Larry Glass, Board President
Caroline Griffith, Executive Director
About a year and a half ago, our long-time office Administrator and Development Director took a job with the City of Arcata. The person that we hired to take her place was Carrie Tully. Carrie started right when the pandemic took hold here in California and much to her credit she persevered through the rocky start with the office closed, having to work from home and never having face time with many of the board or staff members. Carrie became our beacon of upside, always seeing our glass as half full and making the difficult and seemingly impossible work. She rallied our staff and kept them on mission with her inclusive “we can do this” attitude. I am sorry to say that as of the end of October, Carrie has decided to pursue other adventures. I am very grateful for the time I spent working closely with Carrie; she really made a big difference in the organization and for me personally. On behalf of the whole NEC family: Thank you, Carrie! We wish you the best of good outcomes in your future endeavors.
In Coal Train news: our Executive Director Caroline Griffith has been participating in a coalition of local groups that has formed to stop this dangerous and very unpopular plan; read the article about this on page 5.
Yet another catastrophic year of drought-enabled wildfires was made worse, in the opinion of many observers, by the complete lack of planning and preparation. These record wildfires in California have resulted in fire-killed or damaged trees that could pose a threat to public safety, property and public resources. The US Forest Service Region 5 (basically California) has announced its “Post Disturbance Hazardous Tree Management project” that includes hazard tree felling and removal, as well as the removal of downed woody fuels (slash), to reduce fire and safety hazards along portions of roads, trails, and near facilities (campgrounds, trail heads, Forest Service offices). The Forest Service is pushing what they call an “expedited analysis”, which means there are only three weeks for the public to comment. This is not enough time to even notify the public let alone do any kind of real environmental analysis and get public feedback. They need to give the public more time. By the time you read this, the comment period will be over. The agency claims there will be no new or temporary road building, but how else are they going to remove fuels and downed trees from trails? Seems to me that it’s time for the Forest Service to become more proactive with shaded fuel breaks and less reactive spending all their time and resources on salvage sales.
Build Back Better Bill
At the time I write this, the infrastructure bill has passed with all of its gifts for the fossil fuel industry but the better, and climate friendly, “Build Back Better” bill has a very uncertain future. It is opposed, of course, by all Republicans and by some centrist and conservative Democrats, meaning if it ever gets out of the Senate it will most likely have many important parts watered down or stripped out.
And then there is COP26. So far it has been a platform for warm words and soft sentiments, but we need more action, not more acting. It’s time we seized the initiative – our lives and our futures depend on it. Greta Thunberg spoke at a climate rally in Glasgow, at which she called Cop26 “a failure” and a “greenwash festival”. Greta and youth climate activists from around the world are filing a legal petition to the UN secretary-general urging him to declare a “system-wide climate emergency.” Sounds right to me. It’s time to recognize that the leadership and action we need is not going to be forthcoming from those who have so much invested in maintaining the status quo.
For many of us, the dire warnings and empty promises of COP 26 can bring up feelings of anxiety and despair; the problems seem so big and solutions are elusive. Our EcoNews Intern, Elena, digs into the topic of Climate Anxiety on page 7 with some tangible tips from local activists, academics and therapists for breaking through the cycle of worry and working towards solutions.
NEC Staff are looking forward to taking time this winter to regroup and work on some backburner projects. And, of course, taking some time to read. Check out the “Staff Picks” section on page 22 to see what we are reading and watching this season. Since we don’t print a January issue (our apologies to our die-hard fans) we have a little extra time on our hands and plan to use it to replenish our strength to fight the good fight in 2022. If you are reading anything particularly inspiring and want to share, get in touch at email@example.com. Happy Solstice!