3/31/11

One morning last September Pete Nichols of Humboldt Baykeeper was up early working, listening to the radio in the background. Something on the BBC news caught his attention.

“I heard an interview with this Iraqi, Azzam Alwash, talking about his [river] restoration work for an organization called Nature Iraq.” Nichols recalled. “It was this fantastic story of restoring the wetlands that were supposedly the Garden of Eden.”

He decided to learn more. Now, six months later, Nichols is catching a plane to the Middle East — destination Iraq. He leaves this week to go meet Azzam Alwash in person.

Nichols established Humboldt Baykeeper seven years ago as part of the larger Waterkeeper Alliance, an advocacy organization started 15 years ago by Robert Kennedy Jr., initially bringing together likeminded groups on the East Coast. “The Hudson Riverkeeper group was the genesis of it all; that was started by commercial fishermen in the ‘60s,” said Nichols. “There are 192 groups right now, nationally and internationally.” And the next may be Waterkeeper Iraq.

Since Nichols serves on the Waterkeeper board, he’s among those responsible for what are known as site visits, basically checking out new chapters before they are brought into the fold. One such visit took him to China two years ago; this one is a bit different.

 

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The Safe Kids Humboldt Fund was designed to ensure that all kid's in Humboldt County have access to functional, Personal Floatation Devices (PFD's or 'lifejackets'), bike helmets and bike safety gear, and car seats.  In addition, the Fund will support outreach and educational activities designed to educate Humboldt County residents and visitors alike about water safety on North Coast waterways.
 
For more information, or to contribute to the fund, contact the Humboldt Area Foundation (HAF) at (707) 442-2993.

8/30/10

An unusual school project will get a local movie debut on Thursday at Arcata Theatre Lounge's monthly Ocean Night.

Arcata Elementary School students took part in a “dynamic project” last June aimed at demonstrating the importance of protecting the oceans and not allowing litter to reach the water, said Allison Poklemba, education program manager for the Arcata Community Recycling Center, a partner in the project.

Students took part in a beach cleanup, collected 6,000 bottles in a plastics collection drive and simulated the Pacific Ocean gyre, or garbage patch, a swirling mass of plastic waste currently residing in the ocean.

”Every student in every grade had an opportunity to learn about how trash impacts our environment and the ocean,” she said.

After the project was completed, Sunny Brae Middle School students put together a 14-minute video on the project called “The Seagull's Dream.” The school planned to send copies of the DVD to other districts in the area to use it as a starting point for discussions, but now it will be put up on the silver screen in Arcata.

The short film will be featured at the Theatre Lounge's Ocean Night, along with “September Sessions” and “A Sheltered Sea: The Journey of the Marine Life Protection Act.” The monthly Ocean Night is sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, Humboldt Surfrider and Humboldt Baykeeper, and features movies that explore the sea  “from majestic documentaries to epic surf flicks,” according to the Theatre Lounge website.

The school's short documentary of its project is from the point of view of a seagull, narrated by fifth grader Stella Joy. The film covered what students learned about the ocean and litter, and the amount of trash found at local beaches, with a focus on the main project -- stringing a huge spiral of plastic bottles on the field to simulate the large mass of plastic waste already in the Pacific Ocean.

At the film's end, all the students from the school gathered around the spiral of plastic and made a pledge to keep the sea litter free.

”It was really a powerful experience for the kids,” Poklemba said.

Poklemba said she did not realize when they were undertaking the project that it would have a screening at the Theatre Lounge, but it should broaden the reach of the project.

”This is really a bonus,” Poklemba said.

Arcata Elementary School Principal Margaret Flenner said her students are excited the Theatre Lounge will be showing the culmination of their project. Students are now much more aware of the issues that face the Pacific Ocean and the planet, even though many were already familiar with the benefits of recycling. With the video showing at the Arcata theater, she hopes it will help spread the information.

”Kids, when they put the message out, people listen,” Flenner said.

 

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9/27/10

Toast

* A toast to Humboldt Baykeeper and Security National for coming to a rare agreement in the long-drawn-out battle over the Balloon Track. In a rare moment of solidarity, Humboldt Baykeeper and Security National both hailed a settlement in a lawsuit brought by the environmental group over contamination on Eureka's Balloon Track property as a good thing and a step forward for the community.

Filed in 2006, Baykeeper's suit was initially brought against Union Pacific Railroad, but was inherited by Security National when its subsidiary, CUE VI, purchased the Balloon Track property from the railroad company in October 2006 with its sights set on building Marina Center, a 42-acre mixed-use development featuring residential, office and retail space, as well as an 11-acre wetland reserve.

Wednesday, Baykeeper and Security National both announced the settlement and stated they are looking forward to a cleanup of the property.

Security National Vice President Randy Gans called the settlement “a win for the community.”

Baykeeper Executive Director Pete Nichols said Security National and Baykeeper's technical experts will work together to review development and cleanup plans, and that any disagreements will be resolved by a neutral third-party mediator.

We know it's not over until it's over, but this is an encouraging sign.

 

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7/22/10
 
Humboldt Baykeeper and the Environmental Protection Information Center have again filed a lawsuit against Eureka challenging the validity of the city's environmental impact report for the proposed Marina Center development.

The suit, filed in Humboldt County Superior Court last week, argues that the city acted in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act when it voted to place a ballot measure before city voters seeking to make a host of zoning changes to the property that is the proposed location for the project.

Specifically, the suit argues that the city was required to conduct an environmental review for the ballot measure, and that the project's final environmental impact report doesn't suffice as it is currently under judicial review and is a fatally flawed document, according to Baykeeper.

”The hasty decision by the city of Eureka to place this issue on the November ballot without considering the potential environmental impacts is a disservice to the citizens of Eureka,” Baykeeper Executive Director Pete Nichols said in a press release. “The voters should know the ramifications of their decisions at the ballot box.”