North Coast News

1. Klamath River dam removal plan on track as administration shifts

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:47am

The plan to remove four hydroelectric dams to improve fish passage and water quality on the Klamath River is proceeding on schedule for a 2020 demolition time, according to plan proponents. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will ultimately have to approve or deny the plan, and the change in administration in Washington, D.C., has led to three of the five seats on the commission being vacated. President Donald Trump will be responsible for appointing the three new members, but plan proponents such as the dams’ owning company PacifiCorp, do not believe this will affect the project’s timeline.

Yurok and Hoopa Tribes win battle over water project’s salmon impact

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:48am

A California federal judge on Wednesday found that two federal agencies failed to adequately protect Coho salmon when the fish started dying from intestinal parasites in recent years, and ordered the government to take immediate measures to remedy the problem.  The Hoopa Valley Tribe and the Yurok Tribe sued the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and Bureau of Reclamation late last year, arguing they needed an injunction on the bureau’s operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project in Northern California and southern Oregon in order to protect a population of Coho salmon, a species listed as threatened.

Rep Huffman promises he’s pushing for changes at Lake Mendocino

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:46am

During a recent visit to Ukiah, Rep. Jared Huffman (D – San Rafael), said he appreciated that the Corps has granted requests for more storage the last couple of years, but said he hopes to permanently update the science the Corps relies on to determine water releases, which currently is a Water Control Manual created in 1959. “Instead of looking down at a binder of backward-looking hydrology, we want them to look up, at the satellites we have that can tell us when the atmospheric rivers are coming our way,” said Huffman, who has introduced and recently updated HR5595, the Reservoir Operations Improvement Act, addressing the crowd gathered at a recent Town Hall meeting in Ukiah with state Assemblyman Jim Wood. If the bill, which has yet to pass the House of Representatives, becomes law, Huffman said it will require the Corps to incorporate updated forecasting science “into their ongoing decisions, rather than on a temporary, storm-to-storm basis.”

Reclamation to Release Water Below Iron Gate Dam to Address Fish Health Concerns in the Klamath River

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:49am

The Bureau of Reclamation will increase flows below Iron Gate Dam to reduce the risk of disease for coho salmon in the Klamath River. Starting Feb. 10 through Feb. 13, flows below Iron Gate Dam will be elevated increasing from approximately 4,000 cubic feet per second to as much as 9,600 cfs. The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high during this period. On Feb. 8, 2017, United States District Judge William H. Orrick ordered Reclamation to implement “winter-spring flushing flows designed to dislodge and flush out polychaete worms that host C. shasta.” The increased flow event is consistent with Judge Orrick’s Order and was planned in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley and Klamath Tribes, Klamath Project water users, state and other fisheries experts, and PacifiCorp.

Bodega Bay to be release site for quarter million hatchery salmon

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:44am

A quarter-million tiny, young salmon, each just a few inches long, are scheduled to be released into Bodega Bay this spring, providing a potential bright spot amid ongoing hardship for the North Coast fishing fleet. The hatchery-reared fish will be trucked directly to Sonoma County from the state-run Mokelumne River hatchery near Lodi as part of a continuing effort to augment California’s declining Chinook salmon stocks, which took an especially hard hit during the prolonged drought. Modeled after similar programs elsewhere on the California coast, the operation involves the use of a custom-made net pen to be positioned in the water, dockside, at Spud Point Marina in order to receive the smolts. The pen will provide a place for the young fish to adjust after their tanker ride and to acclimate to salt water before they head toward open water with the outgoing tide a few hours after their arrival.

Huffman works with Yurok Tribe on funding for fisheries disaster

Feb 16, 2017 at 11:47am

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared a fisheries disaster for nine salmon and crab fisheries in Alaska, Washington and California in January. Of the nine fisheries, the two in California include the Dungeness and rock crab fishery and the Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery. The Yurok Tribe and North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman acknowledged the importance of the declaration which, according to a press release from the Yurok Tribe, is linked to the Klamath dams which were considered a catalyst for juvenile salmon disease outbreaks.

North Coast deal preserves land, gives tribe access to creation site

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:40am

The Save the Redwoods League in San Francisco announced a plan to protect 870 acres of coastal headlands and wooded hills in and around the small community of Stewarts Point, including the Kashias’ storied birthplace of man. The mostly undeveloped property, which has been used primarily for grazing and logging, has long been privately held and at risk of being subdivided for homes. The organization is placing a set of conservation easements on the land — essentially legal conditions that stay with the site no matter who owns it — which will prohibit development and set the stage for a public trail here. It will also allow the Kashia to visit a certain number of times each year.

Humboldt County cannabis farmers lead in state water reg enrollment

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:43am

Last month, hundreds of Emerald Triangle cannabis farmers received letters from the state threatening penalties unless they complied with California water quality regulations. Thousands of growers in Northern California have complied with these regulations, to be extended statewide by 2018. But State Water Resources Control Board Office of Enforcement Director Cris Carrigan said that officials at the agency still have their work cut out for them.

Process begins to regulate commercial marijuana cultivation

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:42am

In an effort to prevent the state — and counties — from becoming the wild, wild west of legal pot growing, several state agencies are already formulating laws and regulations to reign in some of the negative aspects of growing, including pollution. Two state agencies joined forces at the Middletown Mansion Event Center in mid-February to conduct a workshop on the best management practices for cannabis cultivation, including the permit and compliance process.

DWR launches new version of Economic Analysis Website

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:38am

DWR has launched a new version of its Economic Analysis Website. The site provides water and resource managers guidance and tools to analyze local, regional, and statewide economic costs and benefits of proposed water management programs and projects and determine their socioeconomic impacts. A web page provides several DWR guidance documents, including DWR’s Economic Analysis Guidebook.

Coastal Wetlands and Flood Damage Reduction: Can Insurance Save Wetlands?

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:36am

In 2016 alone, insurers paid out $50 billion for natural disasters; there was a further $125 billion in uninsured losses, and many of these losses were from coastal storms. At the same time, wetlands — which represent our first line of defense from coastal storms and flooding — are being lost at alarming rates. It’s no surprise that the theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day is Disaster Risk Reduction given the role these habitats play in risk reduction, but it has been difficult to put a number on this value. Fortunately, new research that quantifies the protection offered by wetlands may help garner support to protect them.

Coastal wetlands help fight climate change

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:34am

Recent scientific advances have demonstrated that coastal wetlands — mangrove forests, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows — pull carbon out of our atmosphere and store it for hundreds to thousands of years in the plants, but more importantly in the soils below. Policy- and decision-makers are investing in this “coastal blue carbon” by utilizing wetland conservation and restoration as a natural climate solution. The newly-recognized carbon sequestration value of coastal wetlands has sparked interest in the capacity of other coastal and marine ecosystems to provide climate mitigation benefits. We recommend that national efforts to implement climate mitigation strategies and reduce emissions focus on coastal wetlands, the best option for natural climate mitigation.

Ponds that warm up could accelerate climate change, study shows

Mar 21, 2017 at 8:32am

New research has shown that an increase in temperatures could speed up climate change by increasing the amount of methane (CH4) released by ponds, and cutting the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they store. During the experiment, an "array" of ponds was warmed up by four to five degrees centigrade over a period of seven years. The study, by scientists at the University of Exeter and Queen Mary University of London, found that the ability of a pond to absorb carbon dioxide fell by nearly half, while the release of methane nearly doubled.