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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Caltrans Exploring Adaptations For Sea Level Rise

 

Motorists of the future may find themselves driving between Arcata and Eureka atop a causeway suspended over the waters of an expanded Humboldt Bay.

 

A raised roadway one of several potential adaptation measures being considered for this six-mile stretch of Highway 101 that runs mere feet from the rising waters of Humboldt Bay.

 

On Wednesday, employees with Caltrans (the California Department of Transportation) appeared before the California Coastal Commission to deliver an update on the agency’s long-term plans to deal with sea level rise on this thoroughfare.

 

Environmental activists say such planning is urgently needed. “It’s definitely past time to be looking at building a causeway, because the sea level is rising,” Jennifer Kalt, executive director of the nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, told the Outpost Thursday. “There’s not going to be any way to stop it, so we need to be able to figure out ways to live with it.”

 

Some sea level rise projections have shown that sections of Hwy. 101 north of Eureka could see monthly flooding by 2023 if adaptation measures aren’t taken. 

 

At Wednesday’s Coastal Commission hearing, Jennifer Savage, California policy manager with the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, criticized Caltrans for failing to include adaptation measures in the Corridor Improvement Project from the beginning. 

 

“This project could have been a great example of how to do things,” she said. “Instead, it’s just one more in a long list of projects reluctantly approved despite being, as Chair [Steve] Padilla said, ‘wholly inadequate.’”

 

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