Last year, emergency shoaling conditions shut down Humboldt Bay, but a big chunk of funding from the federal government should help make the infrastructure improvements needed to keep that from happening in the future.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) announced the Humboldt Bay and harbor are receiving $10,892,000 in the fiscal year 2020 Army Corps of Engineers work plan for dredging and repair work to the north and south jetties.

“Local economies depend on ‘forgotten harbors,’” Huffman said in a statement. ” … I am thrilled that we will finally be able to address the recreational, commercial, and public safety problems that come from delayed dredging. The safety and viability of commercial and recreational traffic is the highest priority, and I thank the Army Corps for taking action on this urgent infrastructure need.”

The Humboldt Bay jetties are in a high energy wave environment, which means the water is very powerful, and over the course of time has pounded away at the rocks that make up the jetties, said Edwin S. Townsley, deputy for project management at the San Francisco District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Last month, under intense public pressure, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors rejected the $300 million Humboldt Wind Energy Project, bringing a dramatic end to the most polarizing countywide policy debate this community has seen in years. 

But if anyone thought we could sidestep controversy by moving wind energy proposals from land to sea, well, think again. In conversations with the Outpost, local and regional stakeholders expressed serious concerns about a range of issues, including conflicts with the fishing industry, impacts to birds and marine life and more.

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Nordic Aquafarms, the company planning to build a $400 million fish farm at Humboldt Bay, announced Thursday it has fired its new local project director over a photo that surfaced of him posing with a lion he had shot and killed with a rifle.

Shawn Harriman was terminated just a week after the company announced his hiring as the first on-the-ground exec for the major fish farm operation. Harriman had already moved to Humboldt County for the job.

Nordic exec Marianne Naess announced Harriman’s firing after the Lost Coast Outpost asked the company for comment on the photo, which has surfaced on blogs and Twitter feeds over the past several years.

“We have just been made aware of unfortunate circumstances pertaining to Shawn Harriman, who was recently hired as SVP Projects for Nordic Aquafarms in California,” Naess said in a statement.

“We want our Humboldt County partners and the community to know that we take any concerns regarding our values or stewardship of natural resources very seriously and therefore we had no choice but to terminate our relationship with Shawn,” she added.

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As scientists throughout the world describe the mounting impacts from climate change and the accelerating timeline in which they’re expected, KEET sits down with three local experts to discuss what Humboldt County can expect in the decades ahead. The county, these officials warn, will be among the worst hit in the state.

 

Watch HERE

After Humboldt County’s Board of Supervisors voted last month to reject Terra-Gen’s proposal, leaving the company with millions of dollars in sunk costs, 1st District Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn worried aloud the decision would deter similar big projects.

“Too many unknowns,” he said.

Nordic Aquafarms still hopes to build a nearly $400 million land-based fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula. And while Nordic Executive Vice President Marianne Naess declined to speak directly about Terra-Gen’s project, she said her own company knows how to avoid a similar outcome.

“It’s important to show benefits to the community,” Naess said. “The team that we’re employing will actually be living in Eureka. You have to be part of the community and, of course, be a steward of the land.”

Wiyot tribal administrator Michelle Vassel said she hasn’t closely looked into the aquafarm proposal; like many others, she opted to attend Terra-Gen’s public hearing in November instead of Naess’ cross-town meeting the same night. Terra-Gen’s wind project had been planned for the Bear River and Monument ridges, land sacred to the tribe.

That the wind turbines involved so much sunk cost and grief at days-long public hearings was regrettable — and avoidable, Vassel said. All any developer needs to do is take Native American concerns seriously, she said.

“It’s really important to seek out the tribe on the front end of these development phases and work with us as an equal,” Vassel said. “Come to the table at the beginning, rather than superficially checking a box and providing us with information.”

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