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Water mismanagement imperils fish

Jul 31, 2021

July 30, 2021 — Drought, climate change, and mismanagement are a recipe for extinction, according to panelists at a recent hearing on the crisis of the state’s salmon fisheries, moderated by Senator Mike McGuire. The Healdsburg Democrat chairs a Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, which heard testimony from agency heads, tribal chairs, and environmental groups from across the state this week.

Ocean a dangerous neighborhood without kelp

Jul 29, 2021

July 28, 2021 — We’ve learned that the kelp forests off the north coast are in trouble; that they’re being devoured by purple urchin, who in turn are not being devoured by anything. 

Both main urchin predators, the pynopodia sea star and the otter, are missing from the food chain. The sea stars are succumbing to a wasting disease, but why not just bring back a sea otter?

Sarah Grimes, the stranding coordinator at the Noyo Center for Marine Science in Fort Bragg, explains this and much more about the animals that rely on kelp for habitat.

Noyo Center welcomes Kelp Act

Jul 28, 2021

July 28, 2021 — The collapse of the kelp forest off the north coast is part of a long-running sequence of destabilizing disasters. The kelp is being devoured by purple urchin, a native species whose predators have disappeared from the food chain. The otters, which ate the larger urchin, were hunted to near regional extinction for their fur, and the pycnopodia sunflower sea star, which formerly feasted on smaller urchin, have withered away from a wasting disease.

Sheriff preparing for legal fight with Supervisors

Jul 27, 2021

July 27, 2021 — The sheriff is preparing for a fight with the Board of Supervisors over what he terms overreach and extortion, while board members want more data to support his contentions.

Last week, Sheriff Matt Kendall asked the supervisors to hire Duncan James to represent his office as independent counsel on two points. Kendall and County Counsel Christian Curtis both believe there’s a conflict of interest, with Curtis representing positions the sheriff finds objectionable.

July 26, 2021 — Last week saw significant developments in local cannabis policy. The Board of Supervisors raised the income threshold for the cannabis equity program, which has not attracted as many applicants as originally expected. And the challenge to the new cannabis cultivation ordinance, Chapter 22.18, has narrowed to one referendum.

Skunk Train: from logging and tourism to drought relief

Jul 22, 2021
Michelle Blackwell

July 22, 2021 — The Skunk Train has been a fixture of Mendocino County since the late 1890’s, when it was built to service the logging industry. Over the decades, it transitioned to a transportation and tourist attraction. In 2013 a major cave-in of the tunnel shut down the  transportation service and the system focused on delivering adventures to tourists and families. Today the system is exploring a  more utilitarian service to the local community: drought relief.

July 21, 2021 — The two cannabis cultivation ordinances came into conflict at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, with the result that permits for 214 hoop houses on 36 sites are now under review. 

And the board received a report from scientists at the Berkeley Cannabis Research Center, asserting that cannabis requires about as much water as vegetable crops, far less than almonds or wine.




Redwood Valley facing aftermath of Broiler fire

Jul 20, 2021

July 20. 2021 — Redwood Valley is still sorting through the aftermath of the Broiler fire, from the lack of notifications to the power and water it took to fight the fire to rethinking fuel management strategies.

Flow Cannabis Company president Jerom Fawson issued a statement saying the July 7 fire quote “originated on our property, after the blades of a mower, operated by our employee, struck rock, causing a spark.” The company has not responded to requests for further comment.

July 19, 2021 — The cannabis cultivation ordinance has been at the center of controversy since the Board of Supervisors passed it less than a month ago. But the cannabis facilities ordinance was amended in May, with little fanfare. There were  just a few objections, some from small growers requesting more consideration for microbusinesses, and others from neighbors, most notably a church in Hopland, protesting the removal of the requirement for a 600 foot setback between cannabis facilities and churches.

July 16, 2021 — The deadline to file petitions for the referenda opposing Chapter 22.18, the county’s new cannabis cultivation ordinance, is fast approaching. Employees of a pro-ordinance group shadow signature gatherers and counter their arguments as they urge voters to sign, to get the item on the ballot, to repeal the ordinance in part or in full.

July 14, 2021 — The Delta variant has arrived in the county, as evidenced by full genome tests from late April. A letter-writing campaign based on shoddy science is seeking to spread misinformation about the efficacy of masks and social distancing in spreading covid-19, ahead of students returning to in-person classes.

Summer steelhead, forest health, and climate change

Jul 14, 2021

July 13, 2021 — Last month, summer steelhead were listed as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act, which highlighted some of the differences between the summer and winter stocks. Pat Higgins, a fish biologist and managing director of the Eel River Recovery Project, traces the life story of summer steelhead, from the run of the river to the health of the forest and finally, to its place in the pattern of worldwide climate change.


Barge water is out, stored water is in

Jul 12, 2021

July 12, 2021 — Barge water is out, and water storage is in. With shortages rapidly approaching a critical point in most parts of the county, water storage ideas are getting a lot of traction.  

At one point, bringing water into Noyo Harbor on a barge was an idea that had some currency. But at Thursday night’s virtual drought task force meeting, Alex Huang, of the State Water Resources Control Board, explained that this idea would not be feasible.

Alyssum Wier, Executive Director of the Arts Council of Mendocino County, talks about how local artists and arts organizations coped with the long months of pandemic shutdown, and how they're re-emerging as the county opens up again.

New law would transfer state property to tribes

Jul 8, 2021
Michelle Blackwell

A new law that transfers coastal property from the State of California to Native Americans will be a historic first. Mendocino tribes could take possession within a year, creating an 172 acre natural preserve south of Westport.  An interview with Melanie Rafanan, the Chair of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians explains the process, obstacles and traditional uses of the land.