Suspect in Mad River Homicide Identified

Ryan Burns / Wednesday, July 15 @ 8:57 a.m. / Crime

Press release from Trinity County Sheriff’s Office:

The suspect of the shooting that occurred in Mad River on Monday, July 13, 2015 has been identified as: Scott Henry Dimartino, DOB: 07/15/1986, 5’11”, 160 lbs., Brown Hair, Brown Eyes, Tribal Design tattoo on shoulder blades. Suspect is considered armed and dangerous and is still at large. If you have information regarding the suspect or his location please contact the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office immediately at 530-623-2611 or your local law enforcement.

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BOOKED

Today: 4 felonies, 14 misdemeanors, 0 infractions

JUDGED

Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Tomorrow

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Us101 S / Us101 S Sr299 E Con (Humboldt office): Traffic Hazard

775 Upper Pacific Dr (Garberville office): Hit and Run No Injuries

ELSEWHERE

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(UPDATE) Over 10,000 Marijuana Plants Eradicated by Law Enforcement in Weitchpec This Week

Andrew Goff / Wednesday, July 15 @ 8:50 a.m. / marijuana

UPDATE, 7/16: Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office update: 

On Wednesday, 07-15-2015 the Sheriff’s Office with assistance of other all agencies involved in this operation served 2 search warrants and eradicated 17,193 growing marijuana plants. Officers seized $10,000 dollars for possible asset forfeiture on one of the cases. Officers additionally located a marijuana butane hash lab at one location. One person was arrested yesterday for marijuana related offenses.

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Original Post: Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release: 

Starting on Monday, 07-13-2015 and continuing through Wednesday, 07-15-2015 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office are serving search warrants for commercial marijuana growing operations located in the Weitchpec area of Humboldt County. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is being assisted by the following agencies in the marijuana investigations: Humboldt County Drug Task Force, Yurok Tribal Police Department, California National Guard, California Department of Fish and Wild Life Services, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), and the State of California, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP).

Since Monday, Officers have served seven state search warrants and one Tribal search warrant. Officers have eradicated 10,261 growing marijuana plants and seized 600 pounds of processed marijuana.

On Tuesday, officers were driving on a remote dirt road to reach one of the search warrant locations. Officers were approximately one mile away from the marijuana garden when they encountered a large hole in the roadway that had been recently dug by the use of heavy equipment. Officers parked their vehicles and walked the rest of the distance to the search warrant location.

These cases are currently still under investigation and the eradication efforts are continuing through at least Wednesday.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Your Week in Ocean: Warm-Blooded Fish, Steel-Nerved Fishermen

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, July 15 @ 7:05 a.m. / Food , Humboldt , Nature , Ocean

Reminder: Listen to Coastal Currents today at noon! 

In our excitement over scoring an interview with Shaun Tomson, we neglected to share with you some other big news – NOAA scientists have discovered that a large ocean-going fish, the opah, is fully warm-blooded. This is unusual! In fact, the opah is the only known completely warm-blooded fish identified. You can read all about how the opah, unlike other fish, stays warm even at plunging depths right here

Chuck Chastain, pictured left, with a 114-pound opah caught 75 miles west of Eureka with Coastline Charters. Courtesy Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast.

Or, if you’re the fishing type, you can keep a sharp eye out for opah off the Humboldt Coast. As usual, Kenny Priest has the scoop in his weekly Fishing the North Coast column. Note: The linked column is from last week and the weather has changed substantially – be sure to read the latest and keep up via Facebook.

IMPORTANT: Checking to see where your seafood lands on the sustainability scale is critical to the future of our fisheries. All imported opah is on the “Avoid” list because sea turtles and other threatened species are also caught on longlines. However, opah from the U.S. is a “Good Alternative” because these fisheries have made changes in recent years to greatly reduce bycatch of vulnerable species. Eat local, friends! 

And if you’re inspired to give it a go yourself, get your pre-trip thrill on with Bob Pagliuco’s documentation of Chastain’s landing of the opah in this Grateful Dead-soundtracked video, below.(SPOILER: Things do not end well for the fish.)



Multi-Agency ‘Operation Yurok’ Goes After Marijuana Grows Described as Largest Ever in Tribe’s Territory

Ryan Burns / Tuesday, July 14 @ 3:33 p.m. / marijuana , Tribes

Images provided by Yurok Tribe

What follows is not your typical press release. The official statement from the Yurok Tribe dispenses with the clinical detachment usually seen in law enforcement releases, instead lambasting “greedy growers looking to make a quick buck.” Describing deforestation, illegal buildings and mass amounts of waste, the statement says, “The industrial-scale grows resemble mountaintop coal mining [more] than any type of agriculture.”

Here’s the full release:

An early morning raid Monday marked the beginning of an aggressive effort, led by the Yurok Tribe, the California National Guard Counterdrug Unit and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, to eradicate dozens of environmentally destructive marijuana farms from the Yurok Reservation and adjacent lands.

“The illegal plantations that we are targeting pose a severe threat to our natural resources, our water and our way of life,” said Susan Masten Vice Chairperson of the Yurok Tribe. “It breaks my heart to see these 10,000 plant grows sucking our watersheds dry, while our community is on the brink of running out of water. It is unacceptable and it is immoral.”

Monday’s operation removed multiple illegal marijuana crops, including one that an environmental scientist at the scene described as an “environmental disaster.” Dozens of abandoned vehicles, 20-plus broken car batteries and several cubic yards of household waste were strewn across the grow site and nearby ravine. Numerous tires, refrigerators and piles of grow-related garbage were also found on the property, which had recently been illegally graded to cover up some of the toxic debris. The collaborative effort will continue into next week.

The unlawful pot plantations are diverting untold millions of gallons of water from the creeks that feed the Tribe’s community water systems, which are barely producing enough to satisfy the basic needs of 300-plus families on the east side of the reservation. The illegal diversions are also impacting crucial cold streams that are critical for fish health. Currently, the temperature of the Klamath River is nearly 75 degrees, a significant threat to the salmon starting to migrate upriver to spawn. High numbers of the anadromous fish are already holding at the creek mouths, where it is up to 20 degrees cooler, to regulate their body temperatures. In times of drought, these fish could not survive without these cold water refuges.

Operation Yurok is a collaboration between Tribal, federal and state law enforcement, including: California National Guard Counterdrug Unit, Bureau of Indian Affairs, CA Fish and Wildlife, Water Quality Control Board and others. The collaborative effort was initiated after the Yurok Tribe reached out to California Governor Jerry Brown for assistance. Governor Brown responded by sending members of the state’s National Guard to aid in reining in the enormous environmental impact and massive water theft uncovered during a lengthy investigation into dozens of industrial-size marijuana plantations. Prior to the main operation, Tribal and County law enforcement took down a large grow, containing more than 10,000 plants.

“These pot farms are the largest that we’ve ever seen in the Tribe’s ancestral territory,” said Yurok Public Safety Chief Leonard Masten. “We are going to file charges for every environmental crime and hold accountable the individuals responsible for damaging the Tribe’s sacred resources.”

In the past five years, a deluge of clandestine cannabis growers from all over the United States have moved to lands within and adjacent to the Yurok Reservation. The combination of the mountainous terrain and minimally funded law enforcement has made it a desirable destination for greedy growers looking to make a quick buck. The migration is eerily similar to what happened to the Tribe in 1849, when men throughout the U.S. flocked to Northern California in search of a shiny, yellow metal.

“First, our Tribe was hit by the Gold Rush and then it was unregulated, clear-cut logging,” Vice Chairperson Masten said. “The Green Rush threatens to destroy what is left of our forests and rivers.”

Last year, a coalition, comprised of many of the same law enforcement agencies, conducted a similar operation and found horrifying abuses to the environment, such as grading in sensitive riparian areas, illegal dumping of petroleum products and the depositing of waist-high piles of human excrement near waterways. At one grow site on the south side of Bald Hills Road, a four-inch pipe and a massive generator were used to divert every last drop of a cold creek to a large plantation. At another location, east of Weitchpec, a group of growers deforested an entire mountaintop to grow 5,000 plants. They used some of the logs to build a two-story shanty and the rest of the timber to construct giant barricades around the property.

The industrial-scale grows resemble mountaintop coal mining [more] than any type of agriculture. These deep scars on the ecological landscape are challenging and extremely expensive to remediate. At one site, cleaned up by the Yurok Tribe and the California National Guard, it cost $30,000 to remove tons of trash, dismantle the hundreds of yards of hose and properly dispose of hazardous chemicals.

Last year’s collaborative effort netted more than 15,000 pot plants. It is estimated that it takes three to six gallons of water per day to grow one marijuana plant. The crop would have conservatively wasted 5 million gallons of water meant for the community, as well as fish and wildlife. What is not taken into consideration are leaks in the miles of plastic pipe used to move water from a spring or creek to the growing operation, a common feature at the 43 sites visited last year. Officers witness water trickling out of pipes onto the ground at almost every plantation.

This year, Operation Yurok is expected to eradicate at least three times as many crops.

“We are trying to send a loud message that illegal pot growers are not welcome on Tribal lands. Operation Yurok will continue until we stop the theft of our water and egregious environmental destruction,” concluded Vice Chairperson Masten.

The Yurok Tribe is largest federally recognized Tribe in California. The natural resource-based Tribe is best known for the implementation of leading-edge watershed restoration projects, language preservation program and cultural protection effort. The Tribe is a Zero Tolerance Ordinance, making all illicit drugs illegal on the Reservation. 



Girth First? Local Man May Have Just Found the World’s Fattest Redwood

Mike Dronkers / Tuesday, July 14 @ 2:31 p.m. / Good News , Nature

Author photo of Headwaters Forest

John Montague spends a lot of time measuring trees. Like mountain climbers, tornado chasers and big wave surfers, there’s always something new out there to find. And although he’s an amateur tree nerd, it appears that he just made an important discovery.

“When you’re talking about tree champions, you’re usually referring to either the height of a tree, the total wood volume, or in this case, the diameter of the tree,” he told KHUM today.

And Montague says there’s a new fattest tree at an undisclosed location on the North Coast.

According to his Facebook profile:

Happy to announce that I discovered a new diameter champion for redwoods! Diameter at breast height checks in at 29.2’, besting the old record of 27.4’. The ground circumference of 116’ is also a record for redwoods. The square footage of the ground footprint is 860 square feet (also a record for redwoods). The horizontal axis of 43.3’ is a record for all trees. An exciting find indeed. I’ve named the tree “Jupiter”. 

“There are a handful of people in the tree community who you can turn to in a situation like this who will help you verify measurements independently,” Montague said.

After taking preliminary measurements, Montague sought the help of redwood prodigy Zane Moore (check Moore out on NPR here). 

This is the widest known single-stem tree,” Moore told LoCO today. “It’s the most impressive redwood base I’ve ever seen and one of the most largest coastal redwoods known, by volume.” 

Moore said measuring a massive tree is no simple task. “In this case, we did a four-hour basal survey of this tree to calculate the 860 square feet. footprint.” Moore added that this work requires all kinds of survey equipment.

Moore:

“We use lasers, poles, prisms, tripods, the whole nine yards. These trees aren’t circular by any stretch.  We did independent measurements. John measured the tree and didn’t tell me what he found, then I measured the tree and our numbers lined up.”

“It’s 254 feet tall which, for a redwood, is medium,” Montague told KHUM. “But this redwood competes with, and beats, all of the giant sequoias in a couple of examples, and square footage is second in all single-stem trees.”

Secrecy surrounds some of the world’s champion trees. “It’s a no-no in the tree community to post pictures of champion trees,” Montague wrote. Betraying its location poses a threat to the tree itself such that experts often keep champions’ locations closely guarded. All Montague will say is that Jupiter is on public land.

The tree’s age is a mystery. 

Montague:

We don’t know the answer, but we suspect that it is a candidate for oldest living redwood. based on its size… but [verification] is something that we can’t do on our own. I’ve passed the information along to certain people in the community who age trees and have it on their radar. We’re hopeful that they get out there and find out how old it is.

Moore speculated that Jupiter is “probably 2400 or 2500 years old, but there’s no way for me to tell. It’s had a lot of trauma to its crown, but it’s still growing.”

So what happens when an amateur tree enthusiast makes a discovery like this? Do you call Guinness Book of World Records

“You know, for me, I’m satisfied with reaching out to Zane Moore and getting his verification, and alerting the public and letting them know. The rest … things will play out as they play out. I’ve alerted a handful of other people in the tree community, and they can take that information and do what they want with it.”

Montague will soon head back into the forest.

“I’m convinced there’s a bigger one out there. The pipe dream was the 30 foot redwood. When that pipe dream started, the biggest one was 26 feet and then I found one that was 27.2, and then Mario Vaden found one that was 27.4, and now we have this 29.2. So there’s more out there to find. And I really would like to find that 30 footer.”

Hear the full KHUM interview below. 

John Montague KHUM Audio

[This article has been modified from its original version to include quotes from Zane Moore.]

Illustration © Zeke Smith



(AUDIO) Eureka Police Looking For Man on Bike After Armed Cemetery Robbery

Andrew Goff / Tuesday, July 14 @ 11:42 a.m. /

The Eureka Police Department is searching for a man on bike after a strong arm robbery at Ocean View Cemetery. According to scanner traffic, the suspect brandished a knife and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the victim before taking off on his bike north toward Marie Callender’s. 

He is described as a white male adult, 21-years-old, 5’8”, thin build, wearing a baseball cap and a black hooded sweatshirt. The bike is black or dark blue.

Scanner audio below:

(AUDIO)



(VIDEO) Your Latest Drone Evidence That Humboldt is as Beautiful From the Air as From the Ground

Andrew Goff / Tuesday, July 14 @ 10:57 a.m. / Nature

Someday in the none too distant future, LoCO imagines, humans will be issued a 1,000,000 megapixel video drone at birth with which to document all angles of earth. That’ll be neat. 

In the meantime, one-time McKinleyviller and freshly minted droneographer Morgan White tips us off to his pretty aerial video work, a clip he calls “my love letter to my hometown.” Take two minutes and soar over Humboldt’s redwood forests, boat-speckled coastlines and various population clusters in the dramatically scored clip below. Make sure you full-screen that baby and bump it up to 2160p! Whee!