On Monday morning, three executives from an Orange County-based company called Victorum Corporation offered a tour of a former Sierra Pacific Industries lumber mill property, a triangular, 70-acre industrial parcel nestled between the Ma-le’l Dunes and the Mad River Slough.

Since the mill shut down five years ago, its rusting metal buildings have attracted transients and trespassers. Exterior walls have been tagged with graffiti, and earlier this year several of the old buildings were damaged or destroyed by arson, according to the Arcata Fire District. 

As the executives walked across the parcel’s vast expanses of asphalt on Monday they explained how, with $10 million they hope to raise from investors, they plan to transform the property into a state-of-the-art cannabis campus with up to eight acres of indoor and greenhouse cultivation, plus facilities for distribution, manufacturing and more.Lumber mill operations from the 1950s into the 1980s led to discharge of toxins, including dioxin and pentachlorophenol, into Humboldt Bay, and while a consent decree required Sierra Pacific to conduct extensive cleanup and monitoring of the site, environmental concerns remain.

“It’s one of the dioxin hotspots of Humboldt Bay, and any kind of ground disturbance at that site would be problematic,” said Jennifer Kalt, executive director of Humboldt Baykeeper. “But like many of these sites, as long as a redevelopment plan can be done in a way that’s protective of the slough, it’s better to clean it up than have water runoff with [those] dilapidated buildings.”

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