Sunday, April 26, 2015

EPIC Convinces Feds that Spotted Owl May Be Endangered

Mike Dronkers / Wednesday, April 8 @ 4:58 p.m. / Animals , Environment , wildlife

Timber war veterans from the '90s will remember the northern spotted owl as the tree-hugger's beloved mascot. The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) says that things have actually worsened for the rare bird since then, leading the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to issue a "positive initial 90-day finding on an EPIC petition to reclassify the iconic northern spotted owl from a 'threatened' to an 'endangered' species."

In other words, EPIC provided enough evidence for the feds to basically say that they (EPIC) are on to something, and the owl's numbers aren't good. 

"They're a keystone species, so when they're in decline you want to pay attention," said Thomas Wheeler, program and legal coordinator for EPIC. "The 90-day finding is the most preliminary finding, so this is kind of a low hurdle," he added.

[Don't let the name fool you: The "90-day finding" is supposed to be a three-month process, but the petition for the owl's reclassification was submitted almost three years ago. Bureaucracy is slow. For example, the "12-month finding" is due in September of 2017.] 

"Uplisting will have meaningful impact for spotted owls," Wheeler said. "This is the first step to ensuring that we'll have spotted owls in California for our grandchildren." 

According to Capital Press:

"Spotted owl numbers have continued to decline, and the species is estimated to number less than 4,000. The bird’s status was last reviewed in 2011, when Fish and Wildlife felt it still warranted protection as a threatened species."

So why is this still a thing? Weren't spotted owls given protection during the timber wars?

Wheeler said that while habitat protections were put in place, forest fires, commercial parcel mismanagement, barred owl predation and increased rodenticde use kicked the spotted owl while it was down. "Without those existing protections, the spotted owl would've been sunk a long time ago." 


Fish and Wildlife Service Finds Northern Spotted Owl May Be Endangered

Today, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service issued a positive initial 90-day finding on an EPIC petition to reclassify the iconic northern spotted owl from a “threatened” to an “endangered” species under the Endangered Species Act. The positive 90-day finding on EPIC’s petition to reclassify the northern spotted owl demonstrates that sufficient evidence exists that existing conservation measures have not been enough to protect and recover the owl, and that additional, more stringent and immediate measures are necessary to achieve this goal.

EPIC submitted a reclassification petition for the northern spotted owl to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on August 15, 2012. Today’s decision clearly demonstrates that the owl is in trouble across the species’ range, and that more stringent protections and conservation measures are necessary.

The northern spotted owl is an iconic keystone species which is dependent on large blocks of intact old-growth forests to provide for habitat. The owl was a focal point of the timber wars of the 1980s and early 1990s and was listed as a “threatened” species under the ESA in 1990. The listing of the northern spotted owl under the ESA lead to sweeping changes in land management practices on public lands with the advent of the Northwest Forest Plan during the Clinton era. The Northwest Forest Plan created a large system of reserves for the northern spotted owl and other old-growth associated species known as “Late Successional Reserves.” Although logging of suitable spotted owl habitat has been substantially curtailed on public lands, it has not been completely eliminated. What’s more, conservation of the northern spotted owl on private lands has largely been left up to voluntary measures, such as Habitat Conservation Plans and Safe-Harbor Agreements. Logging of suitable owl habitat continues at a frightening rate on private lands in California and across the species’ range, and even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service itself has decried the inadequacy of private lands regulatory mechanisms in California to protect and conserve the species.

The northern spotted owl is also faced with several new threats that were not contemplated or foreseeable at the time of the original listing. In particular, the severe threat now being posed by the invasive barred owl (Strix varina) has complicated and confounded northern spotted owl conservation and recovery efforts. While the true impacts of barred owls on northern spotted owls is still being studied and is not fully-understood, it has become clear that aggressive measures may be necessary to curtail the negative effects of barred owls on spotted owl populations.

Indeed, the latest study on northern spotted owl populations shows significant declines in several northern spotted owl vital statistics across most demographic areas studied, including the Green Diamond study area here in Humboldt County. Another population study, due out in June, is predicted to have even more dire results, showing alarming declines across the population.

 “The positive initial 90-day finding on our petition to reclassify the northern spotted owl from a threatened to an endangered species demonstrates that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can no longer deny the extreme threats now facing the species,” said Rob DiPerna, California Forest and Wildlife Advocate at EPIC. “It is now clear that more stringent, more aggressive, and more immediate actions are necessary to ensure that the northern spotted owl survives, recovers, and thrives in the wild.”

 Other conservation groups have supported EPIC’s efforts to see the spotted owl listed as endangered, including Conservation Congress. “While it is important the Fish and Wildlife Service is acknowledging the dire population declines in northern spotted owls warrants a review for endangered status, it remains incomprehensible that the agency continues to sign off on logging of owl habitat under the unscientific ruse of saving habitat from fire while also authorizing ‘take’ of reproductively successful pairs,” said Denise Boggs, Executive Director of Conservation Congress. “The Service must insist on protecting all remaining suitable owl habitat and no ‘take’ should be authorized for a species with declining populations throughout its range," she said. 

 The positive initial 90-day finding by the Service will now set into motion a 12-month period in which it will conduct a full status review for the spotted owl in order to determine if reclassification is warranted. The Service expects to complete this 12-month review in 2017. EPIC will continue to engage at each stage of the listing process and will continue to advocate for the reclassification of the northern spotted owl, and for implementation of more stringent, more aggressive, and more immediate actions in order to save this iconic and imperiled species from extinction.

DRONKERS' DEEP WEB: Plaza Fights, Opium, Bashful Proclivities

Mike Dronkers / Tuesday, April 7 @ 3:38 p.m. / Deep Web , History

Fighting in Arcata. Assault with a deadly weapon. Vagrancy. Criminal 'frequent fliers.'

Welcome to Humboldt county, circa 1876. 

Reddit user Snowhorse420, who has been featured in Deep Web before, is a serious bigfoot enthusiast. So serious, in fact, that he's been thumbing through old newspapers in hopes of finding historical 'squatch sightings. So far, no luck.

However, his fruitless tenacity leads you to a glimpse of Humboldt 140 years past from the old Humboldt Standard.

While these crimes may be similar to what we see in headlines today, the coverage of said wrongdoing steals the show.

But as you relish this long-dead reporter's flowery prose, bear in mind how much sheer labor it took to print this ornate coverage. Local letter-presswoman Lynn Jones told KHUM today that each paragraph could take 15 minutes to arrange by hand. Letter by letter, y'all.

Since Thomas Edison wouldn't patent his carbon filament light bulb until three years later, picture a gaslit, redwood-framed room in Eureka full of typsetters cursing the writer's lack of brevity. [Whereas I just read the articles aloud to my phone, which then transcribed it and emailed the text to me for copy/pasting. So lazy.]


Michael Doherty, the man who was convicted last week by Police Judge Howard and sent to jail for 25 days for obtaining money under false pretenses, is in trouble again. It now comes to mind that he is accused of forging John Green's name to a note of $100 and getting money on it.

For this little transaction he will doubtless spend some further time in jail. It is also ascertained that once Fitzpatrick's name has been forged to a note for a similar amount and as Michael seems to have a weakness for this nefarious way of procuring coin, he runs a fair chance of being held responsible for the last act.

A second offense of this character, we are told, entitles the victim to a free ticket to San Quentin, so the chances are Doherty stands a good show of having an opportunity of inspecting the walls of state prison, or going to Folsom and learning the stone-cutters trade without charge.


We hear that the youth who is expelled from school the other day will be arraigned for attempting to use a deadly weapon. There is also a case of forgery, we believe, and one or two cases of vagrancy.

One of these is most deplorable, as the subjects have become objects of charity through a use of opium and other intoxicants, and the prospects are that they will have to be at the county's expense.


 Two men who have been at swords points here for sometime, met in a store the other day. Unpleasant words ensued, which were followed by blows. In the struggle one seized the other by the throat and threw him to the floor, but greatly to the disappointment of the lookers on, and your correspondent in particular, neither of the pugilists drew blood.

I would have had no personal feeling to gratify in chronicling the death of either, but when a reporter of a paper hears of a fight he heralds the news with a sort of fiendish delight, so you know how sorry I feel for not being able to give you a better item on this subject.


Bucksport may have the laziest man in Humboldt County, but Trinidad has the bashfulest.

Upon returning from the social at Little River a few days ago one young man who had played the wallflower most of the evening, could not submit to the sullies of his fair companions and left the party riding some distance ahead of one of these young ladies, being aware of his bashful proclivities, and possessed of a desire to have a little fun, gave her horse full reign and was soon at the youth's side, and in the pleasantest of humor began to relate the incidents and enjoyments of the party, occasionally throwing out hints as to the fact of her being marriageable.

Now if there is anything in the world he would rather not face it is a vivacious and winsome young lady, so he spoke not a word, looked straight ahead, blushed profusely, and where ever he could, passed over the ground in a hurry.

He remembered reading in the STANDARD about a man being talked to death, and such a fate seemed to be staring him in the face.


Manilla Bike & Ped Improvements

Cliff Berkowitz / Tuesday, April 7 @ 9:04 a.m. / Trails

This morning Emily and I spoke with Brian Simon of Caltrans about the non-motorised improvements that have been made thus far in the community of Manilla and new proposals that include a separate class 1 trail and larger colorized shoulder on hwy 255. There will be a public meeting on these projects tomorrow night at the Manilla community Center from 5pm till 7pm


Humboldt Bay Marathon Organizers Are Going Big

Mike Dronkers / Thursday, April 2 @ 10:01 p.m. / Sports

"August in Humboldt county, that's perfect weather for runners." Humboldt Bay Marathon founder Rich Baker thinks Eureka and Arcata could become a running destination. "You can't do a summer marathon in a lot of places because of the heat."

Combined with a relatively flat course, waterfront and pastoral scenery, "It's asking to be a draw," assistant race director Terri Vroman-Little told KHUM [hear the full interview below]. Baker said early signups are going well and about half of the registrants are from out of the area.

Organizers expect 600 runners to attempt the 26.2 mile run in its inaugural year, expanding to somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 runners within five years. 

By comparison, the Avenue Of The Giants marathon/half marathon/10k had about 1,500 registered athletes last year and the Clam Beach Run had almost 1,700.

In addition to the full marathon, there will be a half marathon and one mile run, both starting later that morning.

According to their Facebook page:

Next Tuesday, the Humboldt Bay Marathon team will present information on the status of the marathon at both the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting (~1:30) and the Eureka City Council Meeting (6 PM).

Locals can expect crowds, tourists, and traffic detours at key points along the course. And while runners should expect a fairly fast course, they should never forget that the very first marathoner probably died at the finish line

The Humboldt Bay Marathon course starts in downtown Eureka, heads up to Henderson Center, out to Myrtle Avenue and up to Sunnybrae on Old Arcata Road, past the Arcata Plaza where the half marathoners will join in, through the Arcata Bottoms to Manila, over the bridge and then along the Eureka waterfront to the C street plaza finish line.

"It's going to be an absolute carnival atmosphere" at the finish line, said Baker. 

The course will likely be dotted with 15-20 aid stations, where runners are handed water, energy drinks, and snacks. The Humboldt Bay Marathon is also a qualifying marathon for the Boston Marathon.


Tentative course map with mile markers

The race is a non-profit organization. "Our main goals are to promote fitness, outdoor recreation, and and trails," said Baker. "But the fitness... I've already seen a lot of people locally who are saying 'Wow, I want to do this race', and you can find books and training regimens that [take you] from being a couch potato to your first half marathon in sixteen weeks."

Marathons usually bring a parade-like atmosphere to some, if not all, of the race course, along with out-of-town cash. Organizers are optimistic that the runners will fill hotel beds and restaurants tables. And while almost every race generates grumbling about traffic detours on race day, evidence suggests that Eurekans might be fine with it. While local room rates and restaurant prices are much, much lower, a 2010 survey showed that the average New York Marathon participant still "spent $1,800 over the course of the weekend."

According to

In a large marathon, typically 60% or more of the participants are from outside the destination. They travel to the city, spend two or three nights in a hotel, eat out, book tours and visit attractions before or after the race. Many runners also bring their families.

[Marathoners] also tend to be rather affluent and good spenders. Competitor Group’s survey shows that the average household income of a Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon runner is $116,771. Overall, the National Runner Survey reports that 76% of marathon runners have a college degree and 73% have an annual household income of at least $75,000.

Hear the full Humboldt Bay Marathon KHUM segment below: 


Race founder Rich Baker


Greensky Bluegrass Live On KHUM

Mike Dronkers / Wednesday, April 1 @ 4:32 p.m. / In Studio

Before selling out the Arcata Theater, Greensky Bluegrass took some questions and played some tunes live on KHUM.

Greensky Bluegrass Audio

Eureka Dog Park Countdown: One Week

Mike Dronkers / Wednesday, April 1 @ 1:22 p.m. / Eureka Rising , Good News

According to the Eureka Dog Park's Facebook page, "The City of Eureka will hold opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting for the long awaited dog park. Once the formal activities are done, the park will officially go to the dogs!"

The opening ceremonies are set for Wednesday, April 8th at 11am. 

Amy Washburn, one of the park organizers, told KHUM that the park hours will be sunrise to sunset and that all non-aggressive dogs older than four months are welcome. Their human companions should avoid bringing human food into the park. She added, "your dogs need to be licensed and have their vaccinations."

Hear Amy Washburn's KHUM interview below (3 mins, 30 seconds).


According to Eureka Dog Park's official site

As of March 20, 2015 the park fence has been completed, the parking pad and handicapped access has been completed, and the parking area has been graveled. The City signs are up. The grass is now well established.

A dog park in Eureka has been a long time coming. Via their Facebook page:

Citizens started asking for a Dog Park in Eureka way back in 1996. Dog parks were popping up allover the world and were shown to be an excellent way of socializing and exercising your dogs to make them happier, healthier, and friendlier. 

In 2002 the demand for a dog park grew to the point that the city of Eureka began looking for possible sites. Site selection was a long and difficult process. Every property owned by the City of Eureka was evaluated.

They ultimately settled on a lot behind St. Joseph Health Center at the corner of Walford and Watson Drive. The official address is 2020 Watson Street (map).

"The easiest way to get there is to take Harrison to 23rd, and turn on Watson," said Washburn. "It cuts behind the old General Hospital."

Enthusiasm has emanated down the safety corridor from (currently) dog parkless Arcata. "They've been working on it for fifteen years, and it's so exciting," Arcata Dog Park Working Group's Pamela Brown told KHUM today. 

Donations for the Eureka Dog Park are still being solicited

This is phase one of the dog park, Washburn said.

"Phase two will have a much better parking lot. Our parking lot is currently gravel, which we're very grateful for. All the gravel was donated by Eureka Natural Foods, but we need to pave it at some point."

Washburn said they also hope to add a gazebo, flood mitigation measures, and additional parking.  

[Photos via Eureka Dog Park Facebook page]

In other dog park news: 

The Arcata Dog Park and its advocates are supporting Godwit Days by having a "poop-p-raid" on Wednesday evening, April 8th starting at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center parking lot on South G Street in Arcata at 6 p.m. The "poop-p-raid" walkers will be picking up dog stools left by other dog owners who have neglected to do so. This action supports Godwit Days and the future of the Arcata Dog Park at the Little Lake Property next to the marsh. 

[This post has been updated from a previous version to include quotes and audio from Amy Washburn.]

Drop The Bass, Stop A Fire

Mike Dronkers / Tuesday, March 31 @ 11:14 a.m. /

Via Good News Network:

“It’s low-frequency sounds—like the thump-thump bass in hip-hop that works,” Viet Tran said, adding that rappers may soon be called to put out fires in the future.

Tran, along with his friend, Seth Robertson, spent $600 of their own money building a sonic fire extinguisher. The cylindrical prototype uses low-frequency sounds to put out fires, and Tran thinks the device could be built into stovetop hoods to put out kitchen fires.

 “Eventually, I’d like to see this applied to swarm robotics,” he said in a YouTube video. “It’d be attached to a drone and that would be applied to forest fires or building fires where you wouldn’t want to sacrifice a human life.”