River water with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is in addition to fishery flows. Previous Interior opinions and BOR positions maintained that Humboldt County’s water was part of existing fishery flows. The new opinion is significant because it will mean more water for the beleaguered fisheries of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. The new opinion is the legal foundation justifying increased water releases from Trinity Lake to prevent repeats of the 2002 Lower Klamath River fish kill. In that incident, 65,000 adult salmon, mostly from the Trinity, perished from disease and poor water quality. Humboldt County has in the past repeatedly offered its water in times of need to avoid such incidents. The Solicitor’s Opinion came out concurrently with a draft plan by the Bureau of Reclamation for “Protecting Late Summer Adult Salmon in the Lower Klamath River.” This draft plan details future releases from Trinity Lake into the Lower Klamath River during late summer and fall to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill. Successful supplemental releases from Trinity were made in 2003, 2004, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Comments were expected due on the draft plan by January 31, 2015, just after this issue of EcoNews went to print. The Fresno-based Westlands Water District has unsuccessfully challenged these supplemental flows in court. Despite allowing the flows to proceed, federal judge Lawrence O’Neill strongly encouraged BOR to come up with a long-term plan, legal justification and an environmental document for the releases. Despite this new legal opinion to support increased flows from the Trinity to the Klamath, there remains no legal requirement that will prevent the draining of Trinity Lake to “dead pool” by concurrently decreasing diversions to the Sacramento River. In 2000, former Interior Secretary Babbitt increased Trinity River flows but did not provide... Continued on page 8
Illustration of Trinity River Diversions from 1952.
Planning for McKay Tract Access Underway Dan Ehresman
Humboldt County’s recent acquisition of 1,000 acres of forestland within the McKay Tract, located southeast of Eureka, puts another major mark on the map for the North Coast as the first community forest owned and managed by a county government in California. The acquisition, in addition to the conservation easement placed on the remainder of the 7,600-acre tract, aims to provide a host of benefits: from watershed protection and restoration to recreation and more sustainable timber harvest. However, there is still much work ahead before the largely landlocked property is officially open to the public. Deputy Director Hank Seemann of Humboldt County Public Works stated that the top
priority is identification and environmental review of possible access points and trail segments—with the likely first access point to be located at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds. Seemann said he hopes to get the first trail segments completed by the “Best of Humboldt” Fair in late June. Development of a complete trail network will likely take several years. Subsequent to the access and trail planning, the county will begin to plan for timber harvest. As outlined in the project proposal, a working forest is a key component to having a viable, economically self-sustaining community forest. With input from BBW & Associates, the county states they will be using a management approach consistent with the City of Arcata’s community forest program. Seemann stated that he appreciates the public’s patience. In the mean time, and community members are encouraged to get involved in a variety of ways including helping with trail planning and construction, monitoring for appropriate use and trash cleanups (sign up as a volunteer: www. humtrails.org/mckay). For those interested in making a donation to the project, a “Friends of the McKay Community Forest” fund has been set up at the Humboldt Area Foundation (www. hafoundation.org). To get on the email list for updates, to read Jerry Rohde’s eye-opening history of the McKay Tract, and for more information about the project and future plans visit: www.co.humboldt.ca.us/pubworks/mckayforest.
Klamath Coalition Continues to Press Congress Craig Tucker
This article is abridged from the original, originally published in the Osprey. Read the full article containing an extensive history of events leading to the Klamath Agreements at www.yournec.org.
For those keeping a watchful eye on the Klamath River, the 113th Congress’ lame duck session was quite the nail biter. A broad coalition of Tribes, conservation, fishing, and farming groups have been pressing congress since 2010 to pass legislation aimed at implementing a set of Agreements that would lead to the removal of the lower four Klamath River dams, fairly balance water use between the environment and agriculture, improve irrigation infrastructure, and restore fisheries habitat all across the basin. Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley and California Senators Feinstein and Boxer worked to include the Klamath legislation in one of the omnibus bills in early December but Congressmen Greg Walden blocked the bill language in the House, leaving Klamath communities with a lump of coal in their holiday stockings. However, some think that Congressman Walden’s stance may be softening in the wake of broadening support for the Agreements from his conservative base. The Klamath Basin, a massive watershed about the size of Maryland (over 12,000 square miles) is home to unique and culturally diverse tribal communities—the Yurok, the Karuk and the Klamath Tribes—that still live along the Klamath River and fish its waters. The Klamath hosts an array of anadromous and resident fish, including the once numerous spring Chinook, fall Chinook, Pacific lamprey, Winter steelhead, green sturgeon, and endangered Coho salmon. Europeans began colonizing the area 150 years ago, and conflicts over water began to arise with the draining of wetlands and the installation of canals and dams. These conflicts reached a peak in 2001 and 2002 when drought and federallycurtailed water use resulted in farmers losing their livelihoods and an estimated 68,000 salmon died before spawning in what has been called the largest adult fish kill in US history. The Agreements, ceremoniously signed in 2010 after five years of difficult negotiation between parties and interest groups that had been in conflict over water use for over 100 years, describe rules for determining water allocations for agriculture, the river, Upper Klamath Lake and the wildlife refuges and provides for investment in habitat restoration and improvements to irrigation infrastructure. Also included is the enlargement of Upper Klamath Lake to more closely resemble its original size (prior to over 100 years of irrigation canals and drained wetlands, and the removal of the lower four Klamath dams in 2020. The operating license for the hydroelectric dams, which block fish passage and create significant water quality impacts but only a modest amount of energy, is expired. Renewal of the license would require expensive upgrades including fish
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
Fish carcasses line the banks of the Klamath River during a massive fish kill in 2002 that left 68,000 salmon dead. Photo: Tim McKay.
ladders and extensive mitigation that would exceed the cost of dam removal. Just as the Agreements were being signed, however, the national economy was starting to melt down and Tea Party conservatives won enough seats in the House of Representatives to strangle any bills seeking to appropriate money. In 2012, after nearly 40 years of percolating through the courts, a judge issued a determination in the Klamath adjudication, awarding senior water rights in the Upper Klamath Basin to the Klamath Tribes. Continued congressional inaction on the Klamath Agreements led to the assertion of these water rights by the Tribes in 2013, shutting water
off to upstream irrigators. The water shut-off led the Oregon congressional delegation to call for a Congressional Task Force to address this latest conflict. The Task Force, made up of representatives of many of the parties to the Klamath Agreements, trimmed the budget for implementing the Agreements and laid out the basic structure for a third Agreement, this one between the Klamath Tribes and irrigators upstream of Upper Klamath Lake. Early in 2014, the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement (UKBA) was signed. The UKBA allowed the Klamath Tribes to see their water needs met in a way that was flexible enough... Continued on page 19
My Humboldt Diary:
A True Story of Betrayal of the Public Trust My Humboldt Diary tells the incredible story about what actually happened at the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant—a story that must be told! Featuring Forrest Williams, the author, and two other nuclear control technicians who were critical of the nuclean plant operations, Diary provides a rare inside view of the unscrupulous behavior of corporate America’s nuclear juggernaut to protect a failed and dangerous technology. www.yournec.org
BOOK SIGNING with author Bob Rowen,
former nuclear control technician and retired Trinity County educator
Saturday, February 28 12 - 3 pm Jogg’n Shoppe 1090 G Street, Arcata
Enviro Legal Challenges to Rail Agency Head to CA Supreme Court
Scott Greacen, Friends of the Eel River When the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) refused to make good on its promises to conduct environmental review before rebuilding the failed, state-owned Northwest Pacific rail line from Humboldt Bay to the San Francisco Bay Area, Friends of the Eel River and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics sued in state court. Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), was an explicit condition of tens of millions of dollars in state funding granted to the agency to rebuild the line. The former Northwest Pacific rail line, completed a century ago (see page 14), runs along the mainstem Eel River for more than 150 miles, in what’s likely the most active zone of one of the world’s least stable landscapes. Highly erosive, unstable geology, intense rainfall, and seismic activity all combine to make the Eel River Canyon a very expensive place to keep a railroad running. When the mid-century timber boom was in full swing, old-growth redwood timber paid the freight to keep the tracks cleared and nailed to constantly shifting ground. But when the timber boom went bust, the Southern Pacific moved to abandon the line. The state of California eventually bought the failed railroad, sticking the citizens of California with the collective liability for cleaning up dozens of toxic waste sites along the route, as well as removing the railroad—or rebuilding and operating it. Millions of additional state taxpayer dollars were spent on a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), but it only analyzed rail operations on the southern end of the line. Even that half-vast document was ultimately withdrawn by the NCRA board, relying on their new theory that they need never comply with CEQA because they’re a railroad, and Congress has pre-empted state and local regulation of railroads. To our dismay, the would-be rail barons of the North Coast were rewarded for their obstinance by the district court, and then by a Court of Appeals panel all too willing to release the NCRA from any obligation to conduct meaningful environmental review. The appellate panel in our case ruled CEQA entirely preempted even where rail projects are owned and funded by the state. But in a remarkably similar case brought against another California rail agency—the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA)—a different Court of Appeals concluded that CEQA is not preempted by federal railroad law. Where California is acting not as a regulator, but as an owner, that appellate panel said, the state can contract for higher standards than it could impose as regulatory requirements. Adding yet another layer of confusion, even though the HSRA court cleared that project to go Continued on page 19 forward (because...
Action Alert! Designate the Smith River as Wild and Outstanding National Resource Water (ONRW)
Currently, as a Wild and Scenic River, the Smith River has protection as a Tier II water body, a high quality water. But there is a third more protective Tier III under the Clean Water Act. Designation as ONRW will protect the Smith River from anti-degradation policy loop holes that could allow pollution from industrial mining development. The Smith River is currently recognized as one of the most threatened rivers by American Rivers because of current nickel and rare metal strip mining proposals.
There is a hearing scheduled, March 11 and 12, 2015 for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Meeting to consider ONRW designation of the Smith River, as part of the Triennial Review of the North Coast Basin Plan. Please send your comments to: Alydda Mangelsdorf, Supervisor, Planning Unit and Matt St. John Executive Officer North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, 5550 Skylane Boulevard, Suite A Santa Rosa, California 95403 (707) 576-6735 (ph) (707) 523-0135 (fax) Email: Alydda.Mangelsdorf@waterboards.ca.gov
For more information, visit www.yournec.org/actionalert/smithriver
Japan Tsunami Marine Debris
Del Norte County: POINT ST. GEORGE BEACH
Humboldt County: SAMOA BEACH
SATURDAYS @ 10:00 AM Call or email the NEC to register in February 7, 2015 advance, or for more information: March 21, 2015 firstname.lastname@example.org April 18, 2015 or 707-822-6918. June 13, 2015 www.yournec.org/tsunamidebris
SUNDAYS @ 11:00 AM February 8, 2015 March 22, 2015 April 19, 2015 June 14, 2015
bagels & pastries Baked fresh daily
Oregon Caves National Monument Expands Joseph Vaile, KS Wild Oregon Caves National Monument, one of the smallest National Park units, has been expanded to include nearby hiking areas with old-growth forests, waterfalls and wildflower rich meadows. The National Park Service formally proposed to expand the boundary of the southwest Oregon Monument to encompass nearby caves and the surrounding Cave Creek Watershed several times— first in 1939, then in 1949, and most recently in 2000. The legislation signed by President Obama in 2014 added approximately 4,000 acres to the Monument by transferring land from the Forest Service to the National Park Service. Known primarily for its vast marble caves, the 480-acre Monument was originally established in 1909 by proclamation of President William Howard Taft. To address some local concerns, the legislation created a National Preserve around the existing Monument where hunting and fishing would be permitted. But many in the area are hoping the new protected area will expand economic development, increase recreational opportunities, and protect the drinking water for some 80,000 visitors a year. Oregon Caves is the longest tour cave west of the Continental Divide and it sits below some of the most botanically diverse conifer forests in the world. In addition to increasing the boundary to include a campground and hiking trails, the proposal would also designate just over seven miles of streams under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, including the first underground river in the country: the River Styx. This sub-surface stream maintains many unique features of the marble caves. The legislation proposes to protect the Monument’s drinking water from possible pollution and contamination caused by cattle grazing in the Cave Creek watershed—a longstanding concern of the Park Service. KS Wild has worked with the rancher and have come to an agreement that satisfies all parties. The legislation would also allow the donation of grazing permits within the expanded boundary, if the permit-holder were willing. Funds for the buyout would come from private sources, and KS Wild is currently working to secure additional funding to permanently retire the Big Grayback and Billy Mountain cattle allotments.
Blue Creek Returns to Yurok Tribe Matt Mais
Through partnerships, mutually beneficial agreements and sheer determination, the Yurok Tribe is reclaiming their rightful role as steward of the most pristine place in the Klamath Basin. The Yuroks, in conjunction with Western Rivers Forestry, recently secured $9.9 million to purchase 6,479 acres of land in the Blue Creek and neighboring Bear Creek watersheds from Green Diamond Resource Company. The Tribe plans to turn the ice-blue Klamath tributary, which better resembles a river, into a salmon sanctuary. The entire 47,000 acres Blue Creek drainage lies within Yurok Ancestral Territory. In addition to supporting fish, including the threatened coho salmon, the rolling river valley of Blue Creek is a stronghold of biodiversity and is home to many mammals including the Pacific fisher, Humboldt marten and spotted owl. “Blue Creek is the very seed of the ecosystem. From there, we can grow out again,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. “We have for thousands of years, if not tens of thousands of years, managed our land in a responsible way.” Blue Creek is crucial to the prosperity and proliferation of Chinook salmon. At the peak of the fall king salmon migration, the mouth of Blue Creek runs more than 15-degrees cooler than the main-stem Klamath, which is typically 72 degrees or warmer. The salmon-stressing water temps in August and September are a result of a warming effect caused by the Klamath River dams. Once
the temps breach 70, the metabolic and immune systems of both adult and juvenile Chinook salmon quickly break down. At the same time and as a result of torrid river conditions, parasitic pathogens such as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which caused the 2002 fish kill, multiply rapidly. Almost every year a frigid, Olympic-size pool, known as Blue Hole, forms at the mouth of Blue Creek. This pool is vital to salmon survival. After chilling in the cold-water refuge, a salmon’s body temperature can drop by a full 8 degrees, bringing the fish’s physiological systems back into balance. Sedimentation has destroyed all other extensive cold water refugia on the lower Klamath, making Blue Creek the only place where fish can find respite when the river is too warm. It is not hyperbole to say if it were not for Blue Creek, few salmon would be left on the third largest fish producing river on the West Coast.
Forest health is directly related to fish health
A sustainable salmon run requires more than an unimpaired riparian zone. The Yurok Tribe plans to restore the acquisition in the Blue Creek watershed to an old growth forest full of biodiversity. Historical logging operations in the watershed left a maze of roads that have the potential to dump giant loads of fish-choking sediment into the creek. The roads will be re-contoured and fortified with native flora. Some of the former logging land contains mono-crops of Douglas fir and redwood. The Tribe plans to rejuvenate... Continued on page 19
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(707)822-3256 The confluence of Blue Creek and the Klamath River. Photo: twilight, Flickr.com CC.
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
Shore Lines: Coastal Programs Update Jennifer Savage, Coastal Programs Director The turn of the year marked both the anniversary of the North Coast’s marine protected areas and the California network as a whole, and we celebrate the NEC’s first year of post-implementation outreach and education.
We continue to work with ocean researchers, state agency staff, tribal representatives, commercial and recreational fishermen, elected officials and fellow conservationists. These relationships were newly formalized in December when the Ocean Protection Council formally adopted the California Collaborative Approach: Marine Protected Area Partnership Plan. Based on the Collaborative Implementation Project’s success in counties and regions up and down the California coast, the partnership plan affirms the benefits of an organized approach and pooling of local knowledge to best inform the public about MPAs. Plans for the next two years include implementing outreach and education projects, improving communications, finding new sources of funding, sharing local research projects and results, and hosting MPA trainings for local law enforcement officers.
Find out more about what’s happening in the world of California marine protected areas, including ours on the North Coast, at www.mpacollaborative.org and www.oceanspaces.org.
Our Coastal Education Specialist Justin Zakoren recently finished his master’s program at HSU—congratulations, Justin!—and is hard at work on his thesis project fieldwork, which ties in nicely with his job going into classrooms and teaching children about ocean trash and how watersheds work. Justin is looking forward to visiting more schools and organizations throughout Humboldt County, further developing our curriculum and generally making the world a better place.
What’s Going On?
Each week brings ways to keep up on ocean happenings. Tune into Coastal Currents on KHUM 104.7 FM each Wednesday at noon. (Listen online at www.khum.com.) Read “Your Week in Ocean” on the Lost Coast Outpost (www.lostcoastoutpost. com). Monthly updates can be heard the fourth Thursday of each month on The EcoNews Report at 1 p.m. on KHSU (www.khsu.org, archives at www.yournec.org).
First Annual Tim McKay Birdathon! May 1 - 9, 2015
• Register as a team or as an individual • Collect pledges (donations) for the number of bird species seen in 24 hours • Participate from anywhere in the world! • Prizes awarded for the top three persons or teams with most donations collected!
‘Progressive’ Plastic Bag Lobbyists Stall California’s Bag Ban Jennifer Savage
Over the past several years, plastic bag manufacturers have spent millions of dollars swaying legislators away from approving proposed bag ban bills. Over 100 cities and counties have already banned single-use plastic bags, and efforts to expand those bans to a single statewide approach have long been supported by environmental activists, grocers and most state residents. Last year, Senate Bill 270 finally passed and a move toward a cleaner California seemed assured. Californians thought the battle was finally over. Unfortunately, backed by an industry primarily headquartered outside California, the American Progressive Bag Alliance then began a referendum drive and soon announced they’d gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for placement on the general election ballot. Now each county must do random sampling to determine legitimacy. If enough prove valid, the referendum goes to the 2016 November ballot, effectively ensuring plastic bag manufacturers have another two years to profit to the tune of an additional $145 million according to Californians Against Waste. Meanwhile, other municipalities’ bans will remain in place. Unfortunately for most of Humboldt County, momentum toward a countywide ban stalled out while supervisors waited to see if the state bill would pass. That momentum has been almost completely lost in the wake of the referendum. In January, a majority of the Board of Supervisors spoke against pursuing an ordinance, calling it too restrictive and not the best use of resources, despite strong support from waste management agencies. Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace proposed encouraging voluntary efforts and following with an ordinance if those efforts failed to manifest. The other supervisors balked at the ban inclusion, however, so the motion was changed to only include mention of voluntary efforts and passed unanimously. Currently, only the City of Arcata has passed a bag ban in Humboldt County.
For more information or to register, visit
www.yournec.org/events/birdathon or call the NEC at 707-822-6918
Sponsored by the Northcoast Environmental Center and the Redwood Region Audubon Society
Continued from page 3 ...an enforceable mechanism to prevent draining the reservoir to mud. Further, this new opinion heartening, it is not a court decision. It is similar to a legal brief and will purportedly be used by the Justice Department to oppose ongoing litigation by the Westlands Water District and their allies to halt increased Trinity River releases into the Lower Klamath River. Westlands incorrectly claims that the Trinity River water is “theirs,” but has lost several court cases related to the river. The Trinity River is the largest tributary of the Klamath River. The Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project was completed in 1963 and has diverted an average of 900,000 acre-feet of water per year to the Sacramento River. A 10.7 mile tunnel through the Coast Range diverts Trinity water to Whiskeytown Reservoir and another 2.4 mile tunnel sends the water into the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam, generating significant amounts of electricity along the way. Because of the hydropower value and the fact that Trinity River can flow naturally to both the Klamath and to the Sacramento River, it is the most valuable water in California. The Trinity River was dammed specifically to provide “surplus” (and heavily subsidized) water to the San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project (CVP). This includes Westlands, a 600,000 acre corporate agricultural water district west of Fresno. The district’s soils are infused with naturallyoccurring, and toxic, selenium, boron and arsenic. Irrigation mobilizes these elements into regional waterways, polluting them—a situation that won’t change until irrigation ceases. Climate change, the demand created by the planting of permanent crops such as almonds, emergency drought legislation and the BayDelta Conservation Plan are all threats that could ultimately drain Trinity Lake if some form of protection is not put in place. Former Assemblyman Wes Chesbro unsuccessfully attempted to protect the Trinity River by requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to establish minimum carryover storage in Trinity Lake by introducing AB 1914 in 2014—which failed due to objections from the State Water Board. Chesbro was the lone Assemblyman to vote against the recently approved water bond for that reason.
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
33rd Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference March 11-14 in Santa Rosa, CA Fisheries Restoration: Planning for Resilience In March, 2015 the Salmonid Restoration Federation will produce the 33rd Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference in Santa Rosa, California. The conference agenda will highlight habitat restoration techniques, validating effectiveness monitoring, as well as strategies and mechanisms to restore and recover salmonids.
The agenda will also explore key recovery actions and implementation priorities in Pacific Northwest salmon recovery plans and efforts to plan for resilience in California’s landscape. The conference features a wide variety of workshops, field tours, and concurrent and plenary sessions. Other conference events include the SRF Annual Meeting and membership dinner, and a screening of the film DamNation.
For more information, please visit www.calsalmon.org
Coho salmon. Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Thank You! Continued from page 2
Natalie DiCostanzo Natalynne DeLapp Nature’s Serving Neil Palmer & Janelle Egger New World Water Norman & Jean Dyche North Coast Co-op North Coast Journal Northcoast Horticutural Supply North Group Sierra Club Ollie Weber Oona Marie Smith Owen Roth P Givins P. Greenberg Pam Mendelsohn Pamela Lyall Pat Bitton Patricia-Anne & George WinterSun Patrick Porto Patterson/Conners Insurance Paul & Kay Schulz Paul & Margaret Abels Paula Rhude Peggy & Jack Irvine Peggy Leviton & Thomas Pratum Peter Galvin Peter Stroud & Karen Ingels PG&E Phyllis Helligas Pierson Building Center Plan It Green R D & G L Gilchrist Ralph & Nona H. Kraus Ralph & Tecla Pierotti Ralph Faust Randy Ruland Randy Sherer Ray Solbau Rebecca Deja Recology Redwood Community Action Agency Redwood Region Audubon Society Renay Radniecki & Bill Bowman
Resources Legacy Fund Rex Frankel Richard & Carol Laursen Richard & Catherine Christo Richard & Phyllis Stanewick Richard & Sylvia Cardella Richard Ballew & Iris ruiz Richard Duning & Nancy Correll Richard Hansis Richard Jay Moller Richard L. Pederson Richard Ridenhour Rick Tomar Rita Carole Rob & Suzanne Ferroggiaro Robert & Elisabeth Hawthorne Robert & Sara Pillow Robert Rutemoeller Robert Berg Robert Childs Robert Flint Jr. Robert Fox Davey Robert Garner & Robin Beresford Robert Gould Robert Lockett & Adrienne WolfLockett Robert McCreath & Lois Decoux Robert McLaughlin & Theresa Rumjahn Robert Rasmussen Ph.D. Robert Rutemoeller Robert Steeck Robert Van Kirk Roberta Collins Robin & Leonard Wolff Robin Hamlin Robin Renshaw & Richard Swisher Ron & Arleen Smith Ron & Melanie Kuhnel Ronald & Donna Thompson Runaway Kite Russell & Tina Marier Ryan Emenaker Ryan Henson
Safe Alternatives For Our Forest Environment Sallie Grover Sally Williams Salmonid Restoration Federation Samara Restoration Sandra Antonson Sandra Corcoran Memorial Fund Sandra Hill Sandy Bar Ranch Sara & Daniel Frost Sara Sunstein Sarah Lauderdale & Curt Cooper Scott & Lucinda Bradshaw Scott E. Frazer Scott Hagerty SCRAP Humboldt Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples Shirley M. Hillman Sierra Club North Group, Redwood Chapter Smith River Alliance Sofia Pereira Solutions Stacy Becker Stanley Hino Stella Levy Stephanie Reynolds Stephen Gibbs Stephen Kamelgarn & Debra MacQueen Stephen Nielson Stephen W. Hager Steve & Lynn Jones Steve & Suzanna Bowser Steve Gompertz Steve Hamilton Steve Harvey Steve Railsback & Margaret Lang Steven Saunders Steven Evans Steven Martin Sue D Oneglia Sue Leskiw Susan & Joseph Bower Susan B. Campbell Susan Cashman & Harvey Kelsey Susan Eigenbrodt & Carl Tuck Susan Haase Susan K. Barnstein Susan K. Jacobsen
Susan N. Dunn Susan Pence Suzanne & Neal Crothers Suzanne & Rusty Burke Sylvia Shaw Tania Brunell Tara Root Ted & Jo Trichilo Ted & Pam Halstead Ted W. Souza Teddee-Ann Boylan Terri Wilson Terry Raymer The Andree Wagner Peace Trust The Emerald Magazine The PEW Charitable Trust The Sanders-Raigosa Family The Watershed Research and Training Center Thomas & Doris Montgomery Thomas J. Clark Thomas Phillips & Melissa Martel Tia Oros & Chris Peters Tina & Scott Stenborg-Davies Tom & Sue Leskiw Tom and Barbara Peters Tom and Katy Allen Tom Cockle & Carol Lawrence Trinidad Rancheria Uma Bingham Umpqua Bank Ursula Osborne V.J. Eachus Victoria Mayeswebb & John Webb Vinnie Peloso & Debbie Krukonis Virginia Burns Virginia Plambeck Virginia Sloan Visual Concepts W.G. & Cyanne McElhinney Ward Estelle III Warren & Gisela Rosengren Wildberries Marketplace Will Dvorak & Carole Beaton William & Wilma Follette Wilma Johnston Wisconsin Historical Society Library Wolfgang Oesterreich Xandra Grube and Family Yurok Tribe Zero Waste Humboldt
• Gives away tens of thousands of acres of public lands in Tongass National Forest to a for-profit corporation for logging with limited public oversight. • Undermines riparian buﬀers on rivers and streams for salmon protection, preventing the use of Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery funds to implement grant guidelines or requirements for minimum riparian (stream-side) buﬀers. • Prohibits the Obama administration from paying the salary for the nation’s climate change leader. • Leaves millions of acres of BLM wilderness lands vulnerable to drilling for gas and oil in contradiction to current wilderness law. • Postpones any possible listing decisions for the sage grouse which could threaten their survival and delay their recovery. • Chips away at the ability of the public to assure enforcement of environment law through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on lands administered by the US Forest Service and Department of the Interior by removing the ability of citizens to recover the costs of their lawsuit eﬀorts even when they win. • Adds nonsensical requirements to elevate even inferior wildlife data as a primary source to inform Federal land use planning, and related natural resource decisions in order to tie the hands of wildlife conservation agencies.
Wrapping up 2014 in Congress—What Just Happened?
Although Congress, especially Republican members, are adverse to large “omnibus” bills that gather up all the crumbs of several years’ of legislation, a large omnibus bill was attached to the Defense Authorization bill. Although it sounds odd to attach conservation legislation to a Defense funding bill, it is not actually unusual. The bill is full of very exciting and very disturbing new laws.
The Exciting News
The bill adds nearly 250,000 acres of wilderness in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington state and Montana as well withdrawing hundreds of thousands of acres from mineral development on public lands. The bill also establishes or expands more than a dozen national park units. This is the most significant expansion of the National Parks system in five years. This includes the addition of 4,000 acres to Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. In addition, Congress added approximately 140 miles of rivers to protected status under the Wild & Scenic River program including Oregon’s River Styx as the first underground river to receive wild and scenic status. The package also includes provisions to study fourteen additional rivers, totaling close to 140 river miles, for possible Wild and Scenic designation. Rivers to be studied include Oregon’s Cave Creek, Upper Cave Creek, Panther Creek, Lake Creek, and No Name Creek as well as rivers in the East.
Disgusting Provisions in the Omnibus Bill
• Gives away federal lands sacred to indigenous Americans to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the British/Australian multinational cooperation.
Bonus Year-end Gifts from the Obama Admin
• President Obama took measures to permanently protect Bristol Bay, Alaska, from being despoiled by oil and other operations. Perhaps as proof that Senator Murkowski can be a moderate, she supported the President’s action. • Just as President Teddy Roosevelt acted to save Muir Woods in 1908 and Jimmy Carter doubled the acreage of the National Park Service by adding lands in Alaska, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to set aside 346,177 acres of national forest land in the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, a success in a long, hardfought battle lead by local citizens.
Congress 2015—Are You Ready to Rumble?
Water: CA Representative Valadao wasted no time in setting the tone for how he wants to bring more water from Northern CA to his area of Southern CA. Although Senator Feinstein was prevented from moving forward with her back-door water provision in 2014, she may have secretly been happy to see Rep. Valadao introduce HR on Dec. 5. The NEC has signed a support letter for a competing strategy that emphasizes water conservation strategies and less intrusive water storage plans. Keystone Pipeline: While the last Congress repeatedly blocked legislation to build the Keystone pipeline, the issue was the first item up in the new Congress. The pipeline would bring Canada’s dirty tar sands bitumen to Texas for processing and export. After a bill forcing construction of the pipeline passed the House, the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, headed by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), quickly passed a proKeystone XL bill out of committee on January 8. Climate Change activists responded nationwide with protest rallies to block the legislation. As EcoNews went to print, a stack of amendments were on the table, including some symbolic amendments from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and others stating unequivocably that climate change is real, urgent and humancaused, in an eﬀort to push Republicans on the issue. A final vote is expected within weeks. The State Department also gave eight federal agencies until February 2 to “to provide their views on the national interest with regard to the Keystone XL Pipeline permit application” while the department continues its review. On January 6, President Obama issued a statement announcing that he would veto a Keystone bill—potentially the only barrier to the legislation becoming law. Republicans believe may be a possibility his veto could be overturned.
Boxer Announces Retirement
Senator Barbara Boxer, a progressive congressional voice for California for since 1983, announced she would be leaving congress after her current term to run her political action committee—presumably to work on Hillary Clinton’s un-announced presidential campaign.
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News from the Center Continued from page 1
“Local sense of our planet.” – Cambria, CA “Coastal Clean-up! Great Work!” – Arcata “Community-building!” – Rockport, WA “You are the environmental watchdog with your “paw” on the pulse of everything environmentally related in our bioregion. Keep it up. Good work!” – Arcata “Keeping informed, being the local champion of environmental concerns.” – Eureka “Providing current info & perspective on issues (local, regional, world-wide and botanical, health, water…). Keeping in touch with different players in the picture.” – Blue Lake “NEC has a unique opportunity to see what all the environmental organizations are up to and be able to take the issues that aren’t being covered by other organizations.” – Piercy
Why do you choose to donate to the NEC? “You’ve been in the trenches for the Northwest for so long and I really appreciate what you’ve been doing. Bless you for what you do.” – Bayside “I would like to leave a better place for the next generation.” – Arcata “Thank you for all you do to try to preserve and / or improve our quality of life and quality of our planet.” – Eureka “To ensure that the environmental educational / information related to the north coast is provided via Econews / Econews report (KHSU). NEC provides the only forum for networking with the many enviro groups on the north coast.” – Fortuna “To help you spread the word of issues you feel are important and I feel the way you do most of the time.” – Eureka “The most critical issue we face is whether or not humans can reduce our negative impact on the environment and sustain the earth’s critical life support systems. Thank you for your hard work.” – Eureka “I like what you do. You play an essential role in a scene that needs your active presence.” – Blue Lake “I believe collaboration between environmental organizations is very important, I feel I’m supporting a larger effort. The revolution won’t be federally funded.” – Piercy
Our Leaders are Failing Us—and the Planet
Dan Ehresman Despite a pretty good December downpour, much of California trudges on under extreme drought conditions. Even with the current dire state of affairs, many of our elected representatives—local, state, and federal—still are not sensing the urgency. Federally, thanks to the new Republican-led Congress, we are facing years of staggerlingly misplaced priorities and absurd decisions (see page 9). At the state level, despite mounting pressure, Governor Brown seems to be holding steady in his ongoing failure to ban fracking in California—all the more reason to join the March for Real Climate Leadership in Oakland on February 7 (see below). Brown also seems intent to push through the illadvised boondoggle that comprises the proposed twin tunnels—which poses great risk to North Coast rivers as well as the San Joaquin Bay Delta. Here at home, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors have thrown numerous water-wise measures under the proverbial bus. Supervisor Rex Bohn takes the prize for most outstanding naysayer on policies that would help restore our region’s over-tapped creeks and rivers. Supervisors Bass and Sundberg joined Bohn in voting down a policy that would ensure increased scrutiny of possible
future water export projects that could impact water availability for salmon and other local beneficial uses. Our supervisors also voted to halt further action towards a county-wide plastic bag ban despite legal obstacles stalling the state-wide bag ban (see page 7). Clearly, our local representatives are failing to act on issues that could make a positive difference now. Lastly, in a move that could lead to severe impacts to the forests and watersheds of our region, the group California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH) is continuing to push for a land use ordinance which, as the current draft reads, would open Humboldt County forestlands up even further for large, commercial marijuana operations. The group aims to achieve their industry-led agenda by initiative (and thereby through an expensive special election) rather than working through a truly open, public process. There is still time for CCVH to come around, but at this point it looks like the newcomer organization is squandering the opportunity to work with all community members towards a well-crafted ordinance that protects our critically important forests and rivers while setting the path for an industry that could be ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable.
On February 7 thousands of Californians from across the state are gathering in Oakland to deman real climate leadership in the face of California’s ongoing drought. Over the last four years, Governor Brown has not delivered on his promise to put our water and health first in order to carry California into a new clean-energy economy. Instead, he’s chosen to expand extreme oil and gas extraction, which harms our communities and undermines his own greenhouse gas reduction goals for California. Bus transportation from many locations across the state. Visit www.marchforrealclimateleadership.org for more information.
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EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
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Kin to the Earth:
Martin Litton the Resolute
Dan Sealy People who knew conservation stalwart Martin Litton use words like “determined,” “uncompromising” and “strong-willed” to describe his approach to saving important places in the American West. Lucille Vinyard, former head of the North Group of the Sierra Club who lives above Moonstone Beach, recalled that Litton “stuck to his guns” when confronted with opponents of efforts to save Redwood National Park from logging, the Grand Canyon from dams and Mineral King in the Sierra from a Disney resort. Latimer Smith, a young river guide who has rafted the Colorado River through Grand Canyon all of his life, uses the word “Resolute.” That word rings true. Martin Litton died on November 30th, 2014 at age 97, in his home in Portola Valley. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Martin’s fierce determination came at an early age. In 1935 at the age of 18 he wrote a letter to the editor for the Los Angeles Times: “The people of the entire state should rise up against the destruction of Mono Lake. Mono Lake is a gem.” Litton was awarded an Air Medal in 1944 as a motor-less glider pilot in WWII. That spirit continued as he became the first person to row wooden dories the entire length of the Grand Canyon in 1955, accompanied by his equally Martin Litton. Photo: John Blaustein. courageous and activist wife, Esther. A decade after that first trip, Lucille Vinyard plane, Litton saw the huge clear-cut devastation recalls first meeting Litton when she accompanied beyond the public roads and it made him angry. him in a dory down the Colorado while Martin was As an editor he had an opportunity to spread the fighting against one of several attempts to dam the word and “what was inside came out,” he said about canyon. “Martin is one of my great heroes. I put his articles about redwoods. “I felt real mad, and my life in his strong hands on those oars as we went some of it snuck in [to his writing].” In 1969, after fearlessly through the rapids. He was wonderful.” First Lady, Ladybird Johnson dedicated the new Then at night, around a campfire on a sandbar Redwood National Park at what is now Ladybird in the depths of the Grand Canyon on a star-filled Johnson Grove, Litton returned to find his publisher evening, they talked about the effort to create at Sunset Magazine had canceled his article on the Redwood National Park which was “getting pretty event at the request of the head of Arcata Redwood hot.” As travel editor for the notoriously nonCompany. Litton’s resolute response to his boss: activist Sunset Magazine, Litton had authored the “One time in our lives we have a chance to do article “Redwood Country” in 1960, landing the something timely—do it when it happens! So I quit. effort on the national radar. As a pilot in a small I walked out and never went back.”
In 2011, he returned to the forests he helped preserve to film the KQED documentary “Redwood National Park: Preserving Ancient Forests” with Esther, Lucille Vinyard and former Sierra Club photographer, Dave Van De Mark. Litton was a member of the board of the Sierra Club from 1964 – 1974 when he resigned, feeling that the organization was not doing enough to stop Disney from destroying Mineral King in the southern Sierra. Sierra Club President, David Brower, dubbed the “Arch Druid” by New Yorker Magazine, wrote: “Martin Litton is my conscience. Even when I would waver in various conservation battles, he would put a little starch in my backbone by reminding me that we should not be trying to dicker and maneuver.” Latimer Smith, recent president of the nonprofit “Grand Canyon Guides” credits Litton with saving the Canyon. “The Sierra Club had given up, thinking the dams were going to be built, but Martin and Brower fought on,” he recalled. The legacy of Litton’s unwillingness to compromise is all around as people hike along Redwood Creek, snowshoe in Mineral King which is now part of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, or raft the wild rapids through the Grand Canyon. At 87 and again at 90 years of age, Litton set the record as the oldest person to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in his beloved wooden dory. “It’s my world, and I don’t want any other.” Martin requested friends to consider making a donation to Sequoia ForestKeeper, which protects the last of the giant Sequoia and its forest ecosystems in the southern Sierra Nevada. Visit www.sequoiaforestkeeper.org. Litton attributes his un-compromising inspiration to camping trips with family and friends in Yosemite. On a 12-day trip into the wilderness, they never saw another person. “That was the thing that changed my life,” Litton would recall decades later. Today, you can honor his resolute spirit by getting out into the nearest, wildest place you can find—and better yet, take a young person with you.
Forest Carbon Offsets Available for Purchase
Offset your carbon footprint! Makes a great local gift!
The city of Arcata is offering the opportunity to purchase local forest carbon offsets from the Arcata Community Forest to offset greenhouse gasses. Every metric ton purchased offsets carbon dioxide gasses equivalent to a round-trip flight between SFO and JFK airports.
Please contact the Environmental Services Department (707) 822-8184 Eservices@cityofarcata.org
FEBRUARY / MARCH 2015
Redwood Region Audubon Society www.rras.org FIELD TRIPS
Every Saturday: Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. These are our famous rain-or-shine docentled ﬁeld trips at the Marsh. Bring your binocular(s) and have a great morning birding! Meet in the parking lot at the end of South I Street (Klopp Lake) in Arcata at 8:30 a.m. Trips end around 11 a.m. eBird Site Survey–Shay Park. Rob is going to take a break from formal surveys at Shay Park for a couple of months. He may do them on his own time, so e-mail him (email@example.com) if you’d like to receive an e-mail announcement. Sunday, February 8: Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This is a wonderful 2- to 3-hour trip for people wanting to learn the birds of the Humboldt Bay area. It takes a leisurely pace with emphasis on enjoying the birds! Beginners are more than welcome. Meet at the Refuge Visitor Center at 9 a.m. Call Jude Power or David Fix (707-822-3613) for more information.
Sunday, February 15: Southern Humboldt Community Park. Jay Sooter (707-444-8001) and/ or John Gafﬁn will lead this monthly walk. All ages and experience levels are encouraged to participate and revel in the beauty of the park and its avian inhabitants on this easy 2- to 3-hour walk. Binoculars are not provided, and dogs are not allowed; ﬁeld guides are usually available, but please bring your own if possible. Steady rain cancels. Meet at 9:30 a.m., parking by the kiosk near the farmhouse in the main entrance. Sunday, February 15: Eureka Waterfront. Meet at 9 a.m. at the foot of W. Del Norte St., where we will scope for birds off the public dock until everyone assembles. We will then drive to the base of the Hikshari’ Trail at Truesdale Street and bird along the trail to the Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary. Leader: Ralph Bucher (707499-1247; firstname.lastname@example.org). Sunday, March 8: Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. See February 8.
Saturday, February 28 TH
Singing with feathers:
the fabulous courtships of woodstars and other ‘bee’ hummingbirds Dr. Christopher J. Clark has traveled to 12 countries in North, Central, and South America to study various species of hummingbird, with particular focus on courtship displays that males produce for females.
Place: Arcata D Street Neighborhood Center, 13th and D Street. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. Meat and veggie options will be offered by caterer Uniquely Yours! Ticket price is a sliding scale between $35 and $50. Send check made out to RRAS to P.O. Box 1054, Eureka, CA 95502, with “Banquet” in notation line. Banquet info: rras.org or 667-6163. The last day to make reservations is February 26.
Sunday, March 15: Southern Humboldt Community Park. See February 15. Sunday, March 15: Eureka Waterfront. See February 15. Saturday, March 28: Patrick’s Point State Park. Gary Lester (707-839-3373) will lead a 3-hour walk through the forests and along the bluffs of this beautiful local park in search of landbirds and seabirds. Wear sturdy shoes. Meet in front at the park entrance at 9 a.m.; free parking is available along Patrick’s Point Drive; please mind the posted signage. Winter Raptor Surveys: If you are interested in participating in one or more of this winter’s raptor surveys in Loleta and Ferndale, contact Ken Burton (707-499-1146 or email@example.com) for more information or to be put on the notiﬁcation list. Last one is in February.
Friday, March 13 TH
Conservation of America’s Endemic Predators: the story of Endangered Red Wolves Postgraduate wildlife researcher Kristin Brzeski will give an overview of the history of America’s lesserknown wolf, the red wolf, which is endemic to the southeastern United States. She will describe contemporary threats wild red wolves face and the research being conducted to promote red wolf survival in the wild.
Program starts at 7:30 p.m.
at Eureka High School Auditorium, 1915 J Street, Eureka.
Bring a mug to enjoy shade-grown coffee, and please come fragrance-free.
OFFICERS President— Hal Genger …………............ 707-499-0887 Vice President ........................................................ Vacant Secretary—Adam Brown............................. 707-826-0319 Treasurer—Syn-dee Noel............................. 707-442-8862 DIRECTORS AT LARGE Ralph Bucher …........................................ 707-443-6944 Joe Ceriani …............................................ 707-476-9127 Jill Demers ……………………………… 707-667-6163 Harriet Hill………………………………. 707-267-4055 Cindy Moyer.....................................…..… 707-822-1806 Chet Ogan …............................................… 707-442-9353 Susan Penn..................................…......…. 707-443-9660 C.J. Ralph ............................................….. 707-822-2015 OTHER CHAPTER LEADERS Conservation — Jim Clark ...............…... 707-445-8311 Eductn/Scholarships — Denise Seeger ....707-444-2399 eBird Liaison — Rob Fowler …………... 707-839-3493 Field Notes — Daryl Coldren...........…..... 916-384-8089 Field Trips— Rob Fowler ……….......….. 707-839-3493 Finance— Syn-dee Noel .............................707-442-8862 Historian — John Hewston ...................... 707-822-5288 Membership — Susan Penn.…..................707-443-9660 NEC Representative — C.J. Ralph.......... 707-822-2015 Nominating – Jim Clark …....................... 707-445-8311 Programs — Jared Wolfe...........................262-443-6866 Publications — C.J. Ralph..................….. 707-822-2015 Publicity — Harriet Hill............................ 707-267-4055 Sandpiper (Editor)—Jan Andersen ….… 707-616-3888 Sandpiper (Layout)— Gary Bloomfield ...707-362-1226 Volunteer Coordinator — Susan Penn.…707-443-9660 Website Gatekeeper — Ralph Bucher......707-443-6944 Lake Earl Branch — Sue Calla................ 707-465-6191 RRAS Web Page...........................……..... www.rras.org Arcata Bird Alert .........707-822-LOON (707-822-5666) The Sandpiper is published six times each year by Redwood Region Audubon Society P.O. Box 1054, Eureka, CA 95502.
Thinking of Joining the National Audubon Society?
If so, please use the coupon below. By sending in your membership on this form, rather than replying to solicitations from National Audubon, $20 is sent directly to RRAS. This is how NAS rewards local chapters for recruiting national members. (Otherwise, the RRAS dues share per new member is only a couple of dollars.) Thank you.
Chapter Membership Application
Yes, I’d like to join.
Please enroll me as a member of the National Audubon Society and of my local chapter. Please send AUDUBON magazine and my membership card to the address below. My check for $20 is enclosed. (Introductory offer)
NAME_______________________________ ADDRESS___________________________ CITY ______________________________ STATE____________ZIP______________ email ______________________________ Local Chapter Code: C24 C1ZC240Z Please make checks to the National Audubon Society. Send this application and your check to:
National Audubon Society P.O. Box 422250 Palm Coast, FL 32142-2250
REDWOOD REGION AUDUBON SOCIETY P.O. BOX 1054,EUREKA, CA 95502
By Hal Genger
© Gary Bloomfield
Sunrise at the Refuge
a.k.a Aleutian Cackling Goose Fly-Off & Family Fun Day
By Denise Seeger
The public is invited to join the staff and Friends of Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge for a family fun day on Sunday, March 1, rain or shine. Meet at the Richard J. Guadagno Headquarters and Visitor Center, 1020 Ranch Road in Loleta. The gate will open at 6 a.m. View the habitats of southern Humboldt Bay at sunrise. Watch thousands of Aleutian Cackling Geese fly off their night-time roosts. The fly-off usually occurs within 15 minutes before or after sunrise. Sunrise will be at 6:49 a.m. Family fun activities inside the Visitor Center will include bird silhouette painting, making bird houses and feeders, and other arts and crafts from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bring a mug for coffee, tea, or cocoa. This is a popular and free event. We encourage everyone to please carpool to ease parking congestion on the refuge. For more information or special accommodation, please call (707) 733-5406 or visit www.fws.gov/refuge/humboldt_bay.
By Jim Clark
Welcome to 2015! What a year last year was: hot weather, cold weather, drought, then rain, rain, rain. Who knows what the weather will have to offer this year? Rain or shine, RRAS remains actively planning events to entertain, educate, and get people outdoors. (Notice the upcoming field trips announced elsewhere in this issue.) This month you can attend a docent training seminar geared toward our weekly walks at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. A Marsh Docent Training is announced in this issue, so please come if you are interested in becoming a docent or just want to learn about the sanctuary. Also, as I mentioned in the last issue, we have organized a Birdathon fundraiser in partnership with the Northcoast Environmental Center in honor of the late Tim McKay. The Birdathon will happen on any day between May 1 and 9, 2015. We hope all birders will participate and coerce their friends to go with them to look at birds! For more information, check out the Birdathon website at http://yournec.org/events/ birdathon. This year Christopher Clark will present Singing With Feathers: The Fabulous Courtships of Woodstars and Other “Bee” Hummingbirds at the annual banquet and auction on February 28 (announced elsewhere in this issue). Jared Wolfe has a line-up of presenters scheduled for the general meetings starting again in March. IMPORTANT! The location of our general meetings has changed from the Six Rivers Masonic Lodge in Arcata to the auditorium at Eureka High School. Come feel the cushioned seats that you won’t need to stack after the talk! Thank you all for your continued support! Let’s keep Audubon active in 2015!
“Look, we are plowing!” said the fly on the back of the ox. Latin American political comment
Our chapter’s specific purposes are to: (a) Act to promote a wise, balanced, responsible, and ethical use of natural systems on a local, national, and global scale; and (b) Protect the biotic and abiotic components of local, national, and global natural systems. As a chapter member of the National Audubon Society, we emphasize birds in fulfilling our purposes. The language used in our specific purposes is meant to convey our understanding that, among other things, bird conservation requires a holistic approach. Our chapter’s use of science, education, and law to further our cause should be reflected by each individual member. An important component in addition to the 3-legged stool of science, education, and law is recreation. As in most Audubon chapters, birding is our “official” form of recreation. It increases our personal knowledge of birds, bonds and attracts members, and can contribute to science. By itself, however, birding does not help to fulfill our chapter purposes unless combined with other chapter activities. This is true for individual members as well as the chapter as a whole.
Members can support our purpose by becoming an officer, director, or committee chair or by putting your bird list on eBird. The Conservation Committee provides an opportunity to take your commitment to bird conservation to the next level by supporting or creating specific projects. Our policy statement on addressing the environmental effects of large-scale marijuana cultivation in any future state legislation that regulates and/or legalizes marijuana has been released to the public (www.rras.org under News). We have started work on a position on the proposed Highway 101 Last Chance Grade bypass in Del Norte County, and we have begun working with Humboldt County Division of Natural Resources to improve access and protection for the Clam Beach County Park coastal wetland. Other important potential bird conservation projects are: • Control of nonnative plants that displace bird food plants or harbor bird predators, • Corvid control through garbage control, • Eureka General Plan Update, • Coordinate field trips to educate on conservation issues, • That special issue or topic that you are passionate about. Show the fly on the back of the ox who is boss! We have a lot of plowing to do. Conservation Committee meets the second Wednesday of each month (next meeting February 11) at the Golden Harvest Restaurant in Arcata at noon.
Savoring the Milestones
In the April-May 2012 Sandpiper, I wrote of the inevitability of Alan Barron reaching 400 species in Del Norte County. On October 27, 2014, it happened: Alan refound the Prairie Warbler discovered by Sky Lloyd. When I saw the Bell’s Sparrow that Rob Fowler spotted near Grouse Mountain in 2013—the 3rd county bird that ROFO had found for me—it prompted me to reﬂect on the vital role that the College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University play in the Humboldt birding scene. That is, they serve as pipelines to maintain a local supply of young, talented, and energetic birders intent on exploring the area’s avian riches. Alan’s milestone is all the more amazing in that he did it with signiﬁcantly less help than we residents of Humboldt receive from fellow birders.
Tours—has been instrumental in maintaining the vibrancy of the North Coast birding scene.
I encourage you to read words of congratulation to Alan from 18 of his friends and colleagues at http:// www.rras.org/docs/Congratulations_to_Alan_Barron. pdf, plus the article I wrote at http://rras.org/docs/ sandpiper/201204_Sandpiper.pdf that details some of his many contributions to our knowledge of local natural history.
Again, on behalf of birders everywhere who have beneﬁtted from Alan and Rob’s willingness to share their knowledge, congratulations on achieving your respective signiﬁcant milestones.
There is also a Humboldt County milestone to report: Rob Fowler reached 400 species (like Alan, not counting any introduced birds) with the Brambling he saw on November 11. Rob, too, has found more than his fair share of his tallied 400 species and, together with David Fix, shares the distinction of reaching 400 faster than any other Humboldt resident: 11 years. It goes without saying that Rob’s enthusiasm for all things avian—including serving as eBird liaison for Humboldt and Del Norte counties, RRAS ﬁeld trip chair and frequent leader, RRAS board member, lecturer, and owner-operator of Fowlerope Birding
RRAS Thanks 2014 Volunteers We want to thank the following volunteers who contributed to RRAS’s activities during the past year: Jan Andersen, Samantha Bacon, Louise Bacon-Ogden, Pat Bitton, Gary Bloomﬁeld, Adam Brown, Ralph Bucher, Ken Burton, Joe Ceriani, Ted Cheeseman, Sing Chew, Donna Clark, Jim Clark, Daryl Coldren, Jill Demers, Lowell Diller, Cedric Duhalde, Betsy Elkinton, David Fix, Rob Fowler, Gary Friedrichsen, John Gafﬁn, Hal Genger, Harriet Hill, Sandra Hunt von Arb, Larry Karsteadt, Tony Kurz, Sue Leskiw, Tom Leskiw, Gary Lester, Gene Lodes, Paul Lohse, Tristan McKee, Michael Morris, Moe Morrissette, Cindy Moyer, Laurie Ness, Syn-dee Noel, Judie Norton, Lew Norton, Chet Ogan, Ed Pandolﬁno, Susan Penn, Jude Power, CJ Ralph, Gil Saliba, Denise Seeger, Keith Slauson, Jay Sooter, Matt Wachs, Anna Weinstein, Carol Wilson, Jared Wolfe, Gretchen Ziegler, and George Ziminsky.
Birders new to our area help to mitigate the natural course of events where long-time residents don’t hit the ﬁeld as often as they did during their exploration phase, owing to family and work responsibilities and—speaking for myself—a noticeable decline in the stamina required for dawn-to-dusk forays. I relish seeing names unfamiliar to me as cited observers in the Sandpiper Field Notes, on the Bird Box, and eBird reports, for it signals to me that the local birding scene is evolving—as it must—and its future is a bright one. With the overall graying of birder demographics, not all communities can make this claim.
I have a milestone myself to report: the next Sandpiper issue will be my 150th column (not counting the results of the 9 student nature writing contests that I’ve organized and cojudged, which have appeared in the Sandpiper’s annual Children’s Issue). From my ﬁrst column in 1992, about Doc Harris’s impending 400 species for Humboldt—before I owned a modem, so I had to hand deliver a ﬂoppy disc to the Sandpiper staff layout party—it’s been a long, fun ride, one I couldn’t have done without editorial and proofreading suggestions made by a number of folks that include Jan Andersen, David Fix, Rob Fowler, Doc Harris, John Hunter, Gary Lester, and of course, my wife Sue. Tom Leskiw
Great Backyard Bird Count The annual Great Backyard Bird Count takes place February 13 to 16, 2015. This count can be done anytime and anywhere of your choosing. For information on how to participate, go to http://gbbc. birdcount.org.
Redwood Region Audubon Marsh Docent Training Do you want to be a docent or just refresh your knowledge and skills? RRAS is giving a docent training class at the Marsh Interpretive Center on South G Street in Arcata on February 21, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Leaders will include Susie Van Kirk giving an overview of the history of the region, Bob Gearheart giving background information on the waste treatment needs and the beginning of the Project, Larry Karstadt talking about docent etiquette, and ﬁnally, Rob Fowler discussing birds and how to identify some of the tough ones. Please come join us! For more information call Gary Friedrichsen at (707) 496-6581.
Audubon Nature Writing Deadline March 20
RRAS is sponsoring its 10th annual student nature writing contest. Up to 6 cash prizes will be awarded for the best essay(s) or poem(s) on “What Nature Means to Me” by Humboldt or Del Norte County students in grades 4 through 12. Winners will be published on the RRAS website, www.rras.org, with awards presented at the 20th Annual Godwit Days Festival in Arcata in mid-April. Entries should be no more than 450 words in length; one entry per person. Topics suitable for exploration include, but are not limited to, bird feeding, duck hunting, animal rescue, and observations of the natural world. Entries must include the student’s name, home address, phone number, and e-mail, plus teacher name, grade, school, phone, and e-mail. Deadline for receipt is Friday, March 20, 2015. Send submissions as text within the body of an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a printout to Louise Bacon-Ogden, 2337 B Street, Eureka 95501.
Student Bird Art Entries Due by March 20
For the 12th year, RRAS and Friends of the Arcata Marsh are cosponsoring a Student Bird Art Contest in conjunction with Godwit Days. Some $550 in prizes will be awarded to Humboldt County students in grades K-12 who submit a drawing of one of 40 suggested species or another common local bird. Prize(s) also will be awarded for the best rendition of a bird in its natural habitat. Entries will be judged by local wildlife artists and educators. Awards will be presented at the 20th Annual Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival on Saturday, April 18, at 11 a.m. All entries will be displayed at the Arcata Community Center during the Festival, and copies of winning artwork will be shown at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center during May. A ﬂyer with complete rules and a list of suggested birds is posted at http://godwitdays.org/ learning/activitieschildren/bird-art-contest/ or can be picked up at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center, Strictly for the Birds in Old Town Eureka, or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to Louise BaconOgden, 2337 B Street, Eureka 95501. Flyers have been mailed to all schools in Humboldt County.Artwork may be dropped off at Strictly for the Birds, 123 F Street, Eureka, or the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center, 569 South G Street, Arcata, or mailed to Louise at the address listed above. Entries must be received by Friday, March 20, to be considered. Questions should be e-mailed to email@example.com.
By Daryl Coldren
S U M M A RY O F N O R T H W E S T E R N C A L I F O R N I A B I R D R E P O R T S
November 1 to December 31, 2014
Field Notes is a compilation of bird-sighting reports for Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties. Sources include the RRAS Bird Box (707-822-LOON), the online northwestern California birding and information exchange (nwcalbird@yahoogroups. com), eBird (http://ebird.org/content/klamathsiskiyou), and reports submitted directly to the compiler. Reports may be submitted to any of the sources mentioned above or to Daryl Coldren: (916) 384-8089; QuiAvisPetit@aol.com. CBC = Christmas Bird Count; FOS = ﬁrst of season; HO = Hold Over from previous period; MOb = many observers; NC = Not Conﬁrmed by another party/not photographed; NWR = National Wildlife Refuge; UO = Unknown Observer Snow Goose: many reports of 1-6, Arcata Bottoms, Bayside Cutoff, Humboldt Bay NWR, Ferndale Bottoms, 4 Nov-31 Dec (MOb) • Ross’s Goose: 1, Arcata Bottoms, 16 Nov (RF); 1, Centerville, 16 Nov (SLe) • Harlequin Duck: 10, Point St George, 2 Nov (AB); 1-2, Humboldt Bay-King Salmon, 6-22 Dec (MWa, RF, MOb); 1-2, Humboldt Bay-N. and S. Jetties, 9 Nov-1 Dec (AL, BB, RF, MOb); 1, Arcata Marsh-Klopp Lake, 7 Dec (CH) • Long-tailed Duck: 1, N. Jetty, 1 Nov (AL); 1, Humboldt Bay-Field’s Landing, 12-14 Dec (SM) • Barrow’s Goldeneye: 1, Field’s Landing, 9-14 Dec (BE, RF, MOb); several?, Smith River, 14 Dec (UO, ﬁde AB) • Laysan Albatross: 1 (dead), beach N. of Point St George, 4 Dec (WW) • Short-tailed Shearwater: 1, N. Jetty, 8 Nov (TK, CR, BE, BH) • Brown Booby: 1(HO), Trinidad-Pilot Rock, 2 Nov (SLa, MMo); 1 (alive) and 1 (dead), near Smith River mouth, 16 Dec (CR) • American White Pelican: 1 (present since Nov 2013), several locations from Crescent City Harbor, Lake Tolowa, Point St George, 1 Nov-14 Dec (AB, LB, RF, MOb); 1 (perhaps the bird from Del Norte); Arcata Marsh, 26 Dec (AL) • Cattle Egret: 1-2 (HO), Alexandre Dairy, 8 Nov-26 Dec (AB, SLl) • Green Heron: 1, Mad River Fish Hatchery, 10 Nov-8 Dec (BK, ML, BE, CB) • Osprey: 1, Orleans-Sandy Bar, 3 Nov (KM); 1, Mad River Fish Hatchery, 10 Nov (BK); 1, Eureka, 25 Nov (SG); 1, Samoa, 20-26 Dec (BE, GC, MWe); 1, Blue Lake Cottonwoods, 6 Dec (MMa) • Golden Eagle: 1-2, Bear River Ridge, 1-19 Nov (JH, AL, DK, MOb); 1, Orleans-Sandy Bar, 3 Nov (KM); 1 (1st year, a rarity in Del Norte), Alexandre Dairy, 14 Nov-14 Dec (LB, AB, SLl); 2 (another 1st year), Alexandre Dairy 28 Nov-12 Dec (LB) • Northern Goshawk: 1 adult, Bald Hills Rd, 25 Nov (CB) • Ferruginous Hawk: many reports of 1-4, Arcata Bottoms, Loleta Bottoms, Bear River Ridge, Ferndale Bottoms, 1 Nov-31 Dec (MOb) • Roughlegged Hawk: many reports of 1-2, Arcata Bottoms, Bear River Ridge, Ferndale Bottoms, Bald Hills Rd, Point St George, 1 Nov-31 Dec (MOb) • Crested Caracara: 1, Eel River Estuary Preserve, 11 Nov (RM) • Sandhill Crane: 1 (HO), Alexandre Dairy, 1 Nov-26 Dec (AB, SLl, RF, MOb); 1, Ferndale Bottoms-Meridian Ave, 14 Nov (AL); 2, Ferndale Bottoms, 15
Snow Bunting Bear River Ridge, HUM, © Brad Elvert
Painted Bunting Arcata, HUM, © Gary Bloomﬁeld
Dec (BE) • Paciﬁc Golden-Plover: 1-2, Loleta Bottoms, 8 Nov22 Dec (RF, MC, KB, MOb); 13, Eel River Estuary Preserve, 14 Nov (CR, AL, TK) • Red Knot: 1-15, Arcata Marsh, 12 Nov-31 Dec (ML, AL, OH, BE, MOb); 1, N. Jetty, Nov 30-7 Dec (RF, ML, CeD) • Rock Sandpiper: 1-4, N. Jetty, 1 Nov-28 Dec (AL, RF, TK, EF, MOb) • Franklin’s Gull: 1, Smith River Bottoms-Fred Haight Dr, 1 Nov (RF, MOb); 1, Arcata Bottoms, 1-20 Dec (NM, RF, JH, DK, MOb); 1, Ferndale Bottoms, 16-23 Nov (OH, RF, EF, MOb); 1, Loleta Bottoms-Cannibal Island Rd, 6 Dec (TK, CR) • Glaucous Gull: 1, Redwood Creek Mouth, 8 Dec (BE); 1, N. Spit, 18 Dec (CeD); 1, Elk Creek, 22 Nov (SLl); 1, Crescent City, 16 Dec (AB) • Caspian Tern: 1-6, Eureka-Hikshari’ Trail, 1-12 Dec (BE, CO): 1, Arcata Marsh, 8 Nov (TQ); 1, Arcata Marsh, 16 Dec (EE); 1, Eureka, 20 Dec (KB) • Common Tern: 1, Arcata Marsh, 22-31 Dec (EE, AL) • Forster’s Tern: 1 (1st for Del Norte CBC), Lake Earl, 14 Dec (ﬁde AB) • Elegant Tern: 120 (HO), Crescent City Harbor, 2-6 Nov (AB); 1 (1st for Del Norte CBC), Crescent City Harbor, 14 Dec (AB) • White-winged Dove: 1, Eureka, 2 Nov (CR); 1, Arcata Bottoms-Moxon Dairy, 18-29 Dec (AM, MOb) • Burrowing Owl: 1, Bear River Ridge, 1 Nov-25 Dec (JH, DK, AL, TK, CR, MOb); 1, Clam Beach, 9 Nov (LK, CeD, MP); 2, S. Spit, 12 Dec (BE) • White-throated Swift: 4, S. Humboldt Community Park, (JS, JG) • Selasphorus Hummingbird: 1, McKinleyville, 1 Dec (RF, CO) • Say’s Phoebe: 1, Bear River Ridge, 1-11 Nov (JH, DK, AL, BB); 1, Arcata Bottoms, 11-14 Nov (TK, CR, AT, RF, ML); 1, Hoopa Airstrip, 27 Dec (MG, DC, DB, JP, DF); 1, Ferndale, 7 Nov (OH); 1, Loleta Bottoms, 15 Nov (CeD) • Tropical Kingbird: 1, Point St George, 1 Nov (RF, MOb); 1, Cannibal Island Rd, 8-15 Nov (RF, MOb); 3, Crescent City, 8 Nov (AB); 2, Crescent City Harbor, 10 Nov (AB); 1, Crescent City Harbor, 20 Nov-12 Dec (JLo, JLu, AB, LB); 1, Crescent City Sewage Plant, 22 Nov (SLo); 1, Lake Earl, 14 Dec (UO ﬁde AB) • Loggerhead Shrike: 1 (returning for 2nd winter): Loleta-Quinn Rd, 2-28 Dec (GC, MOb) • Redeyed Vireo: 1 (one of only a handful of winter records for all of N. America), Crescent City Cemetery, 14-18 Dec (TK, CR, AB, MOb) • Blue-headed Vireo: 1 (2nd Del Norte record), Crescent City Cemetery, 14 Dec (TK) • Blue Jay: 1, Willow Creek, 1 Nov-27 Dec (MOb) • Horned Lark: 2, Crescent City Harbor, 9 Nov (AB, SLl); 2-9, Bear River Ridge, 2-25 Nov (CR, EF, AL, RF, CD, MOb); 1, Hoopa, 27 Dec (MG, DC, DF, JP, DB); 2, Bald Hills Rd-Lyons Ranch, 7 Dec (CB) • Tree Swallow: 12, Samoa, 7 Nov (CO); 2, Arcata Marsh, 13 Dec (DK); 1, Shelter Cove, 23 Dec (MW) • Violet-green Swallow: 1-7, Arcata Marsh, 30 Nov-30 Dec (AL, DK, BB, MOb) • Barn Swallow: 1-20, Arcata Marsh, 13-31 Dec (AL, MC, EE, DK, MOb); 8, Shelter Cove, 23 Dec (MW); 12, Clam Beach, 24 Dec (GL, LL) • Rock Wren: 2, Alderpoint Rd-“Rock Wren Rocks,” 14 Nov (EF) • Northern Mockingbird: 1, Arcata-D St, 9-11 Nov (EF, AL); 2, Eureka, 20 Dec (RF, RH, GL); 1, Ferndale Bottoms, 1 Nov (JH, DK); 1, Ferndale-Market St, 22-25 Nov (OH, CO, LK); 1, McKinleyville, 8 Nov (CH); 1, Shelter Cove, 23 Dec (MW) • Lapland Longspur: 2-6, Loleta Bottoms, 8 Nov-6 Dec, (RF, EF, TK, CR, MOb); 1, Ferndale Bottoms, 20-23 Nov (AL, CR); 8-15, Eel River Estuary Preserve, 1422 Nov (CR, AL, RF); 1-2, Bear River Ridge, 9-25 Nov (RF,
CO, LK, GC, MOb); 2, Smith River Bottoms-Pala Rd, 19-22 Nov (AB, SLl) • Chestnut-collared Longspur: reports of up to 6, Bear River Ridge, 2-25 Nov (RF, JH, SB, AL, DC, TK, CO, CR, MOb) • Snow Bunting: 2, Bear River Ridge, 2-17 Nov (BE, MOb) • Northern Waterthrush: 1, Arcata Marsh, 2 Nov-31 Dec (AL, RF, MC, EE, MOb) • Palm Warbler: many reports of 1-3, Arcata Marsh, Arcata Bottoms, Ferndale Bottoms, Humboldt Bay NWR, Bear River Ridge-Kinman Pond, Eureka, McKinleyville, 2 Nov-31 Dec (MOb) • Wilson’s Warbler: 1, Whitlow, 6 Nov (JG); 1, Arcata-Shay Park, 15 Nov- 6 Dec (RF, MOb) • Black-throated Gray Warbler: 1, Paciﬁc Shores, 14 Dec (CO) • MacGillivray’s Warbler: 1, McKinleyville, 2-26 Dec (GL, LL) • Clay-colored Sparrow: 2, Pala Rd, 1 Nov (RF, MOb); 1, Arcata Bottoms-Moxon Rd, 10-13 Nov (EF, ML, LK); 2, Arcata Bottoms-V St Loop, 16 Dec (DK) • Vesper Sparrow: 1, V St Loop, 2 Nov (LL, AL, ML); 1, Bear River Ridge, 5-13 Nov (CO, IG, BE) • Lark Sparrow: 2, Bear River Ridge, 17 Nov (CO) • Bell’s Sparrow: 1, Lyons Ranch, 13 Dec (ML) • Swamp Sparrow: 1-3, Arcata Marsh, 15 Nov-31 Dec (MC, AL, BB, EF, RF, MOb); 1, Humboldt Bay NWR, 28 Dec (EF); 1, McKinleyville-School Rd Trail, 28 Dec (MMc) • Harris’s Sparrow: 1, Willow Creek, 25 Nov-27 Dec (MH, ML): 1, Arcata Bottoms-Foster Ave, 6-9 Nov (EF, CR, TK) • Western Tanager: 2, Titlow Hill Rd, 7 Nov (AL) • Rosebreasted Grosbeak: 1, McKinleyville, 28 Nov-1 Dec (CW, MOb) • Painted Bunting: 1, Arcata-Zehndner Ave, 11-15 Nov (GB, MOb) • Tricolored Blackbird: 1-3, Mad River Bottoms, 6 Nov-20 Dec (RF, TK, CR, CB, DC, MOb) • Orchard Oriole: 1, Ferndale, 15 Nov (OH); 1, town of Smith River, 14-26 Dec (ﬁde AB, LB, KB, EE) • Bullock’s Oriole: 1, Arcata, 21 Nov (EF); 1 Ferndale, 21 Nov (OH) • Brambling!: 1, Sunny Brae, 10 Nov-31 Dec (GJ, MOb).
Brambling Arcata, HUM, © Rob Fowler
Samantha Bacon, Alan Barron, Dawn Blake, Gary Bloomﬁeld, Bob Brown, Lucas Brug, Camden Bruner, Ken Burton, Daryl Coldren, Mark Colwell, Greg Chapman, Eric Culbertson, Nevin Cullen, Cédric Duhalde (CeD), Chris Dunford (ChD), Elias Elias, Brad Elvert, Elizabeth Feucht, David Fix, Rob Fowler, Gary Friedrichsen, John Gafﬁn, Megan Garﬁnkel, Steve Gellman, Ian Gledhill, Michael Harris, Stan Harris, Cliff Hawley, Owen Head, Cheryl Henke, Rob Hewitt, Brendan Higgins, Mark Higley, Jared Hughey, Ken Irwin, Glen Jones, Logan Kahle, Deven Kammerichs-Berke, Gail Kenny, Bill Kieser, Tony Kurz, Steve Ladwig (SLa), Alexandra Lamb, Matt Lau, Laurie Lawrence, Sky Lloyd (SLl), Stephanie Leja, Gary Lester, Lauren Lester, Paul Lohse, Jim Lomax (JLo), John Luther (JLu), Mark Magneson (MMa), Sean McAllister, Matthew McConnell (MMc), Natalie McNear, Kristi Mergenthaler, Annie Meyer, Robin Montgomery, Michael Morris (MMo), Chet Ogan, Michael Park, Jude Power, Tom Quetchenbach, Alexander Robinson, Casey Ryan, Keith Slauson, Jay Sooter, Steve Stump, Scott Terrill, Matt Wachs (MWa), Mike Wease (MWe), Wendell Wood, Carol Wilson, George Ziminsky. Thanks to everyone who submitted sightings! Special thanks as always to Rob Fowler.
Humboldt Recycling Contract Moves To Front Burner Jud Ellinwood The Humboldt Waste Management Authority’s recycling contract signed in 2011 with Solid Waste of Willits, the out-of-area company that beat out the now defunct Arcata Community Recycling Center for the contract, expires in 2016. The HWMA has initiated a Request For Proposals (RFP) process to culminate in a final RFP release approximately July 2015 and a contract award in Fall 2015. The RFP will be written in-house by HWMA with input from assigned staff from all member governments, a Recycling RFP Evaluation Subcommittee comprised of two HWMA staff and at least two member agency staff, and the public. (HWMA member governments are the cities of Blue Lake, Arcata, Eureka, Rio Dell and Ferndale plus Humboldt County.) The contract will likely have a minimum seven to ten year term to stabilize costs to the consumer and allow for investment of capital in local processing equipment required to meet RFP specifications for environmental and operational efficiency.
It is imperative that HWMA gets this right!
Zero Waste Humboldt is pleased to report that so far the HWMA has demonstrated a commitment to preparing an RFP intended to optimize both participation of member
agencies in an memorandum of understanding (MOU) with HWMA and flow control over as large a volume of recyclable materials as possible. Development of the RFP will be guided by the goals and policies of HWMA’s 2012 ten year strategic plan that supports a regional coordinated approach, local processing, and robust public education outreach. Achieving effective economy of scale and an emphasis on local value-added recycling translates into local manufacturing business development of companies like Fire and Light. Local processing supports local jobs. Environmentally sustainable practices and an emphasis on the highest and best use of locally collected materials for recycling must be a key feature. In 2011, Humboldt County residents were asleep at the wheel when the previous RFP process was initiated. This time, we know what is at stake. HWMA staff is beginning to assemble a preliminary working draft prior to the involvement of the Subcommittee and member agencies. At the February 12, 2015 HWMA Board Meeting the Executive Director will deliver a Preliminary Draft of Recycling RFP, a Draft MOU and evaluation and ranking system.
Contact Zero Waste Humboldt firstname.lastname@example.org
ZWH encourages the public to inform the HWMA Executive Director of what they want in the way of the operation and services provided by the company that submits the winning proposal and is awarded the contract. ZWH has already provided comment to the HWMA in the form of a compilation of desirable proposal evaluation criteria and a list of expectations that we believe the chosen contractor should meet. Citizens who wish to comment are encouraged to focus on criteria for HWMA to apply to evaluate proposals. Readers are invited to use our evaluation criteria compilation and expectations list as a starting point for their comments. If you prefer, simply tell the HWMA Executive Director you support ZWH’s November 29, 2014 ”Expectations” List and all criteria in the November 29, 2014 “Criteria” Compilation.
For the Expectations List, evaluation criteria and more information, please visit
www.zerowastehumboldt.org Email your comments to HWMA Executive Director Jill Duff y at jduff email@example.com. Use the subject heading: Draft HWMA Recycling RFP/ Evaluation Criteria.
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EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
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Cleanup Returns Salt Marsh to Eureka Waterfront
Left: Excavation and removal of dioxin-contaminated material from a ditch that carries runoff to Humboldt Bay adjacent to the former Simpson plywood mill in Eureka, September 28, 2009. Photo: Michelle D. Smith.
Right: After remediation, native salt marsh species were planted, and tidal action was restored. October 25, 2014. Photo: Jennifer Kalt.
Jennifer Kalt, Director
The test sites were near where Simpson commonly sprayed plywood in the 1960’s with the now-widelybanned wood preservative pentachlorophenol (a.k.a. “penta”). In accordance with the 2008 settlement, Simpson Timber has excavated the contaminated sediment, restored the wetland channel, and installed groundwater-monitoring wells to ensure that residual subsurface contamination doesn’t leave the site. In addition, a Humboldt Bay Wetlands Restoration Fund was established at the Humboldt Area Foundation for restoration projects designed to offset environmental damage caused as a result of the contamination. Humboldt Baykeeper continues to review Simpson’s groundwater and surface water monitoring being done pursuant to the settlement to determine the effectiveness of the remediation measures taken so far. Today water flows in and out of the ditch with the tides, and monitoring will continue to ensure the tides aren’t bringing toxic chemicals into the Bay next to the region’s only public fishing pier.
Humboldt Baykeeper is celebrating ten years of safeguarding 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. Looking ahead to the coming year, we are pleased to reflect on the progress of some of our long-term efforts to protect and restore clean water and coastal habitats while increasing awareness and appreciation for Humboldt Bay. In 2006, Humboldt Baykeeper, Ecological Rights Foundation, and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics successfully settled a lawsuit against Simpson Timber Company to require the cleanup of a dioxin-contaminated tidal wetland channel at the former mill site adjacent to Humboldt Bay and the Del Norte Street Pier in Eureka. Dioxins are extremely toxic compounds that cause reproductive damage and cancer. Dioxins bioaccumulate in fish and shellfish, concentrating as they move up the food chain, harming humans and wildlife alike. At the former mill site and in an adjacent tidally-influenced channel, dioxins were found at levels tens of thousands of times higher than Environmental Protection Agency standards— some of the highest levels documented in the U.S.
For more info on Baykeeper’s Toxics Initiative, visit www.humboldtbaykeeper.org www.yournec.org
Year-End Fundraising Goal Surpassed! Thanks to our dedicated supporters and the $10,000 challenge grant from Coast Seafoods, Humboldt Baykeeper surpassed our year-end fundraising goal of $20,000 to support our water quality program in the coming year. Special thanks to Coast Seafoods! As the largest oyster grower in Humboldt Bay, Coast Seafoods knows the importance of clean water—not just for oysters, but for the health of our entire community. 2014 marked ten years of Humboldt Baykeeper’s work to advocate for clean water, watchdog development, raise awareness of sea level rise, and get people out on the water and coastal trails to appreciate Humboldt Bay. Thanks to your support, we will be able to continue this work in 2015, as well as apply a laser-focus to identifying and stopping the E. Coli pollution to our streams, the Bay, local beaches, and waterways. Thanks to our dedicated supporters for each and every contribution! Feb/Mar 2015
of the Eel River
Learning from Yesterday’s Mistakes to Avoid Tomorrow’s Tragedies
Scott Greacen, Executive Director of uncounted landslides was cleared from the Though humans have lived along the bountiful newly laid tracks. shores and rivers of the far North Coast for tens of The consequences of that construction are thousands of years, the span of our now-dominant yet to be fully reckoned, but would surely begin civilization’s history here has only begun to exceed with old-timers’ observations that even as the line a century and a half. was under construction, floods they had already Looking particularly at the environmental seen came higher than the tracks in many places. history of the Eel River, it’s striking that some of the most significant events in even this brief 150 years happened a century ago and half a century ago. If we hope to see our great river restored to even a semblance of the productivity our predecessors found only seven generations ago, we’d do well to consider not just the consequences of those fragments of history, but the choices we need to make today and tomorrow so that fifty, a hundred, and a hundred and fifty years from now, our descendants can continue to treasure the river that yields them such rich rewards. Before its transformation began toward the end of the 19th century, the Eel River likely saw a million adult salmon and steelhead in an average year. That the river was named for its apparently equally evident lamprey—an even richer prize for man and animal alike—sketches at least an outline Cape Horn dam, completed in 1914. Photo: Scott Greacen. of the river’s productivity. Such a reckoning might assess not just the toes Most of the harms man has done the natural of earthflows pitched into the river to make way world are relatively tiny wounds. We can inflict for the tracks, but also the inevitable resulting great damage, as much by our own numbers landslides. It would tally trains derailed into the and the terrible power of our tools as from our river and never recovered, and toxic waste sites collective inability to appreciate the implications still lingering on the river’s banks. Perhaps if we do of all those individual actions piled up atop one prevail in our challenge to the North Coast Railroad another over time. Still, there are times and places Authority’s studied indifference to the potential when we can safely say that a specific action impacts of rebuilding the same railroad in the yielded consequences quite significant enough to same way on the same ground in this century, we’ll be reckoned even a century later. see some beginning of that reckoning in the first It was a century ago, in the fall of 1914, that real review of the environmental impacts of that the ceremonial final spike was driven to hold half-wrecked line. rail to tie, and the first train of Northwestern It was also in 1914 that the Cape Horn dam Pacific Railroad steamed down a hundred and was completed, and began to divert much of the fifty miles of the mainstem Eel River. That upper mainstem Eel River’s flow into a tunnel trainful of dignitaries were marooned overnight drilled through the ridge to the south, down to at the ceremony site, however, while the first
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
Potter Valley and the East Branch of the Russian River. The inadequacy of the new dam was almost immediately evident, as it quickly silted up, leading to the 1925 construction of the Scott Dam a dozen miles upstream, to impound the Pillsbury reservoir for the benefit of Potter Valley farmers. Just as with the railroad, we’ve never really counted the costs those dams have imposed on the river and downstream communities. A first hard look at the dams’ impacts on the Eel River’s fish finally happened at the end of the twentieth century, after chinook, coho, and steelhead were all listed under the federal Endangered Species Act as threatened with extinction. But that partial reckoning is long overdue for an update. It’s time to ask whether those dams should be left in place. The two dams and diversion tunnel of the Potter Valley Project face a 2022 deadline for federal relicensing. Of course, the great event of fifty years ago—the Christmas Flood of 1964—was no human act. Yet the tremendous damage the flood did to the rivers’ habitats and productivity were very much the consequence of human actions. The river had seen such flows again and again in orevious ages. This time, however, the landscape came unraveled because it had been stripped by internal combustion chained to saw and track. Roads and clearcuts had ripped loose the seams of the land, and when the deluge came, the river burst her garments altogether. What can we learn from these soundings in our river’s history? That what is now is not what has always been, or what will likely be, surely. That the dreadful 20th century’s harms can heal, if we look ahead for another fifty, hundred, hundred and fifty years to the place this river can be again, and ask ourselves what we need to see done today to get there. We can’t ever go back. But we can, and we must, learn history’s lessons if we hope to keep moving forward in a way that’s good for people, for fish, for the river and her forests.
The Environmental Protection Information Center
Photo: © 2010 Jack Gescheidt, TreeSpiritProject.com
Save Richardson Grove: Think Globally, Act Locally
Amber Shelton If everyone cared for their own wild back yard, the world would be a better place. Northwest California is known for having some of the wildest lands, including the Lost Coast and the tallest trees on the planet, which have been preserved behind the redwood curtain since time immemorial. With less than three percent of the planet’s old growth redwood trees remaining, it is imperative that every ancient tree is protected, especially if they are entrusted into a park system, which has vowed to protect them in perpetuity. Since 2007, EPIC has been working to protect some of the most well-known giant redwoods in the world from the California Department of Transportation’s destructive highway-widening project. A grass roots coalition of community members, business owners, economists, conservation and Native American groups have opposed the Richardson Grove Operational Improvement Project, which proposed tree removal and destruction of the root systems of ancient redwood trees in Richardson Grove State Park—trees that are supposed to be protected by the state park system. Richardson Grove is the first cluster of old-growth redwoods people see as they head up the coast on Highway 101. It is essentially the “redwood curtain” that has allowed Humboldt County to retain its rural character. The redwoods in Richardson Grove also serve as critical habitat for marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls and streams going through the Grove are critical habitat for endangered coho salmon. Maintaining the integrity of these trees is incredibly important not only to the ecosystem, but to the community. These trees are the pinch point that do not allow for larger trucks serving corporate chains that are characteristic of sprawling urban areas, and which many people feel would change the essential character of Humboldt County. For eight years EPIC and allies have organized community support, provided comments, and filed lawsuits that ultimately convinced a federal judge to grant an injunction halting the Richardson Grove project citing that the agency had been “arbitrary and capricious” in its use of what the court called “faulty data.” This past December Caltrans revoked its approval of the project. If the agency decides to pursue the project, a complete and comprehensive environmental review and approval process will have
accountable to the environmental standards that have been put in place to protect our natural treasures. A related proposal that should be watched closely is Caltrans’ “Last Chance Grade” project, located along Highway 101 ten miles south of Crescent City where the roadbed is sliding into the Pacific Ocean. Caltrans is in the beginning planning phases of this project and is looking at potential alternative routes to the east, away from the sliding cliffs, which includes multiple alternatives that would go through the middle of Redwood State and National Parks. EPIC is committed to finding the least environmentally destructive project alternative that meets the needs of the community, while holding Caltrans accountable to environmental laws. The loss of large tracts of intact wild lands may be the single biggest threat to our way of life. Climate disruption will only compound the threats that future generations face. In order to secure a sustainable future, it is clear that protecting and restoring Northwest California’s forest ecosystems will provide necessary habitat, clean air and water, carbon sequestration, and improve quality of life for people and native wildlife for generations to come. In order to hone EPIC’s effectiveness in protecting wild forestlands within our bioregion, we have restructured the organization, added two new attorneys to our staff, and developed a new strategic plan to focus on three primary campaigns:
• Achieving permanent connectivity of working and wild forestlands, a campaign called “Connecting Wild Places;” • Ensuring best management of public forestlands; and • Ensuring best management of private industrial forests with an emphasis on the Elk, Mattole and Freshwater watersheds. Photo: Amber Shelton
to start over. This is a victory, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and rest assured that the trees in Richardson Grove State Park will not be harmed for now. An important lesson has been learned because of this case: Caltrans consistently breaks the rules, violating environmental laws and risking important public trust resources. For this reason, EPIC will continue to engage with Caltrans and hold them www.yournec.org
With your help, we can protect wild places and ensure that public and private lands are managed responsibly to maintain healthy, intact ecosystems. We have our work cut out for us, but we are dedicated and determined to leave our children with a legacy we can all be proud of. If you would like to get involved in protecting your wild back yard, please contact epic@ wildcalifornia.org and take action before it is too late.
Whitethorn Community Fuels Reduction: A Plan to Improve Safety and Forest Health
Cassie Pinnell and Ali Freedlund
BLM-managed King Range National Conservation Area. These public In the late summer and early fall of lands are a popular destination for 2014, the Mattole Restoration Council campers and backpackers. Fires started (MRC) partnered with community via campfires and lightning strikes members Sanctuary Forest Inc. and have been numerous in the area. In Restoration Forestry to begin an 1973, the 13,000-acre Big Finley fire important community-level fuels burned large tracts of land just west reduction project along Bricelandof the project area. In the summers Thorn Road in Whitethorn. of 2003 and 2008, lightning storms The project has been a high priority hit the area igniting over 50 fires of the Southern Humboldt Fire Safe throughout both counties. Dry, hot Council for over a decade. It is designed summer and fall weather, particularly to address a major fire safety concern with the 2013-14 drought, cause a by creating a shaded fuel break along hazardous condition in this Wildland the road that accesses the communities Urban Interface. of Whitethorn and Whale Gulch. The project builds on past In entirety the project could include shaded fuel break projects that MRC 8.7 miles of treatments. The first mile has implemented throughout the was completed with funding from watershed. The crew leader, Dave PG&E in the fall of 2014 during one Kahan, has extensive experience of the worst drought years on record. in training crews and completing The MRC has been working with its treatments. partners to find additional funding The already completed mile has to complete the project and treat the impressed landowners and passersby. remaining 7.7 miles of Briceland-Thorn This should encourage the remaining Road to Four Corners. landowners to participate in the Briceland-Thorn Road is a critical project. All work requires the signed ingress and egress route for hundreds permission of the landowner. The of residents. Project treatments will project is intended to prevent a provide a safe evacuation route for the roadside ignition from becoming a residents along the road, as well as a larger fire. After treatments, future safe entrance for fire personnel in the ignitions should remain at surface case of wildfire or emergencies. level, without torching or crowning Roadside parcels will only and, therefore, be easily managed and be treated with permission from suppressed by fire personnel. landowners. The hope is to involve Species to be removed include as many as 90 different parcels of coyote brush, blackberry bramble, approximately 60 landowners. Fuels whitethorn, young Douglas-fir, and Before and after photos of roadside shaded fuel break along Briceland-Thorn Road. Sept-Oct composed of understory brush and some tan oak. Treatments also 2014’. Photo: Laura Cochrane, Mattole Restoration Council. low branches will be removed from include limbing up of older trees within 35’-65’ per side of the road pole saws to remove ladder fuels. Removed The goals of this project are as follows: with (actual distances on the ground vary depending fuels will be chipped, lopped and scattered, on slope, fuel density, site conditions, individual or pile burned. • Increase resiliency to wildfire along the major landowner concerns, and environmentally The project also includes an outreach access road for Whale Gulch and Whitethorn sensitive areas). A result of the project will be component to inform and educate landowners, as communities; the increased fire protection for hundreds of well as to increase local knowledge of the importance • Protect millions of dollars in property as well homes and outbuildings in the area as well as our of roadside fuels reduction. as human lives; and forested landscapes. For more information about this project, Communities and neighborhoods along • Educate local communities on the importance please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Briceland-Thorn Road are also adjacent to the of fuels reduction. 707-629-3514.
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
NORTH GROUP REDWOOD CHAPTER Water Board begins National Forest Clean Water Review Felice Pace, Water Resources Chair Most EcoNews readers are aware that Northwest California contains an abundance of national forest land. In Humboldt County, 34 percent of the land base is public land, with most being national forest administered by the US Forest Service. For Mendocino County, the figure is 20 percent, and Siskiyou County is 64 percent. Over 75 percent of Trinity and Del Norte County land is public. On the North Coast, national forests occupy the headwaters of our rivers; this makes them critical to maintaining the high quality cold water on which salmon and steelhead, as well as our river and tribal economies, depend. The presence of public lands, much of it protected as wilderness, at our rivers’ headwaters should provide a guarantee of high water quality. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Water quality tests of headwaters wilderness streams conducted in recent years by the Quartz Valley Tribe have documented high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in streams flowing from wilderness lands which are grazed by cattle. At times water quality standards have been violated; unnaturally high levels of nutrient pollution have also been documented. The pollution of wilderness headwater streams by grazing livestock is one reason the review of North Coast national forests’ Clean Water Act permits just getting underway is important. The Clean Water Act (CWA) should prevent the fouling of wilderness springs, as shown in the photo below. The CWA should also prevent the Forest Service from logging and hauling logs during wet weather.
A cattle-trashed spring in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. Virtually every spring and wetland grazed by livestock within Northwest California wilderness areas is trampled and polluted. Photo: Felice Pace.
Logging—and especially hauling logs on dirt or gravel roads—delivers fine sediment to stream courses which are already listed as having water quality “impaired” by excessive amounts of sediment. Fine sediment fills the deep pools migrating salmon love and can render spawning gravel unsuitable for salmon and steelhead spawning. The photo at right shows wet weather logging on the Klamath National Forest this past fall after heavy rain. In California, as in most states, the Logging in the mud on the Klamath National Forest. Logging and log hauling Clean Water Act is administered by after heavy rain delivers salmon-harming fine sediment to streams and rivers. the state. Here in Northwest California Photo: Kimberly Baker. the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is responsible for assuring that Forest Service management of national forest lands does not result in violation The North Group offers the following hikes in of established water quality standards. The permit September. All our hikes are open to the public. governing clean water oversight by the state must Contact hike leaders for more information: be renewed every five years. The latest renewal process is just getting under way. Sunday, February 22—North Group Dry LagoonAlong with tribal and environmental allies, Stone Lagoon Hike. We will hike north along the the North Group of the Redwood Chapter of the beach, then turn inland past a variety of dense Sierra Club will be closely monitoring the permit vegetation to the Stone Lagoon boat-in State Park renewal process and working to strengthen permit campground, and return. Bring lunch. No dogs. provisions so that the high quality water which Optional side trip to Sharp Point, by consensus. should be flowing into our rivers from national Andamos de la playa al bosque y volver. Bienvenidos forest streams is not polluted before it leaves the todos! Class M-5-A. Carpools: Meet 9 am Ray’s forest. Opportunities to weigh in for clean water shopping center in Valley West, trailhead 10 a.m. will be announced in future EcoNews issues when Dry Lagoon Day Use Area on Highway 101. Leader the appropriate times come. Ned, email@example.com, 825-3652. Heavy Tell North Coast Water Board officials you rain cancels. want them to adopt a national forest permit that Saturday, March 14—North Group Arcata will restore the high quality water you expect to Community Forest Fickle Hill-Diamond Dr. Hike. flow from public lands. Contact Fred Blatt, the Join us for a spring stroll through the redwoods. official responsible for assuring that the Forest Thrushes, trilliums, milkmaids and more. No dogs. Service complies with the Clean Water Act, via Se habla poco Espanol. Class E-5-A. Meet 9 a.m. at e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by Arcata Safeway parking lot, or Fickle Hill parking phone: 707-576-2800. area 9:20. Leader Ned, email@example.com, Those interested in learning more now can 825-3652. begin by reading the current CWA permit and a Q&A document useful for understanding the Sunday, March 29—North Group Redwood permit by visiting this article on the NEC website: National Park Flint Ridge Section Coastal Trail www.yournec.org/econews/sierraclub/febmar2015. Hike. Starting near site of former Douglas Memorial Bridge, we skirt an old log pond and ascend through magnificent redwood forest to ridge, then gradually drop to meet spur to backcountry campground, our lunch spot, with views through redwoods of coast below. Return by same route. Wear layers, hiking footwear; bring water and lunch. No dogs. Class M-9-B. Carpools: Meet 8:30 a.m. Ray’s, Valley West, 10 a.m. trailhead parking area off Alder Camp Rd. near junction with Klamath Beach Rd. Leader Melinda, 668-4275, firstname.lastname@example.org. Rain cancels.
NORTHCOAST 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.
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.
Sign up for e-mail announcements:
Northcoast_CNPSemail@example.com For more details and later additions, visit:
February 11, 7:30 p.m. “Making It How It Was: Dune and Salt Marsh Restoration around Humboldt Bay.” Andrea Pickart of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge will evaluate the 25year history of dune restoration on our coast and discuss efforts to address the sea level rise. Michael Cipra, executive director of the North Coast Regional Land Trust, will share the inspiring results of his organization’s five-year-old project to restore a 35-acre tidal wetland at Freshwater Farms Reserve. March 11, 7:30 p.m. “Burning the Bald Hills: Managing Savanna and Woodland Ecosystems in Redwood National Park.” One hundred years of fire suppression now requires the park to consider other options to preserve the habitats under its management. Eamon Engber, Interagency Fire Ecologist with Redwood National Park, will explore oak woodland and serpentine ecosystems and discover the fire and non-fire alternatives to achieve renewed native biodiversity. He will share how this management relates to the Little Bald Hills serpentine pine savanna.
Trilliums (wakerobins), a spring favorite, start blooming in March. The most common in our local forests is Western trillium (Trillium ovatum), a pure white ﬂower on a stem above the leaves, aging to pink. See it in Arcata Community Forest. Also white, but with the ﬂower nested right on the leaves, is giant white trillium (Trillium albidum), found in more open, inland habitats, such as Burnt Ranch Campground. Giant purple trillium (Trillium kurabayashii) also has an upright ﬂower sitting right on the
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum) at Horse Linto in Six Rivers National Forest, seen on a chapter field trip. CJ Ralph scans the treetops for bird sightings in the background. Birders are welcome on CNPS outings. Photo: Carol Ralph.
Field Trips & Plant Walks Saturday, February 28. Requa to Lagoon Creek Day Hike (Coastal Trail, Hidden Beach Section, in Redwood National Park). Osoberry, Redflowering Currant, Western Coltsfoot, Candyflower, Milkmaids, Smith’s Fairy Bells, Western Trillium and Giant Purple Trillium could be blooming along this 4-mile, gentle hike from the spectacular Requa trailhead on the north side of the mouth of the Klamath River to Lagoon Creek, where we will leave shuttle cars. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) or arrange a place farther north. Dress for being in the weather all day! Bring lunch and water. Return late afternoon. Please tell Carol you are coming 822-2015. Saturday, March 14. Flint Ridge Trail Day Hike. This trail, in Redwood National Park just south of the mouth of the Klamath River, will take us through majestic, upland old growth Redwoods, with blooms of Milkmaids, Smith’s Fairy Bells, and Redwood Violets, as well as along the banks of Marshall Pond and through Red Alder-Sitka Spruce forest. The group will decide whether to do the full trail, 4.6 miles with 800 ft. elevation gain and loss, by shuttling vehicles, or do a shorter, up-and-back version. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) or arrange a place farther north. Dress for being in the weather all day! Bring lunch and water. Return late afternoon. Please tell Carol you are coming 822-2015.
leaves, but the ﬂower is usually deep, velvety maroon. See it on Redwood Creek Trail and along Klamath Beach Rd. Occasional yellowish-maroon individuals suggest possible hybridization, and this species is not recognized in The Jepson Manual, though it is in The Flora of North America. Even popular, showy species still evade taxonomic certainty! Trilliums for your garden are available at our plant sales and from specialty growers. Leave the wild ones in the wild! Right, Giant Purple Trillium at Horse Linto, a yellowish-maroon clump. Photo: Carol Ralph.
...the agency had in fact adequately complied with CEQA), the HSRA still appealed the decision to the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB), seeking a ruling that would bar injunctions from halting rail construction in any of the several additional CEQA cases the HSRA still faces. The STB issued a ruling on that appeal in December, after the California Supreme Court had taken the Friends of the Eel River v. NCRA case under review. Though not surprising that the STB would seek to minimize environmental review, the board’s ruling was startling broad. Despite the STB’s utter lack of expertise or authority in the area, though, two of the three members of the board voted for a ruling that says CEQA is wholly, utterly and always preempted by federal law. Legal commentators called the STB ruling ‘surprising,’ pointing out that it contradicts wellsettled law regarding the ability of state and local governments to protect public health and safety. The ruling also fundamentally, and seemingly deliberately, misreads CEQA—a law that requires analysis of risks and mitigation of harms—as a regulation. Finally, the STB opinion leans very heavily on the appellate ruling in Friends of the Eel River v. NCRA, even though that ruling is under review by the state Supreme Court and not a precedent any court will recognize. We are hopeful that the state’s highest court will recognize that the HSRA ruling succeeds where the appellate ruling in our case—and the STB’s ruling—do not. The HSRA opinion lays firmer ground for public policy. It explains how to effectively integrate environmental review and public planning—both practical necessities in our 21st century. The appellate opinion in our case, on the other hand, would leave California citizens stuck with the tab for rebuilding a failed railroad they already own, but deprived of their tools for making environmentally sound choices. What is likely to be more even compelling to the California Supreme Court is the fact that the logic of HSRA ruling is consistent with the lines of cases interpreting federal preemption, on the one hand, and CEQA as a planning tool on the other. Where the ruling in our case would open a chasm beneath a range of projects subject to both federal regulation and CEQA—airports, for example— the HSRA ruling shows how state environmental review can easily work within the consistent, overarching national framework of rules that federal preemption is meant to ensure. On the ground, the cases could result in the NCRA being held accountable for the environmental impacts it has sought to ignore, particularly to the fragile Eel River Canyon and its threatened salmon and steelhead. A resolution clarifying the NCRA’s responsibilities to the public might even result in long-overdue oversight from the legislature, to eventually fix, as one former NCRA board member told me, the most dysfunctional public agency in the state of California.
...to keep irrigated agriculture in the Upper Basin economically viable. This Agreement also hinges on the implementation of the other two Klamath Agreements including provisions for dam removal. Despite remarkably broad support from the bottom of the basin to the top, from the political far left to the far right, Congressman Walden still killed the bill, citing local opposition to dam removal from some corners of Klamath County, Oregon and Siskiyou County, California. But the fact remains that communities with the most at stake in the Klamath have developed a solution to the crisis that meets their collective needs to survive economically and culturally. However, just days after the 113th Congress ended its session, Congressman Walden offered some cause for optimism. In a speaking tour in Klamath County, he appeared impressed by the reversal of some constituents to now support the Agreements, stating, “we’re taking a second look at that because of all of the issues that are at play with no real alternative on the table.” The change in position by local leaders came slowly as many of the facts of the Agreements were made clear and the risks of doing nothing were becoming better understood. Those of us in the Lower Klamath Basin understand that conservative lawmakers have a general distaste for dam removal. But these dams in particular are not worth saving: they are poor power producers, they divert no irrigation water, and even their owner is supportive of their removal under terms of the Klamath Agreements. Additionally, no federal dollars will be used to remove them. What is clear is that the fate of Klamath communities is in Congressman Walden’s hands. He is now a prominent leader of the Republican controlled House. Many of his constituents could face severe economic hardships if the drought persists another year and the Klamath Tribes have to once again exercise their senior water rights, thus curtailing irrigation diversions. He can ensure his constituents avoid this disaster by passing the Agreements that Klamath communities worked so hard to develop. Visit www.klamathrestoration.gov and www.klamathriver.org for more information. Craig Tucker is the Klamath River Campaign Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe.
...these unnatural forests, which provide very little benefit to wildlife, by reintroducing hardwoods, such as tanoak, maple and madrone. A myriad of understory plants will flourish in these renewed, heterogeneous forests, including huckleberry, salal, bear grass, scores of fungi, deer, black bear pileated woodpecker and many more. The planned, traditional use of fire will be employed to reduce the chances of an environmentally calamitous, catastrophic conflagration. The Yurok use of fire also promotes healthy oak trees, hazel stands and many other positive outcomes and cultural benefits. Since time immemorial, the health of the Yurok people has been directly connected to that of the forest. One day, through this restorative effort, the scars of logging operations will no longer be distinguishable in the Blue Creek watershed. “If we take care of the forest it will take care of us,” Chairman O’Rourke concluded. Matt Mais is Public Relations Manager for the Yurok Tribe.
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SNAKE BITE: A DNA test could help determine what sort of snake bit you. That’s because it leaves some of the DNA along with the venom. That new finding could take the guesswork out of choosing the right antidote. Right now there is only the identification if you happen to catch and bring the snake to the hospital.
A merry melange: salient or silly.
BAD FOR CHRISTMAS: The warming climate threatens Christmas trees, that is the Norwegian spruces that may lose the insulating snow that protects their roots in the Scandinavian winter Warmer temperatures also may benefit the trees’ arch nemesis, the spruce bark beetle, which may soon be producing two generations a year in an extended breeding season.
NO TATTOOS FOR FIDO: New York State is banning pet tattoos and piercing. “This is animal abuse, pure and simple,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo, signing a bill which gives violators—which apply to all pets—up to $250 in fines and 15 days in jail.
THE GREAT GREEN WALL: China is creating the largest ecological project on the planet, a belt of 100 billion trees across its arid north when completed in 2050. But although Chinese scientists say the Green Wall is the main cause of improvement, Western geographers have expressed widespread skepticism, saying the rise in rainfall over the last three decades account for the decrease in dust storms.
BEING MAYOR’S A BITCH: Frida, a female Chihuahua, was named mayor of San Francisco for the day. It was part of a campaign to support the city’s animal shelter, and Frida’s owner bid $5,000 for the privilege. Frida was shown around city hall and presented with a retirement package that includes a doggy bed, gift basket and play products.
THE MOUTH THAT PEES: When the Chinese soft-shelled turtle needs to urinate, it goes in search of a puddle. There it goes under the surface and urinates through its mouth, making it unique among turtles—and probably all other animals.
WHOLE LOTTA LIGHTNING: Every one percent increase of global warming will increase lightning strikes a predictable 12 percent. This model of climate change means there will be even more than the current 25 million lightning strikes each year, which ignite half of the wildfires in the U.S. JUST ADD TASTY ELECTRICITY: A spoon studded with electrodes could create tastes on your tongue—saltiness, sourness or bitterness—with a pulse of electricity. “Taste is not only taste. It’s a multi-sensory sensation, so we need smell, color, previous experiences, texture,” says Nimeshja Ranasinghe, who developed the utensil at NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi. “I am trying to integrate different aspects of these sensations.” The spoon, once it is fully developed, may add extra flavor for diabetics or people with heart disease who shouldn’t eat certain foods.
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
HOLD THAT TIGER: A tracking system that was originally aimed at illegal immigrants at the Texas border now is being used to keep tigers safe from poachers and villagers’ cattle safe from tigers at India’s Panna National Park. The wireless network of low-powered radars is the first wildlifetracking technology that detects and reports on a specific animal in real time. Meanwhile, a Siberian tiger released into the wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin is the main suspect in a series of goat deaths in China’s northeast. The tiger, named Ustin, crossed into China carrying a tracking device. www.yournec.org
MONKEY BUSINESS: A New York appeals court has rejected an effort to grant “legal personhood” to chimpanzees, saying primates are incapable of bearing the responsibilities that come with having legal rights. In the first case in the world where a court has been asked to extend human rights to animals, the court found that Tommy, a 26-year-old chimp who lives alone in a shed in upstate New York, was an autonomous creature—but that it was not possible for him to understand the social contract that binds humans together. “Unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions,”Justice Karen Peters wrote.
Eelgrass flowing with the current of the water. Photo: Alan Harper, Flickr.com CC.
Jennifer Kalt Eelgrass is a type of seagrass, a group of flowering plant species that thrive in saltwater. Often confused with seaweed, eelgrass has tiny flowers and is thought to be more closely related to lilies than to grasses. Eelgrass flowers bloom underwater and have filamentous pollen strands that drift onto stigmas of nearby flowers by flowing through the water column. The evolution of filamentous pollen in seagrasses is an adaptation to submarine pollination, which is quite uncommon. Even less common among plants is the adaptation to saltwater. Eelgrass grows in coastal estuaries and bays in the north Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In Humboldt Bay, its horizontal stems are rooted in bay mud in
the intertidal zone. It can thrive at varying depths in different regions, depending on water clarity. In Humboldt Bay, sediment from the tributaries limits eelgrass by blocking light penetration through turbid waters, particularly after rainstorms that carry sediment from dirt roads, clearcuts, landslides, and eroded streambanks. Eelgrass provides important habitat for juvenile salmon, herring, and other fishes, as well as Dungeness crabs and the wide variety of invertebrates they prey upon. Eelgrass also provides food for resident and migratory waterfowl. Perhaps most notably, black brant geese make exclusive use of estuarine seagrasses as they migrate from overwintering areas in Mexico to spring staging areas in coastal California and
the Pacific Northwest before moving to breeding areas in southwest Alaska. Brants generally graze Humboldt Bay’s eelgrass by the tens of thousands from mid-December to early May. Although eelgrass and other seagrasses occupy less than two tenths of a percent of the world’s oceans, they capture and store a tremendous amount of carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere (12 to 20 percent). Combined with coastal marshes and tropical mangroves, seagrass ecosystems comprise a mere two percent of ocean area, but account for 50 percent of ocean carbon storage. One scientist has estimated that the carbon storage capability of one acre of seagrass is equal to 40 acres of terrestrial forest. Unfortunately, 29 percent of the world’s known seagrass beds have been destroyed since 1879, and they continue to disappear at an annual rate of seven percent, re-releasing sequestered carbon back into the atmosphere. Due to its critical ecological role in supporting so many species of wildlife, eelgrass and its habitat are protected by state and federal law. Projects that impact it must offset any loss of eelgrass by establishing new sites, which requires transplanting eelgrass shoots in suitable areas where it is not already present. Transplanting eelgrass is difficult work that often has fairly low success rates. The primary threats to eelgrass are direct impacts from dredging, shellfish production, and dock construction. Another threat is poor water quality resulting from sediment-polluted runoff, which reduces eelgrass growth by decreasing the amount of sunlight that can be used for photosynthesis. Existing eelgrass habitat will undoubtedly be altered as sea level rises, although eelgrass may become more abundant as the footprint of the Bay expands with higher relative sea level. Fortunately, Humboldt Bay’s eelgrass beds appear to be thriving, and many local scientists, land managers, and regulatory agency staff are actively engaged in protecting, restoring, studying, and managing this critical resource and the numerous species that rely on it for food and habitat.
the Kids’ Page:
Did you know that all animals have some type of
defense to help protect them from predators? Some animals have large sharp claws or teeth. Some can run away very quickly, or climb very well. Some can just ﬂy away. Some are cleverly camouﬂaged to help them blend in with their surroundings and go unnoticed. Some animals have venom and bite or sting. Some have toxins on their skin. Some cover themselves in vomit or scat to scare predators away with their smell. An animal’s defenses help it avoid being harmed. In the animal world, success is staying alive and having babies to continue the species. Some animals have very extreme ways to ward oﬀ predators. The hagﬁsh, or slime eel, produces up to 5 gallons of slime when touched. They have over 100 slime producing pores on their slender body. While predators are busy trying to free themselves from the slime, the hagﬁsh swims away. The sharp-ribbed newt also has an extreme form of defense. The small newt is covered in warts ﬁlled with poisons. When a predator grabs the newt, its sharp ribs poke through the poison sacks and through the side of the newt’s body. These poison tipped ribs poke the predator right in the mouth. The predator drops the newt and is left with a yucky taste in its mouth. Like the sharp-ribbed newt, the hairy frog can break bones in its feet and poke the sharp broken bones out of their toes to be used like claws. These defenses do not harm the animal. They are able to heal and go on to reproduce. The Texas Horned lizard is covered in spikes, making it unlikely to get eaten. But it also has another defense. When threatened, it can break blood vessels around its eye and actually shoot blood out of its eye up to 5 feet! Some animals sacriﬁce their life during their defense. Can you guess what the exploding ant does? It has poison ﬁlled sacs inside its body. When the ant is threatened, it contracts its muscles, making the glands explode poison right into the predators face and mouth. The ant dies, but their action protects the ant colony as a whole. Can you think of other examples of ways animals defend themselves? by Sarah Marnick Above right: A Texas horned lizard is covered with spikes along its back and sides, but also on its head and around its chin. Photo: Ken-ichi Ueda, Flickr.com CC.
EcoNews Feb/Mar 2015
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No embalming would be necessary since decomposition is the goal. Over several weeks a body would turn into about one cubic yard of compost, enough to plant a tree or a patch of flowers. A 55-year-old artist who wants to be composted said, “The idea of being reduced to dirt and being able to be put under a tree sounds lovely to me.” Here at the NEC, we’re all in favor of good, enriched dirt. We’re against the soil that has evidence of poison, such as insecticides, plastics, synthetic hormones and other forms of bacterial pollution. Six local waterways are already classified as “impaired,” and huge amounts of dubious herbicides are dumped every day on croplands. So it’s a huge fight to get good dirt. Perhaps using dead bodies as soil improvement may be too much for many of you. But the idea of turning into compost rather than lying dead and useless for a long time time in a steel container might not grab you either. It may take the Urban Death Project months years to push through all the bureaucratic obstacles to human compost. In the meantime, why not join the NEC. It’s only about three bucks a month.
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The Urban Death Project in Seattle wants to build a three-story, polished concrete composting structure called “the core,” where human bodies would be refrigerated on site for up to 10 days.
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Celebrate the successes of 2014, honor our volunteers and members, meet NEC’s newest staff, and look to the year ahead!
Friday, February 27, 2015 5-8pm
Come enjoy tasty treats, beverages, and good company with volunteers, board members and fellow supporters dedicated to protecting our North Coast.
NEC - Greenway Building, 1385 8th Street, Arcata - 2nd Floor