The Humboldt Bay area may become the site of the first offshore wind energy project on the west coast of North America. The pieces are quickly falling into place for Redwood Coast Energy Authority to become the first local government entity to apply for a commercial offshore wind lease from the federal government. Unlike land-based projects, this lease bid would be just the beginning of a series of studies and related permits that could culminate in project development in 5-7 years.

Humboldt Baykeeper was launched in October 2004 to safeguard our coastal resources for the health, enjoyment, and economic strength of the Humboldt Bay community through education, scientific research, and enforcement of laws to fight pollution.

 

Our Staff:


Jennifer Kalt, Director

707.499.3678
jkalt [AT] humboldtbaykeeper.org  
 
Jasmin Segura, Bay Tours Coordinator
707.407.6183 
jasmin [AT] humboldtbaykeeper.org
 

Humboldt Baykeeper is a program of the Northcoast Environmental Center, a non-profit organization devoted to conserving, protecting, and celebrating terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems of northern California and southern Oregon.

Our Tax ID# is 23-7122386. Please specify that your donation is intended for Humboldt Baykeeper.

 

Board of Directors:

Larry Glass - President, Representative for Safe Alternatives For Our Forest Environment
Dan Sealy Vice President, At-Large
Chris Beresford - Treasurer, At-Large
Jennifer Kalt - Secretary, Representative for Humboldt Baykeeper
CJ Ralph - Representative for Redwood Region Audubon Society
Gary Falxa, Representative for California Native Plant Society, North Coast Chapter
Richard Kreis - Representative for Sierra Club North Group, Redwood Chapter
Tom Wheeler, Representative for Environmental Protection Information Center
Alicia HamannRepresentative for Friends of the Eel River
Margaret Gainer, At-Large 
Jim Test, At-Large

Humboldt Baykeeper Advisory Committee:

Fred Evenson - Director, Ecological Rights Foundation
Larry Glass - Board President, Northcoast Environmental Center
Aldaron Laird - Sea Level Rise Planner, Trinity Associates,
Mike Manetas - Retired Educator
Kerry McNamee - Conservation Planner, Northcoast Regional Land Trust
Pete Nichols - National Director, Waterkeeper Alliance
Laurie Richmond - Assistant Professor, Humboldt State University
Michelle D. Smith - Environmental Attorney
Michael Welch - Director, Redwood Alliance 

What are Coastal Resources?

 

Humboldt Bay is the second largest estuary in California. The Bay and the adjacent Pacific Ocean coastline give our community its unique character. The health of our waters both in the bay and along our coastline depend greatly on the functioning of the intertidal mudflats, salt marshes, and freshwater wetlands of Humboldt Bay which act as a natural pollution filter and flood plain. Clean water supports healthier fisheries, which in turn support bird and wildlife populations.

 

For the human community around the bay and coast this means more lucrative fisheries, better bird hunting, bird watching, and cleaner water for recreating, including boating, surfing, diving, and swimming.    

 

Humboldt Baykeeper's programs involve scientists, boaters, fishermen, birdwatchers, students, and other concerned citizens in the important work of protecting Humboldt Bay, its tributaries, and the near-shore waters of the Pacific Ocean.

 

The geographical reach of Humboldt Baykeeper's programs includes Humboldt Bay, its tributaries, and the Pacific Coast between Trinidad Harbor to the north and the Eel River estuary to the south. Baykeeper maintains an on-the-water presence throughout the area, patrolling by motorboat, kayak, and airplane, with upland areas patrolled by car and by foot.

 

 

 

Fortification of dikes needed to protect infrastructure like Highway 101

 

Humboldt Bay is reclaiming its former territory, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

 

Between 1890 and 1910, almost 90% of Humboldt Bay’s salt marshes, about 8,100 acres, were “diked and drained for agricultural uses or walled off from tidal inundation with the construction of the Northwest Pacific Railroad,” according to the “Humboldt Bay Shoreline Inventory, Mapping and Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment” completed in 2013 by local sea level rise expert Aldaron Laird. Now only 4% of the land is salt marsh.

 

After keeping the sea at bay for over a hundred years, the earthen dikes are beginning to fail, both because they haven’t been maintained and because they aren’t tall enough to hold back the rising tides brought on by rising sea levels.

 

The dikes, which are on average 10 feet tall, are finding it increasingly challenging to hold back tides that are ranging from 7.8 to 9.5 feet in height. When a 9.5-foot extremely high tide and storm surge joined forces to damage the dikes in the area in 2006, the governor had to declare a state of emergency, but those types of high tides are expected to be the monthly norm by 2050.

 

“Sea level rise is an effect of climate change, specifically from the warming of the atmosphere and oceans,” stated more recent 2018 research from Laird entitled “Diked Shoreline Sea Level Rise Adaptation Feasibility Study.” “Going forward, melting ice from areas like Greenland and Antarctica have the potential to greatly accelerate the rate and elevations of sea level rise, particularly after 2050.”

 

Read More

Local expert Aldaron Laird said, ‘We need to be hustling and get this stuff done now’

 

The future for coastal regions like Humboldt County is expected to get “floodier.”

 

A report released Wednesday by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that sunny day flooding, also known as tidal flooding, will continue to increase. This year, Humboldt Bay is expected to experience six to 12 days of sunny day flooding after experiencing 12 such days in 2018.

 

Aldaron Laird, an environmental consultant with Trinity Associates, has been working on the issue of sea level rise in Humboldt Bay for over a decade and said the local jurisdictions are making steady progress to address the issue. They first did an inventory of the areas that would be most susceptible to sea level rise, which include King Salmon and Fields Landing, and are now shifting gears toward preventing the damage it will cause.

 

Caltrans will be going before the California Coastal Commission in August to go over the impact of sea level rise on the U.S. Highway 101 corridor.

 

“Over the next five to 10 years,” Laird said, “that’s when all this stuff will get worked out.” But Laird said that timeline is “cutting it close.”

 

While the utility owners and Caltrans rely on the dikes to protect Highway 101 and the utility lines, Laird said many of the dikes are eroding and lie in various states of disrepair. The dikes are mostly 10 feet tall and the tides have risen to about nine feet tall, so Laird said just one foot of sea level rise will lead to thousands of acres being flooded every day.

 

“We could have two feet of sea level rise by 2030 or 2050,” Laird said.

 

Read More

The California Environmental Protection Agency awarded Humboldt Baykeeper, a program of the environmental conservation nonprofit Northcoast Environmental Center, $40,365 on June 26 to test Pacific lamprey, lingcod, rockfish and other fish species for mercury.

“The idea here is to get some more local information so people can base what they’re feeding themselves and their children in particular on local data instead of general data from other parts of the state,” said Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper.

A previous grant from the state EPA allowed Humboldt Baykeeper to assess the mercury content in coastal fish and shellfish and put out guidelines, which are available in English, Spanish and Hmong, regarding which ones are safest to eat.

“From that study, we had a lot of good news and bad news,” Kalt said. “Chinook Salmon are very low in mercury, so you can eat those up to 28 times per month. That’s good for tribal members because that amount is consistent with the amounts of fish they might eat.”

Read More