Humboldt Bay is about to undergo a transformation that will turn the struggling port into a hub for offshore wind development.

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission announced it was awarding $10.5 million to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District to complete the preliminary work, like site surveys and environmental impact assessments, to renovate 168 acres from the Samoa Bridge to the former pulp mill on the peninsula. That includes a new heavy lift marine terminal and 600,000 square feet of new manufacturing space.

“Overall it’s a couple $100 million projects,” Larry Oetker, director of the Humboldt Bay harbor district, told The Times-Standard. “The initial $10 million will get us all the permits and all the environmental review. It will get it to the point where you could actually start building the terminal.”

The Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Heavy Lift Marine Terminal would have the capacity to manufacture the towers that support the wind turbines and the floating platforms they would rest upon.

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Where can you go to catch some tasty California ocean fish if you don’t have a recreational fishing license? Try one of the many free fishing piers, jetties, or breakwaters along the coast! A list of free fishing piers and a zoomable map of pier locations is now available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website to help you plan your pier fishing adventure.
Recreational fishing licenses are not required when fishing from a public pier in ocean or bay waters. all other regulations (including minimum size, bag limits, report cards, and seasons) apply while fishing from a public pier. Only two rods and lines, handlines, or nets, traps, or other appliances used to take crabs may be used per person on a public pier.
For more information about pier fishing, read Frequently Asked Questions: Pier and Shore-based Sport Fishing and watch the “How to Fish from a Pier” video on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website. Another good source for pier fishing information is the Pier Fishing in California website.
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North Coast Journal Malibox February 17 


In a complex world, it's often tempting to boil things down to two sides: right or wrong, for or against (the "Bring It On" letter, Mailbox, Feb. 10). It's much easier than taking the time to study an issue closely before forming an opinion. From an environmental activist's perspective, there are three types of projects. There's the "totally unacceptable," like the proposed coal train (these are the issues that most often make news headlines). There are "bring it on" projects, like the plan to build the Eureka Regional Transit and Housing Center (aka EaRTH Center) on an Old Town parking lot. Then there are projects that could be done without harm to the environment if done right — but if done poorly, they could have major impacts. Nordic Aquafarms' proposed fish farm at the former pulp mill is an example of this type of project. There are potential benefits, including the jobs Ms. Aguiar hopes for, along with the cleanup of a major contaminated industrial site. Humboldt Baykeeper staff, volunteers, interns and our colleagues at EPIC, CRTP, 350 Humboldt, Surfrider and NEC have spent countless hours over the past three years poring over technical documents, meeting with Nordic and its experts to understand the project, asking questions and suggesting improvements. Some changes have been made, while others have not. We still think the project can be done with fewer impacts but still needs quite a bit of improvement. We'll keep working on it.
Jennifer Kalt, McKinleyville


The DEIR, prepared for the county by engineering firm GHD, concludes that, with mitigation measures, the project will have no significant environmental impacts. That’s the same conclusion reached in the Initial Study released last April. But environmental stakeholders argue that this finding is based on insufficient baseline data and analysis.
None we spoke to said they’re outright opposed to the project, for which plans to spend millions of dollars further remediating the Humboldt Bay Harbor District’s blighted former pulp mill property on the peninsula. But they’re asking for some modifications and commitments in hopes of lessening the fish farm’s environmental impacts.
If anyone was looking for a reason to doubt the strict veracity of the DEIR, the authors seem to have inadvertently provided one: Deep in the report, on page 53 of Appendix D (Marine Resources), former GHD senior scientist Ken Mierzwa is listed as one of four preparers. Trouble is, he says he was not involved.
In a Feb. 3 email commenting on the DEIR, Mierzwa says he did not contribute to Appendix D or any other part of the report. 
“Without going into detail, I wish to make it clear that I disagree with a number of the statements made in the results and conclusions of Appendix D and carried forward into the EIR,” he writes. “Many items require additional analysis and/or additional mitigation, and I would have refused to put my name on the document as written had I known that it existed.”
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The public has two weeks left to provide input on Nordic Aquafarms’ draft environmental impact report for its proposed onshore fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula.

The project includes clean-up and redevelopment of the defunct Samoa pulp mill facility followed by the construction of five buildings with a combined footprint of approximately 766,000 square feet. 

The behemoth document, which is roughly 1,800 pages long, found no areas in which the proposed farm would have a significant impact on the local environment. The minimal impact of some of the farm’s operations will have mitigating strategies in place, according to the document.

Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper, expressed her gratitude to Nordic for pursuing an EIR but said there is still concern surrounding ocean discharge and the potential to exacerbate toxic algae.

“We appreciate Nordic’s willingness to incorporate additional monitoring after the project is approved, but they used water quality data from inside Humboldt Bay in the model they used to show there won’t be impacts,” Kalt said. “Without relevant data on current conditions closer to the discharge point, it’s unclear how the discharge could alter the ocean environment.”

Delia Bense-Kang, a spokesperson for the Surfrider Foundation, had similar concerns.

“Since the 1991 Surfrider and Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act settlement made the pulp mills clean up their operations, the Samoa Peninsula has become one of the most popular surfing and bathing beaches in Humboldt County,” Bense-Kang said. “While the wastewater would not be as toxic as the pulp mills, there are still lots of unknowns such as significantly elevated temperatures of discharge — 68 to 72 degrees — we’d like to see analyzed with better data and modeling.”

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