A months-long dispute over a stop-work order issued on the construction of a prominent local developer's private home bubbled into public view at the Aug. 18 Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting. From the dais, commission Chair Alan Bongio said he's "lost all trust" in two local tribal governments, while making some far-reaching comments about "Indians" that tribal leaders found "inappropriate" and "offensive."The dispute centers around local developer Travis Schneider's construction of his family home at the end of Walker Point Road near Fay Slough, south of the Indianola Cutoff and east of U.S. Highway 101. Late last year, it was determined the 8,000-square-foot house already under construction has a slightly different footprint than what had been listed on an approved building permit plan, that Schneider had cleared brush in areas deemed ecologically and culturally sensitive, including one identified more than a century ago as a historical Wiyot village site, and cut an unpermitted temporary construction road on the property, all in violation of his coastal development permit.Read More
The fog gave way to the sun late morning on Friday, Aug. 19, as dozens of people gathered around the podium positioned in the meadow. Spruce trees and huckleberry bushes stood in the near distance as the scent of saltwater and highway traffic drifted up from the bay and road below. Tribal Chair Ted Hernandez called for the elders to sit as they began the ceremony to mark the reclaiming of Mouralherwaqh — “wolf’s house” — by the Wiyot Tribe. When open chairs remained, former chairwoman Cheryl Seidner teased, “I see some white-hairs out there!”The tribe worked with local partners at Cal Poly Humboldt, Humboldt Baykeeper and Friends of the Dunes to secure a $1.2 million grant from the state Ocean Protection Council (OPC), enabling the Wiyot to purchase 46 acres of land from a private property owner. Plans for the site include environmental restoration and building resilience to sea level rise. It’s a historic first in terms of the state funding ancestral tribal land return to address climate change. But the story began in the mid-1800s, when settler-colonialism and land theft left the Wiyot Tribe with less than 1 percent of its ancestral territory.Read More
Members of the Wiyot Tribe and other community members gathered near King Salmon on Friday afternoon to celebrate the transfer of a 46-acre piece of land to the Wiyot people. The property – known by the Wiyot as “Mouralherwaqh,” which means “wolf’s house” – is one of the the last undeveloped pieces of land in this section of Humboldt County and is ecologically rich and diverse, containing wetlands, meadows and spruce forest and is full of native plants and wildlife. The land was purchased from a private land owner using a $1.2 million Ocean Protection Council (OPC) Proposition 1 Grant, aimed at funding projects that restore important species habitats and develop more sustainable water systems. The tribe partnered with Cal Poly Humboldt, Humboldt Baykeeper and Friends of the Dunes to obtain the grant funding and make this acquisition a reality. Read More
Two weeks after the Humboldt County Planning Commission certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for Nordic Aquafarms’ planned land-based fish factory on the Samoa Peninsula, the decision is being appealed to the Board of Supervisors. Leaders of three local nonprofits — the Redwood Region Audubon Society Chapter, the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association and 350 Humboldt — submitted a letter to the supervisors and to John Ford, the county’s director of planning and building, initiating the appeal. The letter alleges that the environmental report, which was prepared for the county by local engineering firm GHD, violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by understating several of the project’s impacts, including its greenhouse gas emissions, its energy use and the threats it poses to commercial fisheries and coastal and bay ecosystems. Read More
Press release from the Humboldt County Department of Environmental Health:Local Public and Environmental Health officials are warning recreational users of all bodies of fresh water to avoid contact with cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) after samples from Big Lagoon tested high for toxins earlier this week.Benjamin Dolf, a Supervising Environmental Health Specialist with the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services Environmental Health Division, said the samples tested in the “danger” zone which comes with very specific guidance.“When the levels meet the danger threshold, it’s important for people, animals and even watercraft to stay out of the body of water until further notice,” he said, adding that resampling is scheduled to take place at the lagoon in the next week.Other guidance for bodies of water that meet the danger threshold include the following:
Do not let pets and other animals drink or go into the water or go near the scum.
Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.
Do not eat fish or shellfish from this water.
Do not use this water for drinking or cooking.
Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.
Typically, cyanobacteria warnings come out between late July and early August, coinciding with low flows and sustained high temperatures in the inland areas which may contribute to cyanobacteria growth in the river. Formerly referred to as blue-green algae, the county has followed the lead of the state, using the term cyanobacteria as it is not algae, but bacteria.Human activities have an effect on nutrient and water flows in rivers, streams and lakes. Nutrients found in fertilizers, animal waste and human waste can stimulate blooms. Excessive water diversions can also increase water temperatures and reduce flows. People can take the following measures to prevent algal blooms in our waters:
Be conservative with the use of water, fertilizers and pesticides onyour lawn, garden or agricultural operation.
Avoid nutrient runoff by recycling any “spent” soil by tilling it back into gardens or protecting it from rainfall.
Create shade and filter out nutrients by planting or maintaining native plants around river banks.
Inspect and pump out septic systems every three to four years.
Prevent surface water runoff from agricultural and livestock areas.
Prevent erosion around construction and logging operations.
Cyanobacteria can be present in any fresh water body. It looks like dark green, blue-green, black, orange or brown scum, foam or mats on the riverbed or floating on the water. Warm water and abundant nutrients can cause cyanobacteria to grow more rapidly than usual causing “blooms.”These blooms are termed “harmful algal blooms.” Most cyanobacteria does not affect animals or people, however, a small number of cyanobacteria species are capable of producing toxins that can be harmful to animals and humans. Dogs and children are most likely to be affected because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water for longer periods of time.The presence of cyanobacteria has been previously confirmed in some water bodies within Humboldt, Mendocino and Lake counties including the South Fork Eel River, Van Duzen River, Trinity River, Clear Lake and Lake Pillsbury. It is difficult to test and monitor the many lakes and miles of our local rivers. Most blooms in California contain harmless green algae, but it is important to stay safe and avoid contact.Officials recommend the following guidelines for recreational users of freshwater areas:
Keep children, pets and livestock from swimming in or drinking water containing algal scums or mats.
Adults should also avoid wading and swimming in water containing algal blooms.
Try not to swallow or inhale water spray in an algal bloom area.
If no algal scums or mats are visible, you should still carefully watch young children and warn them not to swallow any water.
Fish should be consumed only after removing the guts and liver and rinsing fillets in tap water.
Never drink, cook with or wash dishes with water from rivers, streams or lakes.
Get medical attention immediately if you think that you, your pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by cyanobacteria toxins. Be sure to tell the doctor or veterinarian about possible contact with cyanobacteria or algal blooms.
Join or support one of the many watershed and river organizations.