Coastal environments have been shown to improve our health, body and mind.

 

The benefits of “blue space” – the sea and coastline, but also rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, even fountains – are associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations. 

 

An extensive 2013 study on happiness in natural environments prompted 20,000 smartphone users to record their sense of wellbeing and their immediate environment at random intervals. Marine and coastal margins were found by some distance to be the happiest locations, with responses approximately six points higher than in a continuous urban environment.

 

There are three established pathways by which the presence of water is positively related to health, wellbeing and happiness. First, there are the beneficial environmental factors typical of aquatic environments, such as less polluted air and more sunlight. Second, people who live by water tend to be more physically active – not just with water sports, but walking and cycling.

 

Third – and this is where blue space seems to have an edge over other natural environments – water has a psychologically restorative effect. White says spending time in and around aquatic environments has consistently been shown to lead to significantly higher benefits, in inducing positive mood and reducing negative mood and stress, than green space does.

 

People of all socioeconomic groups go to the coast to spend quality time with friends and family. Dr Sian Rees, a marine scientist at the University of Plymouth, says the coastline is Britain’s “most socially levelling environment”, whereas forests tend to be accessed by high-income earners. “It’s not seen as being elite or a special place, it’s where we just go and have fun.

 

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With five words, it became official — Duluwat Island is being returned to the Wiyot people, for whom it is the physical and cultural center of the universe, a sacred piece of land with the power to bring balance to all else.

 

“Unanimous yes vote. Motion carries,” said Eureka City Clerk Pam Powell, drawing a standing ovation from the hundreds of people who had filled the Adorni Center this morning to watch the city take the unprecedented step of returning 200 acres of land stolen generations ago to the Wiyot Tribe, which has called the North Coast home since time immemorial.

 

The emotional ceremony saw multiple generations of local residents gathered in the Adorni Center to witness the historic vote, many wiping tears from their eyes. 

 

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The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District has appealed the permitting of a Glendale cannabis manufacturing complex, stating that project’s development on a former lumber mill site runs the risk of “contaminating the district’s drinking water supplies.”

 

Filed on September 19 and revised a week later, the appeal challenges the county Planning Commission’s Sept. 5 approval of the project’s permits. At the hearing, the project site’s uncertain groundwater and soil contamination status was raised as an issue and it’s one that concerned commissioners.

 

Located on Glendale Drive just east of the Route 299 Exit 4 onramp and off ramp, the site was used for lumber storage by the former McNamara and Peepe Lumber Mill. By the time the mill changed ownership in 1986 and became Blue Lake Forest Products, use of the toxic wood preservative pentachlorophenol (PCP) had been banned.

 

Interviewed after the appeal was filed, Kalt said Baykeeper “has been trying to educate the county” because the appealed project is the fourth one that’s been permitted on former mill sites with potential contamination.

 

“They’re just not listening,” she continued.

 

The DTSC’s documents are outdated, inaccurate and don’t mention the district’s intakes or critical habitat for salmon and other species, said Kalt.

 

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The county Planning Commission’s review of a Glendale cannabis manufacturing project has exposed a lack of testing for dioxins on former mill and lumber storage sites, which could have implications for drinking water.

 

Considering the stakes, one commissioner described the lack of testing as “ridiculous.”

 

The uncertain contamination status of the project site eclipsed concerns about volatile manufacturing and an assumed link between cannabis and crime as the commission reviewed the project at its September 5 meeting

There were concerns about those uses from neighboring residents. But a more entrenched issue soon became apparent.

 

Ryan Plotz, the attorney for the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, warned of potential effects on drinking water. “The district is seriously concerned that the project’s construction and operation will result in contaminated soils and groundwater flowing into the nearby Hall Creek, which flows into the Mad River and ultimately into the district’s downstream intake wells,” he said.

 

Plotz said groundwater levels of toxic pentachlorophenol (PCP) have “skyrocketed” since the sites were deemed uncontaminated in 2003.

 

“What’s really important is that no dioxin sampling has been done on the soil of this property at all. And these sites need to be tested for dioxins, not just pentachlorophenol – just as you would test old buildings for lead and asbestos, every lumber mill site in this county needs to be tested for dioxins.” 

 

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With conflicting and uncertain data on the contamination of a northern Humboldt former lumber mill site, there is concern about the safety of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District's drinking water. Daniel Mintz reports.

 

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