Eureka Author Amy Stewart is the Toast of the Literary World

Ryan Burns / Today @ 4:43 p.m. / Book Author , Celebrity , Feel Good

By Terrence McNally.

Amy Stewart is no stranger to praise. The Eureka author’s previous books, including The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants and Flower Confidential, have received rave reviews and landed on the New York Times Best Seller list. 

But her latest book, Girl Waits With Gun, is different. For one thing, it’s a novel — her first. The story is drawn from early 20th Century newspaper clippings about a strong-willed woman named Constance Kopp who, with her two sisters, takes on a powerful, corrupt silk factory owner and his gang of thugs following a dispute over a traffic collision (one involving a horse-drawn buggy).

“Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel out of all this, adding a subplot and deepening the characters,” raved the New York Times in a prominent Sunday edition review. 

Other raves have been rolling in, including starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, inclusion in the New York Post‘s “Must Read Books” and glowing write-ups in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and, much to Stewart’s own delight, Ms. Magazine.

Stewart also co-owns Eureka Books (itself recently named one of “10 Beautiful Bookshops That Will Stop You in Your Tracks“) with her husband, Scott Brown, though she’s unlikely to be found there anytime soon as she’s about to embark on a book tour. But she was interviewed for today’s episode of NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Here’s the segment:

Girl Waits With Gun goes on sale tomorrow. Pick one up at Eureka Books or another locally owned bookseller. 


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As Mad River Complex Nears Containment, Last of Humboldt County Evacuation Advisories Lifted

Hank Sims / Today @ 3:22 p.m. / Fire!

[For LoCO’s chronological list of fire updates, go here. For direct updates from fire management teams as they are released, watch the Outpost’s “Elsewhere” section.]

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Mad River Complex fires as of this morning. Graphic: Inciweb.

The Lassic Fire, part of the Mad River Complex, was one of the few of the great July 31 lightning fires to threaten structures in Humboldt County. Early on this month, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation advisory for fewer than a dozen homes in the Swayback Ridge area, near the Humboldt-Trinity line.

Now, after the weekend’s light rains and the hard work of fire crews in the area, that advisory has been lifted. The Lassic — which by itself grew to over 18,000 acres — is 90 percent contained, and the Mad River Complex as a whole is 95 percent contained.

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

The voluntary evacuation advisory in effect for the Swayback Ridge area of the Lassics since August 5, 2015, has been canceled.

The Lassic Fire, a part of the Mad River Complex, is estimated to be approximately 90% contained and does not pose a threat to the remote residential area previously under advisory. Firefighting efforts on all incidents in northwest California were assisted by rain over the weekend. There are currently no evacuation advisories or orders in effect in Humboldt County.

The Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services continues to monitor all regional fire activity in coordination with assigned Incident Management Teams, and to monitor air quality in coordination with County Public Health and the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.



Eureka Council to Consider New Tools to Evict Homeless, Seize Their Stuff

Ryan Burns / Today @ 2:44 p.m. / Eureka Rising , Government , Homelessness

Dead rats hung from a tree in a homeless encampment along Eureka’s waterfront. Image courtesy City of Eureka.

This morning around 10:30, Eureka Police received a call saying that a man who lives in the homeless encampment behind the Bayshore Mall had been shooting a rifle toward birds in the air before aiming the gun at a construction site on the nearby Chevron terminal, where workers were on the job. 

Here’s the scanner call:

Scanner call

Two Thursdays ago, staff from the City of Eureka was at the other end of that encampment, a long stretch of coastline that’s been dubbed “Devil’s Playground,” when they found what’s pictured above — a line of large, dead rats hanging from a tree branch.

Ninety-seven needles were removed from a homeless encampment at the foot of Del Norte Street. City of Eureka.

The encampments pose health and safety hazards to residents and visitors alike. On the same visit to the site, at the foot of Del Norte Street, staff collected 97 hypodermic needles (pictured at right).

These homeless encampments along Eureka’s waterfront are getting out of hand, according to city staff, and at a meeting Tuesday night the Eureka City Council will consider a pair of ordinances aimed at reinforcing the city’s efforts toward addressing the issues.

A report prepared for council and signed by City Manager Greg Sparks outlines the seriousness of the situation: “Despite recent cleanup efforts, sanitation issues, hazardous waste and criminal activity within [city-owned waterfront property] has become a major concern to the community at large, and has risen to a level of concern from regulatory agencies.”

The city has a responsibility to keep public property safe and accessible to all, the report states, adding that the waterfront in particular is important to tourism, economic development and future plans for trail development.

One ordinance to be considered Tuesday night aims to prevent homeless people from stockpiling their belongings on public property. The ordinance articulates the city’s authority to confiscate and impound any “personal property” being stored on city-owned property if that property is not removed after 24 hours’ written notice. “Bulky items,” meaning anything besides a tent that’s too big to fit in one of the city’s 60-gallon trash cans with the lid closed, could be seized immediately. 

When items are taken, city staff would leave a “conspicuously placed” notice at the site informing the resident(s) what was taken when, the location where the property could be picked up and a warning that it could be tossed if not picked up within 90 days.

“People tend to take ownership of their little plots out there,” said Eureka Parks and Recreation Director Miles Slattery. “Whether it’s a tent or a built structure, people will pack everything into that area and say it’s all personal belongings. We’re having trouble maintaining our property because we don’t have the wherewithal to impound that property.”

Slattery added that staff has modified the 60-gallon totes from Recology with locks for storage of these belongings. Removal of these items and the people hoarding them is important not only for public safety and economic development, Slattery said, but also wildlife management. The property has been invaded not just by humans but also invasive species such as phragmites, pampas grass, fennel and berries that are choking out the native marsh species.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in restoring the PALCO Marsh area, Slattery said, but an array of trailside interpretive signs had to be removed due to excessive vandalism and graffiti.

A report on the ordinance prepared by City Attorney Cindy Day-Wilson states that city staff is already operating under the guidelines spelled out, and that approval of the ordinance would merely serve to “codify the process the City already follows with regard to personal property stored on City property.”

By the same token, another item on Tuesday’s agenda outlines the City’s “Open Space Property Management Plan,” which, according to Slattery, is mostly comprised of existing policies. The plan references Eureka’s policies on camping, shopping carts, open burning, open containers, aggressive panhandling and more.

But this item proposes a list of new rules for the waterfront area, as well. Among them:

  • Bicycles would not be allowed off-trail in the open space areas,
  • Dogs wouldn’t be allowed off-leash or more than 10 feet off the trail,
  • Wood pallets would be forbidden in open spaces,
  • Building materials would also be forbidden; this includes bricks, cement blocks, fencing material, wood and piping, and
  • Propane/gas stoves and charcoal grills would also be outlawed.

In one last related item, the City will be requesting $750,000 in federal funding to go toward Phase C of the Waterfront Trail. That money would go along with about $2.5 million already secured from Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program and a staff-level commitment from the Coastal Conservancy for another $1.5 million for Phases B and C, according to Slattery.

The meeting will take place at Eureka City Hall starting at 6 p.m.



Hoopa Youth Group Protests Planned Natural Gas Pipeline to Coos Bay

Hank Sims / Today @ 11:14 a.m. / Activism

Photo: True North Organizing Network

On Saturday afternoon, as a regional gathering of a community organizers was winding down, a group of Hoopa Valley kids stormed the stage of the tribal community center and invited the 150 or so people in attendance to march with them down to the banks of the Trinity River, and to join them in protest.

The target was the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, which — if built — will ship fuel via pipeline through southern Oregon to a brand-new liquefied natural gas export facility at the Port of Coos Bay. The pipeline would cross scores of rivers and streams, including the Klamath.

The project has long been controversial for various reasons. It would require substantial takings of land against the wishes of property owners. (NPR has a good overview here.) It would require a 100-foot-wide “permanent clearcut” along its entire route. And as with the failed LNG proposal that came through Eureka a decade back, some Coos Bay citizens fear that an earthquake or tsunami hitting the plant could more or less wipe the town off the map. 

The Hoopa Valley Youth Council, though, focused on a different concern — the possibility of a pipeline rupture upstream in the Klamath, which could poison an already damaged river. At the rally on the banks of the Trinity, each member in turn shouted “I’m sick!”, followed by a statements concerning the health of the Klamath/Trinity watershed, or the way Native American concerns are downplayed in debates over those matters.

Press release from the Hoopa Valley Youth Council:

On Saturday, August 29, at the Neighborhood Facilities Building, in Hoopa, California, at 3:30 pmthe Hoopa Valley Youth Council will publicly request that Governor Brown and the State Water Board protect Californians from the devastating impacts they would suffer if the Jordan Cove Pacific Connector Pipeline were to be installed.

“This is the coming out party for a new movement that is building the bridge for the youth in Hoopa,” states KisDyante Joseph, Co-Chair of the Hoopa Valley Youth Council.  “We’re going to come out and basically announce to the world that we as a group of youth are connected and coming out against the pipeline.  We are directly addressing Governor Brown, bringing to his attention these issues, and pressing him to listen to us and acknowledge our struggles.”

The Liquid Natural Gas Pipeline will cross 400 rivers and streams in Oregon, including the Klamath River, just north of the California border. The Klamath River is proposed to be the main source of water withdrawals for the pipeline’s hydro stacking, which will be millions of gallons of water from California watersheds, and the polluted water will sit in holding ponds. The Klamath River runs through Humboldt and Del Norte County.

“We feel that since California water is included in this project, and since the California water will be affected by the insertion of this pipe and will eventually leak into California water, Governor Brown and California State Water Board must act to protect all Californians from this destructive pipeline,” adds Ms. Joseph.



JOHN HARDIN: Humboldt County’s Nuclear Caviar

John Hardin / Today @ 7:28 a.m. / Op-Ed

Photo: Redwood National Park, by Miguel Viera. Creative Commons license.

We have a long history of shortsightedness here in Humboldt County. I suspect that we’re as eager to throw our long-term assets away for a fast buck as we ever were, and the impending legalization of marijuana gives us another opportunity to do just that.

Right now, the black-market cannabis industry holds this county hostage, politically and economically. The illegal marijuana industry has already brought enough social problems to Humboldt County, problems ranging from poverty and homelessness to hard drug abuse, violent crime and murder. Feeding this disease, and fueling the destruction it causes, the misguided War on Drugs has turned a harmless, easy to grow weed into expensive contraband. Now that the tides have turned on the War on Drugs, politicians and drug dealers will try to convince you that marijuana is nuclear caviar.

Nuclear, meaning that they will tell you that marijuana is so dangerous that it requires as much government oversight, control and regulation as a nuclear power plant. Caviar, because they intend to concoct some scheme to control cannabis production, to keep the price of cannabis artificially inflated, so that good pot remains an expensive luxury that working people can ill-afford.

Cannabis is not nuclear caviar. Cannabis is a giant fucking ripoff. Until now, the price of cannabis has been highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun. If the California legislature passes the current passel of pending cannabis legislation, they will simply turn iron-fisted prohibition into a state-sponsored racket. It will still be highway robbery at the point of a cop’s gun, and pot will remain a giant fucking ripoff. For now.

Still, dramatic changes already underway in the cannabis industry will continue. The marijuana industry of today looks nothing like the marijuana industry of 20 years ago. Humboldt County will probably produce more marijuana this year alone than it did in the entire two decades between 1980 and 1999, and the cannabis industry of the future will look nothing like the cannabis industry of today.

The cannabis market will become more competitive, production will expand and automation will increase. Profit margins will shrink, leading to rapid consolidation. That means lots of people lose their jobs or go out of business. That’s how legal industries work. The cannabis industry is rapidly becoming a legal industry, full of businessmen who know how to run a business and aren’t afraid to make tough decisions.

That is a dramatic change from the cannabis industry we all know and love. We like pot growers to be spendthrift fools who have no idea how much money they really make, buy everything retail, and drip money as they walk down the street. More than the cannabis itself, our local economy relies on the stupidity and shortsightedness of black-market dope growers whose lack of business acumen lured them into this line of work to begin with. The black market takes money out of the hands of hard-working people, who might otherwise save it, and puts it into the hands of the people most likely to squander it. That’s how prohibition boosts the economy, and that’s what we see here in Humboldt County.

The fact is, no matter how legalization plays out most of the people who benefit from the marijuana industry in Humboldt County today will eventually get squeezed out. Will it happen in three years, or will it take five? That depends on a lot of things, but it will happen regardless. A lot of people around here will have to find something else to do, and the sooner the better.

The War on Drugs is a cruel racist policy. Mostly, the War on Drugs provides a legal framework for the violent control of minority communities, but here in Humboldt, we see another racist aspect to the War on Drugs. Here, the War on Drugs provided a relatively low-risk avenue to affluence for privileged white kids with no particular skills, talent or ambition. Hey, I’m a privileged white college drop-out myself. I certainly understand the attraction, but it’s still racist. It’s still wrong, and it’s still a huge fucking ripoff, but rest assured: That side of the War on Drugs will evaporate too. The marijuana industry will no longer be dominated by white middle-class dilettantes looking for a low-stress way to support their high-consumption lifestyle.

When you think about it, these are the people who make Humboldt County attractive and interesting, at least to me: The artists, performers and musicians, the idealistic art history, English and ancient language majors and the disillusioned scientists and engineers who decided they didn’t want to build weapons systems or devise new environmentally destructive products. For people like this, growing pot was a way to finance their art or their writing or their political activism, or their other interesting hobbies, without distracting too much from them. The cannabis industry of the future will have no place for these people.

Instead, the cannabis industry will be dominated by greedy white farmers who know how to grow pot and run a business, but have few, if any, other interests. Greedy white farmers do not attract tourists. If they did, people would flock to Iowa to watch corn grow. Greedy white farmers drain rivers, kill fish and destroy habitat, and they use their political clout to make sure that no one gets in their way. That’s what greedy white farmers do everywhere, and that’s what they intend to do here.

Yes, farming is boring and ugly and no one wants to see it, and the same is true of farmers, but we have something else here in Humboldt County that is worth more than all of the black-market marijuana we’ve grown here in the past, and all of the nuclear caviar we hope to produce in the future, put together. That is natural habitat.

Natural habitat has become remarkably rare around the world. I mean really rare — not artificially price-controlled, “rare,” but genuinely uncommon and truly valuable. The Earth has lost half of its natural biodiversity since the first Earth Day, and the primary reason is loss of habitat. If we should treat anything around here like nuclear caviar, it is the natural habitat here in Humboldt County.

People want to see natural habitat, and they want to see it teeming with life. Natural habitat attracts tourists. Biodiversity attracts tourists. No one will ever figure out how to produce habitat on the cheap and flood the market with biodiversity. Habitat will only become more rare and valuable. Pot, on the other hand, is easy to grow and cheap to produce, and it won’t be long before some state like Nevada, Texas or Kansas decides to get out of the way and open up the floodgates to an ocean of cheap cannabis.

That will leave us, here in Humboldt County, facing the same decision we face now, but with fewer options, and greatly diminished assets. Do we sacrifice our lives and the natural habitat we love in a vain attempt to compete with market forces beyond our control, or do we use our imagination and learn to do something else, something that harmonizes with the natural splendor of this unique place and works for the kind of people who make up this community, and who make this community special?

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John Hardin blogs at Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do.



(UPDATED) 82-Year-Old Man Suffers Major Injuries in This Morning’s Two-Car Collision on Highway 299

John Ross Ferrara / Yesterday @ 5:33 p.m. / Traffic

UPDATE, Monday, 10:53 a.m.:

From the CHP:

Driver Christopher F. Colgrove was flown to Mercy Redding where he passed away as a result of this traffic collision. 

# # #

Original post:

CHP press release:

Willow Creek, Calif. – On the morning of Sunday, August 30, a Lexus sedan was traveling eastbound on State Route 299, east of East Fork Bridge, drove head-on into a Toyota Tacoma pickup traveling westbound.

 At approximately 11:25 a.m., 82 year old male, Christopher F Colgrove of Hoopa was driving a 2004 Lexus IS300 eastbound on State Route 299, east of East Fork Bridge.  Colgrove attempted to negotiate a left curve in the roadway at an unsafe speed for the curve and wet roadway conditions.  This caused him to lose control of the Lexus.  The Lexus went into the opposing lane which was occupied by a 2000 Toyota Tacoma being driven by 40 year old female, Cinnamon Tiffany VanHorn of McKinleyville.  VanHorn took evasive action and turned the Tacoma to the left in an attempt to avoid a collision but the vehicle collided head-on.  Both vehicles came to rest upright on all four wheels, partially on the north shoulder and partially in the westbound traffic lane.  Both involved drivers were transported to Mad River Community Hospital by Hoopa Ambulance.  Colgrove sustained major injuries to his head, neck and spine.  VanHorn sustained complaint of pain to her chest and abdomen.  One-way controlled traffic was maintained with the assistance of Willow Creek Volunteer Fire Department.  All occupants were restrained and DUI is not a factor in this collision.

 The California Highway Patrol Humboldt Area is investigating this traffic collision.



A Month Later, the South Complex Fire is 80 Percent Contained

John Ross Ferrara / Yesterday @ 5:07 p.m. / Fire!

A firefighter mops up the South Complex Fire. Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service’s Facebook Page.

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service reports that firefighters brought the South Complex Fire to 80 percent containment today.

The 29,000-acre fire that ignited exactly one month ago, hasn’t grown in three days. Last night, firefighters searched for hot spots burning outside containment lines, but none were detected.

All county roads are open and evacuation advisories have been lifted. However, all forest closures for the South, Fork, Route and Mad River Complexes are still in effect.

InciWeb.