Over 40 Years of Environmental News
Vol. 44, No. 3 June/July 2014
NEWS Published by the Northcoast Environmental Center Since 1971
Celebrating 50 Years of
Trinity Alps | Yolla Bolly | Siskiyou | King Range
Return of the Condor | Goldman Prize Winners | Wolves - Teach-In & Hearing
News From the Center It takes little more than a glance at the news or a step outside to understand we are facing a time of serious change, both locally and globally— some for the better, some for the worse. In line with the hope that spring brings, we’ll start with some of the positive changes and good news within our bioregion.
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.
two years. This infusion of energy along with the ongoing commitment of so many supporters means even more opportunities to educate, advocate, and celebrate on behalf of our treasured North Coast.
Welcome New Staff and Board Members!
We are celebrating the expansion of our NEC family. We’d like to wish a hearty welcome to our two new Coastal program Education staffers: Justin Zakoren, who will be bringing handson learning opportunities to schools throughout the region, and to Jasmin Segura, who will be working with NEC and Humboldt Baykeeper to increase opportunities for community members to get out and explore Humboldt Bay. Many thanks to the California Coastal Commission and Coastal Conservancy for helping to support this work!
Dan Ehresman, Executive Director
We are also excited to welcome two new NEC board members: Gary Falxa, who has stepped up to represent the North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, and Keytra Meyer, who is joining the board after serving on our Development Committee for almost
Editor/Layout: Morgan Corviday Hollis, firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com Proofreaders: Karen Schatz and Midge Brown Authors: Sid Dominitz, Dan Ehresman, Sarah Marnick, Dan Sealy, Jennifer Kalt, Scott Greacen, Jennifer Savage, Natalynn DeLapp, Drew Barber, Jeff Morris, Lynn Ryan, Ryan Henson, Joe Gillespie, Matt Mais, Hezekiah Allen. Cover Photo: Steven Bratman, Flickr CC. Artist: Terry Torgerson
NEC Staff NEC Executive Director: Dan Ehresman, firstname.lastname@example.org EcoNews Editor/Web Manager: Morgan Corviday, email@example.com Coastal Programs Director: Jennifer Savage, firstname.lastname@example.org Office Assistant: Brandon Drucker, email@example.com Coastal Education Staff: Justin Zakoren, and Jasmin Segura
In this issue of EcoNews we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the federal Wilderness Act and the 30th Anniversary of the California Wilderness Act. The 1964 Wilderness Act created the framework of our National Wilderness Preservation System which now comprises 110 million acres from coast to coast. This includes lands designated under California’s Wilderness Act such as the Trinity Alps and Siskiyou Wilderness Areas for which the NEC and many other organizations and individuals helped to fight for. (Read more on page 4). Many thanks to the many elders who carried the torch as advocates for a living, thriving planet. Of those, I’d like to mention naturalist
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, At-Large, 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
and wilderness writer Peter Matthiessen—who passed away last month—and share one of his musings on the value of preserving what is wild and free:
“The concept of conservation is a far truer sign of civilization than that spoilation of a continent which we once confused with progress.”
Wildlife in America
Breaking News for Trails!
As we were finalizing the pages for print on May 19, the Board of Supervisors voted to re-insert support for a regional trails system into the County’s General Plan Update! This grand reversal of the HumCPR-dominated Planning Commission’s decision is most welcome news and it would not have happened without the countless members of the public who rallied in support of a trail network throughout the North Coast! Many thanks to everyone supporting local trails! More News from the Center on page 3
NEC Member Groups Humboldt Baykeeper
Sierra Club,North Group, Redwood Chapter
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
Thank You! The NEC would like to give a special thanks to our sustaining members who donate monthly. Because of you, our programs can help protect our wildlands; safeguard forests and farmlands from poor land use decisions; keep our beaches and waterways clean; provide environmental education for our planet’s youth and engage the next generation of environmental leaders through workplace opportunities and other events. Despite the major environmental challenges we face in the coming months and years, we are inspired by the action you are taking to create the change we need for a more resilient future. Many thanks to our current sustaining donors: Chris & Richard Beresford Pat Bitton
Daryl & Phyllis Chinn Jim & Donna Clark Karin Engstrom
Donald & Melinda Groom
Julie & Lonnie Haynes Ryan Henson
J ohn & Darsty McAlinn
Gordon Leppig & Julie Neander
K eytra Meyer
J eanne Pendergast
Carol & CJ Ralph Cindy Kuttner
Margaret & Mark Shaffer D arus Trutena
and our Anonymous Angels
We’d also like to recognize and thank longtime member Jan McKelvey Magneson who continues to support the NEC even after her passing earlier this year. Thanks to Lorraine Miller-Wolf and Richard Wolf for giving in remembrance of Jan.
4 5 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22
Trinity Alps King Range Yolla Bolly - Middle Eel Siskiyou Yurok Tribe to Bring Back Condors Coastal Programs Update Eye on Washington Goldman Prize Winners Kin to the Earth: Robert J. Morris 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: Salamanders Kids’ Page: Woodpeckers
Interested in our regional environmental history? DONATE to our EcoNews Archive project! Visit www.yournec.org/donate, specify the Archive!
Catch the NEC’s EcoNews Report
Every Thursday, 1:30pm on KHSU - 90.5FM Each show features interviews with experts on a variety of important environmental topics! Past shows are also archived on our website for listening online anytime!
Leave a North Coast Legacy Give a gift that will endure beyond your lifetime. Leave a lasting legacy by naming the Northcoast Environmental Center as a beneﬁciary of your will, trust, or other estate plans.
Your bequest will help us advocate for and educate about the North Coast and the KlamathSiskiyou bioregion for future generations. To learn more, call us at 707-822-6918. The NEC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-proﬁt organization, EIN 23-7122386.
Bouquets Congratulations to our NEC Interns and Staff who graduated from HSU this Spring: Brandon Drucker, Alanna Cottrell, Aisha Cissna and Natalie Vaughan! A fresh bouquet of cranberries for Alanna, for sticking with the NEC for nearly four years! Thanks for keeping us organized through the many transitions and staff changes. An impeccably crafted marine debris bouquet to Angela Haseltine Pozzi and the Washed Ashore Project crew for being such good hosts and great inspiration in the creation of interactive, educational works of art that will help heal our planet! As always, our hats are off to all the stewards of our region’s waterways!
News from the Center
Continued from page 2 Earth Day and Klamath Call-to-Action
This April the NEC celebrated Earth Day (and the NEC’s 43rd birthday) by hitting the beaches and Bay to help clean up marine debris. Afterwards, we joined several other local organizations and friends for a fun Earth Day Hoedown at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center. Thanks to all who made it out to enjoy a beautiful day with us! The Klamath River also got some springtime love. On May 1, a standing room only crowd descended on the Arcata Theatre Lounge for an Ocean Night showing of DamNation (www.damnationfilm.com) and other short films exploring the human connections with waterways and Over 40 people rallied in support of Un-Damming the Klamath at Arcata’s DamNation premier at Ocean Night, May 1 2014. Photo: Pete Nichols. the journey towards river restoration. Over 40 fortunate to have many stewards working towards quite frighteningly), the final snow surveys of attendees took to the stage to stand in solidarity this grand objective! the year show a dismal seven percent of average with the move to Un-Dam the Klamath. Less than water content in the Northern Sierra—a big deal Bad News: Snow Survey Results and considering snowpack provides about a third two weeks later the Yurok Tribe and Americorps Record-breaking Heat rallied community members for the 13th annual of the freshwater for California’s farms and cities. Klamath River Cleanup. Over 150 participants This spring has brought blossoms, bees, Closer to home, results from the Scott River removed trash as sea lions, pelicans, terns, and nesting birds, spring-run Chinook and many snow survey came back a big fat zero percent of whales feasted on Creation’s bounty at the river gorgeous days, including some that feel like midaverage. Yes, zero. So, for those who have not yet mouth—hopefully, at least in the short-term, summer. Unfortunately this season did not bring made the switch to be more water-wise through their meals will be trash-free. There is much work the rain needed to alleviate extreme drought practices such as low-flow fixtures, greywater... ahead to restore the glorious Klamath and we are throughout the West. Not surprisingly (and Continued on page 19
NEC Wilderness Intern Selected for Student Congress on Public Policy
NEC Wilderness Intern Natalie Vaughn was selected to attend the Second Biennial Student Congress on Public Policy for Land Management in Phoenix this September. Congratulations, Natalie! This year, the Student Congress will focus on
the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and will explore questions such as: What does wilderness mean to veterans, Latinos, Native Americans, and those on a fixed income? What is the value and relevance of Wilderness to today’s youth and to future generations? How do you deal with immigration/border issues in Wilderness Areas? What is the role of technology/GPS in Wilderness Areas? Natalie’s focus on art and photography as a means to communicate the importance of wilderness will bring a unique perspective to the Congress. One of Natalie’s photos (left) was also selected for display as part of the Wilderness and Her Rivers art show last month in Arcata. www.yournec.org
“If we are to have a culture as resilient and competent in the face of necessity as it needs to be, then it must somehow involve within itself a ceremonious generosity toward the wilderness of natural force and instinct. The farm must yield a place to the forest, not as a wood lot, or even as a necessary agricultural principle but as a sacred grove - a place where the Creation is let alone, to serve as instruction, example, refuge; a place for people to go, free of work and presumption, to let themselves alone.”
- Wendell Berry The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
Wilderness The Trinity Alps
Year designated: 1984 Unique characteristics: Alpine peaks, glaciers and conifer biodiversity. Former status: Salmon-Trinity Alps Primitive Area
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the federal Wilderness Act and the 30th Anniversary of the California Wilderness Act. The 1964 Wilderness Act created the framework of our National Wilderness Preservation System which now comprises 110 million acres from coast to coast. This includes lands designated under California’s Wilderness Act such as the Trinity Alps and Siskiyou Wilderness Areas for which the NEC and many other organizations and individuals helped to ﬁght for. In this issue of EcoNews, we highlight four of Northern California’s cherished wilderness areas.
Jeff Morris The Trinity Alps Wilderness area, originally set aside as the Salmon-Trinity Alps primitive area in 1932, is one of the most unique protected wilderness areas in the country. Part of the singularity of the Trinity Alps is its location just 60 miles from the ocean, an extremely unusual circumstance for an alpine area with elevations as high 9,000 ft. The Alps geographic location, high elevations and diverse geology, including the serpentine soils shared with much of the larger Klamath Mountains area, all contribute to the Alps significant level of biodiversity. One of the most evident examples of this is the level of conifer diversity, the second greatest in the world. The Alps also still have at least two actual glaciers, a fascinating anomaly for their latitude.
Spanning Trinity and Siskiyou counties and the Shasta-Trinity, Six Rivers and Klamath National Forests, and including the Trinity, Klamath and Sacramento (through the diversion to the Central Valley Project) Rivers, the Trinity Alps play a central role in the ecological health of Northern California. Humans have visited the Trinities for thousands of years. The Alps were first traditional hunting grounds for the Wintun and other native peoples and, after the arrival of Europeans, were utilized for cattle grazing, hard rock gold mining and, more significantly water. Emerald and Sapphire Lakes up the Stuart’s Fork drainage were tapped in the early part of the 20th century with a significant pipe and siphon system that delivered water to the La Grange mine, which at that time the largest hydraulic mine in the world. Thankfully, after the passage of the 1964
Left, bear tracks in the Trinity Alps. Photo: Samp Camp. Above, Agoseris in the Sisikiyou WIlderness. Photo: Tom Hilton, Flickr.com CC. Below, Trinity Alps Wilderness. Photo: Miguel Vieira, Flickr.com CC.
Wilderness Bill, our regional community members started to organize an official Wilderness Designation for the Trinity Alps and other areas around the region, including the Siskiyou and Yolla Bolly Wilderness areas (see page 5). The Trinity Alps have long provided recreational opportunities that continue to be discovered by hikers, equestrians, scientists and explorers of all ages. With over 55 lakes and more than 800 miles of hiking trails to pristine meadows, streams and mountaintops, there are times when one can hike a trail and not see another soul for days at a time. Even for those who have never ventured into these beautiful high alpine meadows and lakes, the photos, stories and distant snowcapped mountains hold a special kind of feeling that borders on the mythological. In 2008 The New York Times dubbed the Trinities as “An Overlooked Wilderness Jewel in Northern California”. For those who seek solitude in these magnificent alpine peaks, being overlooked is working just fine. Continued on page 5
King Range − the Making of a Wilderness Year designated: 2006 Unique characteristics: Rugged mountain range plunges to the sea. Old Growth Douglas ﬁr forest, dune system of the Mattole River valley. Part of the King Range National Conservation Area.
Lynn Ryan Located on the wildest portion of the California coast, the King Range spans 42,964 acres and varies from beaches to high peaks. It is wild and expansive, displaying diverse forests, meadows, big rain, bright skies and all with the Pacific Ocean sparkling in the background. The King Range was established as wilderness on October 17, 2006 as part of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act. How did this come to be? I will tell you my story, while other activists and wilderness lovers certainly have their own stories. One day in 1999 I was reading the California Wilderness Coalition newsletter and learned of an effort to inventory all remaining roadless Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land in California to begin the process of passing a California Wilderness bill through the United States Congress. I’d long loved the King Range,
Cahto Peak and the South Fork Eel, and for twenty years had been part of a group of activists keeping those areas roadless. So, I went to a meeting and learned how to inventory boundaries, how to draw little dirt roads on maps, and how to talk to hunters and hikers about my “survey” without mentioning Wilderness, often a dirty word and subject to cursing and suspicion. I rousted Humboldt State University students to join me as we solicited letters of support from businesses and elected officials in Arcata, Eureka, Southern Humboldt County, and Mendocino County. We went on hikes—lots of hikes. We searched for old trailheads and fixed flat tires. We pulled each other out of ditches and back up on ridges. We got lost and found, laughed a lot, slept under the stars in the middle of nowhere, and listened to mountain lions screeching in the night. We pored over maps and spoke with neighboring landowners, trying to explain that wilderness would keep things as they are now-no more roads, no new cattle grazing, no new mining claims, you can still fight fires just like you do now, safe wildlife habitat, clean water, wilderness for future generations. We worked with Congressman Mike Thompson to introduce a bill in the House of Representatives. We took Senator Barbara Boxer’s advice that each area needed to be “adopted” by a group or individual. We answered tough questions from Senator Dianne Feinstein to gain her endorsement, dogged Governor... Continued on page 19
Yolla Bolly−Middle Eel
Year designated: 1964 Unique characteristics: Alpine peaks, headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Eel River, the North Fork of the Eel, the Mad River and the South Fork of the Trinity River. Former status: Yolla Bolly Primitive Area
Ryan Henson The 180,804-acre (over 282 square-mile) Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness in Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity counties serves as the extremely rugged and remote headwaters of the Middle Fork Eel River, South Fork Trinity River, and an important tributary of the Sacramento River, Cottonwood Creek. If you want to get away from it all, or, to at least get away from people, head
into the Yolla Bollys where you are almost sure to see more bears than humans. “Yolla Bolly” means “snow-covered high peaks” in the language of the Wintun Tribe. True to their name, the Yolla Bollys form the high divide between Great Central Valley on the east and the forested ranges of the west, and between the Eel and Sacramento watersheds. Mount Linn, in the southern part of the wilderness, is the highest peak in the California Coast Range at 8,092 feet. North Yolla Bolly Mountain, at 7,863 feet, is the southernmost peak in the Klamath Mountains. As a transition zone between major mountain ranges and watersheds, the Yolla Bollys are very ecologically diverse, with alpine areas, deep river www.yournec.org
canyons, slopes swathed in ancient forests of pine, cedar and fir, oak woodlands, chaparral and grasslands. These habitats support a stunning array of plants and animals, including what is possibly the largest black bear population in California and plant species that occur nowhere else on Earth. The Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Eel River hosts between one-third and one-half of California’s entire remaining summer-run steelhead trout population, depending on the year. The US Forest Service first decided to voluntarily protect the area in 1932, but over the years the agency reduced the protected acreage by 26 percent in order to log parts of the region. In 1964, before any further damage could be done, Congress designated the... Continued on next page
Continued from previous page ...area as “wilderness,” the highest form of land protection available under federal law, and, with the help of the NEC, expanded the wilderness by 38 percent in 1984 and by another 18 percent in 2006. The wilderness is managed by the Mendocino, Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity National Forests and the Bureau of Land Management’s Arcata Field Office. Due to its remoteness and limited road access, the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness receives relatively few visitors. The most popular trails are the River Trail in the southwest, the Pettijohn Trail in the north, and the Ides Cove Loop in the southeast. Still, the wilderness has a devoted following, composed of people who are willing to tolerate long drives over rough roads for solitude and world-class biological diversity. The best guide to the area’s trails is Bob Lorentzen’s The Hiker’s Hip Pocket Guide to the Mendocino Highlands (Bored Feet Press, 1992).
Year designated: 1984 Unique characteristics: Fragile mountain meadows, open glades, shallow lakes. One of the world’s largest concentrations of lilies. High conifer diversity. One of the longest continuous crests in the Klamath Mountains region. Joe Gillespie From the stunning views of Preston Peak looming over the high Siskiyous, to the lush ancient forests of Blue Creek and the South Fork Smith, the Siskiyou Wilderness encompasses 183,000 acres of a diverse, rare, and unique landscape. Stretching more than forty miles along the Siskiyou Crest, which divides the Smith and Klamath watersheds, its forested headwater streams provide clear, cold water for migrating salmonids that are key to local economic and cultural values. Looking back, the long struggle to gain wilderness protection was a battle to protect ancient forests not only for their own inherent value, but to insure clean flowing water for fish. A battle cry for the Siskiyous became “Stop the G-O Road”, whose unfinished portion would have divided the wilderness, and provided access to massive stands of Douglas fir in Eightmile and Blue Creeks, both coveted by the timber industry. To complicate
things more, local native ceremonial peaks such as Dr. Rock and Chimney Rock sat in the middle of these key watersheds. Finishing the road was put on hold until the US Supreme Court could rule on a lawsuit to save these spiritual lands. Rebuked by the court, the road was ultimately stopped and its corridor made wilderness by the Smith River Recreation Area Act of 1990. Meanwhile, 153,000 acres were protected as the Siskiyou Wilderness in 1984, with an additional 30,000 acres added in 2006. Deceased NEC director Tim McKay was the Siskiyous most ardent advocate, writing key testimony, inspiring others and gathering support. Where the Marbles and Trinities had their “primitive areas” as a foundation, the Siskiyous had Tim. He and then wife Chris started Save Our Siskiyous, which later became Siskiyou Mountains Resources Council. Tim reached out to Yurok and Continued on page 19 Karuk spiritual...
Facing page: Top, mountains plunging into the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Bob Wick, BLM California, Flickr.com CC. Below, wide view of the Yolla Bolly mountains. Photo: Scott Button, Flickr.com CC. This page: Above, Collinsia greenei, the host plant for the rare Karin’s checkerspot butterfly, in the Siskiyou Wilderness. Photo: Patrick Alexander, Flickr.com CC. Left, hiking the old ridge trail in the Yolla Bolly Wilderness. Photo: R. Scott LaMorte. Below,Bear Mountain and Devil’s Punchbowl, Siskiyou Wilderness. Photo: Miguel Vieira, Flickr.com CC.
Yurok Tribe Signs Agreement to Bring California Condors Back to the North Coast and shooting of birds further reduced condor numbers throughout the 1900s. By 1987, with only 22 birds left alive, the remaining wild birds The Yurok Tribe recently signed an agreement were captured and put into a captive breeding making it possible to release California Condors program. In 1992, the first pair of condors was back to the center of the endangered species’ released into the wild. Today, there are 414 living historical range. birds with 232 of those outside of captivity in the “Prey-go-neesh (California condor) is one of our southwestern United States. most sacred animals,” said Yurok Tribe Chairman The condor is culturally significant Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. “We are working very hard to the Yurok. Various feathers, to bring Prey-go-neesh back particularly the large wing to our region.” feathers, are used to make In addition to the Yurok ceremonial regalia, and feature Tribe, the Memorandum of heavily in Yurok world renewal Understanding was signed by ceremonies, like the Jump the following: U.S. Fish and Dance and the White Deer Wildlife Service, National Park Skin Dance. Feathers were Service, California Department collected opportunistically, as of Parks and Recreation and the gifts from the birds, as the birds Ventana Wildlife Society. themselves were never to be “The Yurok Tribe has put harmed or killed. in the work and has what it Yurok Ancestral Territory, takes to restore a self sustaining located just south of the condor population,” said Kelly California/Oregon border, is Sorenson, executive director of the center of the historical the Ventana Wildlife Society, a condor range, which spanned non-profit dedicated to wildlife from British Columbia to and habitat conservation and Baja California, Mexico. The 17 years of successful condor area is home to some of the recovery work. “We fully last remaining old-growth support the Tribe’s effort and Yurok wildlife biologist and tribal member releases a condor in Big Sur. Photo courtesy of the Yurok Tribe. redwoods. look forward to collaborating remain close to the release area for a while, but When condors last lived in Yurok Country, to once again have condors soaring over northern as the flock grows, they will disperse across the the large raptors likely found ideal nesting in fireCalifornia and southern Oregon.” landscape. Hopefully, Yurok Ancestral Territory formed tree cavities high above the ground, in oldFor five years, the Yurok Tribe Wildlife will act as a gateway for condors back into their growth redwoods. The strong beaked scavengers Program studied critical aspects of condor habitat previous northern range of the entire Pacific consumed the remains of land and sea mammals, in Yurok Ancestral Territory. The Program, Northwest. There have been no reported sightings like the deceased California sea lions that wash up headed by Chris West, a veteran wildlife biologist of wild condors in the Pacific Northwest since on local beaches. and condor expert, is also developing a longabout 1940, when a bird was seen near the city Once returned, condors will fill a currently term management plan to ensure the successful of Drain, Oregon. The last condor collected in unoccupied ecological niche as the only native reintroduction of North America’s largest bird. the Pacific Northwest was shot in the 1890s in bird species able to initiate, via its powerful bill, The Yurok release site will bolster overall condor Kneeland, CA and is preserved in the Clarke the biological breakdown of large mammals. The recovery efforts, which until now have focused Historical Museum in Eureka, CA. birds can tear through the tough hides of elk, on Central and Southern California, Northern The first European settlers killed great bears, and even whales, bringing about the natural Arizona, and Baja Mexico. numbers of condors out of fear, just as they did cycle of nutrients back into the ecosystem. “A self sustaining population of condors has the wolf and grizzly bear. Habitat loss, poisonings a great chance of survival here. Yurok Ancestral Continued on next page Matt Mais
Territory is relatively pristine with relatively few people. This is ideal for minimizing threats to the birds and really boosts the chances for successful reintroductions here,” said Yurok senior wildlife biologist, Chris West. “The redwood coast and interior oak grasslands have everything condors need, including ample, clean food resources and nesting opportunities.” Once condors are released, the birds will likely
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The Yurok Wildlife Program has extensively studied two primary factors limiting a successful, self-perpetuating condor flock. The first is DDT, an organochlorine pesticide that was banned in the 1970s, but continues to contaminate marine ecosystems—especially in southern California. The Yurok coastline has very little of the contaminant, which causes egg shell thinning and is accessed by condors that eat the blubber of seals and sea lions. The second significant strain on the stability of wild condors is the availability of lead bullet fragments found in the remains of dead animals, often left in the field by poachers. Sampling more than 100 turkey vultures, a comparable surrogate for condors, the Tribe found that lead levels are lower in Yurok ancestral territory than levels published for any other location examined in historical condor range. To further diminish the issues related to lead, the Tribe initiated the Hunters as Stewards campaign, which is based on the premise that hunters have a vested interest in wildlife conservation and, provided with accurate information, will make choices that benefit both wildlife and human health. For three years, tribal biologists have presented at numerous gun clubs and firearm shows to provide hunters with accurate information regarding the threats lead poses to humans and wildlife. Change is occurring in the hunting community and everyday more and more people are switching to non-toxic ammunition for harvesting wild game. While the condor’s nine and a half foot wingspan has not graced Yurok skies for more than a century, they remain a central part of the Tribe’s culture. Returning the California condor to the Pacific Northwest is part of the Yurok Tribe’s obligation to heal the world. “We are very excited about the prospect of one day watching, as our ancestors did since time immemorial, condors glide over the Bald Hills or down the coastline,” concluded Yurok Tribe Chairman O’Rourke. The Yurok Tribe is the largest Tribe in California with nearly 6,000 members. The Tribe is a leader in natural resource management, fisheries restoration and cultural protection. Matt Mais is the Tribe’s Public Relations Manager.
Shore Lines: Coastal Programs Update Jennifer Savage, Coastal Programs Director As promised in the April/May issue, the Coastal Programs division has ramped up substantially. Thanks to a California Coastal Commission Whale Tail grant and a grant from the Coastal Conservancy, we’re expanding our coastal education opportunities. Our “Clean Beaches, Healthy Communities” program is a multi-part effort to educate about watershed health, marine debris and sea level rise. Coastal Education Specialist Justin Zakoren will be a critical part of the program’s success by leading activities in classrooms and on the beach to teach about issues affecting our local coast and waterways. Justin, a Humboldt County native, comes to the NEC from Humboldt State University’s masters program, where he has just completed studies in Environment and Community with a focus on increasing the presence of environmental education curricula and programming in our local public schools. “I grew up rafting North Coast rivers and exploring its watersheds, surfing its secluded beaches, and fishing its cold Pacific waters,” he said. “I can think of no better way of serving my community than by working closely with fellow teachers, staff, and parents in the education of Humboldt County youth.” Adding to the cadre of “J” names in the NEC office is Jasmin Segura, the “Humboldt Bay Explorations” coordinator. This project—a collaboration between the NEC and Humboldt Baykeeper—aims to increase access to recreation and knowledge of Humboldt Bay—and the enjoyment that comes with having such—by bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and economic levels utilizing a bilingual outreach campaign and Bay Exploration tours. Jasmin has significant experience as a Spanish interpreter, most recently working with RCAA translating written materials and live translating during community events. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in Botany from HSU and enjoys collecting seaweed in her spare time. A key component of connecting people with Humboldt Bay involves spending time on and around the water. We will be working with the Humboldt Bay Harbor District and HSU’s Aquatic Center to offer both motorized and self-propelled
boating options from May through October. These two new programs will complement each other, as well as our existing work, and will increase collaboration opportunities with other nonprofit organizations. In early May, Coastal Programs staff traveled to Bandon, Ore. with SCRAP Humboldt’s Tibora Girczyc-Blum to do some hands-on learning at Washed Ashore, a group dedicated to saving the ocean through art, specifically by turning collected beach trash into stunning sea creature sculptures. Tibora will be working with the NEC throughout the summer to create our own sculpture for use in presentations and events. In other collaboration news, NEC, Baykeeper and Humboldt Surfrider invited CalTrout and Friends of the Eel River to join May’s Ocean Night event. CalTrout’s Darren Mierau orchestrated the North Coast premiere of the “deadbeat dams” documentary DamNation, an occasion so momentous over 250 people came out—it was standing room only in the Arcata Theatre Lounge! Ocean Night is typically the first Thursday of every month and features ocean-themed documentaries and surf films. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Justin Zakoren and Jasmin Segura, new Coastal Programs staff.
Robert Berg, D.D.S.
212 J Street Eureka, CA 95501 707-445-0784
Washington Wilderness and Congress
Since the creation of the Wilderness Protection Act 50 years ago, Congress has designated 758 wilderness areas protecting 109,504,348 acres. Nearly 53 percent of those acres are in Alaska. Approximately 14 percent are in California. In spite of both Democrats and Republicans introducing 37 federal public land protection proposals (including new wilderness, parks, monuments and refuges) in the last five years alone, Congress has only passed one new wilderness bill in the last eight years. In March, the Denver-based Equal Ground campaign (which tracks conservation legislation), published a report called Languishing Lands: Conservation Bills Stalled in Congress. The report illustrates the lack of congressional action even with bills that had broad bipartisan support, indicating that many in this Congress seem to lack the conviction to protect lands for future generations. The
report highlights 10 areas as examples of this failure including bills related to federal lands in California, such as Berryessa Snow Mountain and California Desert in California. Some in Congress frequently complain about the lack of energy production on federal lands, yet, as Equal Ground also points out, 7,618,277 acres are leased to oil and gas corporations while only 2,862,140 are protected public lands. Few people expect this Congress will significantly change their voting record before the 2014 elections. We hope the next session of Congress will see the importance of saving our public lands and wilderness.
Drought Legislation Takes Odd Turn
This winter, as the potential for serious drought became clear, Senator Feinstein introduced a bill to stall efforts by San Juaquin Valley water interests lead by Rep. Valadao (CA 21st district: Central Valley, Fresno south to Bakersfield area) but then changed her tune. Instead, she released a revised drought bill (S.2198—Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014) that has environmentalists throughout California feeling betrayed—with good reason. For starters, she removed $300 million from the bill for conservation and efficiency measures and aid to low-income farmworkers hurt by the drought, admittedly to attract Republican support. If passed as currently written, it could cause catastrophic harm if the expected drought is severe.
Chipping Away at Endangered Species House Natural Resources Committee Chair Hastings (R-WA) has begun his curtain call. He is not running for re-election, and last year announced he has the Endangered Species Act in his sights. Hastings stated he has a better chance at undermining key components of the ESA by making several small changes, rather than overhauling the bill. Conservative members of the House committee have called for reducing funds for the US Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries’ Ecological Services offices where the work to determine listing and delisting is done. Those same committee members have introduced a volley of bills aimed at increasing government transparency with regard to environmental studies and data. However, accusations and demands for data fall flat at hearings as agencies and scientists testify that most of the requested data is withheld under state regulations or policy, not federal policy. The real goal of the House Republicans is to make it difficult for conservation-minded organizations to sue the government for poor work while leaving the door open for private rights groups, off road vehicle advocates, energy development corporations and hunting groups to sue the government from the opposite perspective. Dan Sealy, NEC Legislative Analyst
New Organization to Champion Healthy Ecosystems in Local Politics
Hezekiah Allen Humboldt County has a wealth of conservation, restoration and environmental protection organizations. From educational programs and shoreline cleanups, to sustainable timber harvest and safe trails, there are literally hundreds of people working full-time to reconnect our communities with our planet and recreate a stewardship ethic that ensures clean water, clean air, and healthy ecosystems for generations to come. This work takes place, in large part, due to the generosity and support of many thousands of people throughout the county who give their time and money to these organizations and the causes they are dedicated to.
Creating a new organization is challenging, but those challenges are magnified in Humboldt County’s environmental movement—where finite resources are already spread painfully thin. However, over recent years there has been an undeniable and alarming shift away from conservation, sustainability, and environmental protection in local politics. With so many strong and effective non-profit organizations focused on environmental issues, it is counterintuitive that local governments should so poorly reflect our values. There is a simple reason for the disparity between our community and our government: non-profit organizations are completely prohibited from supporting candidates for elected
office—even in non-monetary ways—while forprofit corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. The hundreds of hard-working advocates and restorationists— as well as the thousands of people who volunteer and donate to the good work—have been limited in their ability to defend Humboldt County from the organized big money that flowed into local campaigns. It is this double standard that has created the need for Humboldt County Conservation Action (HCCA). HCCA is the new, nonpartisan, political arm of Humboldt County’s environmental movement. The mission is simple: HCCA seeks to create and maintain... Continued on next page
2014 Goldman Prize Awarded to Six Activists Sid Dominitz The 2014 Goldman Prize, which at $175,000 the biggest environmental award for grassroots activism, was given on Earth Day to six leaders for their inspirational efforts, often at great personal risk. Clockwise from the upper left, the winners are Desmond D’Sa (Africa), Helen Slottje (North America), Ramesh Agrawal (Asia), Rudi Putra (Islands & Island Nations), Ruth Buendia (South & Central America), Suren Gazaryan (Europe). •Helen Slottje: A pro bono attorney, she discovered a clause in the New York state constitution that gives towns the right and power to make local land-use decisions, and then helped more than 170 municipalities to pass local bans on fracking despite great pressure from oil companies and threats from their backers. As she says, “Fracking is great for Wall Street but it doesn’t create real wealth. We all pay for fracking by letting industry foul our clean air, our clean water and our food-producing soils in the name of profit-mongering.” •Suren Gazaryan: This expert on bats and caves led many campaigns against illegal use by Russian leaders of protected forests along the Black Sea coast near the Olympic city of Sochi, activities which forced him to leave his native land. He is in favor of social networks as opposed to Russia’s controlled media as a way to get reliable information. “That is how people started to talk about the land issue and their outrage that their leaders were violating environmental laws.” •Ramesh Agrawal: He organized local villagers and they persevered to shut down one of the largest coal mines proposed in central India Why? Because “air pollution is so thick it’s visible to the naked eye. As a result, asthma, skin disease, heart disease and stomach disorders run rampant, and premature death is common,” he says.
•Desmond D’Sa: He rallied disenfranchised residents of Durban’s notorious “cancer valley”-named for the high incidence of leukemia—to shut a large toxic waste site that exposed them to dangerous chemicals. He adds, “At times the school would close because of the high level of toxic fumes that would blow into the schoolyard.” •Ruth Buendia: She united the Ashaninka people in their fight, yet again, against large dams that would provide water to Brazil but give nothing to indigenous people in Peru--an illegal pact because the government must consult with local natives on development projects in their territory. She was only 12 when Shining Path guerrillas invaded, killing her father and thousands of her tribespeople. This time, following her return home, Buendía went to international courts to stop the dam. She says, “There was no conflict. We just used their laws that they were not applying.” •Rudi Putra: This biologist protected the habitat of the endangered Sumatra rhino by dismantling the illegal palm oil plantations that caused massive deforestation. “The Sumatran rhino is the symbol of our struggle to conserve the (Aceh) ecosystem... Without the forest, we will lose not only the rhino, we will lose the Aceh people,” he notes.
Continued from previous page ...environmental majorities on the local City Councils and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. Additionally HCCA will work with members, friends, neighbors and partner organizations to provide consistent and clear articulation of community values to local and state government, and constantly stimulate and participate in innovative community dialogue about land-use, environmental protection, and economic development. Over the last several years we have watched in frustration as carefully crafted statements of community values have been thrown out, environmental frustrations have been eroded, and fear based polarizing rhetoric has paralyzed the system. Over the next several years, HCCA looks forward to empowering the environmental community with a political organization. It is time that clean air, clean water, restored fisheries, local food, livable communities, and environmental protection become central priorities for our local government the same way they are priorities to the majority of Humboldt’s residents. We here at HCCA look forward to the challenge. We hope you will join us!
To get involved please visit: www.conservehumboldt.com.
Funds Needed to Preserve Local Environmental History Video Documentation
The early 1990s through 2004 was a time when hundreds of Northwest California citizens protested destructive logging practices and urged regulatory agencies to promote more sustainable forest management policies. The Humboldt Watershed Council’s broad-based membership was central to keeping the focus on the key issues and to educating the public. Several activists video documented the destructive logging practices, the resultant protest activities, the evidence gathering efforts, and the testimony given at hearings. Such videos are the focus of an important local preservation effort. The videos need to be cleaned and digitally converted. If you are interested in donating to the project, or want additional information, visit
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Kin to the Earth:
Robert J. Morris
spent nearly every weekend and vacation at the ranch, which boasted an old cabin, steep meadow, an apple orchard, and ancient walnut trees. Renovating and maintaining the homestead was a lot of work. The biggest project was replacing the old log-and-dirt bridge across Little French Creek with a concrete-andsteel structure. To accomplish the heaviest labor, Robert rounded up a ragtag band of family members and local Robert J. Morris with Sawtooth Ridge in the background, between 1984 and 1990. hippie kids. Photographer unknown. Many of these relationships would become Jeff Morris important again during what became Robert’s When Robert J. Morris died at age 78 in greatest contribution to Trinity County: the October 2013, the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area establishment of the Trinity Alps, an achievement lost one of its most influential supporters. that went on to influence the designation of other Robert was a grandson of California pioneers, wilderness areas within the county and state, and gold miners, and cattlemen who grew to become across the nation. a respected engineer, technology pioneer, When the original Wilderness Bill passed musician, outdoorsman, and environmentalist. Congress in 1964, re-designating a number of what Throughout his life, he channeled his energy into were then called “primitive areas” of federal land, celebrating and preserving the mountains where Robert realized that there was an opportunity to he was raised. protect the snow-capped mountains and pristine Early on, Robert demonstrated that he was backcountry forests and streams that he and three a hard worker and a detail-oriented thinker, previous generations of his family had explored earning multiple electronic engineering degrees and cherished since the mid-1800s. At the time, from Stanford University and the Massachusetts the Trinity Alps were known as the Salmon–Trinity Institute of Technology while still in his early Alps Primitive Area. 30’s. After college, Robert bought the Lower Robert’s subtle but determined organizing Waldorff Ranch, an old homestead up the style was exemplified by the bumper sticker on his Little French Creek drainage. Robert worked pickup truck: “Mountain man; not demagogue.” weekdays as a manager for the local telephone Over the next twenty years, he built a diverse team company in Weaverville, but he and his wife Susy of supporters that methodically mapped, planned,
and field checked the area, gained the support of the Trinity County Board of Supervisors, and lobbied Congress in support of the Trinity Alps. Many of the Alps’ supporters, including the young people who had helped Robert build his bridge, were long on enthusiasm but relied on Robert’s methodical guidance. Those kids, now in their 60s, vividly remember more than one story about late-night frivolity with Robert nestled soberly in a corner during their anarchic latenight planning sessions, observing, smiling, and writing down plans of action for the following day on his ever-present pad of yellow graph paper. Robert’s parents also contributed to the effort and helped manage the crew, with his mother insisting on certain supporters getting “proper haircuts” before leaving to lobby in the halls of Congress. In 1982, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Public Lands and National Parks held a public hearing in the Trinity High School gym, and Robert and other key players accompanied the Congressional members and their staff on a helicopter tour of the Trinity Alps—an up-close experience that was pivotal in winning over the legislators to the preservation effort. On September 28, 1984, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Ronald Reagan subsequently signed, the bill that designated the Trinity Alps Wilderness. A memorial service is being planned for summer/fall 2014 to coincide with celebrations of the 30-year anniversary of the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Dates and details will be distributed widely.
Waste Not, Want Not: A Sustainable Living Skill Today’s baby-boomers, whose parents grew victory gardens during the Great Depression, grew up with a “waste not, want not” slogan and then promptly abandoned it upon entering the age of plastics, plenty, and the so-called “disposable” society. Today “waste not, want not” has taken on new life with the accelerating awareness of resource limits and the reality of climate change. Living a Zero-Waste Lifestyle was one of numerous workshop themes at the Sustainable Living Skills Fair held April 20 at the Jefferson Community Center. This was the second Sustainable Living Skills Fair of the year, and attendance and enjoyment have mushroomed. So just what does it mean to live “waste free?” It’s not just the Five R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (in that order). Living waste free is really about waste prevention in all that you do. Purchase only what you need, buy local, buy at thrifts and yards sales when possible, or, don’t buy. Avoid hoarding. Clean house of any excess “stuff ”
and donate it to friends or thrifts. Take your own containers and reusable bags when you shop, and purchase food, nails, and other items in bulk to minimize packaging. No plastic bags, no singleuse plastic bottles or cups. Some dedicated zerowasters even have a policy of “no plastic nowhere”. Additional strategies include eliminating lawns (plant native drought-resistant plants), composting your green waste and garbage (no garbage disposal), and then use the compost to grow your own fruits and vegetables GMO-free. Give away, trade (think “Humbucks”) or preserve any surplus. Buy used rather than new, and borrow when possible. Walk or bicycle or carpool with friends and neighbors. Email instead of writing letters/sending cards (there are great card providers on-line). These are just a sampling of possible lifestyle changes. What results can be expected from following these guidelines? Money saved, good GMO-free food, smaller garbage, gas and water bills, more exercise and health, and a clutter-free residence. For more information, find Zero Waste Humboldt on Facebook or the web at www.zerowastehumboldt.org. Check out these helpful websites as well: frugallysustainable.com, treehugger.com/green-home, myplasticfreelife.com, and ZeroWasteHome.com.
ZWH held their grand opening at Arts!Arcata on May 9 at Coast Central Credit Union. Assembleymember Wesley Chesbro shared a few words about the importance of waste reduction and prevention. Here Chesbro poses with supporter Sylviane Schwarz. Photo courtesy of ZWH.
Contact Zero Waste Humboldt email@example.com
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Bacteria Pollution in Local Waterways Receives Attention from State Regulators
Jennifer Kalt, Director Runoff polluted with fecal coliform, specifically E. coli, has long been recognized as a significant water quality problem in the Humboldt Bay watershed, impacting the Bay ecosystem, water-based recreation, and the commercial oyster industry. Using Humboldt Bayeeper’s 2005-2009 Citizen Water Monitoring data, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board staff recently recommended six waterways for listing under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act due to bacterial pollution. On May 8, the Regional Board held a workshop at the River Lodge in Fortuna discussing the recommended listing, which will prioritize research to pinpoint the sources and ultimately work towards reducing pollution and improving water quality. The final decision will be made in August. While County Environmental Health monitors local beaches and posts warnings, little has been done to identify the sources and develop strategies to address polluted runoff that impacts local coastal waters. Good news for oyster growers and eaters: Humboldt Bay itself is not proposed for listing due to overall low E. coli levels. The proposed listing should benefit the oyster industry, which is required to suspend harvest during and after major rainstorms due to the high levels of bacteria being flushed from the Bay’s tributaries. Special thanks to the Eureka Times-Standard editorial board for supporting the proposed listing. (See A Call to Action, April 12).
E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria found in the guts of warm-blooded animals, including humans. It is an indicator of a range of pathogenic bacteria and viruses found in feces, all of which can make people sick. The state sets a limit of 235 to 576 MPN/100 mL for waterways that are used for contact recreation, such as swimming, wading, fishing, surfing, or boating. Children are especially susceptible to illness from playing in small streams and coastal waters polluted with coliform bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
E. coli levels often exceed limits for safe water recreation in the Little River at Moonstone Beach County Park, particularly after major rainstorms. Photo by J. Kalt.
E. Coli Loads Measured in Four Arcata Creeks
A rainy February enabled Humboldt Baykeeper to augment our 2013 flow study with wet weather data to calculate the mass volume of E. coli in four Humboldt Bay tributaries (Janes, Jolly Giant, Jacoby, and Campbell Creeks). On February 13, we found that after more than one inch of rain, Janes Creek carried more than 75% of the E. coli delivered to the Bay by these four streams—375 lbs. per day! In technical terms, that’s a concentration of 3,890 MPN/100 mL (a measure of the number of bacterial colonies) combined with a flow rate of 18 cubic feet per second. The goal of this study was to identify which creek discharges the highest mass volume of E. coli into the Bay. Thanks to support from the Cereus Fund in 2013, we consulted with hydrologists at Pacific Watershed Associates to train our staff to measure stream flow rates and develop hydrologic rating curves for these four creeks. We measured low flows throughout the exceptionally dry autumn, and shared our October flow measurements with hydrologist Randy Klein to add to the low-flow hydrograph for Jacoby Creek, which is monitored during higher flows at a gaging station in Bayside. Previous monitoring events only measured concentrations of E. coli—a measure of grab samples www.yournec.org
taken during dry weather and “First Flush,” the first major rainstorm of the water year. Over seven years, we detected and identified concentrations of E. coli that exceeded Water Board standards in most local streams. The highest levels were found during the First Flush. During low flow, illicit detections can help to better pinpoint pollutant source locations from recent discharges. Monthly sampling is necessary to better understand the pollutant-flow regime. During our dry weather monitoring on Oct. 3, Jolly Giant Creek carried close to 50% of the total E. coli measured, suggesting a different source of bacterial pollution during dry versus wet weather. We will use these findings to develop a monitoring plan to more closely examine these creeks using molecular techniques to identify the source animals with the goal of identifying and reducing or eliminating a major source of anthropogenic water pollution in Humboldt Bay. The ultimate goal is to develop strategies for reducing or eliminating this type of pollution and to educate local residents, sewer providers, and land managers about how we can all help improve water quality throughout the Humboldt Bay watershed.
of the Eel River
Drying Times are Trying Times for Eel River Fish Serial Variance Requests Reveal Vulnerability of Eel River Fisheries to Demands from Russian River Irrigators
Valley County Water Scott Greacen, District (RVCWD), which Executive Director serves an area northeast The Eel River’s of Willits in Mendocino surviving salmonids—chinook, coho, and cubic feet per second (cfs) otherwise required to county (where some 4000 people and 200,000 steelhead—are struggling to come back from aid fish migration. In January, PG&E sought an acres of wine grapes have been planted despite its near-extinction. Good returns from 2010 to 13, extension for the variance; with the information notorious lack of a reliable water supply). Following particularly for chinook, felt like recovery might be we had, FOER supported the extension. the lead of Potter Valley wine grape growers who getting underway. Unfortunately, the succeeding What PGE failed to tell us, and FERC, was that complain that Eel River water “wastes to the seasons turned into years sea,” the RVCWD asked of historic drought, which PGE to divert “extra” have hit the fish hard. flows in the Eel to supply Recent events drive irrigation demands home the fact that the in Redwood Valley. Potter Valley Project’s Of course, there is no dams and diversion tunnel “extra” water in the Eel when aren’t helping the Eel’s fish. young chinook are trying to The interests who benefit migrate downstream in a from diverting water drought year. Nonetheless, from the upper Eel into both PGE and the California the Russian River are not Department of Fish and much concerned with the Wildlife seemed happy to fate of Eel River salmon comply. It was only at the and steelhead; instead, last minute that NMFS’s they see in the drought an lawyers pointed out that opportunity to take more the proposal, couched as water from the Eel River. an “emergency,” didn’t Pacific Gas and Electric qualify as an emergency (PG&E)—owner of the under FERC rules. Potter Valley Project’s Now, Redwood two dams and diversion Valley’s failed pitch for Eel tunnel—is glad to work River water has become around even inadequate the focus of a rising Increasing demands for water diversions from the Eel River to Russian River irrigators mean worsening conditions for fish protections to give campaign by Russian River spawning and migrating salmon. Photo: USFWS. more Eel River water away. irrigators to demand more State and federal agencies charged with protecting the fall chinook migration up the Cape Horn dam water from the Eel generally, in anticipation of the fish are happy to help bend the rules. fish ladder halted as soon as flows dropped when coming fight over relicensing of the Potter Valley FOER has long argued the operating rules for the first variance was granted in mid-December Project (which must be completed by 2022). the Potter Valley Project—the two dams on the 2013. Only 162 chinook made it up the Van The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors upper mainstem Eel and diversion tunnel to Potter Arsdale fish ladder (compared to more than 3000 voted on May 6 to send a bitter, misinformed Valley—don’t protect Eel River fish in low water in previous years), but as soon as PG&E cut the protest letter to NMFS. In the process, both years. After Eel River salmon and steelhead were flows down the dam, the fish stopped coming up Supervisor Brown and the vituperative John listed by the National Marine Fisheries Service the ladder. The cutoff of the flows left the chinook McCowen went out of their way to attack FOER’s (NMFS) under the Endangered Species Act, FERC to spawn in the mainstem Eel, a choice that position and to belittle our Bay Area Director, (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) risked redds being scoured by big storms (which David Keller, when he attempted to point required PG&E to follow a flow schedule laid luckily did not happen this spring). To cut the out their errors. out by NMFS that roughly mimics river flows flows without even weighing impacts on chinook As ever, to be abused by such craven without the dams. migration does not reflect the importance of champions of anti-environmentalism is a badge To reduce flows into the Eel any further, PG&E critically imperiled salmon as a precious public of honor. The movement to bust deadbeat dams must get a variance from FERC. In December of trust resource. is rising. Elected officials who would drive 2013, with the assent of the California Department That variance ended when heavy rains finally our precious fish to extinction for the profits of Fish and Wildlife and NMFS, PG&E got a variance fell in February and March. But another request of a few risk being swept away in a different to reduce flows to the mainstem Eel below the 100 came in early April—this time from the Redwood kind of flood.
The Environmental Protection Information Center
Speak up for California’s Wolves Natalynne DeLapp The California Department of Fish and Game Commission is coming to Fortuna on Wednesday June 4th and they want to hear from you. Urge the Commissioners to allow gray wolves to recover in California. Listing the wolf under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) is the only way to assure their full protection. The gray wolf, which once lived throughout the state, is part of California’s culture and heritage. For the past four years, a young male wolf, OR-7 (also known as Journey) has been roaming in and out of the north state. There is no doubt that if wolves are protected they will return to California. Everything we know points to listing: science, policy, legal listing standard, and past precedent. Dr. Cristina Eisenberg, a leading wolf ecologist and one of the peer reviewers for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s wolf evaluation report, states that the gray wolf should be listed under CESA. She bases her opinions on these facts: OR-7 has continued to visit the state, California has a precedent for extending CESA protections for species that have no known population occurring in the state; and current science indicates over-exploitation could jeopardize the gray wolf in California. The California State Legislature provided the listing standard for the California Endangered Species Act, as a species is endangered if it “is in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” The range of the gray wolf clearly includes parts of California historically and at present. In a memo to the Commission, the Director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Charles Bonham, said that the Department could not do a typical evaluation under CESA because there has not been a continuous presence or a breeding population established. However, this is not a requirement of CESA. The Guadalupe fur seal was at one time thought to be extinct until a breeding population was discovered on Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Two years later, the seal was listed under CESA after sporadic sightings of a few individuals in California. The Guadalupe fur seal is not delisted from CESA when the population migrates between California and Mexico. OR-7, like the Guadalupe fur seal, has been an intermittent resident of California. There was no confirmed wolverine in
California for fifty years at the time when it was listed under CESA, and it was another forty years before another wolverine was seen in the state. The California condor was not delisted during the five years when it was scientifically known that there were no condors in the wild. The Guadalupe fur seal, California condor, and wolverine were all listed even though they were absent from the state, did not have a continuous presence, or an established breeding population because their “continued existence was in serious danger or threatened” due to overexploitation by natural or human caused activities. There are serious potential threats to the existence of gray wolves in California. Tthe Department has taken action to protect OR-7 on multiple occasions. In 2012 and 2013, the Department was sufficiently concerned for the safety of OR-7 because of a Coyote Drive (a killing contest) that was occurring in northeast California near where he was present. The Department believed he, or any other wolf in the area, might be mistaken for a coyote and accidentally shot or intentionally killed. The Department has valid concerns. In February 2014, a coyote hunter shot the first documented wolf in Iowa in eighty-nine years. The Department, Commission, public and wolves all benefit from listing now, rather than later. California is a leader in acknowledging the best available science when it comes to wildlife, and the current science is informing us of the essential role of apex predators in the web of life. Apex predators the world over are in sharp decline due to over exploitation and other human activities. Measures for conservation and recovery are urgently needed. The Commission decide whether or not to grant wolves state protections at a special meeting in July.
Wolves Need Room To Roam
California has extensive areas of suitable habitat for wolves. In particular, large wilderness areas such as the Marble Mountains, Trinity Alps and backcountry areas around Lassen and Mt. Shasta have high potential to support wolves. Once re-established in northern California, wolves could feasibly repopulate the Sierra Nevadas. Wolves need room to roam. Please join EPIC in calling on our representatives and leaders in wildlife, water and forest management to establish a well-connected network of wildlife corridors. Establishing wildlife corridors and linkages that provide vital habitat connectivity is key to species survival and should be a priority. We must protect roadless areas, rivers and ridges that link habitat between wilderness and other core areas. California will soon be welcoming wolves. We can and we must act now to protect and connect wild places. Please sign the petition, tell your entrusted leaders to Protect and Connect Wild Places now.
Sign the petition at wildcalifornia.org, or follow the QR Code in the foot print here>>
Join the Wolf Pack!
Wolf Night Pre-Hearing Teach-In
Monday June 2, 6-8 p.m. Arcata Community Center 321 Community Park Way, Arcata Meet fellow wolf lovers, hear speakers, screen films, and make signs. Kid friendly. Sponsored by EPIC, Bird Ally X, Center for Biological Diversity and the NEC.
Fish and Game Commission Hearing
Wednesday June 4, 8:00 a.m. Fortuna River Lodge 1800 Riverwalk Drive, Fortuna Come early for pre-hearing wolf rally. Bring signs and wear gray to show your support for wolves.
Mattole Estuary Gets Heli-wood Drew Barber Mattole Salmon Group
Guest Article by the Mattole Salmon Group
poles were made and delivered as close as possible to all sites. The Sikorsky helicopter arrived This fall the Mattole Salmon with its extensive crew of mechanics, Group (MSG) led a project to use fuel trucks, boom trucks and ground a helicopter to place a massive crew. In two days and 11.5 hours of amount of whole trees and wood fly time, we moved more wood into into the estuary. This type of wood the estuary than we had previously in loading has been done in many other ten years combined. This years effort places but never in the Mattole. It included placement of 180 whole has a distinct advantage of being trees, 15 grapple- hauls of slash, 88 able to place whole trees, which 15’ pine logs representing another 20 can last longer in a river system trees, and 44-30’ poles. than smaller pieces. The helicopter “built” on-bank When faced with an estuary that and in-stream structures to mimic lacks complexity and has a minimal a system with large quantities of carrying capacity, the scientific naturally introduced wood. In three community is in consensus that areas, materials were piled for the introduction of large wood can make excavator to create island-building a significant habitat improvement. apex jams. A fourth pile was created to Over the last ten years the MSG use in 2014 for slough enhancement. has been leading projects to After the trees were flown off the install large wood structures in slope, the excavator re-contoured the estuary to improve the quality areas where the trees were removed. of this key habitat for salmonids The Mattole Restoration Council Sikorsky-64 Skycrane helicopter transports 180 whole trees for placement in the Mattole River of the Mattole. While many of estuary in two days—the largest installation of fish habitat-creating instream wood that the managed the revegetation aspect. Mattole River has ever seen. Photo: Drew Barber, Mattole Salmon Group. the structures MSG has installed Their crew mulched and sowed a in the last ten years have moved downstream, site tour with members of our Technical Action combination of native and naturalized grasses in all are still present in the estuary. Many of the an effort to encourage speedy re-vegetation of all Committee (TAC) and Humboldt Redwood structures are associated with deep holes and disturbed up-slope areas. The field construction Company (HRC) two years ago. At that time, we work was completed within two weeks. complex fish habitat. were limited by what we could haul on the road. Since the construction aspect of the project A significant aspect of large wood projects Trees had to be bucked down and limbed before has been complete, MSG has led a monitoring in the past has been anchoring. We have hauled they were delivered to the river. HRC floated the effort with the goal to understand how the in large boulders and anchored structures suggestion that a helicopter working on a local introduced trees get sorted by the river over by securing the wood to a boulder base. The harvest of theirs might be a cost-effective way to time. MSG staff inserted identifying tags into anchoring methods are effective – the anchored get whole trees into the river. all whole trees and mapped the topography of rocks reduce buoyancy of the wood, and slow the Under BLM’s lead, with the planning direction work areas and the location and orientation movement of the structures. However anchoring of Dave Fuller, the BLM implemented a 5-year of all trees. is expensive and timely. We would rather allocate restoration plan in the estuary. With this plan they The success of this project is the result of many those resources to the installation of more wood. were able to permit 5 years’ worth of projects at once. peoples hard work; the MSG is very grateful for Anchoring is required for wood brought in by With the permitting complete, a helicopter project the massive amount of support from staff and the road. Without branches and rootwads, the wood was in reach. MSG’s new executive director at the community. Funding and support for this project is short-lived in the river. Occasionally nature time, Sungnome Madrone, relentlessly pursued was provided by USFWS, NOAA, The Nature delivers whole trees to the estuary and we observe the idea. Excitement grew and two years later, we Conservancy, and the California Department of those rare trees moving slower through the system had funding, permits, access to trees, and finally an Fish and Wildlife. than our anchored structures. Logistically whole available helicopter. trees are challenging, as they require special The crew prepared over 180 trees for transport To learn more about our projects, equipment such as a helicopter for delivery to the estuary. Patrick Queen Construction took or to make a donation to support MRC, to the sites. on every heavy equipment task needed to make the The scale and expense of a helicopter kept helicopter time as efficient as possible. Trees were please visit www.mattole.org. us from considering this type of project until a tipped, root-wads were cleaned, trees were weighed,
NORTH GROUP REDWOOD CHAPTER So Long Becky and Bill Long-time Sierra Club hike leader Becky (Lina) Kent passed away on April 15 at the age of 84. At her memorial service, one of her daughters read Becky’s self-penned eulogy. Several North Group members recalled backpacking hikes she had led, as well as less-strenuous outings closer to her McKinleyville home. Among her favorites were the Patrick’s Point State Park Rim Trail, Trinidad State Park, and Lyon’s Ranch and Skunk Cabbage Trail mushroom hikes in Redwood National Park, as well as Mother’s Day rambles in Prairie Creek State Park and New Year’s Day walks along the Hammond Trail, capped by a potluck at her house. Born in Calgary, Becky moved to San Diego, where she received degrees in music—a lifelong love--and nursing. After the death of her first husband, she joined the Sierra Club and led wilderness outings. In the mid1990s, she moved to Humboldt with her second husband and continued leading hikes, as well as serving as North Group membership chair. In August 2006, she contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite while picking blackberries at the Blue Lake Fish Hatchery, which recurred and contributed to her death. Bill Knight, North Coast outings chair and long-time hike leader, passed away April 24 after a struggle with cancer. Bill was an avid backpacker who loved the outdoors, particularly the North Coast. He had hoped to recover enough from his illness to end his days among his beloved redwoods and dunes, but that did not happen. Bill was an outgoing, adventurous spirit who loved to travel and had lived in such exotic places as Africa, India, and New Zealand. Yet he always said that his favorite place to live and hike was the North Coast. A favorite hike was from Manila Dunes to the Mad River, but he also loved Big Lagoon (for hiking and paddling) and Tall Trees. He was happy that he had scaled back his life to enjoy nature and hike, and the rewards he got from this far exceeded anything money (or prestige) was worth. His enthusiasm for the outdoors led him to give up a lucrative, demanding career
to spend more time outside. Bill was in his late 40s when he passed and will be greatly missed by the many whose lives he touched.
Help Support Campers This Summer
North Group’s Lucille Vinyard/ Susie Van Kirk Environmental Education Fund has been providing camping experiences for children in Humboldt, Del Norte, and western Trinity counties for the past 20 years. Our goal this year is to send four children to overnight nature camps in Orick: two to Towering Trees & Tidepools for grades four and five and two to Redwoods Ecology for grades six through eight. The camps in Redwood National and State Parks are operated by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. EcoNews readers are invited to help fund campers by sending a check payable to “North Group Environmental Education Fund” to North Group at PO Box 238, Arcata CA 95518.
Science Projects Receive Awards
For the eighth year, North Group sponsored an award at the annual Humboldt County Science Fair held in mid March. The $50 first-place award went to “Fresh Water from the Sea” by Ava Killoran, a 7th-grader at Pacific Union School in Arcata. She built a solar desalination device using funnels, drinking straws, modeling clay, coins, cling wrap, and a heat lamp to investigate how much fresh water it would produce. She hypothesized that higher temperatures and larger surface areas would be more effective at removing salt. Ava tested the device at two temperatures: 80 and 90 degrees F. She found that the average yield at 90 degrees was triple that obtained at 80 degrees. She also tested two sizes of desalination boxes, discovering that the box that was three times larger yielded four times the fresh water. Ava sent an ingenious pop-up thank-you card to North Group, informing us that she had been selected to take her project to the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles in May. www.yournec.org
A $25 second-place prize was awarded to “Cloudy with a Chance of Radiation” by Oliver Grant, a 7th-grader from Petrolia who attends Mattole Charter School. The purpose of his research was to discover whether West Coast residents were in danger from radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. He wanted to find out whether rumors of seashore and seafood radiation were true. Oliver predicted that he would find no dangerous levels of radiation during Geiger counter readings of seafood, soil, homegrown food, regional produce, and air. He took measurements at home (carrots, celery, mushrooms, bananas, asparagus, raw milk, canned tuna/salmon, fresh albacore, coconut oil), the beach (plants, fire pit, car tire, bird carcasses, sand, shells, rope, beach wall boulders, salt residue, air), and the fish market (ling cod, ahi, two types of oysters, albacore, crab). As he predicted, no dangerous radiation levels were found. Oliver also sent North Group a thank-you note.
The North Group offers the following hikes during April and May. All our hikes are open to the public. Contact hike leaders for more information: Sunday, June 8 — Prairie Creek State Park, Friendship Ridge Hike. 8 miles, medium difficulty. Loop route includes redwoods, flowers, views, waterfalls, possibly elk. Some steep, rough, soggy sections. Bring food, water, hiking footwear. No dogs. Carpools: 9 a.m. Arcata Safeway parking lot. 10:30 a.m. Fern Canyon Trailhead (exit Davison Rd. off Hwy. 101). Leader Melinda, (707) 668-4275. Rain cancels. Thursday, June 26 — Trinity Wilderness Canyon Creek Hike. 9 miles, medium difficulty. Out and back past creek, meadows, cliffs to meadows above Lower Falls. Bring lots of food and water, sun protection, hiking boots. Carpools: 7:30 a.m. Blue Lake 1st & G St. 10 a.m. Canyon Creek Trailhead (13.5 mi. N of Junction City on County Road 401). By reservation only. Leader Melinda, (707) 668-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Field Trips & Plant Walks
May 25, Sunday. 1:00-3:00 p.m. Azaleas! at the Azalea State Reserve. Join experienced native plant gardener and entomologist Pete Haggard to admire the azaleas blooming and see a variety of other native shrubs recommended for gardens. About half mile easy walk on gravel path. Exit onto North Bank Rd. off 101 just north of the Mad River; after about one mile turn left on Azalea Dr., and left into the parking lot. 707-839-0307. June 7-8, Saturday-Sunday. Rare Plant Treasure Hunt for Serpentine Endemics at UC McLoughlin Reserve, hike and overnight. The reserve and the Milo Baker Chapter invite us to camp Saturday and join a potluck dinner Saturday night in the reserve field station facility. The reserve is 13 miles southwest of Lower Lake (east end of Clear Lake). On Sunday morning we will visit a rugged serpentine canyon to map CNPS-listed plants. We will carpool in high clearance/4WD vehicles for this moderately strenuous outing. There will be opportunities to learn how to census rare plants and fill out CNDDB field survey forms for those interested. Contact: Wendy Smit, Milo Baker Fieldtrip Chair, email@example.com. Carol Ralph will coordinate anyone going from Arcata area (707-822-2015; firstname.lastname@example.org). June 8, Sunday. Rare Plant Big Day in Trinidad. How many plants listed in the Inventory of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants of California (www.rareplants.cnps.org) can we see in one day on the bluffs and beaches and in the bogs and forests of Trinidad area? With good planning, possibly twelve. We will learn how rare it is, how to distinguish it from similar species, and what threatens it. We will see fun, non-rare plants too, of course. Dress for the weather (and maybe wet feet); bring lunch and water. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Pacific Union School. Finish midafternoon. Please tell Carol (822-2015, theralphs@ humboldt1.com) you are coming. June 14, Saturday. Fish Lake Wildflower Hikes and optional Campout. Explore the plant communities in the vicinity of Fish Lake, near Orleans, including Port Orford-Cedar, Western Azalea, and a variety of other ericaceous shrubs. Meet at the Panamnik Building in Orleans at 10 a.m., or at the campground at 11 a.m. Camping at Fish Lake Campground is available. Please contact Tanya Chapple at 530-627-3202 or tanya@ mkwc.org. Co-sponsored with the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council.
July 12-13, Saturday-Sunday. Bear Lake Day Hike or Backpack Overnight. We will explore the Bear Peak Botanical Area in the Siskiyou Wilderness. This is an overnight backpacking trip with the option to day-hike. The first day we will hike the three miles to camp at Upper Bear Lake. The hike is moderate and very exposed, through a burned area, and drops steeply into the lake basin. The next day we can explore the botanical area and/or hike on to Red Hill, a very interesting open forest with Port Orford-Cedar and Brewerâ€™s Spruce growing out of red rock. Meet at the Panamnik Building in Orleans at 10am, or at the Elbow Springs Trailhead at noon. Please contact Tanya Chapple at 530-627-3202 or email@example.com. July 18-20. Wetlands and Cascade Mountains in Rocky Point, Oregon. The many wetlands of Upper Klamath Lake near Rocky Point offer a diversity of wetland plants, both perennial and ephemeral, even in a drought year. The Ralphsâ€™
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cabin near Rocky Point Resort will be headquarters for half-day explorations by canoe or by foot of the tule-and-cat-tail marsh along Recreation Creek, the vernal pool aspect of Harriman Springs and Four-Mile Marsh, the mountain meadow uplands and marsh of Big Meadow, the streamside lilies and mosquitoes of Seven Mile Creek, and other sites as time permits.. Ralphs offer cabin space and tent sites (very rustic), and Rocky Point Resort, a small, rustic resort, offers tent sites (5), RV sites, cabin, and motel units, as well as canoe rental.Contact Carol for more details as soon as you think you might come (707-822-2015; firstname.lastname@example.org).
Wanted: New Occurrences of California Globe Mallow
Jennifer Kalt California globe mallow, known to botanists as Iliamna latibracteata, is a member of the hollyhock family (Malvaceae). It is a fire-follower, meaning that it typically occurs in recently-burned areas. It grows mainly in white fir and Douglas-fir forests from northwestern California to southwestern Oregon. Many occurrences have been discovered within a few years of forest fires, after which they persist for a number of years until resprouting shrubs and trees crowd and shade them out. Thought to have long-lived seeds, the California globe-mallow is probably capable of surviving in the soil seed bank for decades. In California, it has been found in Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties. It was first described from Prairie Creek near Davison Ranch (Humboldt County) in 1951, but most present-day populations are at much higher elevations (3,0005,000 feet above sea level). The CNPS Inventory ranks it as fairly endangered in California (List 1B.2). Its primary threats are fire exclusion (both fire suppression and absence of controlled burns), livestock grazing, post-fire salvage logging, and invasive species. The largest known populations are on lands managed by the Rogue River-Siskiyou, Six Rivers, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests. Recent wildfires may have stimulated seed germination in areas the plant has not been seen in decades, so keep your eyes peeled for this showy rare www.yournec.org
plant this summer! If you see any, please send specific location information and photos to email@example.com.
News from the Center Continued from page 3
...reuse, rainwater catchment, and compost toilets, it is high time to get serious about putting conservation theory into practice!
Sea Level Rise Wake-up Call
The results are in: from here on, inhabitants of planet Earth will be dealing with the unpleasant and almost unfathomable realities resulting from anthropogenic climate change. Despite hopes to keep CO2 levels in the atmosphere below 350ppm, our planet’s human inhabitants have already Cleanup volunteers towing a “trash barge.” Photo: Dan Ehresman. caused atmospheric carbon to climb past Built to Spill 400ppm—and it doesn’t look like that climb is slowing down anytime soon. The month of April As the realities of fossil-fuel-driven climate was, ironically enough, the 350th consecutive change become ever more grim, the fossil fuel month of above average global temperatures. Two industry continues to suck dry every last deposit reports by NASA scientists released in early May while demonstrating a deplorable transportation say we have passed the tipping point with regard track record. Since the beginning of the year, the to the collapse of Western Antarctica’s ice sheet. U.S. has seen some pretty bad spills—including The massive glacier meltdown will result in a 10most recently a burst pipeline in Los Angeles foot rise in sea level within the next two centuries; County that sent 10,000 gallons of crude oil slowly overtopping what is currently dry land and flowing down city streets. This came on the heels whatever else happens to be on it. Probably not a of the double disaster day of April 30 when a train bad time to start planning for adaptation, eh? derailment in Virginia dumped around 20,000
Continued from page 6 ...leaders and fought tirelessly for protection of their high places. The view from the top would be far different without him. Now hundreds of people every summer enjoy climbing Preston Peak; botanizing in serpentine fens, mountain meadows, and diverse forests of the High Siskiyous; swimming in the blue waters of majestic Devils Punchbowl; creek walking amongst ancient cedars of the East Fork Blue Creek; and in any season enjoying the magnificent views of the South Fork Smith from the historic Kelsey Trail; all in the comfort of knowing these wonderful places are protected. With only 100 miles of trail access, popular areas, such as Devils Punchbowl, are seeing damaging impacts by hosting more visitors than they can sustain, elevating the need for additional trail development. The Siskiyous are also known for
those vast, rugged, dense expanses of wilderness not easily reached on foot. These are the places where you truly get a sense that you are hiking in Bigfoot country.
The southface of Preston Peak in the Siskiyou Wilderness. Photo: Michael Kauffman, Wikimedia CC.
gallons of crude oil into the James River, and a BP pipeline was punctured—spewing toxics across 27 acres of the Alaskan tundra. Earlier this year, we saw the large oil spills in both Lake Michigan and Galveston Bay. Coal transport is also chalking up the disasters with the release of 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River of North Carolina and the crude chemical spill impacting over 300,000 West Virginia residents in January. All this list doesn’t even touch the damage done by fracking.
A Wrecked or Resilient Future?
Much of what we face comes down to how we choose to adapt, how we re-design our human habitat, how we re-imagine ourselves as a part of— rather than apart from—the world around us. So, yes, our city and county General Plan documents really do matter. A lot. What gets built (or not) on an abandoned waterfront property really is a community issue. We need to keep fighting for conservation programs that preserve agricultural and forest lands, and fight plans to further subdivide our wild and working lands. Wilderness still needs stewards to safeguard it from abuses—from those in power, or in the shadows, seeking fortune. In the end, we do have a choice. It is up to each and every one of us to fight for a resilient future. The alternative is to stand by and let the worldwreckers win.
Continued from page 5 ...Schwarzenegger for his nod of approval and obtained letters of support from all Humboldt County supervisors. Momentum built, community wilderness alliances were formed, everyone wrote letters to their elected officials with heartfelt passion for the beauty of wilderness nurturing our souls in these troubled times. In a remarkable show of local support, 21 of the 24 county supervisors in the five counties encompassed by the legislation went on record in favor of the bill. Protection for the King Range, the wildest portion of the California Coast, is an effort that was borne from our community, a host of unsung volunteers and supported by our elected leaders, as a monumental seven year grassroots effort that is an environmental legacy that will serve us all for generations to come.
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NO FISH: The European Union, the world’s biggest importer of seafood, has banned fish from three countries because they failed to set or enforce catch limits or monitor their fishing. All 28 fisheries ministers of the European Union decreed that their ships may no longer fish off Belize, Cambodia or Guinea, and the EU may not import those countries’ catches.
A merry melange: salient or silly.
FRACK YOU: Vera Scroggins, 62, is barred from going to her local grocery store, her friends’ homes, schools or even the hospital—because they all sit on property in Pennsylvania owned or leased by a Texas company for gas extraction by fracking, which Scroggins hotly opposes. A judge granted the request to keep Scroggins off the more than 40 percent of Susquehanna County, where she lives, after her repeated trespassing, such as giving a tour to anti-drilling celebrities and getting footage that was in “Gasland,” an Oscarnominated documentary.
FOILED: One smart chimp placed a big tree branch against the wall of an enclosure at the Kansas City Zoo and convinced seven other chimps to climb up and escape—but all they managed to do was to get into another enclosure. Then they were lured back by cookies.
ONE BIRD FOR ANOTHER: Idaho plans to kill thousands of ravens—even though they are federally protected—to spare the imperiled sagegrouse, whose eggs and chicks are among their prey. The fate of the sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird dependent on sagebrush ecosystems, is tied to oil and ranching operations on millions of acres of mostly federal lands. The Fish and Wildlife Service will decide next year if the sage-grouse must be protected.
WHAT A YARN: Knitting enthusiasts around the world have been urged to make sweaters for penguins—both to help the flightless birds affected by oil spills to stay warm and to prevent them from trying to clean the toxic oil with their beaks.
USES FOR CO2? It’s a mistake to bury carbon dioxide when it actually can be a resource, says a New Jersey firm that will use it to make plastic bottles, antifreeze and superglue. Another company in Illinois is a start-up that will turn carbon dioxide into acetic acid, used to make products like paint and glue.
WHAT’S ON MARS: The red planet has two to four percent water and also has the element fluorine. Scientists on earth used the rover Curiosity to discover what’s in the soil and rocks on Mars by zapping them with a laser beam and reading the light that bounces back. ALZHEIMER’S IS PREDICTABLE: The first blood test that predicts Alzheimer’s disease has been developed by Georgetown University, but there still is no cure. The new test identifies 10 chemicals in the blood associated with the disease—and might be able to predict Alzheimer’s up to decades (yes, decades) earlier, a boon for the 35 million people globally who are living with the disease. “We may not have any therapy yet,” a spokesman said, “but we can get our financial and legal affairs in order, plan for care and inform the family. And imagine what you could do in your early 40’s to slow the onset of the disease.”
SNAIL’S PACE: The good news: Ten new snails of the genus Plectostoma have been found. The bad news: They live solely on limestone hills in Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand. Since limestone is necessary for cement, the hills— and therefore the snails’—days are numbered. One snail is already extinct and the others are threatened. WHAT TO DO: Grand Canyon rangers are struggling with herds of beefalo, a hybrid of buffalo and domestic cattle, because they are damaging Native American sites, invading habitats reserved for the Mexican spotted owl and wearing away meadows by giving themselves dust baths. The National Park Service will hold several public meetings before implementing a new strategy by 2016.
SOFT DRINKS TO SURFBOARDS: A surfer in Peru is turning plastic bottles into surfboards for local youths who can’t afford the real thing. Each board is made of 51 bottles. The project aims not only to teach the kids how to surf, but also underlines the importance of eco-awareness. www.yournec.org
ORGASMATRON: Although there is mass media interest in a pain-relief implant that could also trigger orgasms in women, it hasn’t translated into a full trial of the technique yet. Dr. Stuart Meloy in Winston-Salem was using a spinal cord stimulator and was placing the electrodes when the woman started exclaiming emphatically and finally said: ‘You’re going to have to teach my husband how to do that’!” But the full trial would cost at least six million dollars.
The role of
Ensatina slamander. Photo: Natalie McNear, Flickr.com CC.
When one thinks about top predators, lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) are likely to be some of the first to come to mind. However, there are much smaller carnivores in our forests that play a very important ecological role. Salamanders are one of the most abundant vertebrate predators in North American forests. These small, slippery amphibians spend most of their time under rocks and other dark, moist places, but they are actually voracious predators with a huge appetite, consuming about 24 insects a day. Their prey consists almost entirely of “shredding invertebrates”, which tear leaves and other forest litter into tiny bits and eat them. This process releases the carbon stored inside the leaves into the atmosphere. By eating the shredders, more of the leaf litter stays on the forest floor, becoming a damp, insulated blanket that traps the carbon until it can be absorbed into the soil (a process called humidification). Local scientists Hartwell H. Welsh, Jr. and Michael Best published a study examining the role of salamanders in the carbon cycle in the journal Ecosphere. The results were surprising, and recently featured in an article in the New York Times (NYT) (“Salamander’s Hefty Role in the Forest”,
in the Carbon Cyle
April 7, 2014). By extrapolating the results of their study plots to a larger scale, they discovered the amount of carbon stored (verses being consumed and released) is enough to have an effect on the global climate. “It’s more than just a curious phenomenon,” Dr. Welsh states. “It’s real.” Best also previously published an article on his findings in the June/July 2011 issue of EcoNews (available on our website at www.yournec.org). The cost of living is not very high for salamanders. All they need is a moist and cool place to hide while they wait for invertebrates to walk by. If the location is productive, the salamander may sit there all night long; if not it will wander on until deciding to stop elsewhere. The process is efficient—no venom, no chase, no big show; no wasted energy. Also, the salamander body is very low maintenance by design. Because they are ectothermic—they heat and cool their bodies from the environment, rather than from the inside— no energy is used to regulate body temperature. If conditions are not favorable (too hot, too cold, too dry) they just stay within their cool, moist home, in sleep mode, until the weather changes. When the air is cool and moist, salamanders spend most of their time eating. These little unsung heroes play a dynamic role in carbon sequestration on the forest floor, so tread lightly—the world beneath your feet is alive!
the Kids’ Page: Woodpeckers Did you know
that woodpeckers can peck up to 12,000 times per day, up to 20 pecks a second, without getting a headache!? They can to do this because of some special adaptations. Woodpeckers have a lot of cushion around their brain for protection. The most impressive adaptation is a special bone inside their skull—called the a hyoid bone—that acts like a seatbelt for their brain! The hyoid bone helps keep the woodpeckers’ brain from smashing against the inside of their skull when they peck. The shape of bill also helps protect the brain from the shock of pecking—the upper portion is a little longer than the lower half. Woodpeckers’ tongues are sticky, barbed, and can be up to 4 inches long. These adaptations enable them to grab insects that are inside the tree. Woodpeckers are zygodactyl, which means they have two toes pointing forwards and two toes pointing backwards. This helps secure them upright (or upside down) to the tree while foraging for insects, nuts, fruit, and sap. Their stiﬀ tail feathers also help prop them against the tree. Woodpeckers communicate not by singing or tweeting, but by drumming (tapping on wood). They can tap dozens of times per second! Each species, and even in diﬀerent areas, have diﬀerent tapping patterns. Woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and ﬂickers are all in the same ‘woodpecker’ family. There are 12 species in our area. They are all cavity nesters; the male and female birds spend about a month digging a cavity in a dead tree in which to make a nest. The female lays 2-5 eggs. Both parents take turns sitting in the nest and looking for food. After about 2 weeks the baby birds hatch (blind and without feathers), and spend 3-4 weeks in the nest before ﬂying away. The mom and dad build a new nest every year. Woodpeckers can live up to 11 years, depending on the species. The biggest threat to woodpeckers is habitat loss due to human causes. Fires also cause habitat loss and a decline in their population. One thing we can do to help is instead of chopping down a dead tree; leave at least 12 feet standing. Woodpeckers may use it for nesting.
Top: Acorn woodpecker. Photo: Linda Tanner, Flickr.com CC. Bottom: Downy woodpecker. Photo: Rodney Campbell, Flickr.com CC.
by Sarah Marnick
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Politician Remus Cernea has introduced a measure in the Romanian upper house that would give dolphins the same rights as humans. The bill would make humans and dolphins equal before the law and give dolphin-killers the same sentences as murderers of human beings. The aim is to help protect Romania’s indigenous dolphins in the Black Sea and add the voice of the European community’s poorest nation to a global movement against dolphin killings. Here at the NEC, there is a belief that Flipper is even smarter than many humans, as evidenced by their intelligent and hierarchically-organized schools, their playful behavior and their complex method of communication. The marine mammals have a gestation period of 12 months--amazingly, the same length of time that an NEC membership will get you (what a transition). And the results may be the same: the birth of a new consciousness. So come up with money for an annual subscription; what a deal, the dolphins say, it’s less than a dime a day. Thank you.
World Oceans Day ~ June 8, 2014
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Published on May 30, 2014
EcoNews is the official bi-monthly publication of the Northcoast Environmental Center, a non-profit advocacy and educational organization. T...