News From the Center

by Larry Glass and Carrie Tully

As we begin to celebrate our 50th anniversary here at the Northcoast Environmental Center, I am remembering my own initial contact with the NEC. I had a small new business in NorthTown Arcata in 1971 and was working very hard to keep it going when CalTrans announced it was planning to plow a freeway through Arcata, essentially cutting the town in half and specifically cutting North Town off from HSU. This was of great concern to me as I had just fled from the land of freeways (SoCal) and had seen first hand the damage they cause to communities and the environment. So, I went to the NEC to ask for help and meet others who opposed the freeway. That’s where I met Wesley Chesbro and others who put me in contact with the opposition and that was the very beginning of my long involvement with the NEC, which has mainly been focused on forestry issues such as: the creation of more wild and scenic rivers and increased wildlife protections, and worked hard to stop clear-cutting, herbicide spraying, and unnecessary road building.


National Politics: 

Big changes will result from the Election of President Joe Biden and our friend and ally, Vice President Kamala Harris. We are particularly pleased with the de-throning of the anti-environment, climate change denying, leader of the Senate, “Moscow” Mitch. At a minimum this means direct assaults on our wildlands will no longer be promoted and hopefully many of the terrible executive orders can be reversed. We hope the EPA and other important federal agencies can be repopulated with people who want to protect our resources and the public, instead of lining their pockets. We can hope that the bully pulpit of the White House can educate the citizens of this country with scientific facts so we can overcome this pandemic and start seriously dealing with climate change. We are excited and pleased that the liaison/advisor that we have been working with closely in Kamala Harris’s office as senator has been named as a key advisor to Harris in her role as the Vice President. 


Local Issues:

August Complex Fire – The largest fire in recorded California History has got the Forest Service dreaming big about conducting large-scale, widespread salvage sales over the three forests involved: Shasta-Trinity, Six Rivers and Mendicino. Environmental groups, including the NEC, are organizing a response to try and keep the impacts to a minimum. While the impact of the fire itself was damaging in some cases, the fire suppression damage has been significant over the entire August Complex. It’s the hope of the NEC that some of our focus will be on the suppression response as well. 


Water Pipeline:

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District’s (HBMWD) exploration of the idea of bringing water to the Trinidad Hotel Project is raising considerable alarm to all of us concerned about the potential development explosion that could follow in north McKinleyville, Westhaven, and Trinidad. This unfortunately comes at a time when HBMWD is looking for ways to expand its water use out of fear of losing some of its rights to withdraw water from the Mad River because of the State Water Board’s “use it or lose it” position. The Trinidad Hotel Project is one that the NEC has expressed serious concerns over, due to its scale and impacts. This attempt to get water for their project just adds to the list of concerns with this effort.


At the Office:

On behalf of the staff at the NEC, we wish you a Happy New Year! With the restful holiday season officially behind us and a bright new year ahead, staff is looking forward to bringing you more fresh ideas and projects for the 50th anniversary of the NEC. We kicked the year off with our first ever virtual Winter Open House Mixer on January 21st, at which we reminisced on the last half-decade, celebrated our victories, and shared excitement for our up-and-coming plans. Thanks to all who attended the event!

In other great news, we are officially back to printing eleven issues of EcoNews this year! It couldn’t be better timing, as our content submissions are continuously expanding. Be sure to keep an eye out for the special 50th anniversary article in each issue. Our editor, Caroline Griffith, will be taking the time to speak with some of the people who have been crucial to the NEC over the last fifty years, which will surely provide wonderful stories and memories for us all. 

Thanks to Casey Cruikshank, our Coastal Program Coordinator, the NEC team is taking to the beach to start a new project called the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP). This project was born out of Casey’s passion for cleanups, and for tracking marine debris. Each month, the staff will head out to Agate Beach to monitor a specific section of the beach. The goal is to record the amount and type of debris that is found in order to seek answers to questions such as: Where is the debris coming from? How big is the marine debris issue? How can we help change human behavior by bringing attention to this issue? Stay tuned for updates on our results!