After Humboldt County’s Board of Supervisors voted last month to reject Terra-Gen’s proposal, leaving the company with millions of dollars in sunk costs, 1st District Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn worried aloud the decision would deter similar big projects.
“Too many unknowns,” he said.
Nordic Aquafarms still hopes to build a nearly $400 million land-based fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula. And while Nordic Executive Vice President Marianne Naess declined to speak directly about Terra-Gen’s project, she said her own company knows how to avoid a similar outcome.
“It’s important to show benefits to the community,” Naess said. “The team that we’re employing will actually be living in Eureka. You have to be part of the community and, of course, be a steward of the land.”
Wiyot tribal administrator Michelle Vassel said she hasn’t closely looked into the aquafarm proposal; like many others, she opted to attend Terra-Gen’s public hearing in November instead of Naess’ cross-town meeting the same night. Terra-Gen’s wind project had been planned for the Bear River and Monument ridges, land sacred to the tribe.
That the wind turbines involved so much sunk cost and grief at days-long public hearings was regrettable — and avoidable, Vassel said. All any developer needs to do is take Native American concerns seriously, she said.
“It’s really important to seek out the tribe on the front end of these development phases and work with us as an equal,” Vassel said. “Come to the table at the beginning, rather than superficially checking a box and providing us with information.”