On Wednesday, Humboldt Baykeeper filed an appeal to the California Coastal Commission of Mercer Fraser's asphalt plant at Big Lagoon.On Wednesday, Humboldt Baykeeper filed an appeal to the California Coastal Commission of Mercer Fraser's asphalt plant at Big Lagoon.
Photo: Asphalt plant east of Big Lagoon operating under a temporary permit in 2017.
In September, the County Planning Commission approved a 5-year permit with a 5-year extension for an asphalt plant just east of Big Lagoon. The County's environmental review was limited to the impacts of the 1-year temporary permit that was approved in 2017. The County failed to address many of its own coastal policies, including impacts to recreation, sensitive habitat, scenic views, and floodplain development.
The site is within the 100-year flood zone adjacent to Maple Creek on the site of the former Louisiana-Pacific lumber mill, which was dismantled in 2003. Potential industrial contamination at the site has not been analyzed.
The asphalt plant would be allowed to operate 24/7 with no plan to limit light pollution, odor, and other impacts to a designated Coastal Scenic Area, Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area, Big Lagoon County Park and Campground, and CDFW's Big Lagoon Wildlife Area. Although the temporary permit expired in March, the asphalt plant is still on the site, and is visible from Big Lagoon and Highway 101.
Big Lagoon is an important area for coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead and coastal Cutthroat trout, tidewater goby, migratory birds, and water-based recreation, including kayaking, fishing, sailing, windsurfing, waterfowl hunting, standup paddling board, and swimming.
If you recreate at Big Lagoon and/or Maple Creek, we want to hear from you! Tell us why you love Big Lagoon and how often you go there.