New flood maps released by a research and technology nonprofit show more homes in the United States are at risk of flooding than what’s reflected by the government’s flood risk maps.

The First Street Foundation’s flood model identifies 14.6 million properties that have substantial flood risk, which is 6 million, or 70%, more properties than classified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s map of special flood hazard zones, according to a press release from the nonprofit. More properties, including those in Eureka, Arcata and Fortuna, are going to be at increased risk of flooding over the course of the next 15 and 30 years, the maps show.

“This discrepancy exists because the Foundation uses current climate data, maps precipitation as a stand-alone risk, and includes areas that FEMA has not mapped,” the release states. “When adjusting for future environmental factors like changing sea levels, warming sea surface and atmospheric temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns, the Foundation’s model finds the number of properties with substantial risk grows to 16.2 million by the year 2050.”

Roughly 493 properties are already at risk in Eureka and 778, or 57.8% more and 7% of total properties, will be at risk within 30 years, according to the model.

In Arcata, approximately 641 properties are already at risk and 921 will be at risk within 30 years, representing a 43.7% increase and 18% of total properties, according to the model.

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Three months ago the fresh hauls brought ashore were purchased by distributors and shipped far away. But since COVID-19 upended the supply chains that once moved Eureka's catch far from its origin, fishermen are now selling dockside.

The fishermen connect with the local community through road signs and Facebook pages announcing fresh fish. During the increasingly popular sell-offs, the lines of masked customers often extend down the dock and into the parking lot, rain or shine. 

Such direct sales are not unprecedented. In the summer, fishermen have sold albacore tuna and Dungeness crab from their boats for years. There's a floating crab shack, Jenna Lee's Seafood, that's been selling live crab during the season since 2003.

What's changed during the pandemic, though, is the variety and quantity of fish available, and the number of people showing up to buy it. And some say the direct connection has been a long time coming. 

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Director Ric Warren, photographer Bob Sommer, and aerial photographer Garrett Nada made this retrospective of the creative, anonymous scultpures made of found objects in the salt marshes of Humboldt Bay. 
"It's not totally clear why, but in 1986 the sculpture garden disappeared. The marsh was a wildlife sanctuary after all." - Bob Sommer

Local environmental groups have begun voicing concerns about a major mixed-use development proposed for the Cutten neighborhood just south of Eureka.

Plans for the 81-acre project, which would encircle the Redwood Fields recreation facility, call for 320 new residential units — both houses and apartments — along with 22,000 square feet of commercial development.

Comments on the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report must be submitted to the county by next Monday, and some local watchdog groups are already calling the document inadequate. 

In a letter submitted nearly a year ago, local nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, whose mission is to safeguard the county’s coastal resources, expressed particular concern about impacts to the riparian and aquatic habitat in Ryan Creek and its tributaries.

Executive Director Jennifer Kalt wrote, “[I]t can reasonably be argued that the area is inappropriate for further residential and commercial development,” though she notes that the decision to change the land use classification was made a quarter century ago.

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Our country has a long history of building toxic factories, waste facilities, and freeways in minority and low-income neighborhoods, harming the health of people of color and ignoring their voices. Clean water for drinking, swimming, and fishing is essential for all of us - not just the privileged few. People of color are disproportionately affected by the loosening of EPA regulations, selective enforcement of existing laws, and lack of equal access to education, nature, and so many other vital aspects of American life. 

Undoubtedly many of you have signed petitions, donated to national racial justice groups like Color of ChangeBlack Lives Matter, and police accountability projects, and read about how we as individuals - and as a society - can step up for those whose voices have been ignored for too long. 

But what can we do here in Humboldt, where Black Americans are just 2% of the population? And more specifically, what can the environmental movement do to include more non-white voices? We’ve learned through trial and error that it takes building relationships and listening - it’s not enough to simply invite underserved and under-represented people to our events. We must participate in other communities' events, actively listen to their concerns, and ask how we can work together.

We hope you will join us in our commitment to actively participate in local discussions on racial equity and work to ensure that all people feel safe and valued in nature and our community.

Coming up on June 19 is an opportunity to listen, learn, and celebrate Juneteenth with the Eureka Chapter of the NAACP and Black Humboldt. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Black history is a part of U.S. history and is important to celebrate as we create safe spaces and inclusion for people of color in Humboldt County. Starting at noon, a variety of workshops and music will be accessible via Zoom, Access Humboldt Channel 11, Facebook, and Instagram. More info HERE

We can also work on changing our own biases by becoming more conscious of them. Many non-white people don't feel comfortable or safe in nature - for reasons that have been made painfully clear over recent weeks. What goes through your mind when you see a Black or Latino man walking alone in the woods or at the beach? 

Listen to the experiences of Botany Bae, the Black rare plant researcher who was handcuffed while doing his job, just because of the color of his skin. Read the words of Carolyn Finney, the experienced backpacker who still feels unsafe walking outside in the country of her birth. Learn about Rue Mapp’s encounter with racism in an Oakland city park which inspired her to create Outdoor Afro – an organization which encourages black nature lovers into the outdoors in over 30 states.

We stand with Black Americans in their struggle to live in a safe and healthy environment. And we pledge to do better to work toward a just society for all.

Here are a few more opportunities to listen and learn: