News from the Center – Dec 2018/Jan 2019

It seems that each time we get focused on a new issue, an old issue that’s been on the back burner for some time suddenly surges to the forefront again. Such is the case with Mercer Fraser and their unrelenting desire to build hash labs on or near floodplains.  One of the projects is near the Big Rock Day Use Area and Trinity Valley Elementary School in Willow Creek. The other project is Mercer-Fraser’s gravel operation on Glendale Rd., near the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District’s intake wells next to the Mad River. The Willow Creek project hearing is scheduled for the December 4 Board of Supervisors meeting. The Glendale project is also scheduled for a December Board of Supervisors meeting.

Another cannabis project that our Planning Commision has rubber stamped is a huge cannabis manufacturing facility just down the road from Dinsmore on an old, contaminated mill site, in the 100 year flood plain. The proponents of this project call it “Sensi Valley.” It is being promoted by a controversial figure named Sean Trainor, who owns an island near Panama. This project is his latest in a string of  attempts to set up shop in the Emerald Triangle. He seems to be unconcerned and unwilling to address the contamination on the site. The facilities would also be located on the floodplain, potentially putting his workers and his operation at risk during a serious storm event. Two of our member groups, Friends of the Eel River and Humboldt Baykeeper, filed an appeal of the Humboldt County Planning Commission’s decision to approve the Sensi Valley project in the floodplain of the Van Duzen River. If you’re concerned about the County’s willingness to roll over for these cannabis entrepreneurs, show up during the appeal hearing and speak out! No date has been set at this point, but we will be following the issue and keep you updated.

More public input to the Planning Commission about the actions they are taking is necessary to make sure that they don’t continue to use the excuse that they aren’t hearing complaints from the public about their proposed actions. Two scheduled Planning Commission meetings that we know about are December 6 and December 20. Some of the proposed actions being taken could reshape the desired rural character of the county. One such potential action that they will be discussing at an upcoming meeting is allowing the building of many McMansions in the Fieldbrook and McKinleyville portions of Green Diamond’s industrial timber property.

As for some good news, the Great Redwood Trail Act (SB 1029) was signed by Governor Brown. Initially the Act would have dissolved the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA), railbank the railroad line, and create a world class trail system through the Eel River Canyon. As signed by Governor Brown, the Act removes almost all of NCRA’s previous mandate to oversee freight rail and instead specifies that trails are the NCRA’s new priority. Completing the trail will take years, with an estimated cost of close to $100 million. However, once complete, this multi-use trail will allow people to view and experience the Eel River Canyon in ways only previously available by train travel in the 1950s. A big tip of the hat to Jason Liles, Senator McGuire’s key staff person who worked tirelessly on this issue and will continue to expertly steer this lengthy project in the right direction.

As for what’s happening in the office, staff are busy analyzing the data as it comes in from our member programs and issues survey, which will help us fine-tune our priorities for the coming years. If you’re a NEC member and haven’t

participated in the survey, be sure to do so by December 31 (contact us at for the link to the survey).

If you’re hungry for current environmental news, be sure to check out the EcoNews Roundup on KHSU the fourth Thursday of each month. You can also find prior recordings on our website at

We want to thank those who came out for our Wilderness Movie Night in October. We had a very enthusiastic and engaged turnout, including some of the stars of the show, local environmental activist Lynn Ryan and regional activist Ryan Hensen. We’re planning another movie night in February, so stay tuned for that. Other upcoming events are our Annual Open House on Thursday, January 24, and our most exciting fundraiser of the Spring, the Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday, March 9.

We would like to publicly express our heartfelt thanks to Coastal Programs Coordinator Madison Peters for all her energy, creativity, enthusiasm and passion for clean oceans that she used to enhance our coastal programs these last five years. Madison recently graduated from HSU, and will be traveling with her partner and their cat in their custom-built van! Casey Cruikshank, our current Office Assistant, is stepping up and taking on the Coastal Programs Coordinator position, using her knowledge and passion for clean beaches to continue the positive momentum of these programs.

As we continue to cover our ever evolving staffing needs, we want to introduce our newly hired Office Assistant, Rhiannon Lewis-Stephenson. Rhiannon is a Humboldt native who is very interested in working locally to protect our beautiful region. She recently completed a year-long internship with the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland. A proper introduction to Rhiannon will be included in the next EcoNews issue.

With many staff changes we’re thrilled to have Tiffany Perez continue assisting with day-to-day tasks to help the NEC respond to member requests, process memberships and donations and plan fun, community gathering events. In January we’ll be interviewing our spring interns. A list of those opportunities are available on our website.

We are excited to welcome new, energetic people to our team who will ensure our continued ability to be a watchdog for bad projects that will negatively impact our environment, while also educating our community and celebrating the beauty and amazing diversity of Northwest California, the place we call home.


Thanks to all who came out for our Movie Night, and a special thanks to Adventure’s Edge, Bigfoot Trail Alliance, and Dan Sealy for donating raffle prizes, plus Arcata Pizza & Deli and Paul’s Live from New York for pizza, Humboldt Creamery for ice cream, the Tofu Shop, and Arise Bakery.

Bouquets to Garden Gate for hosting NEC and supplying the wine during December’s Arts Arcata!

Bouquets of eternal gratitude to Madison Peters for her dedication to educating our community on the importance of clean beaches, organizing the last five years of Coastal Cleanup Day and for being an extraordinary human.
You will be missed!