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Press
Clam Beach Named Most Polluted in State
Written by Jennifer Kalt for EcoNews   

August/September 2017

Last month, Heal the Bay’s annual Beach Report Card named Clam Beach the most polluted beach in California due to bacteria levels measured at the mouth of Strawberry Creek. Clam Beach has made the Top Ten “Beach Bummers” list for four years running, but this is the first time it’s been Number One. And this year, Luffenholtz Beach in Trinidad was the eighth most polluted in the state.

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KHUM In-Depth: Climate Change in Humboldt
Written by Bayley Brown for the Lost Coast Outpost   

7/21/17

 

Here in Humboldt, we have front row seats for climate change. Sea level rise in one direction. Stronger and more frequent wildfires in the other. Responses are all over the spectrum from President Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord to Governor Brown saying “California is all-in on de-carbonizing our economy.”  In this installment of KHUM In Depth, we talk with experts and local community members who are working to assess how Humboldt will be affected by climate change and what we could and should be doing about it now.

 

We talk with environmental engineer, former Harbor District Commissioner and current County Supervisor Mike Wilson as well as Humboldt Baykeeper’s Jennifer Kalt about challenges we face along the populated coast when it comes to sea level rise.  Janet Upton of Cal Fire tells us from her Sacramento office how hotter, dryer summers have changed the wildfire landscape in California and what the state is doing to address these changes.  Climate Vulnerability Assessment expert and lecturer at Humboldt State University, Michael Furniss, speaks about steps we are taking on the local and state level to curb carbon emissions.  We also talk with Katie Gurin from our local chapter of 350.org about the organization’s focus in combating climate related issues in our community. 

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California Today: Surf, Sun and Bacteria
Written by Mike McPhate, New York Times   

6/27/17

 

Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit, recently issued its annual report card for bacterial pollution at more than 400 beaches along the Pacific Coast.

 

During the dry days of summer last year, the vast majority of California beaches had excellent grades.

 

But winter was a different story. As record rainfall swept through the state’s cityscapes and pushed billions of gallons of runoff out to sea, water quality plummeted.

 

“It’s indicative of a water mismanagement issue in California,” she said. “If we were doing a better job of rethinking that runoff we could turn it from a nuisance into a resource.”

 

Humboldt County’s Clam Beach, which is fed by two creeks, was named California’s most polluted beach by Heal the Bay.

 

The problem there has vexed local environmentalists who cite a panoply of possible causes: bird poop, campground toilets, old septic systems, livestock and more.

 

“There’s no shortage of theories,” said Jennifer Kalt, the director of Humboldt Baykeeper, an environmental group.

 

Better understood is that bacterial pollution rises sharply immediately after a rain, then typically goes right back to normal. That’s why health experts recommend beachgoers wait three days to enter the ocean after a storm.

 

“I think oftentimes people think kids just get diarrhea or stomach aches for other reasons,” Ms. Kalt said. “But studies have shown that it’s often correlated with rainfall. If it rains one day and then the next day it’s sunny, people don’t really give it much thought.”

 

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Clam Beach state’s worst
Written by Sam Armanino, Times-Standard   

High bacteria levels in county watersheds trigger search for cause 


6/17/17


Every year environmental scientists for Humboldt County take samples from the mouth of Strawberry Creek where freshwater meets saltwater on Clam Beach. For the last four years, the beach has made an environmental group’s “Beach Bummer list,” but this year it’s the most polluted beach on the annual report.

Karen Vu, data analyst for Santa Monica-based Heal The Bay, said her organization receives data from the whole West Coast and that its annual beach report covers all the data collected over the last year.

Vu said high amounts of bacteria could be potentially harmful to swimmers, who she cautioned to be mindful when going into riverways, because poor water quality can lead to infections and if consumed can cause intestinal problems.

In the last three years, Clam Beach dropped in ratings from an “A” rating in 2013 to an “F” rating this year.

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Dredging Options Stir Controversy
Written by Natalya Estrada, Times-Standard   

Proposal: Regulatory agencies have yet to approve permits for disposal methods

Concerns: Humboldt Baykeeper as well as members of the public voice their worries

3/10/17

Maintenance dredging of public marinas, docks and boat launches in Humboldt Bay is set to take place this year, according to Miles Slattery of Eureka Parks and Recreation.

“This is still in the preliminary stages,” Slattery said. “The (Eureka City Council) said to move forward with a hybrid approach if it is approved by the regulatory agencies.”

The dredging proposals must still be approved by three regulatory agencies — the California Coastal Commission, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt said no level of dioxins is safe, but in 2007, the city was allowed to dump the dredge materials on the beach during an emergency dredging situation. She said the toxins are known to cause cancer and reproductive damage in both humans and wildlife.

“From what we know, the city and Harbor District have not applied for any permits related to dredge spoils disposal and they need to take a much closer look at possible alternatives,” Kalt said. “Contaminants, specifically dioxins and PCBs, were detected in some areas slated for dredging in 2007. Those areas were not dredged to avoid contaminating the beach disposal site.”

Kalt also said that although the Army Corps of Engineers dredge up to three million cubic yards every year, that their spoils from the dredging are dumped at the Humboldt Open Ocean Disposal Site, which is 3 miles offshore.

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