Fish and Wildlife With Law Enforcement in Sproul Creek Again Today, Other At-Risk Watersheds Slated to Get Similar Visits

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 11:55 a.m. / News

California Department of Fish and Wildlife press release:

Multi-agency Cannabis Pilot Project Finishes Successful Three-Day Inspection of Marijuana Grows in Eel River Watershed

Effort intended to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and minimize harm to wildlife and state waters

An innovative multi-agency partnership involving state and local agencies today finished inspections of 14 private properties with active marijuana grow operations along Sproul Creek within the Eel River watershed. The three-day effort, which began Jan. 21, is intended to ensure existing and future marijuana grow operations on private lands aren’t impacting nearby waterways and wildlife. 

The partnership includes staff from the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Rights, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, biologists and wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and members of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt County staff.  

Sproul Creek is home to five endangered salmonid species, including one of the most important populations of coho salmon in the Eel River watershed. This stream went dry last year for the first time in many years. This is most likely a result of water diversions for marijuana cultivation combined with the ongoing drought conditions. 

In addition, the agencies are concerned about potentially significant pollutants entering the watershed from sediments, pesticides, fertilizers and other contaminants that, when not properly regulated or monitored, degrade the environment and threaten native plants and wildlife. 

“Sproul Creek is one of several at-risk watersheds this multi-agency partnership will be visiting and inspecting in the weeks and months ahead where known grow operations exist,” said Cris Carrigan, Chief of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is specifically focused on compliance with existing environmental regulations. “What we are seeking from the growers is a commitment to work with us to solve the water quality and water supply problems in the watershed.” 

Carrigan said the goal of the integrated effort is to be proactive with our enforcement resources in acutely impacted watersheds and hold those responsible for existing environmental damage accountable, while providing a pathway toward compliance for those operators who want to cultivate in an environmentally sound manner. 

The Water Boards and CDFW hope that most or many of the growers will be interested in working with state and local agencies cooperatively to prepare for and then enroll in permits that may be required, such as a conditional waiver of waste discharge requirements and/or streambed alteration agreement. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is creating a conditional waiver to better monitor and regulate activities associated with cannabis cultivation much like it regulates and monitors other activities on California’s North Coast. Currently, grow operations are not regulated for potential environmental impacts.  

“Voluntary compliance with the law is the best-case scenario and we expect to see an increase in the number of permit applications following these inspections,” said Lt. DeWayne Little of CDFW’s Watershed Enforcement Team. “We do have the authority to serve search warrants, cite those who are damaging the environment and confiscate crops. We hope to not have to resort to those measures, but it is imperative that we take every precaution to avoid the loss of the coho run for a second year in a row.” 

Following this inspection effort of the 14 locations, state and regional water board staff observed a variety of potential and actual violations that will be addressed in the coming weeks. Possible violations appear to be unlawful diversion and storage of water for growing operations, and discharge of waste to waterways including some indications of the use of pesticide or fertilizers in ways that could degrade nearby waterways.  

Individuals on site at a majority of the inspected parcels gave consent for the team to look at the operations and were cooperative in identifying areas of interest for the inspectors, negating the need to serve administrative warrants to enter properties to perform the inspections. 

The state and regional water board staff will be studying the evidence, and providing inspection reports to the property owners detailing any issues that need to be addressed. Those reports should be finalized in the next several weeks. Following issuance of those reports, formal enforcement orders may follow from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and/or State Water Board to ensure compliance with all applicable Water Code provisions.   

During this inspection effort, no grow operations were eradicated and Proposition 215 cards were not reviewed.   

For more information on the activities of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement efforts relative to cannabis cultivation, please visit our resources page here.


EPD Releases Description of Fresh Freeze Robbery Suspect

Hank Sims / Yesterday @ 10:24 a.m. / Culture

From the Eureka Police Department:

On 01/22/15 at about 9:46 p.m., officers were dispatched to Fresh Freeze (500 block of Harris) for a robbery that just occurred. The suspect was described as a white male adult, 5-4” to 5-5”, approximately 140 lbs with blue eyes. He was wearing a camo face mask, a tan coat, and blue jeans.

Officers arrived on scene and checked the area. Upon contacting the employee, it was determined that a male had walked up to the ice cream window, pulled a handgun from a paper bag and showed the firearm to the employee. The suspect then pointed the bag with the firearm inside at the employee and demanded all the money. The suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and remains unidentified and at large.

This is an open investigation. Anyone with information concerning the suspect’s identity and whereabouts is asked to contact the Eureka Police Department at 441-4060.

Convoy Headed South on Hwy 101

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 9:09 a.m. / News

A number of vehicles were left at the Garberville airport, not far from Sproul Creek, this morning after their drivers got into Fish and Wildlife vehicles. [Photo provided by a reader.]

According to witnesses, approximately a dozen law enforcement and Department of Fish and Wildlife vehicles were headed south on Highway 101 near Myers Flat at about 8:30 this morning.

We have requested more information on this situation from both the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Previously this week there was a similar operation on Sproul Creek Road (See 12 Warrants Being Served in Sprowl Creek) where at least 25 law enforcement and 20 plus Fish and Wildlife personnel inspected properties in Southern Humboldt.

Fresh Freeze Robbed Thursday Night

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 12:03 a.m. / Crime

Fresh Freeze was robbed on Thursday. [Photo from the Fresh Freeze Facebook page.]

According to scanner traffic, just before 10 p.m. Thursday night, a man threatened an employee of the Eureka Fresh Freeze near Harris with a black handgun. He demanded the employee give him money from the register. After receiving the money, to add insult to injury, he put the money and the firearm in a McDonalds’ bag.


Hat tip to Channel 3 News

Willits Bypass Falsework Collapses, Three Injured

Kym Kemp / Thursday, Jan. 22 @ 11:16 p.m. / News

Falsework collapsed on the Willits Bypass this Thursday afternoon. [Photo courtesy of The Willits News.]

A section of the Willits Bypass viaduct crumpled underneath workers on Thursday afternoon as concrete was being poured by the contractor, Flatiron. Several workers were caught in the collapse. One had to be extricated from the ruins. Three of the contractor’s employees were hurt and taken to the hospital—at least one with major injuries. Caltrans spokesperson Eli Rohl said this evening, “Everyone’s injuries appeared to be non-life-threatening as they left the scene. We don’t know anything beyond that…Flatiron West will have the latest on the workers’ conditions.”  

Flatiron, the contractor, was not reachable for comment at the time of the writing of this article. It received a safety award in December.

Caltrans photo of Flatiron West employees pouring concrete on the viaduct earlier this month. [Photo from the Willits Bypass Project News.]

According to the Willits News (see their extensive coverage and photos here,) concrete from the pour flowed into Haehl Creek. The Willits News learned from a Mendocino County department responsible for cleanup of hazardous materials 

…that wet concrete is extremely alkaline, with a pH of up to 13 or 14. Electric meters, which are in the creek at all times measured pH in the creek water near the debris at 11. A pH that high will quickly kill fish and other aquatic animals.

Cal/OSHA (California Department of Occupational Safety and Health) will be investigating the incident. Caltrans spokesperson Eli Rohl said, “Bridge experts from Sacramento are …en route to Willits.”

Caltrans released this statement on its District 1 Facebook page:

This afternoon, falsework collapsed while contractor Flat Iron was pouring concrete along a section of the viaduct at the Willits Bypass Project. Three Flat Iron employees were injured in this collapse and have been transported to the hospital with moderate to major injuries. CALOSHA will be conducting a full investigation into this incident. We will be reviewing all appropriate safety protocols, and cooperating with state occupational safety regulators. Our hearts go out to all who have been affected today and our priority right now is to provide assistance to our contractor and make sure everyone is safe.

Guns, Heroin, Weed and Three Arrested in Eureka

Andrew Goff / Thursday, Jan. 22 @ 4:21 p.m. / Crime

(Above: Horn, Throgmorton, Garcia)

Eureka Police Department press release: 

On 01/22/15 at about 7:30 a.m., Detectives with the Eureka Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP), served a search warrant at a residence on the 3400 block of California Street in response to numerous complaints.  

Detectives located 2 loaded guns, heroin for sales, and nearly 15 pounds of processed marijuana. Paul Horn (30), Kayla Throgmorton (25), and Mario Garcia (34) all of Eureka were arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Jail on the following charges:

  • Horn: maintaining a residence for drugs, possession of a controlled substance (heroin) for sale, possession of marijuana for sale, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
  • Throgmorton: maintaining a residence for drugs, possession of marijuana for sale, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  
  • Garcia: possession of drug paraphernalia and probation violation.  

Anyone with information concerning suspected drug activity, or other nuisances occurring in the City of Eureka is encouraged to call the Problem Oriented Policing Unit at (707) 441-4373.


Searching for Jojo (AUDIO)

Andrew Goff / Thursday, Jan. 22 @ 2:40 p.m. / Our Culture

LoCO regs will recall last week we directed eyeballs to an unpolished YouTube “street documentary” titled “Arcrazy,” which prominently featured a young Arcata Plaza frequenter we’d come to know as Jojo Bean. The film — Jojo adventures in particular — became the source of much comment section commotion. A sampling: 

This actually is a well-done little film. Mostly though, it just makes me sad for Arcata. 

# # #

I grew up in Arcata. I used to walk around town as a kid. From 5 years up i could walk safely to the movies, store, arcade, etc. Would anyone think to have their kids do that now. These pieces of garbage have ruined a nice town.

# # #

What a meaningless existence…

LoCO was not alone in wanting to know more about Jojo. KHUM DJ Mike Dronkers, audio recorder in hand, went up to the Arcata Plaza this week hoping to locate and learn about the Arcrazy star.  His efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, but he did have a conversation with one of the people who helped produce the film (the individual declined to give his name, but you can see him pictured playing guitar next to Jojo above).

Dronkers wanted to know if the Jojo featured in the clip was the real deal. The nameless interviewee assured him the performance was exaggerated.

“It’s definitely an embellishment, you know. It’s a parody,” he said, going on to say that the goal was to illustrate what life on the streets of Arcata was like while having a little fun too (he also teased future Arcrazy episodes). As far as the Internet response, he said he understands if people were offended, but recommended maybe loosening up a bit. Listen to Dronkers’ story below. 

(AUDIO) Searching for Jojo

He also was aware of what the comment sections were saying. 

“It’s not a bad thing, I understand if you’re offended… It’s not to offend you, nor to glorify us. It’s just to show what’s going on around here and have a little bit of comedy to it. Have a little fun.”

But where’s Jojo?

“I haven’t seen him in two and a half months,” he said. 

Dronkers would eventually catch up with Jojo online. He confirmed the information provided by his friend while saying he’s currently in San Francisco for the moment. He agreed that when he got a phone, he’d be interested in answering some questions. Stay tuned.


PREVIOUSLY: ‘Arcrazy: A Street Documentary’ Chronicles a Day in the Life of a 25-Year-Old Arcata Plaza Dweller