Natural Resources and Science
News articles ranging from water and energy issues, and restoration projects to science and technology are found here.
According to a Press Release from the City of Arcata:
In honor of National Pollution Prevention Week, wildlife disease ecologist Mourad Gabriel will give a presentation entitled “Silent Forests: Impacts from Poisons Associated with Illegal Marijuana Cultivation on our Public and Tribal Lands” at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center on Thursday, September 27 at 7 p.m. The Interpretive Center is located at 569 South G Street in Arcata.
Gabriel and his colleagues are finding an alarming rate of rat poisoning deaths in fishers, a near-endangered member of the weasel family that live in some of the most remote forests in California. He and his colleagues are concerned about how pesticides and rodenticides used by illegal marijuana growers on remote public, private and tribal lands are affecting both the forest watersheds and the entire forest food chain, from rodents to carnivores like martens, spotted owls and the Sierra Nevada red fox.
Mourad Gabriel completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees focusing on wildlife diseases at Humboldt State University. While completing his M.S., he co-founded MGW Biological, an environmental consulting firm, as well as Integral Ecology Research Center, a non-profit scientific research organization where he is the president and senior ecologist. Gabriel is completing his Ph.D. this fall at the University of California Davis in comparative pathology and has authored several scientific manuscripts focusing on infectious and non-infectious diseases affecting wildlife of conservation concern. He lives in Northwestern California where he and his wife, also an ecologist, try to spend as much time as possible enjoying our public lands.
Gabriel’s talk will be videotaped and aired at a later date on Suddenlink/Access Humboldt Channel 10 and will be available for on-demand viewing online at: www.cityofarcata.org.
U.C. Davis wildlife disease ecologist Mourad Gabriel with pesticides found at an illegal marijuana cultivation site in a secluded forest area. Rat poisons are often used to protect young marijuana plants in remote illegal marijuana grow sites. The poisons are killing different animals in the forest food chain, many of which are already nearing endangered status.
U.C. Davis researcher Mourad Gabriel with one of his research subjects, a Pacific fisher. Fishers, a weasel-like forest carnivore, are being found with alarmingly high levels of rat poisons and pesticides in their bodies. These increasingly rare animals live deep in forests and are exposed to pesticides used by illegal marijuana growers.
A Pacific fisher in its natural element. Fishers and other animals in the forest and watershed food chain are unintended casualties of illegal pot farming. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Green, Hoopa Tribe.)
According to a Press Release from the Eel River Recovery Project, dated August 10, 2012:
At the same time the Eel River Chinook salmon run is resurging to levels not seen in 50 years, stream margins in dry years are becoming toxic to humans and animals due to blue green algae blooms. Although toxic conditions have not formed since 2009, eleven dog deaths have been documented by the Humboldt County Department of Public Health (HCDPH) that are attributed to toxic algae dating back to 2001, mostly in the South Fork Eel and lower Van Duzen River. Citizens of Fortuna and Redway expressed extreme concern about the public health risk posed by toxic algae at community forums in early September 2011 sponsored by the Trees Foundation. In response to this community need and others, the Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) was formed and citizens are currently monitoring different river reaches as an early warning system to protect public health.
Humboldt County Public Health staff Harriet Hill samples toxic algae on the SF Eel River at Phillipsville in August 2009:
The toxic algae problem is relatively new to the Eel River, but it is not unique in the region. It seems that water bodies out of ecological balance are subject to colonization by toxic blue green algae throughout the West. The Eel River toxic species are Planktothrix and Anabaena that can create neurotoxins that are fatal within minutes to dogs that play in algae blooms in stream edges and then lick their fur. Toxic algae does not form in all years and it looks like we may avoid the problem in 2012 due to late rains and a cool summer, but ERRP volunteers are surveilling conditions on the Van Duzen River, South Fork and lower Eel River. Volunteers are taking pictures of locations that have been known to form toxic conditions and automated temperature sensors are being placed nearby. The hope is that a relationship between ambient stream temperature and development of toxic conditions can be established as part of an early warning system. Water temperature sensing devices used in 2012 are on loan to the ERRP from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Mendocino County Water Agency.
The ERRP is working with the Humboldt County Public Health and contact is made if conditions become threatening or if there is any evidence of toxic exposure of pets or people. The toxic species often are intermixed with other algae species and can only be identified with magnification. They County and State do not currently have a budget for testing for toxic algae except in emergencies, such as when dogs die. ERRP may try to help get grants so we can help the County to get more and better toxic algae data. In the mean time, the best strategy to keep pets and children safe is to make sure they avoid contact with stagnant stream margins that have algae abundant blooms.
It is assumed that nutrient pollution reduction and water conservation are needed to lessen toxic algae risk and to restore the Eel River’s ecological balance. Speakers at the ERRP sponsored a Water Day forum this past May 6 discussed ways to cut down on pollution and agricultural water use and grant funds are being pursued to promote more widespread implementation of the recommended strategies.
The ERRP operates under the umbrella of the Trees Foundation and the 2012 monitoring program is sponsored by a Rose Foundation grant as well as a private donation. The project also includes citizen assisted temperature trend monitoring of streams and fall Chinook salmon counts. More volunteers are needed and those interested participating in any activity can contact ERRP volunteer monitoring coordinator Patrick Higgins, at (707) 223-7200. See www.eelriverrecovery.org for more information.
September 2011 photo is of the same location on the SF Eel as photo at left and shows no sign of toxic algae:
On saturday June 16 a group of folks assembled at the Sanctuary Forest office, in the Whitethorn Construction area, for a hike titled, “Sustainable Forestry Management”. The hike was the third in this summer’s 2012 series of hikes sponsored by the Sanctuary Forest. After participating in an opening circle with introductions, an overview of the hike, and descriptions of the Forestry Project, hikers carpooled to the Whitethorn Grove, a 40 acre parcel that straddles the County road and Road A, just north of the whitethorn Fire department. The three hour hike on this property, owned by the Sanctuary Forest, began with descriptions of the property and "light touch" logging practices that will be used.
Group prepares to begin hiking: Mid-hike learning aout light touch forestry: Tim Metz describes how to read tree rings:
Use the player below to listen to or download the KMUD News report by Community Journalist Bob Froehlich. the report aired on KMUD News June 19, 2012.
According to a press release from Representative Mike Thomspson's Office, dated Jan. 24, 2012:
Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1) today released the following statement on the Interior Department’s Draft Overview Report on Klamath Dam Removal Studies. Thompson is the sponsor of the H.R. 3398, the Klamath Basin Economic Restoration Act. “The synthesis of studies released today scientifically confirms that the agreements in place represent the best way forward for the Klamath River Basin and its communities,” said Thompson. “Years of scientific and technical studies have concluded that the dam removals will not only benefit our river basin by restoring fish and wildlife habitats, it will strengthen our economy by creating thousands of jobs. The time for Congress to act is now.”
The comprehensive draft report, entitled Klamath Dam Removal Overview Report for the Secretary of the Interior: an Assessment of Science and Technical Information (Overview Report), and each individual study conducted on the environmental and economic impacts of the potential dam removal, is available at: www.KlamathRestoration.gov
Some key findings of the report include:
Local wine tasting events took place this year on both Friday and Saturday, November 25 and 26, 2011, from 1 to 5 p.m. The tasings were open to the public and were held at Briceland Vineyards and the Whitethorn Winery. These tastings traditionally take place during the Spring and Fall seasons on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends. The owner/winemakers from Elk Prairie Vineyard, were also pouring their wines at the Whitethorn Winery location. The Whitethorn Winery tasting this year was dedicated to the Mattole Coho and a portion of the proceeds from the the Whitethorn and Elk Prairie tastings will be donated to the Mattole Coho Recovery Project (Baker Creek Pilot Project-see below for more information).
Contact information for the Wineries are listed below:
- Briceland Vineyards- Founders Maggie Carey and Joe Collins; www.bricelandvineyards.com/5959 Briceland Road, Redway, CA 95560; Telephone: 707-923-2429 ; Apprentice winemaker is Andrew Morris
- Whitethorn Winery- Owner/Winemaker, Tasha McKee; 545 Shelter Cove Rd., Whitethorn, CA 95589; Telephone: 707 986-1642
Community Journalist, Bob Froehlich, attended both tastings on Friday and the story aired on KMUD News on Mon., Nov. 28 - that segment can be heard or downloaded using the audio player below:
Workshop on Mattole Headwaters Habitat Recovery for Coho - Baker Creek Pilot Project (Joint project between BLM Arcata Field Office and Sanctuary Forest)- Presented byTasha McKee On Friday Nov. 18 at the Beginnings in Briceland when the Mattole Restoration Council (MRC) held its Annual Meeting of the Membership.
Bonus Feature: Raw Audio of Interview done by Bob Froehlich at the Whitethorn Winery Friday Nov. 25, 2011 with Michael Pollock: - Northwest Fisheries Science Center/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-consultant on Baker Creek Pilot Project.
Photo/Left, taken Early on Friday at the Briceland Wine Tasting - Joe Collins Pouring - and Photo/Right shows the H'ordeuvres Table at Briceland Winery, hosted by Rae and Jim Shiraishi
Photo/Left Shows Dennis Huber (foreground) assisting in the Wine Auction at Whitethorn Winery and Photo/Right shows a display at the Whitethorn Wine Tasting, giving information about the Baker Creek Pilot Project