Updating Regulations on Water Quality Certification

In addition to many other environmental policies, there are numerous factions involved in changing our water quality regulations and various aspects of the Clean Water Act. Stay updated here and elsewhere in the news.

Wikipedia has a fairly straightforward account of the background behind the rules. Understanding the jurisdiction over various isolated wetlands, ephemeral streams and man-made waters has been a confusing subject for permitting biologists for quite some time. There are also other agencies including the Coastal Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife, Tribal Governments, National Marine Fisheries Service and local municipalities that often claim jurisdiction or require permits for various wetlands and waters impacts. Oftentimes these agencies have conflicting goals or management principals and permit applicants/consulting biologists must learn negotiation techniques and conflict management to find solutions that will be acceptable by all of the resource agencies.

An example that comes up frequently is when one agency wants a man-made feature, such as a ditch or pond removed, and another agency would like it preserved as it is functioning as habitat for various aquatic species. Another is when one agency wants invasive species removed but another agency may want the species left in place as the removal may impact water quality (I was once told on a site-visit that my proposal to remove “old growth Pampas grass” was unacceptable as it would cause erosion). Yet another example is when one agency would like for a mitigation project to create a certain kind of habitat and another agency argues that it should be a different habitat type. In most cases there are valid arguments on all sides, but a great deal of staff time and money (both private and public) are exhausted determining which agency has jurisdiction when there are overlapping areas.

There is so much going on in the world right now, and it is hard to keep up on everything, but our water quality is important and regardless of where one stands politically, it is up to all of us to pay attention and be involved in the process of how water resources are protected and managed.

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Help is Here for Environmental Compliance in the Cannabis Industry!

Environmental laws and policies can be difficult to navigate and compliance can be economically devastating. Humboldt County is attempting to help small farmers achieve compliance through the Project Trellis program. TransTerra Staff has years of experience navigating grant applications, assisting with permits, planning and implementing restoration and identifying setbacks and alternatives to projects. We specialize in Items 4 and 7 of the services offered, especially with Loans or Grants for purposes of assuring compliance, permits, mitigation, water storage, remediation, and streamside setbacks.

Read below and contact us with any questions to discuss how TransTerra can help secure assistance for your project. We have combined decades of knowledge related to this region and the cannabis industry with a passion for the continual preservation of our natural resources and understanding of micro/macro economics and the hardships faced by small business. We have brainstormed various ways and reached out to other experienced professionals to design watershed based approaches that are cost-effective, efficient, and feasible. Read the information below as well as documents provided in the links and contact us if you’d like further information and would like to work together to secure projects for funding.

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The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved Project Trellis to assist the cannabis industry, and protect future cannabis excise tax revenues (secured by Measure S) Goals include”

  • provide services to populations and communities in Humboldt who were adversely affected by the criminalization of cannabis,

  • to develop a framework for supportive programs designed to sustain and grow Humboldt’s cannabis industry,

  • and to assist cannabis businesses as they work to overcome the financial and logistical challenges of coming into compliance.

Funding for the program will come from local cannabis excise tax revenues, cannabis fines and fees, and state funding via SB 1294.

Program Details

Project Trellis is broken into three parts:

Micro-grant program

This program is aimed at providing capital assistance and business resources to Humboldt County cannabis businesses.

Marketing and promotion

This initiative is designed to promote Humboldt-grown cannabis as a national and industry brand.

Local Equity Program

To serve those communities and individuals impacted by the war on drugs, and the implementation of which also serves as part of the qualifying criteria to receive Senate Bill 1294 funding. A manual was designed to describe the requirements for licensees of, or those seeking to apply to the Humboldt County Cannabis Local Equity Program (CLEP).

The Lost Coast Outpost has various articles available on it’s website.

Here is a list of some services offered:

1. Waiver of fees for Application Assistance Meetings of up to four hours, with the Cannabis Services Division of the Department of Planning and Building;

2. Cannabis Business Development Assistance from the Office of Economic Development, including business planning, loan application preparation, human resource management, bookkeeping and accounting practices and systems, etc.;

3. Deferral of payment of Application Fees for Cannabis Activity Zoning Clearance Certificates or Special Permit or Use Permit for a period not to exceed three (3) years;

4. Technical Assistance for the formation and administration of Road Maintenance Associations for public and private road networks providing access to cannabis activity operations by eligible cannabis equity program applicants or licensees, where such road networks may adversely impact watersheds providing habitat for threatened or endangered species; (This is where we shine!!!)

5. Waiver or deferral of fees for training and certification by the Agricultural Commissioner’s office for Weights and Measures and Pesticide Applicators requirements or certification of scales used in cannabis licensed businesses in Humboldt County;

6. Technical Assistance for the formation of cannabis cooperative associations pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 26220 -26231.2 the majority membership of which is comprised of cannabis equity program applicants or licensees.

7. Loans or Grants for purposes of assuring compliance with regulatory requirements of local or state permits or licenses that mitigate adverse environmental effects of cannabis cultivation or other activities including, but not limited to: a. Water storage for irrigation during forbearance periods of surface water diversion required by state or local regulations; b. Remediation and relocation of cannabis facilities located within streamside setbacks required by state or local regulation; c. Installation of solar electrical systems to replace diesel or gasoline generator power for off-grid cannabis facilities where connecting to the grid is economically infeasible. (We can help here too!!)

8. Employment skill training for eligible equity participants employed or seeking employment in licensed cannabis operations in Humboldt County

Our Botanist is a Star!

Our botanist Megan Nibbelink recently presented at the Botanical Society of America!

Megan’s passion is paleobotany and this is her current research:

Megan Nibbelink, Humboldt State University, Advisor: Mihai Tomescu, For the Presentation: Exploring zosterophyll diversity in the Emsian (Early Devonian) permineralized assemblages of the Battery Point Formation (Québec, Canada)
Co-author: Alexandru Tomescu

She received a Vernon I. Cheadle Student Travel Award for the conference and traveled all the way to Tucson from Humboldt with some botany friends and no A/C .

You can read the abstract of her research presentation here and the entire conference schedule here .

Here is more on Zosterophyllophytes

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Keeping Informed with NEC and Baykeeper

Though not always the most exciting topics in the news, our local infrastructure and planning are extremely important in conserving and protecting our natural as well as human environments. Volunteers of the NEC and BayKeeper work tirelessly to wade through long documents and attend public meetings and hearings on the behalf of our community. Here are some recent posts regarding the Humbold 101 corridor, Humboldt Bay Harbor Dredging and Sea Level Rise. Thank you for all of the hard work and information!

Whale Watching Season is Here!

It’s a perfect time of year to see Grey Whales! They migrate south past Humboldt shores in September-January to give birth and the warmer waters off the shores of Baja. Now they are leading their calves back to Arctic waters. They migrate north in the months of March through June. They travel 70-80 miles per day and tend to travel in groups of two to six. You are most likely to spot the whales from high cliffs overlooking the ocean, Trinidad Head and Patrick's Point State Park are two great locations for whale watching.

North Coast Flood Advisory Warnings

Flood Warning

Active for next 17 hours · National Weather Service


* Flood Warning for...
Northern Mendocino County in northwestern California...
Southwestern Trinity County in northwestern California...
Southern Humboldt County in northwestern California...

* Some locations that will experience flooding include...
Shelter Cove, Richardson Grove State Park, Covelo, Grizzly Creek
Redwoods State Park, Garberville, Laytonville, Honeydew, Hayfork,
Rio Dell, Leggett, Dinsmore, Forest Glen, Whitehorn, Carlotta,
Bridgeville, Alderpoint, Peanut, Scotia, Pepperwood and Petrolia.
Small streams and creeks will remain elevated through this afternoon
in the Mattole River Basin, Bear Creek Basin, and numerous other
small basins near the coast. Widespread ponding water will affect
low lying areas during periods of heavy rainfall and over topping
creeks will cause localized flooding. Culverts blocked by debris
will lead to localized flooding in many locations.

Please be safe out there. Here are links to information

Weather Underground

National Weather Service

Humboldt County Alert Center

Also there are many online sources for Emergency Preparedness and Ready

Remember that our region also has landslides and trees become uprooted in saturated soils as well. Environmental planners and resource agencies work hard to keep everyone safe and keep buildings out of flood zones, but many historic structures are in areas prone to flooding. An increase in impervious surface (roads, structures) in addition to loss of wetlands and riparian vegetation as well as more extreme weather due to climate increases the risk of catastrophic flooding. Many locals still remember the 1964 floods, but if you have not seen the amount of force behind our magnificent rivers please check it out. There are numerous sources including these posts from the Times Standard and North Coast Journals.

Diversity in the Western Wildlife Society

The Western Section of the Wildlife Society is an excellent way to learn more about and engage with local wildlife biologists and environmental scientists. TWS recognizes the importance of wildlife diversity, research and education and offers a wide-ranging list of courses, publications and social gatherings. TWS is working to promote more human diversity as well with a diversity committee.

The committee recognizes that diversity stems from not only ethnic and gender composition, but also cultural heritage, life and career experiences, economic backgrounds and abilities.They are committed to continuing efforts to attract, encourage, and fully develop talent from the full range of members.

The goals of the Western Section Diversity Committee are to: 

  • Engage youth to encourage interest in wildlife, conservation, and the field of wildlife biology;

  • foster a welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment for members of the society from underrepresented groups to achieve professional development;

  • and increase awareness of the value of human diversity to the society and field at large.

Check out their latest post and short video!

TWS Diversity West

Caution with Drones and Wildlife Please

Recently there was a presentation at the Sunrise Rotary Club in Arcata regarding the use of drones near pelagic bird colonies and the disruption and stress it is causing to many nesting species. The drones often fly to close, stress the birds and often they fly off of nests, leaving them open to predation. The Audobon society has written on various ways drones are affecting bird species.

On the most recent Wildlife Society newsletter, an article in National Geographic titled “Viral bear video shows dark side of filming animals with drones” . It clearly shows a mother bear and cub climbing a difficult and treacherous snowy mountain. The cub falls a bit and is almost back up when the drone startles the bears, and the tiny cub falls again, almost to his death.

The cub does make it back up to his anxious mother, the these interactions of drones and wildlife are happening more often, frequently through simple ignorance and carelessness.

Drones have been useful for environmental science and biology, as have other tools like wildlife cameras and tracking devices. The tools can also be disturbing and detrimental. Please be aware of any observation that you conduct and help spread awareness of the use of drones and impacts to wildlife.

Thank you!

Totally Batty Workshop!

Through the Western Section of the The Wildlife Society we were able to attend a workshop for the Ecology and Field Methods for the study of bats. During our habitat assessments for projects, we encounter numerous local bat species which are listed Species of Special Concern (SSC) by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA; California Public Resources Code §§ 21000-21177) requires State agencies, local governments, and special districts to evaluate and disclose impacts from "projects" in the State. Section 15380 of the CEQA Guidelines clearly indicates that species of special concern should be included in an analysis of project impacts if they can be shown to meet the criteria of sensitivity outlined therein.

This workshop combined lecture, discussion, and field exercises regarding ecology and conservation of California bats, covering species accounts, physiology, anatomy, behavioral ecology, conservation issues, and mitigation strategies. We employed field techniques of mist-netting, assessing species presence or absence, and acoustic monitoring to gain hands-on experience in monitoring and analysis. During evening field excursions we typically captured a half dozen bat species and, for those with proof of current rabies vaccination, we were allowed practice in extracting, handling, as well as collecting and recording data from captured bats. The following is a list of bats in Humboldt County that are commonly observed.

Scientific Name Common Name

  • Antrozous pallidus pallid bat

  • Corynorhinus townsendii Townsend's big-eared bat

  • Lasionycteris noctivagans silver-haired bat

  • Lasiurus blossevillii western red bat

  • Lasiurus cinereus hoary bat

  • Myotis evotis long-eared myotis

  • Myotis thysanodes fringed myotis

  • Myotis volans long-legged myotis

  • Myotis yumanensis Yuma myotis

Find your own ways to learn more about these creatures, which are extrememly important for pest-control and ecology. Here are some links to get you started!

Bats of the Humboldt Redwoods

The Wildlife Society

Information Regarding Species of Special Concern

Why Bats are Important

Build Your Own Bat House

Classroom portion-Taxonomy, identification and ecology

Classroom portion-Taxonomy, identification and ecology

Mist nets going up

Mist nets going up

Male Myotis

Male Myotis

Get ready for Coastal Cleanup Day!!

The Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) organizes a number of events, but the Coastal Cleanup Day is one of the easiest and most rewarding events.  Please check out NorCal Beach Clean Initiative for things you can do every day to keep our beaches clean as well.  We finally "Adopted a Block" and will pick up cigarette butts around our block and pick up receptacles that they provide us.  @norcalbeachclean @your_nec

"Coastal cleanups are important for our beaches, rivers, estuaries and our local coastal environment. Human beings have continuously degraded those habitats for all life forms, including plants and animals with their wasteful, trashy ways.

Our North Coast coastline is one of California’s biggest assets, whether it be for recreation, production, water, or life; all of this depends on the health of our watersheds, beaches and coastal environment. It is predicted that by 2050 plastic and trash will outnumber fish in the ocean. If the public keeps polluting these ecosystems, it isn’t just humans that suffer the consequences, but the entire ecosystem. Wildlife frequently mistake debris as food and it has become an increasing trend to find marine life with stomachs full of plastic. Another common occurrence is to find animals entangled in derelict fishing gear or trash.

We need coastal cleanups not only to clean up our beaches and help our wildlife, but to show our representatives what type of trash and how much trash is washing up on our beaches. Knowing what and how much waste is washing up on our beaches helps us to get local ordinances and even legislation passed that can help reduce the amount of trash entering our oceans. We have been able to show our representatives and the manufactures that we do not want products that are damaging the environment in our day to day lives. We hope that with this wave of eco-consumerism we will be able to effect change to create a more environmentally conscious community.

The Northcoast Environmental Center got their start in beach cleanups with the Beach Beautification Project in 1979. Within the first nine days of the program over 2,300 pounds of debris were removed from Humboldt County beaches, and by the end of the first year over 34,000 pounds had been picked up along 110 miles of Humboldt coastline. The California Coastal Commission estimates that over 20 million pounds of trash have been picked up over the past 35 years statewide. We continue this tradition through our Adopt-A-Beach program, Coastal Cleanup Day and various other beach cleanups."