Your Week in Ocean: UnTrashing The Beach

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Sept. 17 @ 8:59 a.m. / Activism , Ocean

Come Sunday, expect cleaner beaches.

This Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, your friends, neighbors, coworkers, kids, students, maybe even you will take part in California Coastal Cleanup Day. Coordinated by the Northcoast Environmental Center, the event is part of International Coastal Cleanup Day, the largest volunteer event on the planet!

If you’re not already part of a team, the following locations are accepting drop-in volunteers:

Moonstone Beach, meet at main beach parking area
Mad River, meet at Stardough’s Cafe in Blue Lake
Arcata Marsh, meet at Interpretive Center
Samoa Beach, meet in paved parking lot
Del Norte Street Pier, meet at pier parking area
Hikshari Trail/Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary, meet at trail/sanctuary parking area
Sequoia Park, meet at main park gazebo
North Jetty, meet in parking lot

If you have your own SUP, canoe or kayak and would like to join an on-the-water team at the Eureka Public Marina, contact Maggie Herbelin at (707) 445-2401 or

Win stuff!

As if making a tangible difference over the course of a few hours wasn’t enough, the California Coastal Commission makes participating even more fun – and potentially more rewarding – with a couple contests:

1. Snap photos of yourself along with some trash you’ve found or picked up. Using Instagram, post your photo using the hashtags:

  • #coastalcleanupday
  • #litterati
  • #trashselfie
  • #OceanLove

You’ll be entered for a chance to win an eight-day/seven-night stay in a two-bedroom Grand Suite at a Grand Mayan Luxury Resort in either Riviera Maya (Cancun), Nuevo Vallarta, Los Cabos or Acapulco from California Cleanup Day sponsor Rubio’s.

2. Each year, the Coastal Commission gives out prizes for the Most Unusual Items collected during the cleanup. To enter, take a picture of your item and post it to Facebook using the hashtags:

  • #coastalcleanupday
  • #mostunusual

or you can email the photo to Two winners will be selected, one from the coastal areas of California and another from the inland areas of California. Each will receive a $100 visa gift card.

Faces of Coastal Cleanup: To highlight all the truly amazing individuals who make California Coastal Cleanup Day a success, the Commission has spotlighted a different person every day leading up to the cleanup, and after.

Before and After photos: These are great ways to illustrate the impact made in just three hours – take a photo of your site just before and another right afterwards. Then post the photos to Facebook using the hashtags:

  • #coastalcleanupday 
  • #beforeandafter

Your local sponsors who make it all possible

Lost Coast Outpost
KWPT The Point
Runaway Kite
Humboldt County
City of Eureka
Les Schwab Tires
Humboldt Sanitation
Arcata Garbage Company
North Coast Co-op
Eureka Grocery Delivery
Sierra Club
Visual Concepts
The Emerald Magazine
Mad River Union
Trinidad Rancheria
North Coast Journal
Pierson Building Center
Fox Farm
Los Bagels
Friends of the Dunes

And, in case you missed it last week, our local version of a California Cleanup Day PSA, courtesy Runaway Kite:

Coastal Cleanup from Runaway Kite on Vimeo.

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


Friday, Sept. 19: 13 felonies, 15 misdemeanors, 0 infractions


Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Friday, Sept. 19


Willis Ave (Garberville office): SILVER Alert

Elk Valley Cross Rd / Cunningham Ln (Crescent City office): Trfc Collision-Unkn Inj

New Navy Base Rd / Fay Ave (Humboldt office): Provide Traffic Control

Willis Ave (Garberville office): SILVER Alert


SoHum Parlance: Water Law Changes

Times-Standard News: Humboldt’s marijuana industry: Boom or bust?

Times-Standard News: Downed billboards removed during Coastal Cleanup Day

Times-Standard News: Humboldt County supervisors to tackle mining, waste management practices


You’re Doing It Wrong (PHOTOS)

Jennifer Savage / Friday, Sept. 12 @ 10:20 a.m. /

Sent from my iPhone.

Your Week in Ocean: Engage! Clean Up, Paddle Out, Solve the Drought

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Sept. 10 @ 6:57 a.m. /

What began in Humboldt 35 years ago has grown into an international day of caring with hundreds of thousands of people collecting millions of tons of trash. Leaving the beach cleaner than you found it is one of the tangible benefits derived from Coastal Cleanup Day participation. The longer-term rewards stem from the data collection that makes CCD different from a usual cleanup. Knowing which items make up the majority of the trash means better policies, more success at stemming litter at the source and the ability to influence individual actions. Help the world be better, Saturday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. to noon. 

Rockin’ the Coastal Act

California Coastal Cleanup Day comes to you via the Coastal Commission, which happens to be meeting today through Friday in Smith River. The Commission and staff are marking the 30th anniversary of Coastal Cleanup Day, but they have some more recent successes worth highlighting, too:

  • The long overdue ability to levy fines on property owners illegally blocking beach access. 
  • Securing funds to partner with agencies on updating Local Coastal Plans (LCPs). 
  • Forward-thinking efforts to address, and help communities plan for, sea level rise.

Check out the rest of the Commission’s strategic plan here, and view the full agenda and webcast via the link above.

In related stories of the good-bad news sort, California is better than the rest of the U.S. and the North Coast may get more birds

On the waterfront

Humboldt Bay is often inviting and is especially beckoning this Saturday when HSU’s Aquatic Center unrolls Paddlefest 2014.

Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center Operations Supervisor Elicia Goldsworthy will talk about the free treats offered to experienced and novice paddlers of all ages on Coastal Currents today at noon on KHUM 104.7 FM and

Get an early start with the PacOut Green Team (congrats, Tim!), cleaning up around the Adorni Center starting at 8:30 a.m.

Full schedule of Paddlefest lessons, tours and happenings here

Do your homework, solve California’s water problems

LoCO readers are clearly the cleverest folks out there, right? Please use your big brains to help ensure water for all residents of our Golden State. Thanks to Next 10‘s new California Water Challenge, anyone can utilize an online simulation tool to create a unique plan to meet the increasing demands on the state’s limited water supplies. Warm up with this quiz, let us know when we can start taking long showers again and tune into the Sept. 17 Coastal Currents for an interview with the researchers behind the challenge.

We know LoCO readers like dead things!

Judging from all the reader photo submissions of various carcasses on the beach, this is right up your alley… er… spit? In any case, help make a difference for the environment by collecting data for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, a citizen science project dedicated to involving volunteers in the collection of high quality data on the status of coastal beaches and trends of seabirds. Their goal is to assist government agencies and other organizations in making informed management and conservation decisions, and promote proactive citizen involvement and action.

A free six-hour training session teaches participants how to use the custom Beached Birds field guid and includes practice with actual specimens. (Provide a $20 refundable deposit if you would like to take home a COASST volunteer kit.) The next training happens Saturday, Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Arcata Library Conference Room.

To reserve your spot, email or call (206) 221-6893. 

Coastal trees are the coolest trees

Explore North Coast Seakayaking Association hosts a presentation by Dr. Steve Sillett on coast redwoods and other tall trees, Monday, Sept. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, 921 Waterfront Dr., Eureka. Call 825-9221 or email for more information.

Native dunes are the nicest dunes (also, cookies!)

Help restore the native dune ecosystem at the Ma-le’l Dunes Unit of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge with Friends of the Dunes on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Gloves, tools and cookies are provided. Wear work clothes and bring drinking water. Meet at the Ma-le’l North parking lot off of Young Lane in Manila. For more information, call 444-1397

As you can see, many chances to get outside and do good await. Which will you choose?

I leave you with an attempt to capture last night’s resplendent sunset, green flash included.

Your Week in Ocean: The Ocean and You

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Sept. 3 @ 7 a.m. / Ocean

You can’t get away from the sea, try as you might. We emerged from it, 70 percent of the world is covered by it and the health of the ocean ties in directly with our own.

Watermark, this week’s Ocean Night feature, endeavors – and succeeds – at addressing how water shapes our lives. Brilliant and beautiful, Watermark cuts to the chase:

Every living thing requires water. We humans interact with it in a myriad of ways, numerous times a day. But how often do we consider the complexity of that interaction? And, unless confronted by scarcity, when do we meditate on its ubiquity in creating, sustaining and enriching life?

Let these questions hover about your mind Thursday night at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Doors at 6:30 p.m., film at 7 p.m. (Full details on the Lowdown.)

In other water visuals, and on the topic of being “confronted by scarcity,” these before/after drought photos should give you pause.

But that’s not all. More dire news comes to us straight from a draft version of an international collaborative look at climate change leaked last week. Mostly it says what we already know:

Global warming already is affecting “all continents and across the oceans,” and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems…

The key difference is the tone of the piece. As in, this is serious, people. It’s time to plan accordingly. Unfortunately, California is “woefully unprepared,” says our own state legislature. Maybe time to pay more attention to the Humboldt Bay Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning Project? As is often the case, environmental and social justice issues overlap here – low-income residents stand to be disproportionately affected. 

At least our oysters are safe. For now

Yes, there’s much to despair about. We won’t leave you in the lurch, however, but will offer the salve of action in the form of Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, Sept. 20. Join hundreds of fellow community members in helping out. The beach needs you. Also, being near the ocean makes your brain smile. And in happy trash news, we should see less of it in the future, thanks to California finally passing legislation banning plastic bags – first in the nation! Don’t give up just yet.

Your Week in Ocean: Talking #HealthyOcean in Sactown

Jennifer Savage / Thursday, Aug. 28 @ 9:06 a.m. / Government , Ocean , Sacramento

You can’t see the ocean from Sacramento, but much of California’s coastal fate is decided there.

Under most conditions, it’s budget that dominates any and all Sacramento strategy discussions. Constraints of. Debates about. Wednesday’s Ocean Protection Council and Ocean Science Trust workshop, “Sharing Your Perspective on Envisioning California’s Ocean Health,” deviated from the theme as Natural Resources Agency Secretary (and OPC chair) John Laird made clear from the beginning. “Today we’re going to talk about priorities without regard to funding,” he explained. And talk they did. The topic at hand: How should the state of California define a “healthy ocean”?

The effort to do so is more progressive than it might seem to those uninitiated in the ways of bureaucracy. Bringing together scientists, policymakers, tribal representatives and constituents from across the state to share perspectives on legislation, regulations and enforcement represents a shift from the default of agencies working independently, sometimes redundantly and sometimes at odds. The long-term vision shared by those at the workshop includes not only a healthy ocean – definition to be determined – but also a simplified, collaborative relationship between those charged with making rules and the various people charged with carrying them out.

To that end, the workshop featured a panel boasting North Coast ocean issues leaders such as Smith River Rancheria Self Governance Director Briannon Fraley, Yurok Tribe Senior Attorney John Corbett, and Tom Weseloh, consultant for the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture from Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro‘s office. The panel also included Louise Bedsworth, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Brendan Kelly, director of conservation and chief scientist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Linda Sheehan, executive director or the Earth Law Center.

Ocean Protection Council Executive Director Catherine Kuhlman noted in her introduction that for Californians, the ocean is the resource that “defines us as who we are.” The question at hand, she continued, is how to impel stewardship and foster resiliency.

Cat Kuhlman, OPC 

Part of the answer involves conveying science to “decisionmakers” – elected officials and others charged with telling the population how things should be done – in such a way that the threats facing the ocean can be dealt with swiftly and effectively. Or, failing swift and effective action (as in the case of climate change), agreeing on the best remaining course possible.

Sheehan, a longtime rock star of the environmental scene, illustrated current ocean protection difficulties by comparing how the visible problem of her childhood, sewage on the beaches, to the chronic, creeping problems of ocean acidification and other impacts of climate change, depletion of predators, disappearing flows in our natural waterways and other threats that build up less obviously.

Linda Sheehan, Earth Law Institute 

She pointed to the Marine Life Protection Act’s emphasis on intrinsic well-being as a potential model for success. “We’re seeing a lot of really great work being done by scientists right now to start to think across different variables, different metrics – water quality, fish populations, habitat, etc. – and try to integrate these into single signals that allow us to assess the health and well-being [of the ocean].”

Corbett emphasized the role of California tribes in creating and maintaining a healthy ocean. “Tribal management is key to achieving the goal of a healthy ocean,” he said. He brought up specific challenges for the tribes when trying to work with the state on ocean regulations.

John Corbett, Yurok Tribe 

There are nine separate agencies that have primary responsibility, then you move on to the regional groups,” he said. “It is an overwhelming task to present and give you the time.” Nonetheless, inclusion is appreciated. Another sticking point is the terminology debate, Corbett added. “Our number one fear is a fight over the science definitions of what is a ‘healty ocean’ will delay progress.”

“My presentation is going to be a little bit different,” Fraley began, “spoken from the heart, not specific to California policy.” She spoke of the “two worlds” the tribes must live in, the one they’ve inhabited since time immemorial and the newer one full of regulations at odds with the traditional way of life.

Progress has been made, Fraley said. “The MLPA gave us the opportunity to interact with several people in the room who are now friends.” For her, the key to a healthy ocean lies in education, teaching the youth the proper way to interact with the ocean. “Ocean health will fall into place,” she said, “when we’re taught to care for the ocean as individuals.” 

Briannon Fraley, Smith River Rancheria 

Kelly, who served as assistant director for polar sciences in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy prior to his position at the aquarium, also warned of potential conflicts. Creating a “completely satisfying definition of ‘ocean health’ isn’t possible,” he said – what makes sense is to speak about the living organisms, communities and ecosystems. A danger exists in neglecting the intrinsic value, he finished, but we can’t get away from the importance of human uses.

“Who wants an unhealthy ocean?” Weseloh asked. “Raise your hand.” He paused a beat before observing the unanimous support for a healthy ocean. “It’s kind of a no-brainer… Then we really get into the question, what is it?” Familiarity with the various uses and traditions can help, but a big question – perhaps the biggest – is defining “where the ocean starts and where it stops.” A lot of the problems in the ocean stem from on-the-land issues, he said. “We have to include the health of everything.”

Additionally, Americans are importing 90 percent of our seafood. “Do we want our neck of the woods to help produce that food base or transfer those effects to elsewhere?” Weseloh discerned the lack of fishermen in attendance, suggesting that engaging people who tend to be independent and often out fishing will be helped by streamlining the multiple-agency approach to issues.

Bedworth wrapped up the presentations by explaining that a common definition can help the state meet stewardship goals.

Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, disagreed during public input, however. “Fishermen are not interested in discussion,” he said, but “want to see something done.” Enough laws exist, Grader continued. The problem is lack of enforcement. As far as defining a healthy ocean, “I would not get too hung up about it.” Much like the famous definition of pornography, he continued, “I know it when I see it. … Let’s get something done.”

Environmental activists in the room applauded the conversation but pressed for concrete action. California Coastkeeper Alliance Executive Director Sara Aminzadeh noted the running theme of climate change concern among panelists and how similar conversations are taking place in other state meetings and emphasized the importance – and opportunity – to integrate those discussions.

“People view the ocean as a luxury,” said Sarah Sikich, science and policy director of Coastal Resources, Heal the Bay. “If we can’t shift that thinking, we’re going to have a difficult time.”

Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay 

MPA Collaborative Implementation Project Community Coordinator Paul Hobi brought up the ongoing benefits marine protected area monitoring can provide through utilizing “folks on the ground” as communicators for providing information about what’s happening in and around the ocean to the agency staff responsible for knowing it. For example, he shared, a kayak business operator on the North Coast noticed invasive snails in the lagoons long before any state wildlife employees did –- but her efforts to share that fact fell through bureaucratic cracks.

The anecdote summed up the ultimate goals of the workshop: improving connection, collaboration, shared understanding and specific actions to ensure California has a healthy ocean, whatever that turns out to mean.

The conversation is expected to continue. Add your voice to it.

Full workshop video archive.

Jennifer Savage is the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Coastal Programs Director.