Clam Beach landed on Heal the Bay's list of California's most polluted beaches yet again this year, getting an 'F' for water quality on the 2021 Beach Report Card. This episode of EcoNews Report features Dr. Jeremy Corrigan, who has worked for years to answer the burning question: why does Clam Beach have such high levels of fecal indicator bacteria? Dr. J is the Lab Manager at the Humboldt County Dept. of Public Health, and recently published a paper based on genetic analysis of the most likely sources. His findings point to birds as the main influence at Clam Beach, while cattle appear to be the biggest source of bacteria pollution in the Strawberry Creek watershed. Tune in to find out what this means for surfers and other beachgoers. 

Once again, Humboldt County’s Clam Beach has been ranked as one of the state’s 10 worst beaches when it comes to water quality.
According to Heal The Bay’s 2020-21 beach report card, Clam Beach at Strawberry Creek is the seventh worst in the state. The environmental nonprofit’s Beach Bummer list ranks the state’s 10 most polluted beaches according to water sampling data.

Clam Beach has posted failing summer dry grades in seven out of the last 11 years Heal The Bay has published its report cards.

Humboldt Baykeeper director Jennifer Kalt said strong evidence indicates high levels of bacteria in the ocean waters can be linked to birds, as opposed to bacteria originating from cattle in the freshwater stream.

“Even though the levels of bacteria are high enough to get an F grade on the Beach Bummer list, the genetic analysis shows (the bacteria) is primarily from birds,” she said. “And so, in the ocean, you have the influence of birds because there’s so many birds at the beach.”

Kalt also pointed out the risk of bacteria from these sources is lower compared with bacteria coming from human sources, found in samples affected by septic runoff.

The number of bacteria coming from human feces is low in the streams.

“As far the freshwater goes in the creeks, there were very few human markers found, which means that (the contamination) is not coming from septic systems, which is what a lot of people think,” she elaborated.

Ginger recommends any beachgoers or concerned visitors stay safe from any potential danger by checking water quality updates at BeachReportCard.com, as water conditions can improve or worsen throughout the day, and sampling is done weekly. He also recommends staying 100 yards away from the mouth of Strawberry Creek when in the water.

“We just want folks to be aware of that and be cautious of the creek mouth whenever they’re out there, that’s going to be the best way to protect themselves,” he said.

Four other Humboldt County beaches which the county monitors posted passing grades. Mad River Beach’s northern mouth was awarded an A+ grade, while Little River State Beach at Moonstone County Park and Trinidad State Beach at Mill Creek were both given B grades. Luffenholtz Beach at Luffenholtz Creek received a C grade after appearing on the Beach Bummer list in 2017 and 2018.

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Bill now headed to Assembly

Senate Bill 307 is on track for approval after clearing the state Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support Monday.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), would block a proposal to restore the defunct North Coast railroad in an attempt to export coal overseas from Montana, Utah and Wyoming through the Port of Humboldt Bay by prohibiting the use of state funds for any new bulk coal terminal project within Humboldt County.

Earlier this month, the Eureka City Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning the transportation of coal on city property.

“Clearly, our council is not a proponent of bringing coal to the harbor,” said Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery. “They made it very clear through a resolution that they don’t want coal handled on city-owned property because of the environmental and potential health effects of that.”

Slattery underscored the city’s support for the proposed Great Redwood Trail and further development of the Waterfront Trail.

“Our elected officials are very much proponents of railbanking and we’re waiting for that to happen so we can extend our waterfront trails,” he said. “That’s been supported by our council since the beginning and we hope that the other state legislators are proponents of it.”

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Scientists, speaking at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans this month, reported that a critical section of the keystone Antarctic glacier, Thwaites Glacier, will likely collapse in the next five to ten years. The research, led by Erin Pettit of Oregon State University, predicts that the Thwaites ice shelf will break apart within the next decade because of startling increases in surface fractures and rifts.
Thwaites Glacier is one the largest Antarctic glaciers, comparable to the size of Great Britain or Florida. Meltwater from Thwaites alone is responsible for 4% of global sea level rise, leading it to receive a great deal of scientific attention in recent years.
The nickname ‘Antarctica’s doomsday glacier’ is given to Thwaites because if the ice shelf collapses, the glacier and the enormous volumes of ice upstream that funnel into the glacier will no longer be restrained from accelerating into the ocean. “It is the potential long-term effect on the rest of the grounded ice sheet that we need to consider,” explains Anne Le Brocq, a senior lecturer in physical geography at the University of Exeter. If the entire glacier were to melt then global sea levels would rise by 65 centimeters, or about two feet. If Thwaites Glacier, and other critical neighboring glaciers such as Pine Island Glacier, cannot hold back the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which holds the equivalent of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) in sea level, then it could affect coastlines across the world.
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The Eureka City Council returned once again to its previously discussed coal transportation and storage ordinance following amendments to the bill, ultimately approving the amended item’s introduction by an unanimous vote at this week’s regular meeting.


The new version grants the council the right to appeal any exemption requests granted by the city manager for the transport of coal in city-owned lands. The new appeal section of the bill also extends the category of people who can file an appeal to a city manager’s decision, including the public and individual members of the city council.


Public comment throughout the proposed ordinance’s time on the council floor has largely supported the item. This Tuesday’s meeting was not an exception.


“Thank the council and your staff for bringing this ordinance forward, clarifying the appeal issue and hopefully, passing it this evening. Thank you for your efforts and keeping our citizens and our environment clean and healthy,” said Karen Underwood of the Humboldt Trail Council.


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