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Aldaron Laird sea level rise presentation

Baywood Golf and Country Club



On Thursday, February 15, at noon at the Baywood Golf and Country Club, Humboldt ERFSA, the Emeritus Retired Faculty and Staff Association will present a lecture called “Sea Level Rise and the Humboldt Bay Region.” by Aldaron Laird, Retired Sea Level Rise Planner. According to Laird, our area has the highest rate of relative sea level rise on the west coast of the U.S. as tides are rising faster here due to tectonic subsidence. A two-foot sea level rise will have a significant and possibly devastating impact due to a historical legacy in our Humboldt Bay region. He will explore the past, present, and future of the Humboldt Bay region.

Aldaron Laird is an environmental planning consultant who has specialized in sea level rise vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning on Humboldt Bay. Since 2010, Aldaron has been active in promoting a regional approach to sea level rise planning on Humboldt Bay. He is also an avid kayaker who has circumnavigated all 102 miles of Humboldt Bay’s shoreline. Aldaron’s photographs of Humboldt Bay were featured in an exhibit at the Morris Graves Museum of Art and are being released in the next month as a book, “A Photographic Exploration of Wigi”.

In a recent article by Dana Utman of the Mad River Union, Aldaron Laird indicated that the significance of the change that we’re going to see over the next 40 years will be mind-boggling. According to Laird, “Most people just think this is the way it’s always going to be. In 1890 it was entirely different. Old Arcata was on the edge of the bay. When sea level rise reclaims 7,000 to 10,000 acres of former tidelands, it’s going to be shocking to people. We’re going to lose communities like King Salmon and Fields Landing and possibly most of Fairhaven areas South of Samoa in Arcata. A lot of people are just going to wonder what the heck happened. Sea level rise will initiate bluff retreat like in Big Lagoon (where it has affected property development), Table Bluff and Centerville Beach. It’s going to flood Highway 101. If you live in Arcata 100 feet in elevation, you are probably thinking you are not going to be affected by sea level rise. But if it takes out the wastewater treatment plant that was built on Bay mudflats you will be. And if it takes out PG&E’s electrical transmission system or their natural gas lines that traverse diked former tidelands, it’s going to affect everybody on Humboldt Bay. The water will go all the way up to about Old Arcata Road and Samoa Boulevard. You won’t be able to drive to Manila from Arcata because the area will be underwater. The only way to get to Manila will be through Eureka over the bridges. The lower Elk River Valley area will be underwater. You won’t be able to drive up Elk River because there won’t be a road. Thompkins Hill off-ramp all the way to Table Bluff would be underwater as will portions of Hookton Road. Unless PG&E raises their seawall sea level rise will over top it and easily erode 115 feet of bluff right back to the nuclear fuel dry-cast storage and (worst case scenario) they could topple into the bay.”

Humboldt Bay is on the threshold of significant change due to sea level rise, will we be prepared?

All in-person guests at these lectures should be fully COVID-19 vaccinated and may wear masks while attending. Meet and greets begin at 11:30 a.m. Various foods and beverages can be ordered for lunch from Baywood’s regular menu; please arrive early to order lunch. The presentation will commence at noon.
The public is invited to these presentations; you need not be retired, a member of Humboldt ERFSA, or purchase lunch. The ERFSA lecture series is open to the entire North Coast community. If you are retired faculty or staff of Cal Poly Humboldt, please consider joining our organization. Find more information at

Press Release by James Floss
Communications Chair, Humboldt ERFSA Executive Committee
January 30, 2024

James Floss
Emeritus Lecturer
Communication Department
Cal Poly Humboldt

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