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Updated: 3 months 6 days ago

Winter Weather to Continue with Rivers Expect to See Rapid Rises

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 10:59am
Another round of severe weather is headed our way for the next few days.

The heaviest rain is forecast for tonight into Wednesday with moderate levels continuing into Thursday, which is expected to cause “rapid rises” on area rivers with some expected to reach monitor or flood stage, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

“Periods of moderate to heavy rainfall may also cause small streams and low-lying urban areas to flood,” the NWS hydrologic outlook states. “The heaviest rain is likely to fall across primarily Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties, and the melting of recent low elevation snow may also contribute to river rises.”

Snow is also in the forecast but is not expected to bring the coastal dusting that set Humboldt a flutter over the weekend, instead staying at or above 2,500 feet. (See photo of the big snow here).

Read the NWS weather statement below:
A series of storm systems will bring a wide range of active weather to the region through Wednesday and beyond. This will include widespread moderate to heavy rain, gusty winds, and mountain snow. A Wind Advisory is in effect for coastal portions of Del Norte County through noon Tuesday. Winter Storm Watches are in effect for Trinity County above 2,500 feet and the northeast Mendocino interior above 3,000 feet from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon. Please use caution if planning to travel over the next few days, and make sure to monitor road conditions. This forecast is broad and includes a large and diverse area covering all of Northwest California, and conditions will vary widely depending on your specific location.
The NWS hydrologic outlook:
Periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected from late this evening through Thursday afternoon. Rapid rises on area rivers are anticipated, with some main stem rivers expected to reach monitor and flood stage late on Wednesday through early Thursday.

Periods of moderate to heavy rainfall may also cause small streams and low-lying urban areas to flood. The heaviest rain is likely to fall across primarily Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties, and the melting of recent low elevation snow may also contribute to river rises.

Harbor District Approves Lease for Massive Fish Farm

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 8:29pm
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District today approved a 30-year lease with Norwegian company Nordic Aquafarms to build a massive fish farm at the former pulp mill after hearing concerns the deal was ushered through without public review.

The plan is to build a land-based aquaculture facility that would eventually produce some 25,000 tons of fish a year – likely salmon or steelhead – to serve as the West Coast hub for Nordic Aquafarms, which is currently in the process of developing an East Coast equivalent in Belfast, Maine.

The agreement comes with two automatic 10-year renewals but also includes a three-year option, or “planning period,” during which the company will be pursuing the necessary permits before the full lease would go into effect.

During that time, Nordic will pay the harbor district $20,000 a year. The rent will increase to $159,128 annually after the three-year mark. Included in the terms is the right for the company to discharge 6 million gallons of wastewater per day using the site’s ocean outfall pipe, which extends 1.5 miles offshore.

Nordic would also pay a $500,000 fee to access the district’s electric substation.

The facility will use a recirculating aquaculture system, or RAS, which utilizes large tanks and water treatment systems, a method the company says prevents many of the common issues associated with raising fish in offshore pens, including pollution from waste, chemical use and the potential to pass on diseases and parasites to wild fish.

Read previous Journal coverage of the fish farm proposal here.

Several commissioners said the item before the harbor board was just about the land and this was only the start of a long process that will have ample opportunity for public comment.

“This is step one,” Commissioner Larry Doss said. “This is the beginning of due diligence.”

With the lease approval coming immediately after the first details were aired publicly, one speaker called the decision a “missed opportunity for engagement.”

Others in the standing-room-only crowd — many identifying themselves as being involved in commercial fishing — also noted that they wished the harbor district would put more effort into maintaining the harbor for those who are still trying to make a living off the sea, and some questioned whether the fish farm would end up being their…

Drug Task Force Record Streak Continues with Loleta Bust

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 12:49pm
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force continued its record streak Sunday with the seizure of 12 pounds of heroin stashed in a hidden compartment during a traffic stop in Loleta — believed to be the largest one-stop confiscation in the county’s history.

Two men — Carlos Cota-Alonso and Edgar Barragan-Castano — from Sonora, Mexico, were arrested during the operation that included task force special agents being assisted by a narcotic detection K9 and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

Agents had previously obtained a search warrant for the vehicle after establishing “probable cause to believe that both subjects were distributing multiple pounds of heroin in Humboldt County.”

Also recovered was $6,000 in cash that is “be held pending asset forfeiture proceedings."

This record-breaking seizure comes on the heels of record-breaking year for the task force. Over the course of 2018, the multi-agency investigative team recovered nearly 35 pounds of the drug — more than double the volume confiscated in the previous six years combined.

In the Jan. 17 Journal article “Out of the Shadows,” which looked at the causes behind the surge, Sgt. Jesse Taylor attributed the increase to a “perfect storm” of circumstances, including an upsurge in heroin use tied to prescription painkillers and changes in sentencing laws.

"Unfortunately, I think it's going to be a trend. ... I don't see this issue going away," Taylor said.

And, he said, the drug task force, which focuses its efforts on meth and heroin trafficking, has quite simply gotten better at its mission.

Read the full drug task force release below:

On February 10th, 2019, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Special Agents with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, with the assistance of narcotic detection K9 with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 1000 block of Hookton Road, Loleta. Agents had previously received information, and obtained a search warrant, for a vehicle being driven by Adrian Carlos Cota-Alonso and Edgar Barragan-Castano (both from Sonora, Mexico). Agents established probable cause to believe that both subjects were distributing…

Photos from Humboldt's Big Snowfall

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 12:16pm

Well, that was a lot of snow. In case you were locked away with the curtains closed during a social media fast, Humboldt saw between 1 and 8 inches of snowfall late Saturday night. The roads were treacherous and power went out in some areas but folks around Humboldt also captured the beauty of this weather anomaly (which doesn't mean global warming isn't real — tell your uncle/president). The snow has melted away in lower elevation areas but we'll always have those midnight snowball fight memories. We put out the call and some fine folks shared their winter wonderland images with us by tagging us on Instagram and replying on Facebook. Enjoy their frosty photos in the slideshow below.

Fatal Single-Car Crash Near Benbow

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 9:04am
A 63-year-old man was killed last night when he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree on U.S. Highway 101 near Benbow.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the man — whose identity isn’t being released until his family can be notified of his death — was traveling southbound shortly before 9 p.m. when for unknown reasons he allowed his 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer to drift off the roadway and into a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation and it is currently unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor, according to CHP. See the full press release below:


Massive Fish Farm Proposed for Pulp Mill Site (Video)

Sun, 02/10/2019 - 1:40pm
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and Norwegian company Nordic Aquafarms are set to formally sign a lease Monday for the development of a massive fish farm at the former Samoa Pulp Mill.

According to the harbor district, the project will include “the removal of all remaining deteriorating buildings and unutilized infrastructure” at the 30-acre property, which was the site of a multi-agency clean-up effort in 2014 to avert a looming catastrophic environmental disaster on the edge of Humboldt Bay.

Read previous Journal coverage about the removal of nearly 3 million gallons of caustic pulping liquors abandoned in failing storage tanks by Evergreen Pulp here, here and here.

The proposed project is forecast to “result in the investment of hundreds of millions dollars in the local economy,” the harbor district’s release states.

According to a report in seafood business publication Undercurrent, the project “represents a potential $400 million investment,” bringing around 80 jobs. Eventually, the article states, plans are to produce some 25,000 tons of fish a year at the facility.

In a Facebook post linking to the article, harbor district Commissioner Richard Marks described the fish farm as a nearly half-billion-dollar project, writing that “new construction will bring many hardhats to the area and then many high end Fishery jobs for biologists form Humboldt State.”

A land-based aquaculture facility – likely producing salmon or steelhead – the venture will serve as the West Coast base of operations for Nordic Aquafarms, which is currently in the process of developing an East Coast equivalent in Belfast, Maine, according to the company.

The facility will use what is known as recirculating aquaculture system, or RAS, which utilizes large tanks and water treatment systems in raising the fish. The company says the method prevents many of the common concerns associated with farm fishing in offshore pens, including pollution from waste, chemical use and the potential to pass on diseases and parasites to wild fish.

“We will now be situated on both coasts, which fits into our strategy of locating fish farms close to major regional markets,” said Marianne Naess, Nordic’s commercial director, in a release. “The Humboldt location will enable us to reach more than 50 million people within a 12-hour drive or less, which reduces the cost and environmental impact of transportation while supplying…

UPDATE: Snow Day! And Why You Should Stay Off the Roads, if Possible

Sun, 02/10/2019 - 9:49am

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services reports that 8,000 customers are without power across the region as of 11 a.m.

Below is the OES’ latest report on the status of local roadways:

State Route 36 is closed at Alderpoint Road in Bridgeville due to downed trees. Chains required between Bridgeville and Dinsmore.

U.S. Highway 101 is now open to one-way controlled traffic in northern Mendocino County, after a full closure for snow and rock slides.

State Route 299 is closed 3.3 miles east of Humboldt County line in Trinity County due to downed trees. In Humboldt, chains are required from ~12 miles west of State Route 96.

Check out preliminary snow fall levels via the Eureka office of the National Weather Service here.


In case you missed it, or in some cases simply haven't looked outside yet this morning, Humboldt County got a healthy dollop of snow last night and early this morning, from the peaks down to the shores.

Anecdotal reports have snow falling throughout the county, with accumulations of more than an inch — and up to 4 — in areas from Eureka to the Arcata Bottoms and up to McKinleyville and Westhaven. The snowfall, which began around 10 p.m. last night and continued almost until daybreak in some areas, has tapered off, with partly cloudy conditions expected to persist throughout the day until a chance of rain showers takes over tonight, according to the National Weather Service website.
The Weather Service is advising folks to monitor local road conditions closely today, to carry chains if traveling inland and to drive with extreme caution, if they must leave the house at all.

According to the California Highway Patrol incident page, there are a host of hazards throughout the county, from downed trees to icy conditions. Motorists are advised to use extreme caution and, again, stay home if possible.

Caltrans reports that U.S. Highway 101 is subject to one-way controlled traffic at various locations between Leggett and Garberville due to rockslides. State Route 299, meanwhile, is closed about 3 miles east of the Humboldt-Trinity county line due to downed trees, and chains are required 12 miles west of the junction with State Route 96. State Route 36 is closed at Alderpoint Road in Bridgeville…

UPDATED: Winter Storm Could Bring Snow Down to 500 Feet This Weekend

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 3:17pm

The winter storm is hitting the region today, with the Eureka office of the National Weather Service describing deteriorating conditions over Berry Summit. Caltrans is reporting that chains are required.

For the most up-to-date conditions, visit Caltrans’ QuickMap website.
Mother Nature is about to unleash another cold snap on the region this weekend with the Eureka office of the National Weather Service forecasting a storm that could leave a dusting of snow down to 500 feet.

A winter storm warning will be in effect for the Southern Humboldt interior from 4 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday. State routes 299, 36 and 3 are expected to be impacted along with summits on U.S. Highway 101.

The white stuff is expected to start coming down on Saturday and continue overnight into Sunday. Elevations above 2,500 feet could see 5 to 15 inches while about 1 inch is possible between 500 and 1,500 feet.

The weather service warns of “hazardous driving conditions” from the snow in the mountains and the hail that may accumulate on roads on the coast.

Post from the National Weather Service:
A cold storm system will produce heavy snow across the mountains this weekend, with light accumulations possible near 500 to 1000 feet along the coast. In addition, small hail may accumulate on coastal roadways Saturday night through Sunday, resulting in hazardous driving conditions. Please evaluate weekend travel plans and continue to monitor the forecast for updates in the coming days! Winter Storm Warning Details from NWS:
* WHAT: Heavy snow expected. Plan on difficult travel conditions.
Total snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches above 2500 feet, with
localized amounts up to 20 inches across remote higher
elevations. Lighter snow amounts are expected to as low as 1000

* WHERE: Southern Humboldt Interior, Northern Trinity, Southern Trinity and Northeastern Mendocino County Interior. Highways impacted include 299, 36, 3, and even a few summits along Highway 101.

* WHEN: 4 AM Saturday to 4 PM Sunday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Slow down, allow extra time and be prepared for changing conditions. Check the latest forecasts and call 1-800-427-7623 for current road conditions and chain
requirements before traveling. Be alert for rock slides in
mountainous terrain.

New Funding Sought for Last Chance Grade

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 1:54pm
More funding could be coming to the help fix the 3-mile-long stretch of U.S. Highway 101 in Del Norte County known as Last Chance Grade in the race to ward off the billion dollar economic loss a catastrophic failure could cost.

Connecting California’s northern coastal reaches to the rest of the state, the roadway is falling into the Pacific, having shifted some 50 feet west since 1937.

According to a release, Caltrans is slated to request $40 million from the California Transportation Commission to aid in finding a solution for the failing section with an ominous name.

The money would go toward completing the environmental studies needed to move forward with a project that comes with just about every conceivable stumbling block possible — from old growth redwoods to unstable terrain to a United Nations’ World Heritage site.

Then, there’s the price tag — estimated between $300 million to $1 billion, depending on which of six alternative routes move forward. Meanwhile, more than $55 million has been spent on temporary fixes over the last decade.

Read previous Journal coverage about the complicated story of Last Chance Grade here, here and here.

Some $10 million has already been invested in geotechnical studies and the initial environmental study in an effort to nail down which of the potential options would be the best one.

“This final $40 million needed for the environmental study puts an end to the band-aid approach to fixing the Last Chance Grade,” said Senator McGuire. “Everyone has been working together on a permanent fix and we finally have the momentum to get this job done. We have been grateful to partner with Assemblymember (Jim) Wood, Congressman (Jared) Huffman, the Del Norte Board of Supervisors, Crescent City Council and Caltrans on this critical project. While this is a day to celebrate, we know the real work is still ahead.”

The funding request is slated to go before the commission in March.

Read the Last Chance Grade release below:
Sacramento, CA – For decades, the residents of Del Norte and Humboldt Counties have been in search of a permanent fix for Highway 101's Last Chance Grade as it continues to slide into the Pacific.

The Last Chance Grade is the lifeblood of Del Norte County’s economy…

What California’s ‘Nonbinary’ Gender Designation Will Cost Teen Drivers

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:38am
In a little-noticed side impact of California’s 2018 law granting drivers the option of listing their gender as nonbinary, California’s Department of Insurance has decreed that auto insurance companies can no longer grant breaks in insurance rates to teen drivers who are female or charge young men more.

Outgoing Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, in one of his final acts in office, issued a regulation last month prohibiting the use of gender in automobile insurance rating, similar to regulations in six other states.

Jones’ replacement, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, supports that policy, saying in a statement: “Gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation are beyond your control, and it is not a fair or even an effective way to predict risk.”

Jones’ regulatory action received coverage in The New York Times and elsewhere. But the genesis of Jones’ decision received far less attention—and had nothing to do with car insurance.

It was, at least in part, legislation by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins granting motorists the option of listing their gender as male, female or nonbinary. As the bill wended its way through the Legislature, Atkins and other backers said it would be a blow for equality.

“Mindful of all the people I know who are gender-nonconforming, and the families I know with transgender children, I wanted to make sure that California continued to be a leader in gender-identity equality,” Atkins said after Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law in October.

Lobbyists for insurance companies had been neutral on the bill, having received assurances that it would have no impact on auto insurance rates.

Rex Frazier, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of California, which represents several major auto insurance companies, said insurers were blindsided by Jones’ justification for the regulation, pointing out that none of the 10 legislative analyses of the Atkins bill made any mention of the bill’s impact on insurance rates.

“It is commonly understood that teenage male drivers are generally a higher risk than teenage female drivers,” Frazier said in a letter to the Department of Insurance. “Eliminating gender rating would require female teenage drivers to subsidize teenage male drivers.”

Frazier said the gender of teen drivers can result in an additional cost for boys or discount for girls of about 6 percent on their premiums. Drivers…

Steps Made to Protect the Klamath Spring Run Chinook

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 3:35pm
A first step in protecting Klamath–Trinity spring run Chinook as a separate species took place this week with the California Fish and Game Commission making the fish a candidate for an endangered species listing in the state.

According to a release from the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council, a final decision will be made within one year but, in the meantime, the so-called springers will “be afforded all the protections of a listed species.”

That includes fishing restrictions but the release notes that the tribe and the council want to work with fishermen and the agency for “common sense” regulations.

"There is a population of hatchery born spring Chinook on the Trinity River that can and should be fished," Karuk Tribe Executive Director Joshua Saxon said in the release.

With spring run teetering on the brink of extinction, the tribe and SRRC have pushed for a state and federal listing, finally backed with DNA evidence that shows the fall and spring Chinook runs are genetically different.

Aiding in the research done by University of California at Davis scientists was a cache of old fish bones — some dating back 5,000 years — found in a cave nestled in the Upper Klamath Basin.

While the spring run Chinook once made their way into those cool, deep waters in the far-flung reaches of the basin, the fish are now blocked by a series of dams, which are slated for removal in the largest project of its kind —  with work slated to begin in 2020.

Meanwhile, the hope is the springers can hang on until the walls come down.

To learn more about the scientific breakthrough that helped prove what the Karuk and other Native American tribes that have lived in the Klamath basin for millennia have long known — that springers and fall run Chinook are not the same — read the Journal’s Aug. 16, 2017, story “One Fish, Two Fish.”

"These fish have been on the brink of extinction for years," Saxon said, "but no one believed us when we said they were a distinct species from fall Chinook until now."

Read the full release from the Karuk Tribe and SRRC below:
Sacramento, CA – Yesterday the California Fish…

Huffman Appointed to New Congressional Climate Crisis Committee

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 10:27am
North Coast Representative Jared Huffman has been appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on a new Congressional committee formed to address the devastating effects of climate change.

“Communities in my district on the North Coast of California are already feeling the impacts of climate change, including warming and acidifying oceans, drought, and devastating wildfires,” Huffman said in a release about his seat on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “The House of Representatives has been injected with a new sense of urgency on conservation and climate change, and I’m honored to serve on this committee under the leadership of Chair Kathy Castor to help translate this enthusiasm into action. It’s clear that we must act to address the greatest moral, economic, and environmental imperative of our time.”

Read more in the Journal's Jan. 17 story "Officials Brace for Sea Level Rise" and view the photo slideshow "King Tides Preview Sea Level Rise."

With the leadership shift in the House last month following Democratic victories in the November election, Huffman also was recently selected as chair of the House’s Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans, one of five subcommittees of the Natural Resources Committee.

Find previous coverage here.

Read the release from Huffman's office below:
Washington, D.C.- Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) will serve on the newly formed Select Committee on the Climate Crisis for the 116th Congress.

“Communities in my district on the North Coast of California are already feeling the impacts of climate change, including warming and acidifying oceans, drought, and devastating wildfires,” said Rep. Huffman. “The House of Representatives has been injected with a new sense of urgency on conservation and climate change, and I’m honored to serve on this committee under the leadership of Chair Kathy Castor to help translate this enthusiasm into action. It’s clear that we must act to address the greatest moral, economic, and environmental imperative of our time.”

Rep. Huffman has represented the second congressional district of California since 2013, and is a leading voice in Congress on climate and environmental issues. In the 116th Congress, he serves as the Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife subcommittee, which has broad jurisdiction over climate impacts to oceans and coastal communities, to water supplies, and…

Arcata Council Advances Revised Village Housing Project

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 7:08am
Arcata's The Village housing project is not dead, the City Council decided last night with a unanimous vote to reconsider the newly revised development proposal.

The project will go through three more review hearings before moving forward: one with the Arcata Planning Commission and two more with the council, including one focused on vacating St. Louis Road, said Arcata Community Development Director David Loya.

Developers presented their proposed 600-bed development to the council back in August but the council split, stalling the project.

Five months after the project appeared dead, the developer — AMCAL — reviewed and revised its plans to include an open market and to open half the apartments up to non-student community members. The revisions were publicly unveiled at an informal meeting Jan. 31 but locals still expressed concerns about impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, including parking, traffic and an influx of hundred of students. The housing project would sit on the 10-acre Craftsman Mall site on St. Louis Road, across U.S. Highway 101 from L.K. Wood Boulevard just north of campus.

AMCAL's David Moon told the council last night that the proposed 651-bed facility will dedicate half of its units to non-student residents and will include amenities like a gym and a childrens play area. It will also feature solar panels, a walking trail and car and bike sharing programs, he said. Moon was pleased to see the council move the revived project forward.

“I am very satisfied with tonight’s meeting,” Moon said. “I look forward to coming back.”…

'Rid me of This Troublesome Priest'

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 1:00am
How the Santa Rosa Diocese shuffled a quarter of its accused clergy to Humboldt's parishes and their children Earlier this month, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa took an unprecedented step — for the church, anyway — releasing a list naming 39 of its priests who have been accused of sexually abusing minors. While the North Coast began publicly grappling with predatory clergy earlier than most communities — the arrest of Rev. Gary Timmons, a former St. Bernard priest who founded Camp St. Michael in Leggett, on 17 counts of child molestation came more than six years before the nation became aware of the growing crisis in the church. But the diocese's list — which critics charge is an incomplete effort at damage control — reveals that the extent of such abuses in Humboldt County was far beyond what anyone outside the church likely knew. Consider this: Of the 39 priests on the diocese's list, at least 10 worked in Humboldt County, together comprising an almost consistent 45-year stretch when a priest who had been or would face allegations of abuse was working in a local church. Five of them worked at St. Bernard, four at St. Mary's in Arcata, three at Humboldt State University's Newman Center. And, coupled with the Santa Rosa bishops' history of extensive efforts to protect and even enable the accused, that's led some advocates to draw a very dark conclusion. "Humboldt County and Eureka, unfortunately, was one of the 'dumping grounds' for abusive clergy, and the church is not going to reveal the true depths of depravity that has existed there," says Joey Piscitelli, who was abused by a priest in the Bay Area and is now a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "What I can say without reservation is that the Catholic Church in Northern California was inundated with child rapists, pedophiles and depraved molesters for decades, and depraved bishops who harbored them, shuffled them, shielded them and enabled them without any regard for children's safety." The latest revelations from the diocese leave little doubt — if any remained — that the problems at the core of the Catholic Church's crisis were systemic and persisted for decades. Still up for debate is whether those problems remain and how an institution can go about rebuilding a trust shattered repeatedly over the course of decades, leaving families broken, lives ruined and predators on the loose. On Jan. 31, reporters crowded into a conference room of the…

Eureka Moves Forward with New Marketing Approach

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 10:58am
The Eureka City Council voted unanimously last night to take a markedly different approach to attracting tourists by putting its $370,000 in annual marketing funding out to bid, potentially ending its decades-long funding relationship with the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau.

For decades, the city has contracted with the bureau — formerly the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors bureau — to market and promote the city, giving it a portion of its transient occupancy tax that currently equals about $370,000 in annual funding. The bureau’s long-standing approach has been to largely focus on marketing and promoting the redwoods, a global draw, counting on the trees to bring tourists to the area and “put heads in beds,” eat at local restaurants and — ideally — stay an extra day or two.

The city, however, for years has felt it gets short-shrift in the relationship, as the bureau markets the entirety of Humboldt County while Eureka provides about 43 percent of its funding. (The county of Humboldt contributes about $350,000 annually and Ferndale contributes about $3,000 annually, in addition to the membership dues the bureau receives from local businesses that benefit from its marketing services.)

So last month the city indicated it was considering taking a new approach, with staff asking the council to put out a request for proposals for a more Eureka-centric marketing approach.

“Staff proposes that Eureka deliberately and strategically shift its funding and destination marketing efforts toward a marketing strategy that concentrates specifically on Eureka while simultaneously expanding the target audience to include local/regional residents and the local business community,” a staff report for the issue states. “A primary mission of the city’s new strategy is to promote the city of Eureka not only as a desirable destination but also an amazing place to live.”

Richard Stenger, the bureau’s interim executive director, who stepped into the role after the bureau’s longtime Executive Director Tony Smithers died unexpectedly last month, addressed the council and cautioned against the city moving away from its decades-long relationship with the bureau. The gist of Stenger’s point is that the bureau’s approach has been delivering, increasing bed tax revenue and tourism spending in town.

“We know where our bread is buttered and we take care of Eureka in every format and in every venue we possibly can,” he said.


SECOND UPDATE: 4.4 Quake Hits East of Blue Lake

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 10:34am
This morning’s earthquake was a magnitude-4.4 that struck east of Blue Lake, according to the USGS.

The 10:23 a.m. temblor follows a swarm of quakes that have hit off the coast since Friday while two more unrelated seismic events occurred in Cutten on Monday.

The largest of the swarm was a magnitude-4.5 that hit on Saturday.

According to the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group, the location of today's quake "puts it within the subducted Gorda plate."

A magnitude-2.6 quake in the same area followed 12 minutes later.

For more information, visit:…

SECOND UPDATE: 101 Reopened With Traffic Control (Video)

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 1:48pm

Caltrans reports that U.S. Highway 101 is now open with one-way traffic control in place, which will continue into tomorrow “due to damaged pavement.”

A 62-year-old Willits man suffered minor injuries this morning when his tanker carrying a full cargo of fuel hit a bridge rail on U.S. Highway 101 north of Leggett and overturned, according to the CHP.

The crash caused the highway to be shut down just before 6:30 a.m. Read more here.

As of 1:30 p.m., there was no estimated time for the major transportation artery into and out of Humboldt County to be reopened, although CalTrans is saying “hopefully” by this evening.

Read the release from the CHP below:
On 02/05/2019, at approximately 0620 hours, a semi-truck tanker, driven by Archie Campbell of Willits, CA., was traveling northbound on US-101, north of Leggett, in Mendocino County. The semi-truck was carrying a cargo of gasoline fuel. For reasons still under investigation, the semi-truck collided with Jitney Gultch bridge rail while negotiating the left hand curve of the bridge. The semi-truck overturned onto the roadway, blocking the northbound lane of US-101. As a result of the collision, the tank trailer began leaking fuel onto the roadway and shoulder. CHP personnel responded to the scene and assumed incident command. The driver was transported to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital for minor injuries. DUI does not appear to be a factor in this collision.

Due to the fuel spilling onto the roadway and surrounding area, Haz-Mat protocols were established. Mendocino County Environmental health was notified. US-101 has been shut down in both directions. Northbound traffic is being turned around at SR-1 and southbound traffic is being turned around at Reynolds Overcrossing, south of Piercy. An estimated time of reopening has not been determined at this time.

The California Highway Patrol Garberville Area office is investigating this collision.

The California Highway Patrol would like to remind motorists to slow down and use caution when driving in inclement weather.

North Coast Night Lights: Reflections from Trinidad

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 10:01am

I opened the camera’s shutter and waited.

It was already high tide and I didn’t expect any waves to reach me. When I had arrived half an hour earlier, I’d set up where the small waves coming in across Trinidad Harbor lapped nearly at my feet. I’d taken a few photographs from there but the incoming tide periodically sent the odd wave farther than the rest and had pushed me back up the beach.

It must have been a message to me that I needed something more interesting in the foreground, for I found myself guided to a heavy wave-sculpted piece of driftwood I hadn’t noticed before in the darkness. Its contours would help bring the foreground to life.

As I waited through the long exposure, I thought about the light falling around me. Most of the light on the beach came in from the boat launch area some distance to the right of me. It lay across the sand and surf in interesting patterns of shade made by various forms near the boat launch.

I was excited by the way the light skimmed gently across the upper surfaces of the driftwood, accentuating its contours and illuminating a mound of sand around it. Some of the light also struck the camera so I stood and waited where my body could shade the bulbous face of the wide angle lens. I wasn’t sure I had to but it couldn’t hurt. It was a long exposure and I didn’t want any slight lens flare to build up during the course of it.

It was too dark for my eyes to make out much detail in the sand but I could tell that people had been there before me, both by a vehicle’s tire tracks and by the footprints of a person near what I took to be the paw prints of a four-legged companion. Would it have been cheating, I wondered, if I’d had a bucket of water to pour over those tracks to smooth them out? Don’t photographers always want that pristine beach shot? Should I control the tracks in the photograph themselves? There is the classic shot of tracks walking away in the sand that seems compelling to photographers. I regretted the random evidence of humanity in my image at first but there is also something to be…

SECOND UPDATE: Tanker Crash Closes 101 North of Leggett

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 7:11am

Caltrans reports via tweet that not much has changed at the scene on U.S. Highway 101, which is closed north of Leggett due to an overturned truck that is leaking fluid, leaving travelers with the only option of using Interstate 5.

CalTrans is now advising motorists to use Interstate 5 as an alternate route, saying it is unknown when U.S. Highway 101 will re-open after this morning's tanker crash north of Leggett.

A Renner gas tanker overturned on U.S. Highway 101 north of Leggett and south of the Peg House about 6:30 this morning and the highway is now closed in both directions, according to the California Highway Patrol Traffic Incident Information Page.

Initial reports had the northbound lane blocked and "fluid on ground," according to the page.

At 6:50 a.m., the page reported that Renner is sending an empty truck "and will be able to pump fuel [out of] the overturned trailer."

According to Jonathan Beck, a truck driver on the scene, 101 will be closed for some time. The driver is out of the overturned truck and OK, he said. Beck was one of the first on the scene and said he and others piled dirt to stop the flowing gasoline from going into a nearby storm drain.

This report was first published at and is reposted here with permission.

Rain, Hail, Snow Expected Throughout the Day

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 12:02pm

Winter is here, bringing snow and hail throughout Humboldt County this morning, with more expected in inland areas.

A colder storm will drop snow levels from 1,500 feet down to 500 feet above sea level throughout the day. Areas around Kneeland are expected to record 5 inches of snow through tonight, with coastal snow showers expected north to Crescent City, as well. Most coastal areas, though, will primarily see rain.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for inland areas until 10 p.m., according Chris Burling with the National Weather Service. Humboldt and Del Norte counties have been hit by a series of storms that began yesterday.

The California Highway Patrol is reporting several traffic collisions throughout the county, with six collisions within the span of an hour beginning shortly before 9 a.m. Snow tires and chains are required 15 miles to 4.5 miles west of the junction of state routes 96 to 299 in Willow Creek.

After today, the showers might linger until tomorrow morning but will ultimately wind down, leaving the week looking dry through Thursday. A new system is set to come Friday and stay through next week, but there is not enough information to detail the storm.

So it looks like we’re in for some more snow, hail and rain throughout the day. Stay safe out there, HumCo.…