4/18/12

The Eureka City Council decided Tuesday to abandon the Waterfront Drive extension project after reviewing the project's opposition and potential for litigation.

 

”I do believe that this horse is dead, and we keep beating it,” Councilman Lance Madsen said before the council voted 3 - 2 to scrap the project. Councilman Mike Newman and Councilwoman Marian Brady dissented.

 

Newman said he couldn't support the motion because the project seemed to be a welcome idea during the city's visioning sessions. He said he would like to postpone the decision and gather more public input on the issue.

 

”I believe we need to go through more of a public process on this before we say no to Waterfront Drive,” he said.

 

The project -- a two-lane extension of Waterfront Drive from Del Norte Street to Hilfiker Lane -- has been on hold for nearly two years. The city began the project's environmental review process in 2004 but came to a standstill in 2010 due to opposition from environmental groups and the California Coastal Commission, an agency that would eventually review the project's permits. Commission staff were concerned the project is inconsistent with the California Coastal Act and would negatively impact surrounding wetlands.

 

The council heard from several environmental groups at its meeting Tuesday, with representatives from the Northcoast Environmental Center and Humboldt Baykeeper emphasizing that the project is considered inconsistent with state coastal law. NEC Board President Larry Glass said the organization has been concerned with the project since 2005.

 

”Fast forward to 2012, and nothing has changed,” he said. “It's just as illegal and inconsistent as it was in 2005.”

 

So far, the city has spent $385,000 of public transportation funds on the environmental impact report, leaving $153,000 remaining for more environmental work, according to city staff. Continuing the environmental review meant the city would have to request more transportation dollars from the Humboldt County Association of Governments. Because of the time passed, staff would have to revisit most of the work that has already been done to make sure its still applicable.

 

Councilwoman Linda Atkins said the project has too many obstacles, and the money would be better spent on other transportation projects like filling in gaps in the existing drive. The environmental review could cost another $300,000 to complete, at which point there will probably be lawsuits against the city over the report, Atkins said, and ultimately the Coastal Commission would reject the project.

 

”This is a total waste of our money and our time. And it's going to get us into a huge litigation, and it won't get us anywhere in the long run because we won't be able to build it,” she said. 

 

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STAFF PICKS

No matter how water-loving you are — fully immersed or just Bay-curious — Humboldt Baykeeper will tempt you to embrace the aquatic.

For free!

The environmental group offers a little-known, free boat ride on Saturday and Sunday mornings from early April through mid- to late October.

The theory is that once you see Humboldt Bay up close and lovely, you won’t be able to resist its charms. You’ll cherish it. And you’ll want it to stay healthy.

The hour-long nature tour is yours for just a bit of planning: Call or email in advance, put your name down for the next opening and sign a waiver. Baykeeper won’t take money even if you offer (at least, not on the boat — it’s a legal thing).

When it’s your turn to ride on the group’s 25-foot Boston Whaler, a docent will explain what you’re seeing as the bay’s silvery waters slip past. The talk might be about birds or oysters or the bay’s natural history, but docents are trained to steer away from politics. (If you must know, they’ll point you to the organization’s office in Old Town Eureka.)

 

Original Article

6/1/11

It is bittersweet to announce that our Executive Director, Pete Nichols, has been promoted to the new Western Regional Director of the Waterkeeper Alliance, Humboldt Baykeeper's parent organization.  His new position at Waterkeeper will take him around the western United States to help other Keepers with logistics, funding, and programs. 

His new promotion is outstanding for him and Humboldt Baykeeper because we will have an excellent local resource to work with on our future programs. Stay tuned for more information on the changes happening at Humboldt Baykeeper and thank you for your continued support - we are very lucky to have such a wonderful community to call home!

9/18/11

For Humboldt County residents Kate Shea Ortiz and Amelia Burroughs, participating in Saturday's 27th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day was as much about cleaning up one of their favorite beaches as it was a teaching moment for their children.

”It's so important to have this discussion with the kids and involve them,” said Ortiz as she watched her two young daughters play with Burroughs' two daughters in the sand along the north jetty under a cloudless sky. “Today we are teaching them about what goes onto the beach and what doesn't.”

Education is one of the most important components of Coastal Cleanup Day, said Humboldt Surfrider Chapter Secretary Debbie Topping. The statewide cleanup -- put on in Humboldt through the coordination of the North Coast Environmental Center -- took place Saturday morning at a handful of local beaches, rivers, bays and estuaries. Last year, an estimated 1,000 Humboldt County volunteers participated, removing over eight tons of trash and one ton of recycling.

”We are hoping to beat those numbers this year,” Topping said.

As volunteers showed up to scour the dunes and beach sand for trash, Humboldt Bay Keeper Outreach Coordinator Vanessa Vasquez handed out gloves, data cards to tally the amount of trash collected and bags for trash and recycling. She also directed volunteers to special cartons to collect discarded cigarettes brought by Tabacco Free Humboldt Coordinator Jay McCubbrey. 

”This is a great day for the cleanup; it's beautiful out,” Vasquez said as she pulled down her baseball cap to keep the sun out of her eyes. “We are seeing a really good turnout this morning.”

For Topping, the most important part of the day was getting the word out and getting people involved in the cleanup effort.

”This is a one-day event, but cleanup should happen year round,” she said.

The two largest sources of trash Topping has noticed on Humboldt beaches are cigarette butts and plastic shards.

”I am always amazed at the handfuls of little shards of plastic I find,” she said. “The problem is they just break up, they don't break down.” 

 

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4/21/11

The Tigris River is one of the most important bodies of water in the Middle East, but years of extensive toxic dumping and gravel mining have severely compromised its ecosystem. We’ll speak with Humbolt Baykeeper Executive Director Pete Nichols and Nature Iraq founder Dr. Azzam Alwash about efforts to clean up the river and the newly founded group, Upper Tigris Waterkeeper.

Listen to the radio interview from WNYC here.