News from the Center – Feb/Mar 2019

Now that we’re several weeks into the new year, let’s get out our frost covered crystal ball and tell you what we think is going to happen in 2019. If only we could predict the future! As we write this, all the federal agencies that we deal with on a regular basis are either drastically understaffed or shut down completely—victim to the longest government shutdown in modern history—and what will happen with Trump’s environmentally disastrous wall is still anyone’s guess.

In this session of Congress, we expect that Congressman Jared Huffman will very quickly reintroduce the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forest Act. The NEC and our allies have been working on this important bill since 2012. Although we don’t know for sure, we also expect that Senator and Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris will reintroduce her companion bill. (Reintroduced bills typically are assigned new numbers, so stay tuned.) There will be numerous actions planned around these reintroductions.

For more information visit: www.mountainsandrivers.org.
We’ll also keep you posted on the NEC website.

In January, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed environmental planning consultant and HSU lecturer Melanie McCavour to an at-large position on the county Planning Commission, where she’ll become the sole woman on the seven-person commission. We are glad to see some gender diversity and we wish her luck dealing with the entrenched interests that currently dominate the Planning Commission.

The NEC, working with associate member group Californians Against Toxics (CATS,) has been able to secure a public hearing from the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District for the proposed Mercer Fraser’s asphalt batch plant near the Humboldt/Trinity County line and the community of Dinsmore, along the Van Duzen River. As EcoNews goes to print, we have not been given a date or location for the meeting, but have been assured that the meeting will be held somewhere near the project site. Check our website for updates.

As the July 2019 deadline fast approaches for counties and municipalities to have completed their California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analyses for all of their cannabis licensing programs, we’re specifically watching Trinity County. Trinity has done absolutely nothing to date, while continuing to license new grows and conducting zero enforcement.

Trinity has more per capita legal and illegal cannabis grows than any other county in the State and the toll that this has taken on the environment is extreme. The Weaverville-based, non-profit Trinity Action Association (TAA) formally filed a lawsuit against Trinity County in Trinity County Superior Court on December 28, seeking to stop the County from issuing and renewing commercial cannabis cultivation licenses until it has complied with all public processes required under CEQA. NEC member group Safe Alternative for our Forest Environment (SAFE) has worked with TAA in the past. In this situation, however, SAFE is working with its own legal counsel, Stephan C. Volker from Berkeley, California. Volker believes that we can’t move against the County until July when the county’s CEQA statutory exemption (granted by SB94) expires. But at this time there is a hearing scheduled on TAA’s suit for February 19.

In Humboldt, the last the NEC’s heard is that member group Friends of the Eel River is in discussions with the County over the County’s incomplete and inadequate CEQA document.

Your Watchdog

Our ability to watchdog these efforts wouldn’t be possible without the help of our supporters! The outpouring of financial support we received from you in 2018 was very gratifying. We held three successful fundraisers and were able to end the year with some savings. This will help us continue funding four part-time staff positions and one work-study position, plus continue weathering the unknown outcome of the 2018 tax write-off incentive change.

We’ll also be welcoming new interns for the spring semester. We have several intern positions that provide valuable experience while helping us with our work: Special Projects, EcoNews Archive, EcoNews Journalist/Production, and Education/Outreach. We could not accomplish all we do without the support of interns and volunteers! Please contact us if you are interested in a future intern position or volunteering
with the NEC!

And, thanks again to all who came out to our Open House in January. It was great to see so many familiar faces. Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming fundraising events!

Movie Night

Join us Thursday, February 7 for our second Movie Night, this one focusing on Rivers and the Creatures Who Rely on Them. We’ll be screening two films, the first being “Dancing Salmon Home,” a film that follows the Winnemem Wintu Tribe as they journey to New Zealand to meet relatives of the Chinook, who used to live in the McCloud River area before Shasta Dam wiped them out. The evening will end with “The Trail to Tarka,” a film that documents the search for otters on the River Torridge in Devon, UK. This film has great footage of these shy, playful creatures. The threats they experience in the UK are not very different from the threats our local otters experience. HSU Professor Jeff Black will also speak about his years of otter research and the new North Coast Otters art project.

Spaghetti FUN(d)Raiser

The NEC’s Third Annual Spaghetti FUN(d)Raiser event will be Saturday, March 9, at the Bayside Community Hall. Musical talent Kingfoot will provide heel kicking dance music after a delicious spaghetti dinner and silent auction. Tickets are available online and at the office. Want to help out? We’re looking for volunteers to help the day of the event, and are seeking donations of items for the silent auction. Contact the office at 822-6918 if you’re interested!

Birdathon

This year will mark the Fifth Annual Tim McKay Birdathon. While the start date isn’t until May (exact dates to be determined), it’s not too early to start forming your team and soliciting donations! Proceeds from the Birdathon are split between Redwood Region Audubon Society and the NEC, so two great organizations benefit from your day of birding.

 

Welcome our new office assistant: Rhiannon Lewis-Stephenson

Rhiannon Lewis-Stephenson
Rhiannon Lewis-Stephenson

Rhiannon Lewis-Stephenson grew up in Humboldt County and is delighted to be working with the NEC to protect the many beautiful areas that Humboldt has to offer. Her love for this region’s spectacular and diverse ecosystems, which began during her rural upbringing in the mountains, has only increased as she  has learned how unique this region truly is.

Before graduating from UC Davis with a B.A. in International Relations, she worked in Professor Rejmankova’s wetland ecology lab on a water treatment project in Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan. After graduating, she traveled around the globe and the country promoting environmental conservation and activism through an internship with the Center for Biological Diversity. Now, she has happily returned to Arcata where she enjoys beekeeping, painting, exploring the woods and beaches, and gardening. She is excited to continue learning from those dedicated to the environment and to become involved in solving environmental issues locally.

 

THANK YOU Bob Morris!

Bob Morris on the Trinity River with Kona, July 2014. Photo: Robert Radke.
Bob Morris on the Trinity River with Kona, July 2014. Photo: Robert Radke.

The NEC is deeply grateful for Bob Morris’s ten years of service as an At-Large Board member, including five years as Vice-President. Bob has been instrumental in the cleanup of the NEC’s contaminated Ninth Street property, securing and supervising a Brownfields grant from the U.S. EPA. He also represented the NEC in the development of Rep. Huffman’s Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, and bought the Trinity County Collaborative’s forestry work to the attention of the NEC Board and members.  Bob has had a lifelong dedication to improving our environment and we know he will continue to fight for clean water, healthy forests, and protecting forests in his Trinity County home.

Thank you and best wishes, Bob!

 

Bouquets

Orange and green bouquetIn each issue of EcoNews, the NEC presents  “bouquets” of gratitude to groups, businesses, and individuals who have recently helped the NEC or the environmental community, and others who deserve extra gratitude!

Bouquets to all who joined us during our Open House in January!

Bouquets to volunteers Kris Diamond and Linda Miller for helping out in the office with any tasks necessary!

Bouquets to all who came out for the January Beach Cleanup in celebration of Underwater Parks Day!

Bouquets to Maggie Gainer and Jim Test for joining the NEC Board and offering their skills and enthusiasm to assist us in our work.

And, a bouquet to Briana Villalobos for serving on the NEC board as EPIC’s representative for the last couple of years, before recently moving to Portland, OR.

 

Special Thank You

Susan Anderson and Carl Chetfield. Photo: Bob Doran.
Susan Anderson and Carl Chetfield. Photo: Bob Doran.

The NEC would like to express our gratitude to the Susan Anderson Trust for making a contribution this January in memory of Susan Anderson and Carl Chatfield. Susan and Carl both passed in 2016 from cancer related complications.

Their commitments to the local community and the environment will live on through their generous donations to community organizations like the NEC. (For more info on Legacy Giving, click here.)