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.”

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Heal the Bay released its 29th annual beach report card its week, and for the sixth straight year in a row, Clam Beach has received an F for its recreational water quality.

This year Clam Beach was ranked second worst in the state, right after San Clemente Pier in Orange County. Four of the other five beaches in Humboldt County where water quality is monitored by the county received passing grades — Mad River Beach got an A+, Trinidad State Beach received an A, and Moonstone and Luffenholtz beaches received grades of C.

“We all know Clam Beach has been on list for the past six years and it fluctuates where it is on the list,” said Amanda Ruddy, supervising environmental health specialist at the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. “I think it’s important to note last year, we had Luffenholtz on that list and it’s not on the list this year.”

The water quality at beaches across the state dipped during the past year, primarily because of increased rainfall that led to more runoff being carried into the seas through the storm drain systems, according to the beach report card.

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Mayor: 'We cannot extract water to the point of it running dry'

 

The Trinidad City Council on Wednesday afternoon unanimously approved a study of the city’s water needs, an effort the council framed as necessary preparation for the general future but which most in the public interpreted as a precautionary step ahead of a major hotel development that could rely on the city’s water supply.

The study would include five separate tasks, including an assessment of the city’s current water source, the Luffenholtz Creek; a search for alternative sources of water supply; and developing new city policies to address potential draught.

“It’s very, very important we understand the timeline of this going forward,” said Richard Johnson, a member of the citizen’s group Humboldt Alliance for Responsible Planning, a functional watchdog of the hotel in its early planning.

“My concern is we will put the cart before the horse … that we won’t have the facts and data and public review ready in time for when a decision (on the hotel) needs to be made,” he said.

But Trinidad Mayor Steve Ladwig and other council members emphasized that “with or without” the hotel, studying the Luffenholtz Creek’s effectiveness as a water source is crucial for a distant future with an uncertain environment.

“We cannot extract water to the point of it running dry,” Ladwig said. “During low flows, the city simply cannot get to a point where we can’t expect water.”

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A conflicted California Coastal Commission voted 6-3 yesterday to object to the Trinidad Rancheria’s proposed 100-room hotel project on Scenic Drive, finding it inconsistent with state coastal protections.

 

Commissioners made clear during the nearly two-hour hearing in San Diego that the main consistency issue lies with water, and namely whether the city of Trinidad has the capacity to supply water to the project. The city currently has several studies underway but can’t commit to providing water to the proposed five-story hotel adjacent to Cher-Ae Heights Casino until they are complete, which is expected to happen before August.

 

Multiple commissioners lamented that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has jurisdictional oversight of the project because it is on sovereign tribal land, repeatedly declined staff requests to postpone Wednesday’s hearing until the commission’s meeting in August, which would have allowed for more local input and — potentially — completion of the water studies. Before the vote, several commissioners indicated they intended to vote to object to the project at this time but urged the Rancheria to resubmit its application so it can be heard at the August meeting.

 

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The controversial Trinidad hotel project failed to receive Coastal Commission approval at the commission’s meeting today in San Diego.

 

In a 3-6 vote, commissioners decided against signing off on the hotel’s consistency with state coastal policies. The Trinidad Rancheria tribe’s lack of a clear-cut plan for the hotel’s water supply remains a major issue, commissioners agreed.

 

Even with the rejection, multiple commissioners asked the tribe to reapply for approval as soon as it figures out the issues with water supply and the project’s visual details. Commissioner Donne Brownsey urged the tribe in the “strongest possible terms” to try again.

 

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