OBITUARY: Howard Henderson, 1938-2015

John Ross Ferrara / Sunday, Aug. 23 @ 12:03 p.m. / Obits

Howard James Henderson By Photo provided by Jason Henderson.

Howard James Henderson passed away in his sleep on August 20, 2015 at his son’s home in Willow Creek, CA.  He was 78 years old.

He was born in St. Maries Idaho on March 14, 1938 to Ellen and Bill Henderson.  When he was a young boy the family moved to Oregon and followed the logging camps.  He graduated from Waldport High School in 1956.  He received an athletic scholarship to attend Linfield College where he excelled in football and track & field.

Upon graduating from Linfield with a teacher’s credential and a Master’s in English, he was hired to teach and coach at Hoopa Valley High School.  He quickly became the president of the teacher’s union while pursuing an administrative credential at Humboldt State. 

Henderson became vice-principal at Hoopa Valley High School at the age of twenty-nine.  He went on to become principal, then left Hoopa to take over as principal at Arcata High School and eventually McKinleyville High School.  He finished his career as superintendent of the Round Valley School District.

Henderson grew up in the logging industry and nearly died after a log rolled over him while setting chokers during summer break in college. This event helped him to value and focus on his education.  Even though he was an educator by trade, he loved the woods, drinking a few beers and hanging out with loggers.

He owned three portable sawmills and enjoyed making lumber from trees on his thirty-two acre ranch in Trinity County.  Fisher Ranch was he and his late wife MaryAnn’s refuge.  The Colony, Trinity Village residents, and nearby neighbors helped to make Fisher Ranch Howard and MaryAnn’s favorite place on Earth.

He worked hard during his life and rose from humble beginnings.  He accomplished much from being a boy born along the St. Joe River in Idaho.  He instilled the value of a dollar earned, the importance of saving and investing, focusing on the long term, and getting an education. 

Henderson was preceded in death by his wife MaryAnn, his parents Ellen Leinonen and Bill Henderson, stepfather Pete Leinonen, and brother-in-law Joe Lockhart.

He is survived by his sons Jason Henderson and wife Adele, Kirk Henderson and wife Tammy, grandchildren Joel, Jill, Devon, and Mariah, his sister Joyce Lockhart, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A special Thank You to his grandson Joel Henderson for his caring support that helped him to remain at home during the last months of his life.

To honor his wishes there will be no formal services. Family and friends will be invited to a Celebration of Life at a later date. His ashes will be joined with MaryAnn and laid to rest at a memorial on the Fisher Ranch.


WALKING HUMBOLDT: Piece by Piece, the Humboldt Bay Trail is Coming Into Existence

Rees Hughes / Sunday, Aug. 23 @ 8:21 a.m. / Trails

Arcata City Trail.

An Update on Humboldt County Trails, Part 1

Walking for pleasure is a rather recent development in the human experience. As a result, the infrastructure for pedestrian activity has really only taken hold in the past half century and, as any of us who have visited Los Angeles or Kansas City or Dallas can attest, most communities remain staunchly car-centric. Sidewalks are inconsistent. Freeways prevent passage of walkers. Quality multi-purpose paths are few and far between.

I am excited by the efforts that have been made by local governments, non-profits and some federal agencies to develop both walking and multi-user trails here in Humboldt County. Much has happened this summer (and will continue to happen over the coming years).

I would like to provide a briefing on some of the news. I will break my update into three installments over the next week, with the first focusing on the Bay Trail and its various components. The second installment will focus on the Arcata Ridge Trail, McKay Community Forest and the Annie and Mary Trail. The final installment will cover the trail system in the Bureau of Land Management’s Lacks Creek complex east of Redwood Valley, the new Freshwater Farms Reserve Trail and activity in the Little River and Manila areas.

The proposed Humboldt Bay Trail stretches from central Arcata to south Eureka, a distance of about 13 miles. The Bay Trail is being developed as a collaborative effort between the Humboldt County Association of Governments, Humboldt County, City of Arcata, City of Eureka, Caltrans, State Coastal Conservancy, North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA), and a variety of other agencies and organizations. When completed it will form an important strand of the California Coastal Trail and include some stunning bayfront real estate.

One version of the Humboldt Bay Trail, which will someday exist.

The southern-most 1.5 miles, paralleling the Elk River Slough, was completed in 2012 and is known as the Hikshari’ Trail. The northern-most 1.3 miles is the paved Arcata City Trail, a multi-modal trail from Samoa Boulevard to Foster Avenue, that will be completed later this summer. According to Mark Andre, the Director of the City of Arcata’s Environmental Services Department, just the finishing touches of electrical, signage and street markings remain to be done. The broad pathway will be well illuminated as it snakes its way from Arcata’s Skate Park, along Jolly Giant Creek north of the high school, and south through Arcata’s Creamery District to Samoa Boulevard. The Humboldt Bay Trail North, the 3.0 miles from Samoa Boulevard to Bracut through the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, has funding for planning, permitting and construction. However, City of Arcata staff is working to resolve outstanding easement and permitting issues in order to begin the bidding and construction process. The intent is to complete this segment of the Bay Trail some time in 2017. This northernmost 4.3-mile portion of the Bay Trail is designed as a rail-with-trail preserving the railroad tracks and placing the trail, for much of the distance, adjacent to the railroad.

In March 2014, the County received $2 million through the State Transportation Improvement Program to complete preliminary engineering, environmental studies and permitting and to finalize engineering plans and construction specifications for the 3.8-mile section of the Bay Trail from Bracut Industrial Park to the Eureka Slough. This segment is referred to as The Humboldt Bay Trail South. An Initial Engineering Study — intended to identify constraints and develop preliminary design alternatives — was completed in 2014 and is available online. Preliminary cost estimates for right-of-way and construction range from $9 – 12 million with additional environmental mitigation costs of between $1.5 – 2.0 million. These costs are so high, in part, because this is being designed as a rail-with-trail rather than rail-to-trail (using the existing railroad prism and rail bed). None of the construction money has been obtained and the specific route has yet to be determined. This section of the Bay Trail will be the last segment completed.

The City of Eureka has three active projects underway that will complete the Eureka Waterfront Trail (Eureka’s Bay Trail) and add 3.7 miles of contiguous path way connecting the Hikshari’ Trail with the Humboldt Bay South. Miles Slattery, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Eureka, told me that design work is nearly complete and the permit process should be finalized within six months for all three projects. During the dry season of 2016, the trail will be built between Truesdale (the north end of the Hikshari’ Trail) and Del Norte streets (1.2 miles). The trail parallels the Bay west of the Bayshore Mall and the Eureka (aka Palco) Marsh. The remaining two projects are scheduled for construction during the dry season of 2017.

A planned causeway across the wetlands.

The trail from Adorni Park to Tydd Street (near the Open Door Health’s Eureka Community Health & Wellness Center) will include a 90-foot bridge and a 60-foot bridge and 560 feet of elevated boardwalk (see image above) across wetlands near the Blue Ox Millworks. The trail will wrap around Target along the Eureka Slough passing under the Highway 101 bridges. The terminus at Tydd Street will be upgraded substantially serving as a small park, picnic area, and trailhead. The Boat Launch area will also be upgraded and serve as a trailhead as will the area at the foot of Del Norte Street.

In sum, if all goes well, a few summers from now I will be able to walk more than 9 miles of the 13 total miles of the Humboldt Bay Trail. And there is more good news regarding other trails that I will cover in the next installment.


Rees Hughes is working on a walking guide to Humboldt County — Hiking Humboldt (Part 2): Short Day Hikes, Road and Urban Walks on California’s North Coast – that will be published by Backcountry Press as a complement to Ken Burton’s Hiking Humboldt (Part 1): 58 Hiking Adventures on California’s North Coast. He also helps with the coordination of the Volunteer Trail Stewards program, a community-based effort to support the maintenance and care for local trails.


Barry Evans / Sunday, Aug. 23 @ 7:36 a.m. / Growing Old Ungracefully

Seems anyone who spends time south of the Rio Grande has their own version of how the (marginally pejorative) word gringo came about. The term is ambiguous. For instance:

  • In Mexico, gringo is usually used by both locals and expats to mean anyone from the United States, and—maybe—Canada. Common courtesy dictates that non-Mexicans avoid using “American” to denote someone from the USA, since America is the entirety of the New World (after Americus, Latinized first name of Amerigo Vespucci, 1454 – 1512, an Italian explorer who wrote about his four pioneering voyages across the Atlantic).
  • In most of South America, gringo just means “foreigner.”

Battle of Chapultepec, Mexico City, 1847. Firm of E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, public domain.

The most popular origin of the word is that Mexicans heard US troops singing the traditional British ballad “Green Grow the Rushes, Ho” (not to be confused with Robert Burns poem of nearly the same title) during the Mexican-American war of 1846-48. (In some versions, it became the pejorative term for captured soldiers who sang as they marched through Mexico City in September 1847.)

From the same era: Mexican soldiers at the Alamo heard Irish troops who had enlisted in the U.S. Army shout out the battle cry, “Erin go bragh!” (Or maybe they were fighting on the other side: St. Patrick’s Battalion consisted of Irish and German Roman Catholics who switched allegiances from their mostly Protestant commanders. The story is that their leader, Captain Jon Riley of County Galway, often gave voice to the “Green Grow…” song.)

Or again, maybe it was General Pershing’s US troops trying to track down Pancho Villa (see Growing Old Ungracefully 1/18/15) in 1916-17 who were the ones warbling the old song. This doesn’t hold up, however, since gringo was recorded much earlier by John Woodhouse Audubon (son of the artist) while in Cerro Gordo in the late 1840s: “We were hooted and shouted at we passed through, and called Gringoes,” he wrote.

But in 1787, long before the Mexican-American war and Audobon’s experience, a Castilian dictionary published in Malaga (Spain) noted that “…foreigners who have a certain type of accent which keeps them from speaking Spanish…” were referred to as gringos.” Thirty years later, under the entry for gringo in his Nuevo diccionario francés-español (New French–Spanish Dictionary, 1817), Antonio de Capmany writes, “…hablar en griego, en guirigay, en gringo” (…to speak in Greek, in gibberish, in gringo.)

Leading to another popular derivation, from the Spanish word for Greek, griego, the idea being that “Greek” was synonymous with gibberish (or any language one didn’t understand). In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Casca says, “…those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but for mine own part it was Greek to me.”

Or how about this: the Romani people of Spain and Portugal speak Caló, whence the lovely word peregrino, meaning wayfarer, stranger or pilgrim; walkers on the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain are peregrinos. Stranger = peregrino = ’grino = gringo???

PIC GOU 33-2 Peregrino en route to Santiago de Compostela via Roman bridge. Photo: Barry Evans.

Here’s another version, from Puerto Rico (currently in the news because of its failure to repay its debt—grant it statehood, already!). The 3rd Cavalry, once stationed on the island, wore pants with green stripes: “Green-go!” was painted on walls at the time. Maybe.

We can get even sillier. The British building railroads in Brazil in the early 1900s explained to locals how traffic lights worked: “Red-stop, green-go.”

I’ve got more, but it’s time grin, go and stop.


Barry Evans gave the best years of his life to civil engineering, and what thanks did he get? In his dotage, he travels, kayaks, meditates and writes for the Journal and the Humboldt Historian. He sucks at 8 Ball. Buy his Field Notes anthologies at any local bookstore. Please.


LETTER FROM ISTANBUL: Attack on Dolmabahçe

James Tressler / Sunday, Aug. 23 @ 7:24 a.m. / Letter From Istanbul

My wife Özge works at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. Normally she works until the palace closes at half past five. But the other day, she left early for a doctor’s appointment.

Not twenty minutes after she left work, two gunmen opened fire on a police watchbox at one of the gates. One of the assailants tossed a small “noise” bomb at the police before the shooting began. Fortunately, only one police officer was injured, and the gunmen were soon caught.

While all this was happening, I was also at work, across the city in Suadiye. I found out what had happened when I called my wife to see how her visit to the doctor had gone.

“Did you see the news?” she asked.

She filled me in on the details of the attack. Actually, she had been unaware of the attack herself – the reason she heard about it was that suddenly friends, family members, were all calling, sending nervous texts, asking if she was OK.

“Are they going to close the palace, as a precaution?” I wondered.

“Actually they just closed for one hour, and then they re-opened,” Özge said.

She got more details from her colleagues when she returned to work the next day. One of her colleagues, a young guide, was out near one of the gates. This gate, which was used only by the sultan during Ottoman times, is located along the main thoroughfare. The high walls of the palace run alongside this main road. Inside the walls, there is a big garden. Most of the guides, including Özge, use this sultan’s gate as a place for cigarette breaks, since smoking is not allowed near the palace.

Anyway, the young guide went out to have a cigarette. He was standing there, smoking, when suddenly he heard this huge blast (the “noise” bomb, which evidently was intended to create a distraction). Then there were gunshots. The terrified guide apparently couldn’t really see any of it, since it all occurred just outside the walls.

The tourists standing in the queue outside the palace also heard everything. “They panicked and all ran inside,” Özge said. “Many of them were crying.”

“I would have run inside too,” I said. “Can you imagine? You’re a tourist on holiday in Istanbul, and suddenly your worst nightmare seems to be coming true – a terrorist attack!”

“Anyway, it was the European tourists who were scared the most,” Özge said. “Apparently the Arabic visitors were just like – oh, there was a bomb? Really? So can we get on with the tour? They were completely unfazed.”

“Well, I’m glad you weren’t there,” I said.

“Imagine, baby –“ Özge said. “That could have been me, standing there having a cigarette break!”

“Touch wood,” I said. I made sure to touch the nearest wood, it was right there on the balcony, where we were sitting and having a cigarette. Outside, it was Friday evening, and the streets in our neighborhood were fairly quiet.

“Anyway,” Özge said. “I told you, something like this would happen sooner or later.”

It’s true. She had said that, and I think I’d worried about it too, on some level. With the conflicts along the Turkish-Syria border escalating, and the Islamic State threat growing, warnings of possible terror attacks in Istanbul have become almost routinely announced by officials. The U.S. Embassy also issues warnings to American citizens to be especially careful.

That’s what my wife was talking about. Dolmabahce Palace is a powerful symbol of the Turkish state, and thus perhaps inevitably a target in these times.

Later that day, when I got home from work, Özge was watching the news, listening for updates. But there wasn’t much to report, evidently — just a recap of what had transpired earlier at the palace, and the commentary on the assailants, who were reported as belonging to a Marxist-Leninist group known as DHKP. This same group claimed responsibility for recent attacks on the ruling party’s offices in Istanbul.

Often we are bored by distant problems. Every day, every week, we see or hear of airliners disappearing, plunging into the bottom of the sea. Some disaffected whacko walks into a cinema, or school, or work place and unleashes a stream of bloodshed. A decent, hard-working family is killed in a car crash, while the drunk driver who smashed into them escapes the wreckage with only minor injuries. A 5-year-old child is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Wars rage on, sometimes for decades, in some country that we probably will never visit.

We are inundated with the very real stories of other people’s misfortunes.

These things hold our attention for a time, but are quickly forgotten, swallowed up in our minds by the next disaster, (or near-disaster, in this case). Even if we manage to pay attention, and lend sympathy, we eventually grow bored by crises, traumas, disasters that really don’t affect us personally. And even on those occasions when misfortune does strike us – or by some luck, we or our loved ones manage to narrowly avoid getting struck – it’s amazing how we take it in stride.

My wife went to work this morning. I walked her to the bus stop. “Be careful,” I said. She couldn’t hear over the bus engine, and leaned closer.

“Be careful,” I said again, louder this time. She smiled a little, nodded and got on, and the bus lurched away up the hill.

Meanwhile, her colleague, the guy who was standing outside having a cigarette when the attacks started has apparently taken the rest of the week off.

Well, can you blame him?


James Tressler is a writer and former North Coast journalist. He lives in Istanbul.

[UPDATE: Reopened] Highway 36 Closed Again

John Ross Ferrara / Saturday, Aug. 22 @ 4:23 p.m. / Traffic

UPDATE: It has been reopened. 

# # #

Remember how we told you that Highway 36 reopened yesterday?

Well, Caltrans reports that the road has been closed once again, due to burnt trees blocking the roadway.

Caltrans anticipates that fire crews will finish clearing the highway within the next few hours.

Highway 36 was reopened yesterday at the Humboldt/Trinity County for the first time in nearly three weeks. The closures are a result of ongoing wildfires that have plagued the Emerald Triangle this month.

SF Weekly Story About Bad Data on Marijuana Industry Uses Bad Data on Marijuana Industry

Ryan Burns / Friday, Aug. 21 @ 5:31 p.m. / marijuana , Media

A story that appeared last week on complains about a bullshit water-usage estimate for marijuana plants. That estimate — which holds that each marijuana plant consumes five to 10 gallons of water per day — is bullshit, as the very same reporter, Chris Roberts, did a good job of explaining back in April. 

Roberts notes in his more recent story, “The problem is that that figure has since been published in a string of scientific articles, including this month’s issue of Bioscience.” Lamentable indeed, and we applaud Roberts for calling it out.

Trouble is, he undercuts his case by using a variety of equally bogus figures, several of which aspire to describe our own esteemed region. Check it out — here’s Roberts’ lede:

This summer has been busy for law enforcement in California’s Emerald Triangle, the sparsely populated rural counties where as much as 70 percent of the cannabis smoked in America is grown.

Seventy percent?! We at LoCO would be surprised if the Emerald Triangle produces 70 percent of California’s weed, let alone the entire nation’s. Roberts doesn’t provide a citation for the figure. With a quick Google search, the only place we could see this figure cited (repeatedly) was a Wordpress blog based in Mendocino County.

Roberts also posts the photograph you saw at the top of this post, which was provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office after the Island Mountain mega-raid in June. He calls the (admittedly massive) bladder “football field-sized.” Now, let’s think about that. Imagine the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office somehow managed to gather enough deputies to field two entire football teams and said, “Hey, let’s throw down!” Those officers would have a pretty cramped pick-up game with the ol’ pigskin:

We’ll excuse that analogy as well-intentioned hyperbole. But Roberts goes on to say that this is the kind of image that fuels outrage, whether the water “was pulled from a now-dry creek or a spring,” as if those are the only two options. Industry insiders have posited that the big bag was used as part of a rainwater catchment system, and water storage is exactly what the North Coast Regional Water Board is advocating for marijuana cultivation. Which is not to say it’s commendable to use this much water for weed irrigation during a historic drought, but the source does make a difference.

Returning to the estimate in question (five to 10 gallons per pot plant per day), Roberts says, “That’s a wide range, based on a back-of-the-envelope estimate which has become fact.”

OK, some people might be treating it as fact, which they ought not to do. But how exactly did it become fact?

Another quibble: Roberts makes reference to, “Humboldt County’s brief (and abandoned) effort to regulate outdoor growing… .”

Not abandoned.

And then, taking in the big picture, Roberts reports that “Wholsesale [sic], marijuana is a $16.7 billion cash crop, almost double the California’s wine industry.”

Again, he doesn’t cite a source. So, again, we took to the Google in an attempt to track it down. It appears he’s quoting that figure from the very same Bioscience report that he criticizes for using bad data. And how did the Bioscience authors arrive at that figure? It’s based on a number of hypotheticals (see p. 4), one of which is a U.S. Department of Justice estimate that California (the entire state) produces 60 percent of the marijuana consumed in the United States, which would hardly allow the Emerald Triangle to produce 70 percent of the same total, as Roberts claims.

So, while Roberts rejects the estimated water usage figure cited in the report, and while he ignores the report’s figure on marijuana market share, he seems perfectly willing to adopt its estimate of the cash crop’s value.

Roberts wraps up his report thusly:

“What shouldn’t be lost in all this is the premise of the Bioscience article: that cannabis production has an environmental toll. Nobody knows what the precise toll is, but that hasn’t stopped people from guessing — or having those guesses accepted as gospel.”

We agree that the environmental toll warrants serious attention. And guessing can be problematic. 

Cherry-picking those guesses is kind of a bummer, too.

Highway 36 is Once Again a Highway You Can Drive On

Andrew Goff / Friday, Aug. 21 @ 3:35 p.m. / Traffic

After nearly three weeks being restricted to the public near the Humboldt/Trinity county line due to wildfire rage, Highway 36 is once again open and available for all your east/west needs. This is quite handy!

Caltrans facebooked the joyous news below:

TRAFFIC ADVISORY:ROUTE 36 is now OPEN in both directions! This announcement applies only to the highway - local roads may still be affected by road closures.

Posted by Caltrans District 1 on Friday, August 21, 2015