Your Week in Ocean: PacOut and Prop 1 Updates, Lovely Tidal Studies

Jennifer Savage / Yesterday @ 10:31 a.m. / Activism , Ocean

Post-PacOut cleanup

Since last week’s focus on the environmental problems surrounding homeless encampments on Humboldt Bay, several people have reached out to Humboldt Baykeeper and the Northcoast Environmental Center requesting more attention be paid to this issue.

We all are concerned, of course, about the impacts to Humboldt Bay and coastal wetlands from these camps, as well as from illegal dumping, but must note the the water quality impacts are just one aspect of a much larger social problem, not just in Eureka but in many communities all over the United States. Forcibly moving people along to the next campsite is a temporary and harsh “fix” that ignores the mental health, addiction and income inequity factors that often lead to homelessness. 

Given that any successful long-term solution must resolve the lack of services for people in need, we strongly suggest that you contact your elected representatives in Eureka and on the County Board of Supervisors. They need to hear these concerns from their constituents as well as from environmental advocates and be aware we want action. 

  • In the short-term, here are the numbers to call to report water pollution:
  • Polluters that are impacting fish and wildlife habitat – CALTIP, 888-334-2258
  • Illegal dumping – Humboldt County Environmental Health, 445-6215  
  • Stormwater pollution (e.g. spills into storm drains) – Northcoast Stormwater Coalition Hotline: 1-877-NCSC-001
  • Navigational hazards/spills in marinas/sunken boats – U.S. Coast Guard, 839-6123 (emergency search and rescue calls: 839-6100), Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District, 443-0801

In the meantime, the PacOut Green Team not only cleaned up Trinidad’s Scenic Drive last Saturday, but followed up at the foot of Del Norte Street. Leader Aaron Ostrom reports:

We noticed that no action had been taken to clean up that place yet. We were surprised, considering all the press that area has been getting lately. We talked to a lot of the people that lived out there and they were willing to bag up their garbage if they were provided trash bags… After 60 minutes we packed out over 3,000 lbs. of trash. 

And, once again, as I write YWIO, news comes in that police action is happening in the area… 

Coastal Currents: On the passing of Proposition 1

Today on Coastal Currents (KHUM at noon), Mike Dronkers and I will talk with Conner Everts, Environmental Water Caucus co-facilitator at L.A. Waterkeeper about what the passage of Prop. 1 means for Northern California, especially regarding Klamath dam removal and the potential construction of new dams. Along with North Coast Assemblymember Wes Chesbo, Everts signed the No on Prop 1 argument. 

EcoNews: Your environmental news digest

The new EcoNews Report is out, available online or free at a newstand near you, and features a roundup of environmental happenings locally and beyond, including a look at some of the studies being done in and around North Coast marine protected areas. One of the studies focuses on 10 different sites in rocky intertidal zones from Smith River to Fort Bragg. Sea Grant’s Joe Tyburczy and HSU’s Sean Craig led an intrepid team of students out to Palmer’s Point yesterday to continue surveys of the area. 

A spectacular evening for surveying

An urchin shell

A seal relaxes

Almost everything in the tidepools besides the rocks is alive – tread lightly!

Braving the not-quite low tide


Today: 11 felonies, 11 misdemeanors, 0 infractions


Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Yesterday


No current incidents


Fred’s Humboldt Blog: Get Out There And Shop!

Tuluwat Examiner: Have a good one!

KINS: AM News 112714

KINS: Dan Price – CC112714


Your Week in Ocean: “It Was The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen”

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Nov. 19 @ 10:22 a.m. / Activism , Crime , Environment , Ocean


Scene from the foot of Del Norte Street by Aaron Ostrom.


Most everyone agrees that trashing Humboldt’s beaches, rivers, bay, wetlands and other waterways is a bad thing. But a vast divide lies between cleaning up after partiers, illegal dumpers and generally lazy people, and in facing the problems created by homeless camps. The latter brings up not only environmental concerns, but also issues of social inequity and county resources – what do we do as a community for people too poor, ill or addicted to maintain a housed way of life? 

This ongoing issue came up again yesterday when PacOut Green Team leader Aaron Ostrom posted to Facebook his dismay at an attempt to clean up around the foot of Del Norte Street in Eureka:

When we arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was tent city! I was very nervous about walking on the trail that the city invested in, but we did. I counted over 100+ shelters on that little peninsula. Within the 100+ shelters, the trash was insane! I felt like I was in a 3rd world country. Huge numbers of vagrants, dogs running around (several of them were German Shepherds and Pit Bulls). A lot of the dogs were limping, in obvious pain. I saw waterways that lead out to the bay being used as toilets, huge amounts of garbage everywhere, lots of it was finding its way to the bay. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t believe that the city appears to be turning its back on this.

This isn’t the first time the PacOut Green Team has been deterred from cleaning up a particular site. In March, Tim Haywood resorted to calling the Eureka Police Department about a camp on Woodley Island. In that case, however, the folks who’d made the mess were gone. 

At the time, EPD Detective Neal Hubbard explained the way enforcement typically works, beginning with a citation for illegal camping, for unlicensed dogs if applicable and, if trash is prevalent, a citation for “unlawful storage of garbage.” People are allowed a chance to clean up. Arrests, Hubbard noted, are rare unless warrants have been issued.

This is hardly a situation unique to Humboldt. In today’s L.A. Times, an editorial titled “The homeless in the Ballona Wetlands should be moved, and given help” asserts, “No one likes evicting desperate people from camps, but the ecologically fragile wetlands must be protected.” The Times also makes the important point that, “The difficult question is not whether to remove homeless people… but how to help get them services in an area low on shelters and transitional housing.”

Ostrom finished his FB post with a plea for action:

Something needs to happen. PacOut Green Team wants to clean that area up, but first law enforcement needs to run the illegal campers out. Why can’t the destruction of our local wetlands and pollution into the bay be a big enough reason to do something about it? Can the feds fine Humboldt for allowing illegal campers to destroy our wetlands and coastal waters? Everyone talks about potential hazards hitting our storm drains. What about the crap that hits the bay from these camps! Why isn’t this a problem worth fixing?

I’m hoping you could bring some awareness to this issue. I’m sure the citizens of Eureka have no idea of the damage that is being done to our land. 

Consider this an awareness boost. Next steps in bolstering environmental protection while remaining compassionate to our fellow humans? You might start by reaching out to your elected officials.

(Note: As I was writing this post in LoCOHQ, the same area referenced above became the site of a shooting.)

To make a more immediate difference, show up this Saturday to help the PacOut Green Team make Scenic Drive a cleaner place. 

Mystery solved, problems continue

As reported in yesterday’s Times-Standard, researchers made a “major breakthrough” in figuring out the cause of the ongoing sea star wasting disease. Today on Coastal Currents (on KHUM at noon), Mike Dronkers and I will talk with marine ecologist Joe Tyburczy of the California Sea Grant Extension about what the identification of the virus means for the species in particular and the ecosystem as a whole. 

In other ocean news

Now that California’s banned some forms of single-use plastic bags, attention is turning toward cigarette filters.

The ocean is warmer than ever.

In related news, here’s the most detailed map of ocean acidification yet.

From the T-S’ “Fishing the North Coast,” rain and salmon on the way.

Speaking of salmon, John Oliver gets in on the salmon cannon.

And, your obligatory dead-thing-on-the-beach photo (this one is pretty cool):


Whale skull washed up on Mad River Beach By Friend of LoCO Gary Lester.


Jennifer Savage is the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Coastal Programs Director and chairs the Surfrider Foundation’s Humboldt Chapter.

North Spit Wadded Up By Roadwork

Jennifer Savage / Sunday, Nov. 16 @ 9:47 a.m. /

Don’t go.

If your Sunday recreation plans involve the BLM area at the end of the North Spit, you might rethink them. Roadwork has Bunker Road completely closed and traffic limited to one-way, pilot-truck-led action from the Coast Guard station to the picnic area on the bay side. Expect to wait up to 20 minutes to get through – and with the areas involved, you can’t bypass on the sand. 

More about the “project to improve access and traffic safety” here.

Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Off West Coast

Jennifer Savage / Monday, Nov. 10 @ 7:35 a.m. / Environment , Ocean , Science

No cesium-134 has yet been detected along the coast, but low levels have been detected offshore. By Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a private, independent organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering and higher education, released a statement regarding radiation from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown this morning.

WHOI chemist Ken Buesseler will be responding to questions from the public on the “Ask Me Anything” forum on Reddit at 10 a.m. PST on Nov. 10.

Full press releast text here, highlights below, emphasis added:

Monitoring efforts along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada have detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles (150 km) due west of Eureka, California. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean.

In the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami off Japan, the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant released cesium-134 and other radioactive elements into the ocean at unprecedented levels. Since then, the radioactive plume has traveled west across the Pacific, propelled largely by ocean currents and being diluted along the way. At their highest near the damaged nuclear power plant in 2011, radioactivity levels peaked at more than 10 million times the levels recently detected near North America.

“We detected cesium-134, a contaminant from Fukushima, off the northern California coast. The levels are only detectable by sophisticated equipment able to discern minute quantities of radioactivity,” said Ken Buesseler, a WHOI marine chemist, who is leading the monitoring effort. “Most people don’t realize that there was already cesium in Pacific waters prior to Fukushima, but only the cesium-137 isotope.  Cesium-137 undergoes radioactive decay with a 30-year half-life and was introduced to the environment during atmospheric weapons testing in the 1950s and ‘60s.  Along with cesium-137, we detected cesium-134 – which also does not occur naturally in the environment and has a half-life of just two years. Therefore the only source of this cesium-134 in the Pacific today is from Fukushima.”

The amount of cesium-134 reported in these new offshore data is less than 2 Becquerels per cubic meter (the number of decay events per second per 260 gallons of water). This Fukushima-derived cesium is far below where one might expect any measurable risk to human health or marine life, according to international health agencies. And it is more than 1000 times lower than acceptable limits in drinking water set by US EPA.


Your Week in Ocean: So Many Ways to Step Into Liquid

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Nov. 5 @ 8:33 a.m. / Ocean

Take a “Moonrise Paddle Tour” on Humboldt Bay this Saturday at 5 p.m. with HSU’s Aquatic Center.

Your brain has been busy researching issues and candidates, your body with getting to the polls, your heart with celebrating victory – or coping with disappointment. With all the Election Day madness, you can’t be expected to remember everything else going on.

But nothing restores optimism like some time spent in Humboldt’s inspirational outdoors.

Call this the “To-Do List” edition of Your Week In Ocean.

Ocean Night

First up, tomorrow is the first Thursday of the month, which means Ocean Night! November’s feature is surf classic Step Into Liquid. Big waves on the big screen.

Also showing: Dark Side of the Lens, The Story of Stuff and anything else deemed fun and worthy and short. As usual, the event is all ages and boasts the most self-effacing raffle experience in Humboldt County.

All the magic happens at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, doors at 6:30 p.m., movies at 7 p.m.

Implementing the Golden Rule

Readying parts for the Golden Rule restoration. Photo courtesy Veterans for Peace.

Veterans for Peace continues to restore famous sailing ketch The Golden Rule in anticipation of once again taking to sea in protest of militarism and nuclear weapons. They’re in need of volunteers to help with an upcoming “gluing party”– email if you have the skills and desire to help.

Cleaning up Clam Beach

Kids can do it. You can, too! Photo courtesy PacOut Green Team.

The indefatigable PacOut Green Team tackled one part of Clam Beach last week and will kick ass on another part this Saturday. Meet at 8:30 a.m., pick up garbage from 9 to 10 a.m. Full details here.

Restoring the dunes (cookies!)

How many native plants can you name?

Volunteers are needed to help restore the dune ecosystem at the Friends of the Dunes property on Saturday, Nov. 8 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tools, gloves and cookies will be provided. Bring water and wear work clothes. Meet at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center aka Humboldt’s Best Building, 220 Stamps Lane in Manila.

Take your small person to Nature Story Time, also at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, also on Saturday. The story time runs from 2 to 3 p.m., is geared for ages 3 to 6, includes sharing a nature-themed book and participating in a simple craft project. It’s adorable!

Kids art thing #1

Arcata’s Neighborhood Boardshop has not only relocated from 11th Street to Alliance Road, but has expanded into a full-fledged art collective – check out Seapod‘s creations for starters. This Saturday, the surf shop hosts an art day for kids from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mixed media tables will be set up and each participant is invited to submit a piece for the Nov. 14 Arts!Arcata.

Go to Greenland via Eureka. With Helen.

Explore North Coast invites the public to their program “Helen takes us to Greenland” on Monday, Nov. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center.In July, 2014, world-renowned Greenland rolling champion and Arcata resident Helen Wilson and her husband, Mark Tozer, guided a 13-day sea kayaking expedition in South Greenland. This presentation will take you through their many adventures, which include paddling through massive iceberg fields, exploring abandoned settlements, visiting working villages, soaking in natural hot springs and visiting the Greenland National Kayaking Championship.

Art thing #2

California students in kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to submit artwork or poetry with a California coastal or marine theme to the annual Coastal Art & Poetry Contest.Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2015 to be eligible for the upcoming contest. For rules and entry form (and helpful links for teachers and students), look here.

Jennifer Savage is the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Coastal Programs Director and Humboldt Surfrider Chairperson.