Across the Arcata flatlands from Cypress Grove — and across one particular ideological divide — stands the Environmental Information Protection Center. We popped in there because we got word that things were happening around one of the venerable Humboldt County environmental group’s current signature issues.
Late last week, the group put out an action alert about Caltrans’ Richardson Grove Improvement Project, which aims to smoothen the curves between the tall trees to the south of us, near the Humboldt/Mendocino border. EPIC has filed a couple of lawsuits against the project on a wide variety of grounds, and so far has come up short. A federal judge and a Humboldt County Superior Court judge have both ruled mostly in Caltrans’ favor. EPIC continues to fight on.
At the moment, EPIC is looking to challenge one condition that the federal court placed on Caltrans — a revamp of the “environmental assessment” that the agency originally filed in connection with the project. Comments on Caltrans’ supplement to their original Richardson Grove environmental assessment are due on Oct. 21, and EPIC is looking for people to chime in.
Gary Graham Hughes (above), the executive director of EPIC, was happy to receive the Outpost as it popped in on him without notice this morning. As Hughes sees it, Caltrans is not complying with the terms of the federal court order by publishing a “supplement” to its Richardson Grove environmental assessment. Rather, he said, the agency should be doing a larger rewrite of the original assessment.
So Caltrans is supplementing the assessment but not rewriting it. Is it a distinction without much difference? Hughes thinks not. “They’re basically setting things up for an ongoing stalemate, which doesn’t do anyone any good,” he said.
Perhaps. But EPIC is running out of cards to play. The federal court disagreed with EPIC’s contention that Caltrans needed to perform a full environmental impact statement on the Richardson Grove Improvement, rather than the far more lightweight environmental assessment. The group has filed an appeal with a state appellate court in an attempt to overturn their loss in Humboldt County Superior Court.
Though EPIC continues to work on timber issues — as well as water, weed, wildfire and a host of other things — of late, its big fights have been with Caltrans. Courtroom wins have been hard to come by. In addition to Caltrans’ mixed (but largely favorable) result over the Richardson Grove issue, the agency has so far steamrolled EPIC on the Willits Bypass. EPIC has another suit against Caltrans over improvements to Highway 199, along the Smith River, which are, like Richardson Grove, aimed at making it possible for industry-standard trucks to safely access Humboldt County. No one is looking at the impacts of what all of these projects, taken together, are looking to accomplish.
“Caltrans still isn’t being forthcoming with the community about cumulative impacts,” Hughes said.
In any case: Take a moment to read EPIC’s Richardson Grove action alert. It contains information about how to make your voice heard to Caltrans, if you are so inclined.
Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Tomorrow
8722 Mm101 (Humboldt office): CLOSURE of a Road
Press Democrat: New web site features NorCal’s “Most Wanted”
Lumberjack News: New accreditation for health services
KINS: PM News 121113
LoCO readers already know that Bureau of Land Management lands have been closed due to the federal government shutdown, but for those interested in future access specific to King Range, Humboldt Surfrider is hosting a meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Humboldt Brews music room. (The T-S did an overview of the agency’s proposed plan a few weeks ago and BLM has posted the details here.)
If you can’t make it, know that public comments can be emailed to email@example.com, with the subject line “King Range Business Plan.” They can also be sent to BLM King Range Project Office, P.O. Drawer 189, 768 Shelter Cove Road in Whitethorn, or the BLM Arcata Field Office at 1695 Heindon Road.
Public comments will be taken until Oct. 18.
Last week, in conjunction with a local shark sighting, I mentioned KHUM’s Coastal Currents interview with great white expert Adam Brown. The info remains especially timely as Brown, Ray Palacios and Jeff Jacobsen recently deployed receivers near Trinidad Head in anticipation of white sharks returning to California. Now, while Humboldt may not celebrate “Sharktober” as enthusiastically as our friends in San Francisco, Humboldt Surfrider, Humboldt Baykeeper and Ocean Conservancy plan to dedicate our Friday, Oct. 11 Ocean Night to celebrating these amazing creatures — mark your calendars accordingly.
Garbage dumped near Humboldt Bay
But a far more immediate and significant threat to our health than sharks* is ocean pollution. Accordingly, Coastal Cleanup Day happens this Saturday, Sept. 21. Hosted locally by the Northcoast Environmental Center and globally by Ocean Conservancy, Coastal Cleanup Day is a chance to not only clean up Humboldt’s beaches, riverbanks and bayfronts, but to contribute to an ongoing database of the most common litter offenders.
Now I realized recently that some folks, surprisingly, are pro trash, but for those who prefer a cleaner ocean, safer beaches and a more beautiful world, here’s a couple excellent opportunities:
- Join Humboldt Baykeeper at the foot of Del Norte Street at 10 a.m. to clean up the pier area. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Join Humboldt Surfrider at the North Jetty at 9 a.m. to clean up the end of the Samoa peninsula.
*Again, shark encounters are rare, shark attacks even less frequent and as a species, we do infinitely more harm to them than they do to us.
Andrew Goff / Thursday, Sept. 12 @ 9:16 a.m. / Activism
UPDATE, 11:34 a.m.: A Certain Not-For-Profit Responds
# # # # #
Original post: Eureka businessman Rob Arkley has had it with what he sees as a local homeless invasion and is itching to do something about it. The Lost Coast Outpost received an email written by Arkley that’s beginning to make the rounds announcing a meeting to discuss the issue to be held at Eureka’s Wharfinger Building on Wednesday, September 18 at 5:30 p.m. And you’re invited!
“Specifically, I would like to know what policies and programs can be cut that will reduce the number of homeless,” Arkley writes. Full email below:
Meeting Regarding the Homeless Issue
Warfinger Building, Eureka - Wednesday, September 18, 2014, 5:30 PM
RSVP Yes or No to email@example.com
Please forward to your friends who may also be interested
Our County and City are being taken over by the homeless. It seems as though many of the policies being pursued by our County and City governments, and certain not-for-profits, actually encourage the homeless to come here and stay here. Free food, showers, clean clothes, assistance above state averages, free housing, lax jail policies are just some of the attractive programs and policies. Clearly, too much right has become wrong. We have become a Mecca for the homeless and we all pay the price. Garbage or dump fees from trash and discarded clothing left on streets, sidewalks, alleys and private property have become “our” responsibility. Health and environmental issues arise from the same public areas and private property being freely used for urination and defecation, not to mention the aesthetics, or lack of, from this behavior. The general public is not comfortable walking in certain well known locations around our cities and county because the homeless with their antics have taken over what should belong to, and be enjoyed by, all of us.
I feel as though we are like the frog in the boiling water. It has gotten to the point where everybody knows that the homeless are a huge problem, but nobody is doing anything. All of our businesses are being negatively impacted. It is difficult to attract people to Eureka. Who wants to be panhandled on the way to an interview for a job? What business owner wants to invest in real estate that is negatively impacted by trash and loitering?
I think that it is time for us to get together and see if we can build a consensus on how to deal with this issue. Specifically, I would like to know what policies and programs can be cut that will reduce the number of homeless. I often hear that if we don’t provide certain services to the homeless, monies will be withheld by state and federal governments. While some, especially government and certain not-for-profits, may consider this dire, we need to make sure that elected officials understand that while government may lose monies, our private businesses and households may well be better off without the crime, environmental damage and monetary costs that these additional monies attract. It will also be interesting to see if the negative impacts of the homeless programs on local business and quality of life for the community are monetarily weighed.
Folks, let’s take our area back and encourage our elected officials to take steps that consider the overall negative impacts on all of us created by enrolling in programs designed to “help” the homeless. I have no doubt that when weighed against the loss of governmental revenue, the benefits to all of us by rejecting the monies would dwarf the downside.
I would like to see if any of you would like to join a group that deals with the most pressing issue that our area faces.
First, because everyone loves to hear about sharks and it’s getting to be that time of year: Word from the beach is a 10-foot great white “cleared the line-up” at Moonstone yesterday. For background on Humboldt County shark encounters, there’s “We’re #1!” from 2008 and last year’s tally. Keep up with all Pacific coast encounters over the decades with the Pacific Shark Research Committee. You can also reminisce with Scott Stephens about last year’s attack.
But, please, remember – visible to us or not, the sharks are always around and they, as a species, have a great deal more to fear from us than we do from them. Humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks every year, an average of about 11,000 per hour. Taking out apex predators messes up the food chain with potentially severe consequences for the entire marine ecosystem, which is why conservationists have been fighting to protect sharks with increasing passion over the past few years.
If you’re scared of sharks, avoiding them is easy: stay out of the ocean. And if you’re in the ocean, you’re probably still safer than on land, where every year obesity, texting and hot dogs kill more people than sharks do.
The Coastal Commission meets in Eureka starting tomorrow and is expected to make a decision about Caltrans’ proposed 101 corridor project on Thursday. Coastal Commission staff currently recommends against the project in its planned form – a sentiment shared by Humboldt Baykeeper. Full commission agenda here.
Ocean Night – ‘The Last Ocean’
The monthly Ocean Night series continues at the Arcata Theatre Lounge this Saturday with The Last Ocean, sponsored by HT Harvey & Associates, whose ecologist David Ainley has been traveling to Antarctica’s Ross Sea to study its unique ecosystem for more than 30 years.
Largely untouched by humans, the Ross Sea is one of the last places where the delicate balance of nature prevails. But an international fishing fleet has recently found its way to the Ross Sea and is targeting Antarctic toothfish, sold as Chilean sea bass in up-market restaurants around the world.
The catch is so lucrative it is known as white gold. Ainley knows that unless fishing is stopped the natural balance of the Ross Sea will be lost forever. He rallies his fellow scientists and meets up with a Colorado nature photographer and New Zealand filmmaker who also share a deep passion for this remote corner of the world. Together they form “the Last Ocean” and begin a campaign taking on the commercial fishers and governments in a race to protect Earth’s last untouched ocean from our insatiable appetite for fish.
See the Lowdown for full details.