The Klamath, Trinity, Eel, Russian and Smith rivers are the major northern streams that drain this sparsely populated, forested coastal area that stretches from San Francisco to the Oregon border. These rivers and their tributaries flow west to the Pacific Ocean and account for about 40 percent of the state’s total runoff.
Independent farmers believe that the “marijuana Monsantos” that are muscling in are only going to make things perpetually more detrimental for the environment. The lack of sustainability, vast amounts of water and electricity necessary for cultivation is the elephant in the room of any smoke session.
On March 29, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that cannabis cultivators with water rights are not allowed to divert surface water for cannabis cultivation activities at any time from April 1 through October 31 of this year unless the water diverted is from storage. … It’s really just common sense because it prohibits using water from surface sources, such as streams, creeks, and rivers during California’s dry season.
Water gives us life, and water does not come easily to California. It made sense to invite it to stay a while and help nurture our Gravensteins, our white figs and pear. So I’ve spent months cutting back bramble and digging out blackberry. The creek has become my workout video. I spend mornings contemplating the flow of water and noticing what mushrooms grow in the leaf litter, what animal prints inscribe the mud.
The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating in.
The winter rains have caused the biggest surge of coho salmon in a dozen years in the celebrated spawning grounds of western Marin County, one of California’s last great strongholds for the embattled pink fish. At least 648 coho this winter made their way against the current up meandering, forested Lagunitas Creek and its many tributaries on the northwestern side of Mount Tamalpais, according to a new census by biologists.
Citing impacts to water, soil and people, Jackson County commissioners are asking the state to block a proposed natural gas pipeline through Southern Oregon. The Oregon Department of State Lands is taking comments until Feb. 3 as it considers whether to grant a key permit for the controversial 239-mile pipeline that would stretch through Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties to a proposed export terminal north of Coos Bay.
Climate models using SNOTEL data predict a decline in Western snowpack. … In December, University of Arizona researchers presented new on-the-ground findings supporting these predictions. … In parts of the West, annual snow mass has declined by 41 percent, and the snow season is 34 days shorter. Scripps Institute of Oceanography climatologist Amato Evan told the San Diego Union-Tribune that “climate change in the Western U.S. is not something we will see in the next 50 years. We can see it right now.”
A coalition of groups interested in salmon recovery — California Sea Grant’s Russian River Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program (CSG), Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program and Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (RCD) — are working together and with local landowners to see if unexplored areas of these local watersheds might hold the key to the recovery of native coho salmon populations.
The giant Douglas fir hit the water with a great splash just as a powerful gust of wind from the Chinook helicopter rotors blew across the river…. The charred trunk, weighing as much as 25,000 pounds, was one of 300 fire-damaged trees that the [Yurok Indian] tribe and its partners strategically placed in the South Fork of the Trinity River this past week in an attempt to alter the current, scour out accumulated sediment and restore long-lost salmon habitat in the river.
California farmers are laboring under a daunting edict: They must stop over-pumping groundwater from beneath their ranches. The saving grace is that state law gives them more than 20 years to do it. Now, however, a landmark court ruling could force many farmers to curb their groundwater consumption much sooner than that, landing like a bombshell in the contentious world of California water.
A $1.13 million restoration award from a state agency will buoy efforts to excavate the Salt River watershed, the seven-mile channel of the Eel River that local conservationists have spent decades trying to restore. The money comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which this year handed out $27.8 million to a diverse geographical spread of water body restoration efforts.
The defunct Copper Bluff Mine in the Hoopa Valley area could be added to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. “Though the Copper Bluff Mine closed decades ago, it is still affecting the Trinity River, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the tribal fishery,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker in a statement.
Critical pools on the lower Eel River where migrating salmon swim toward their upriver spawning grounds are once again saturated with sediment, according to local researchers and river surveyors. Eel River Recovery Project board member and salmon surveyor Eric Stockwell said the shallow pools and channels make it more likely fish will contract disease or become stranded as had occurred in previous years.
A 90-year-old defunct copper mine along the Trinity River that has been draining acidic runoff and heavy metals into the Trinity River is now being eyed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a candidate to become a Superfund cleanup site.
The early 20th century wrought significant damage and changes to the Eel River and its fish populations through zealous overfishing and blockage of key tributaries by railroads and dams, which limited salmon and steelhead’s ability to recover. But projects are now underway to restore these tributaries to their previous state with the hope of simultaneously restoring the once bountiful runs in state’s third largest river basin.
Imposing new regulations on an existing industry comes with challenges, and in Humboldt, environmental concerns are among them. Earlier this month, the environmental nonprofit Friends of the Eel River, which works to protect fisheries and watersheds in the region, filed a lawsuit against Humboldt County’s Board of Supervisors.
Humboldt County tribes, fishermen, city officials and environmentalists on Tuesday called for the Board of Supervisors to support full removal of PG&E’s Potter Valley Project dams Tuesday after the utility company announced last week that it planned to auction off the project.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied the North Coast Railroad Authority’s petition to take up a longstanding court battle regarding plans to restore nearly 150 miles of railroad to the North Coast. … In July 2011, two separate environmental organizations — Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and Friends of the Eel River — filed lawsuits in Marin County challenging the railroad authority’s environmental review of its restoration project.
A controversial plan to log miles of Gualala River floodplain, including nearly century-old redwood trees just outside Gualala Point Regional Park, is back on track, setting the stage for a showdown in court or perhaps among the trees themselves.
Federal documents and emails provided to the Times-Standard contradict and call into question the Trump administration’s reasoning for disbanding a citizen’s watchdog group tasked with overseeing a multi-million dollar, publicly funded Trinity River restoration project.
A third straight year of low king salmon runs is expected to deliver another blow to one of the North Coast’s most iconic and lucrative fisheries, wildlife managers indicated Thursday, as both regulators and fishermen faced the prospect of a federally mandated plan to reverse the trend and rebuild key stocks.
Seven cities and community services districts have backed the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District’s appeal of a controversial Mercer-Fraser Company project that seeks to build a cannabis manufacturing facility along the Mad River near Glendale.
An award-winning documentary film on the long and storied history of California’s third largest river basin, the Eel River, is set to make its Humboldt County premiere Friday in Eureka. The hour-long film, “A River’s Last Chance,” chronicles the history of the river from its birth 7 million years ago up to modern events such as the impacts of the “green rush” of cannabis farms, discussions on dam impacts and the struggles of salmon populations through the past 150 years.
The Eel River was once home to one of the largest salmon populations on the West Coast. But for nearly a century, a large share of its flow has been diverted for hydroelectric power and irrigation, helping build Northern California into a world powerhouse of winemaking. … So it should come as no surprise that the prospect of ending those water diversions is stirring concern across the region.
The governing board for Humboldt County’s main water supplier is set to decide Wednesday whether to appeal the construction of a Glendale cannabis edibles and concentrates manufacturing facility that would be located near one of its drinking water pumps on the Mad River.
Was it politics or paperwork that led to the Trump administration’s decision last month to disband a public watchdog group tasked with overseeing a multi-million dollar, publicly-funded Trinity River restoration project last month?
The federal government can redirect water from a Northern California dam to prevent mass die-offs of salmon in drought years, water that otherwise would be shipped to Central Valley farmers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
After the state entered into its sixth year of drought on Saturday, Humboldt County walked away with its best rainfall total in the last five years. … A year ago at this time, the Eel River was approaching record low flow levels with salmon showing alarming signs of blindness and lethargy as they waited for heavy rains.
The Eel River flows from the Mendocino National Forest to the coast a few miles south of Eureka, CA, traversing a topographically diverse area of mountains, canyons and redwood forests. Including its tributaries, it drains more than 3,500 square miles and is the state’s third largest watershed.
Snow-capped Mount Shasta and the slumbering volcanoes of the Cascade range hold reservoirs of life-giving cold water that nourish threatened fish and could save the species when the changing climate warms downstream rivers, UC scientists say.
A four-year effort by a coalition of diverse stakeholders along California’s third largest river, the Eel River, recently culminated in the completion of a new plan aimed at restoring the watershed’s once thriving fish runs and ecosystems.
As part of an extensive effort to restore decades’ worth of impacts to the mud-choked Elk River, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a nearly $175,000 grant to allow the watershed’s stakeholders to come up with solutions.
Abnormally large waves at the entrance of Humboldt Bay caused by its shallow depth are creating treacherous conditions for boaters and barges as well as impacting shipments in and out of the bay, local officials state.
Millions of dollars from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow for dredging needed to correct unusually heavy winter shoaling that has nearly closed the entrance and channels of Humboldt Bay. … Harbor district Executive Director Jack Crider said sediment carried by the Eel River has drifted into the mouth of the bay, blocking ships that draft deeper than 25 feet.
The flukes that some Eel River chinook salmon experienced this fall were parasites that burrowed into their eyes and caused them to go blind, according to a preliminary report from an ongoing University of California Davis study.
The Environmental Protection Information Center announced Tuesday that it has filed to intervene in a lawsuit to defend the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s decision to not authorize sediment discharge and other associated waste from logging operations into the Elk River watershed.
This month’s rainfall and cooler temperatures have helped lessen the strain on salmon migrating on the Eel River, but not near enough to ease the concerns of local researchers. And they have their reasons.
Despite some troubling signs of disease and blindness, this year’s Eel River salmon run is so far shaping up to be on par with recent annual runs, according to a recent survey by the Eel River Recovery Project.
Recent high tides and brief mid-September rains gave some Eel River salmon a fleeting chance to move closer to their spawning grounds. But a lack of adequate flows on the river is causing many fish to fall ill as they crowd within small pools for weeks at a time, according to a recent survey by the Eel River Recovery Project.
State agencies are currently assessing potential impacts to Scotia’s drinking water system after three separate incidents at the Humboldt Redwood Company sawmill caused water contaminated with woody materials to infiltrate into the town’s drinking water system on the Eel River.
A Mendocino County lawman and a former marijuana grower defended small-scale cannabis cultivation Wednesday at a legislative hearing on the impact of the drought and marijuana on North Coast fisheries.
The Eel River Recovery Project is offering free field training and public meetings to promote sustainable cannabis cultivation in the Eel River watershed. The events will cover the best ways to water gardens with the least amount of water and nutrients, ERRP co-founder Patrick Higgins said.
Shasta County is ground zero for a new state program aimed at cracking down on illegal marijuana grows polluting streams and endangering wildlife in Northern California. Two state agencies have teamed up not to cut down marijuana plants but instead to go after growers, property owners and even contractors involved in work that threatens the environment, wildlife and water quality.
After several years in the field assessing cannabis cultivation sites, counting plants from Google Earth views and calculating stream flows, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife team has released a comprehensive paper revealing the affects of marijuana cultivation on the North Coast’s watersheds.
A multi-agency partnership, involving state and local agencies, this week finished inspections of 14 private properties with active marijuana grow operations along Sproul Creek within the Eel River watershed.
The last Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting of 2014 on Tuesday focused on many aspects of the Mad River, with a local water district presenting outlines to potentially transport water out of the county and increase flows for native species, and the board approving an update to its environmental review of current mining operations along the waterway.
For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.
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