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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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.”

Donna Tam, Eureka Times-Standard, Nov. 21, 2009


With the high cost of dioxin testing and the controversy that seems to accompany dioxin cleanup projects, North Coast agencies are looking for a way to pool resources and establish a dioxin sampling protocol.

The workgroup, an idea hatched in 2006 after Humboldt Bay was listed as impaired by dioxins, is spearheaded by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and consists of several agencies concerned with the bay's health, including Humboldt Baykeeper and the city of Eureka.

11/13/09  With the recent controversy over dioxins at various sites near the bay, Humboldt Baykeeper is highlighting the near completion of what it deems a complete and responsible cleanup: The former Simpson plywood mill on Del Norte Street.

Dave McEntee, vice president of operational services and external affairs for Simpson Timber Co., said the main part of the cleanup plan should be complete within two to four weeks.

”We may have to come back in spring for additional planted fore restoration,” McEntee said. “The heavy lifting -- the reconstruction -- will be done.”

The cleanup project at the former flea market site, located behind Costco at the southern end of Eureka, began in February 2008 as a part of a 2006 settlement with Baykeeper and the Californians for Alternatives to Toxics. It calls for the removal of contaminated sediment as well as restoring the area to a functioning wetland and installing a network of groundwater-monitoring wells to ensure that residual subsurface contamination doesn't leave the site.

Nov. 4, 2007 Press Release

Humboldt Baykeeper


(San Francisco) On October 31 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report criticizing California’s water pollution permits. EPA agreed to perform an audit of randomly selected permits as a condition of a settlement reached in a lawsuit brought by San Francisco Baykeeper, Communities for a Better Environment and Ecological Rights Foundation in 2006.

San Francisco Baykeeper, Humboldt Baykeeper, Communities for a Better Environment and Ecological Rights Foundation sued EPA in 2006 to require the agency to stop California’s Water Boards from including loopholes in pollution permits that effectively exempt large industrial polluters and cities’ sewage plants from having to meet deadlines for pollution limits.

These extensions allowed major dischargers, such as the Tesoro oil refinery, to discharge elevated levels of toxic pollutants such as mercury, dioxin, chlorinated organic pesticides, and PCBs, which are dangerous to both human beings and aquatic species. The Water Boards are tasked with enforcing clean water laws to protect sensitive waterways such as San Francisco, San Diego and Humboldt Bays, the Sacramento, American and San Joaquin Rivers and Santa Monica Bay, which are already listed by California and EPA as severely degraded with toxic pollutants.