The Eureka City Council is set to consider a letter from the mayor to the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, a subdivision of the California Environmental Protection Agency, regarding a potential water contamination hazard.

The letter expresses concern over the now-defunct McNamara and Peepe Lumber Mill site, as the department issued an imminent and substantial determination for the site in April 2008, with little progress being made in addressing the pollutants on site.

The letter urges action from the DTSC and other state agencies in cleaning up the site to prevent the water supply from becoming contaminated, as the money allocated by the department for the McNamara and Peepe Lumber Mill site will only be spent on investigating the site.

Brian Gerving, Eureka’s director of public works, said, “There hasn’t been any evidence of any contamination or any degradation of the safety of the city’s drinking water. We just want to ensure that (contamination) does not happen, and that’s why we want the DTSC to better prioritize the cleanup of the McNamara and Peepe site.”

The city of Eureka posted its last drinking water consumer confidence report in 2019, available at https://bit.ly/3bEBP58.

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Listen to the interview on KMUD News at https://soundcloud.com/kmudnews/state-moves-to-protect-humboldt-bay-area-drinking-water
A state agency is reinvigorating efforts to prevent dioxins at a former lumber mill site from reaching the Mad River and the drinking water supply of 88,000 county residents.
Of concern is potentially migrating dioxins from pentachlorophenol (PCP), a wood preservative that was used at the mill site prior to Blue Lake Forest Products’ ownership.
The old mill site is about a mile upstream from Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District intake wells and the contamination has been a lingering issue. The district has opposed the area’s industrial zoning and subsequent cannabis manufacturing permits.
Jen Kalt, Humboldt Baykeeper’s executive director, said the new round of testing will include a tributary of Hall Creek, which flows into the Mad River.
“The fact that the groundwater elevation has risen 15 feet since 2003 is really concerning, because that could be pushing the plume of dioxin contamination toward the Mad River,” said Kalt.
Results of the sampling are expected this spring. Timing of a clean-up remediation plan is uncertain but Kalt said Humboldt Baykeeper will press for action.
“It’s been a fairly long time that this site has been threatening the drinking water supply in the Mad River and there’s just no excuse for any additional delays,” she continued.
She added, “There are a lot of contaminated sites around the state but this one is the highest priority in Humboldt County at this point, because of the drinking water.”
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State Senator Mike McGuire held a town hall meeting on Thursday to discuss the Great Redwood Trail, which will eventually take its place alongside the likes of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail as an iconic American trail.
The board of the NCRA, which will soon transition into a trail authority, directed its staff to submit the necessary paperwork to the federal Surface Transportation Board.
In December, McGuire introduced legislation to dismantle the supremely dysfunctional NCRA and create the nation’s longest rail-to-trail. Senate Bill 69, he said, “will officially, and once and for all, disband the North Coast Railroad Authority, which is a hot mess and is bankrupt.” In its place the bill would create the Great Redwood Trail Authority and empower it to construct and operate eponymous pathway.
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At a town hall meeting this evening on the Great Redwood Trail, a proposed 300 mile path that would stretch from Marin to Humboldt along a dilapidated North Coast Railroad Authority train line, Senator Mike McGuire announced that authorities are moving forward with the key step of “railbanking” the right-of-way, he also discussed the details of SB69, a bill in the legislature which will create the Great Redwood Trail Agency if passed, and highlighted 1.6 miles of trail in downtown Willits that are soon to be built.
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On Tuesday, the final day of the Trump administration, Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt honored the natural beauty and ecological value of Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes by designating them national natural landmarks. 

The National Natural Landmarks Program, managed by the National Park Service, recognizes sites that have “outstanding biological and geological resources” while encouraging their conservation.“It’s a way of recognizing truly special places that are of national significance,” said Mike Cipra, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of the Dunes.

The undulating sand mounds, woody swales and verdant wetlands of Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes, located on the Samoa Peninsula west of Arcata, are home to a remarkably diverse array of native flora. Coniferous and riparian forests rise above patches of pale green reindeer lichen, blooming sand verbena and Menzies wallflower, to name just a few species.

The Lanphere Dunes and Ma-le’l Dunes are part of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, though the southern section of the Ma-le’l Dunes are on land owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management and managed cooperatively. 

Jennifer Kalt, executive director of the nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, was excited by the designation news. 

“We are really so lucky to have these places so close by and in such intact condition,” she said. “They’re really unique and amazing places and unlike anything else really I’ve ever seen anywhere.”

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