Remember way back before 1991? When the pulp mills spewed toxins into the air and polluted the ocean so badly that a particular surf break was known as “Carcinogens?” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but in any case, those who reside and recreate around Humboldt Bay have been reaping the benefits of a 1989 EPA-Surfrider Foundation lawsuit for decades.
Cleaner air and cleaner water are the obvious advantages. And it’s been a long while since the state has issued warnings to abstain from eating our Dungeness crab. But what many people don’t know is that Surfrider’s litigation efforts resulted in a few other specific improvements, notably the “Humboldt Area Recreation Enhancement and Water Quality Fund,” an ongoing grant program administered through Humboldt Area Foundation to improve recreational and environmental resources around the bay, plus a shower and – take note – an emergency telephone installed at the North Jetty.
At the time, the phone was critical in reaching emergency personnel. But times have changed, and the call box has fallen on hard ones – the solar panel that powered it has fallen off. A couple of your local Humboldt Surfrider volunteers sought to reattach it, but turns out the bolts have been sheared off.
Our tenacious local folks reached out to Surfrider HQ, down in San Clemente, to report the issue and found out a few key things: 1) the solar panel will be repaired by the maintenance contractor; and, 2) only about $800 remains in the account dedicated to preserving the call box. Which raises the question: How necessary is it?
The most recent emergency use that we can currently testify to happened in October, 2013, when a shark raked its teeth across Jay Scrivener’s thigh. This occurred during the federal government shutdown, which, as a local surfer there noted at the time, “kept vehicles and cell phones out, but not sharks.”
In prior years, the phone has been used to report people swept off the jetty and more – please share stories if you have them.
Because what we, the crew at Humboldt Surfrider, are wondering is this: Does anyone care if the call box continues to exist? If enough people do, then the next step will be to continue conversations with the county. If not, then best hope whoever’s witnessing your emergency has a cell phone handy.
Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Today
No current incidents
Mad River Union: Rossbacher: HSU mourns alumnus, student
Tuluwat Examiner: Climate change; Real progressive thinking and planning
UPDATE, 6:58 p.m. Undeterred by the appearance of the man-in-white, several surfers paddled back out, including shark attack survivor Scott Stephens, who mostly shrugged the situation off.
“It was hard to relax,” he noted.
Less than three days after a spearfisher was chased out of the water near the North Jetty, the “landlord” has again come a-callin’.
“Shallow water with good visibility. Jetty. Came thru the pack, circled thru again and squared off with the heaviest surfer,” says our source. “No party fouls.”
Curious about Pacific Coast shark encounter statistics? The Shark Research Committee is the place to go – the 2015 list notes the above-mentioned report, plus two SoCal incidents. It should be noted that cases of sharks bothering humans continue to be fairly rare along the Pacific coast – since 1900, only 154 unprovoked attacks have been documented. In the past 60 years, only 13 have been fatal, with the two most recent occuring in Octobers (aka “Sharktober”) of 2010 and 2012.
Of course, some years are busier than others, and Humboldt’s reputation for sharky waters is much deserved.
That said, here’s two perspective-providing facts: 1.) As a species, we’re perpetuating far more damage on sharks than they are on us; 2.) You can avoid sharks real easily, but Humboldt County might nonetheless kill you dead.
No, not Johnny Utah (this time), but the state of Utah, where impending tar sands and oil shale mining would destroy massive, pristine landscapes and further jeopardize the already imperiled Colorado River watershed, residential drinking water and increase air pollution in Salt Lake City – where air quality is already the worst in the nation.
What does tar sand and oil shale mining have to do with the ocean? Think climate change. Think fracking. Think, “I should tune into KHUM 104.3 FM at 12:45 p.m.* today to hear acclaimed filmmaker Jennifer Ekstrom explain this to me.”
And then come out for Ocean Night tomorrow to see Last Rush for the Wild West: Tar Sands, Oil Shale and the American Frontier, Ekstrom’s film on the issues involved and the people fighting to stop the impending massive destruction. Oh, and another Humboldt County connection? The Waterkeeper Alliance folks are among the activists featured in the film and our very own Pete Nichols – founder of Humboldt Baykeeper, now Waterkeeper’s National Director – makes several appearances.
Speaking of Humboldt Baykeeper, you’ll remember the excellent new partnership between HBK and Coast Seafoods, both of whom are serious about water quality in our precious bay. Coast Seafoods pledged to match up to $10,000 in donations during the month of December and, great news!, that goal was met. This year looks to be a good one if you’re into knowing where all that E. coli is coming from. (For those of you that enjoy icky bacteria in your waterways, you’re out of luck!)
* Postponed from the usual start time of noon.
Another thing, less happy
I received an email from a concerned citizen:
The situation is this. Whenever the river recedes a little, target shooters go down to that area and practice or perhaps hunt small game. They bring material for target practice, TV’s, old electronics, bottles, etc. On a day when it is not raining, generally there are several groups there shooting. Of course, they leave the trash but I am also worried about the shell casings that are left on the river’s edge. I know that there is lead that goes into the river. I know that frequently they fire off huge explosives that agitate the birds. I think that those explosions are illegal if only by disrupting the peace. I have heard that a more than one cow has broken a leg by running from the explosions.
The writer has contacted her county supervisor and other government agencies to no avail. This problem isn’t limited to the Eel – the amount of shotgun shells left along the Mad River is similarly alarming – and it’s a significant one in the amount of needless pollution caused and the effects of lead ammunition. What’s the solution?
Further cool events
The Bureau of Land Management is partnering with the city of Trinidad, Trinidad Rancheria, Cher-Ae Heights Casino and the Trinidad Museum Society to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a massive wave that washed over Pilot Rock. The event takes place at the lighthouse on Jan. 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. qne is free of charge. For more information, call the BLM’s Arcata Field Office at 825-2313.
Explore North Coast hosts Dr. Brian Tissot, Director of the HSU Marine Lab, on Monday, Jan 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center to discuss “Marine Research on the North Coast and the Sea Star Wasting Disease,” discussing ongoing marine research projects conducted by HSU’s faculty and students, including studies on the newly created marine protected areas along the North Coast.
Jennifer Savage directs the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Coastal Programs and can be reached at email@example.com if you have concerns, questions, want to help or have some local coastal news to share.
Oyster farmers and environmental advocates want the same thing: a clean and healthy Humboldt Bay. Which is why Coast Seafoods is matching up to $10,000 in donations to Humboldt Baykeeper this month. So far, $7,500 has been donated – excellent! – but you have a few days left to bump that total up. Do it here.
Rope pile at Moonstone Beach Photo courtesy PacOut Green Team
As you may know, the indefatigable PacOut Green Team has been tackling a gigantic wad of fishing line, rope and buoys that washed up on Moonstone Beach. Part 1 resulted in much of the mess being removed, but the project is such that it requires a second attempt. Join the crew at Moonstone this Sunday at 8:45 a.m.
From the event page:
We need cordless side grinders, crab net knives (available at Englund Marine in Eureka for $8), bone/limb saws, etc., which we will use to cut the netting into smaller, more manageable pieces. We will also need a few wheelbarrows to use to get the netting from the beach to the parking area. Safety glasses or a face shield should be worn for operating the grinders and to avoid getting sand in the eyes. We made this a Sunday event so we could use the low tide in our favor. This event may take more than our usual hour to complete so some of us will be there for the duration.
#CaliforniaMPAs In other news, December 19 marked the two-year anniversary of California’s marine protected area network. Here on the North Coast, we proved (again) that we prefer to do things our own way by being the only region in the state in which all stakeholder representatives agreed on a single unified proposal determining where the new MPAs should go.
As healthy ocean advocates and partners look to the future, many opportunities to expand our knowledge, share information, and otherwise coordinate outreach and education efforts await. You can read about the baseline monitoring efforts in the current EcoNews publication and, if you want to get deeper in the weeds, explore The California Collaborate Approach: Marine Protected Areas Partnership Plan, adopted by the Ocean Protection Council earlier this month.
(TL;DR version: We’re learning stuff about the ocean out there and working together to share the knowledge, yay!)
Jennifer Savage is the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Coastal Programs Director and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Savage / Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 @ 12:26 p.m. / Activism , Beer , Celebration , Environment , Event , Feel Good , Humboldt , Humboldt Approved , Local Happenings , Mendocino , Ocean , The Big, Dumb Thread , Weekly Column
Much is happening in celebration of the two-year anniversary of California’s marine protected area network on December 19. In particularly exciting news, the Northcoast Environmental Center and Six Rivers Brewery have collaborated on a limited edition “MPA IPA” – label designed by Lucas Thornton – look for it at upcoming events.
Why are marine protected areas important? They protect entire ecosystems, protect biodiversity at multiple levels, act as insurance against overfishing and other harmful human activities, and provide resilience in the face of sea level rise and ocean acidification.
Additionally, MPAs established at relatively undisturbed areas – like many of the North Coast’s – can serve as benchmarks to compare with altered ecosystems to assess human impact and improve management.
Currently, baseline monitoring projects are underway – keep up on North Coast MPAs via Ocean Spaces. Reef Check’s Anna Neuman details diving off the Mendocino Headlands and Frolic Cove, while a robot visits the offshore depths of the Mattole Canyon.
Coast Seafoods + Humboldt Baykeeper = $20,000
In case you missed yesterday’s Coastal Currents, here’s a recap: Humboldt Baykeeper citizen science data has resulted in the state recognizing several of Humboldt’s creeks and streams as impaired by E. coli. This is good news, because that means steps to solve the problems can be taken. Humboldt Baykeeper’s top priority for 2015 is thus to continue this work by raising $20,000 for the nonprofit’s Water Quality Program. “It’s our hope we can take this critical step toward restoring clean water to our streams, the Bay and local beaches,” Executive Director Jen Kalt said.
With that in mind, Kalt announced a $10,000 challenge grant from Coast Seafoods, who will match contributions of $50 or more. As the largest oyster grower in Humboldt Bay, Coast Seafoods understands the importance of clean water, Kalt said, not just for oysters, but for the health of our entire community.
(TL;DR version: Donate to Humboldt Baykeeper by Dec. 31 and Coast Seafood will match your donation up to $10,000.)
The emergence of environmentalism
Without environmental watchdogging, corruption and pollution would run rampant though our communities. In a special screening of Wrenched tonight at Arcata Playhouse, filmmaker ML Lincoln shows how Edward Abbey’s anarchistic spirit and riotous novels influenced and helped guide the nascent environmental movement of the 1970s and ‘80s. Through interviews, archival footage and re-enactments, the film captures the outrage of Abbey’s friends who were the original eco-warriors. A short discussion will follow the screening.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., film at 7:30 p.m. Admission is on a sliding scale from $5 to $10, and beer, wine and snacks will be served for an additional donation.
Do you care about fish in the forest?
The Six Rivers National Forest is hosting public meetings throughout December and January to get the public’s thoughts and ideas on the forest’s proposed forest-wide aquatic restoration program. The overall purpose of restoration program is to improve riparian and instream conditions for anadromous fisheries including listed threatened and sensitive fisheries and their critical habitats. The forest is considering a suite of potential restoration actions including adding large woody debris to provide cover for juvenile coho salmon and developing side-channel areas for winter rearing and riparian treatments to encourage species diversity.
These meetings are being held prior to the initiation of the formal NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process to address any concerns and/or issues the public may have so they may be incorporated into the initial project design.
“This is a great opportunity to not only help the fish and improve their habitat, but to build our partnerships with our communities,” said Forest Supervisor Merv George. “We need to get everyone involved on the ‘ground floor’ of this project to make it successful.”
Meetings are scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m., in the following locations:
- Tuesday, Dec. 16: Mid Klamath Watershed Council, 38150 Highway 96, Orleans
- Thursday, Dec. 18: Forest Supervisor’s Office, 1330 Bayshore Way, Eureka
- Wednesday, Jan. 21: Gasquet Ranger District/Smith River National Recreation Area, 10600 Highway 199, Gasquet
- Wednesday, Jan. 28: Mad River Ranger District, 741 State Highway 36, Mad River
Each meeting will begin with a short presentation, followed by an open house to discuss aquatic restoration ideas with forest staff.
Get your hands dirty
Go to Humboldt’s Best Building this Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to help restore the dune ecosystem on the Friends of the Dunes’ property by removing invasive plants and making room for more native diversity. Tools, gloves and cookies will provided. Bring water and wear work clothes. Meet at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, 220 Stamps Lane in Manila. This event will take place rain or shine.
Get your child happy
Also at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center this Saturday, from 2 to 3 p.m., join Friends of the Dunes naturalist Barbara Reisman for Nature Story Time. Geared for ages 3-to-6, the story will focus on local nature and will be followed by a simple craft project. Call or email for more information or to reserve a space.