Point of No Return

With the Green Rush and the drought colliding this summer, is it too late to save Humboldt’s watersheds?  Growers used an illegally dug spring to irrigate their crops at the scene of this marijuana growing operation uncovered by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office last summer. It’s July 2 and about 18 officials are sitting in … Read more

The Potter Valley Project Variance Dance: Drought and the Russian River Diversion

By: Scott Greacen April 18, 2014 New Rules for Drying Times? Serial Variance Requests Reveal Vulnerability of Eel River Fisheries to Demands from Russian River Irrigators The Eel River’s surviving salmonids—­chinook, coho, and steelhead—are struggling to come back from near-extinction. Good returns from 2010 to 13, particularly for chinook, felt like recovery might be getting … Read more

Marijuana's Thirst Depleting North Coast Watersheds

…with logging activity on the decline across much of the region and a thriving black market for pot — plus state-sanctioned recreational marijuana sales in Washington and Colorado — the spread of cannabis cultivation is now seen by many environmentalists and government scientists as the greatest threat to forests and streams damaged by decades of … Read more

State Streamlines Domestic Water Tank Storage Process in Response to Drought

On March 13, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced expedited approval for the installation of storage tanks by landowners who currently divert water from coastal rivers in CDFW regions 1 & 3.  Humboldt County and most of the Eel River watershed are … Read more

Is Pot-Growing Bad for the Environment?

Thanks to the drug’s illegal status, marijuana farms are not regulated – with serious costs to water and wildlife. A tax on excessive electricity use may seem like an indirect way of curbing household cannabis cultivation, but the city had to back away from its more direct approach—a zoning ordinance—when the federal government threatened to … Read more

Illegal Pumping Leads to Marijuana Bust – But Is It Too Late for the Fish?

…what often occurs is that as one pool is drained, the intake and sometimes the pump is moved to another pool—repeatedly sucking away entire fish habitats. As the water disappears, predators move in. Egrets, blue herons and raccoons will eat every single fish. Sometimes the person pumping doesn’t adequately screen the intake valve and small creatures … Read more

Marijuana Crops in California Threaten Forests and Wildlife

…The environmental damage may not be as extensive as that caused by the 19th-century diking of the Humboldt estuary here, or 20th-century clear-cut logging, but the romantic outlaw drug has become a destructive juggernaut, experts agree. Read the full article published in the New York Times By: Felicity Barringer Published: Thursday, June 20 2013  

Tunnel Vision Part Two: Rivers in Peril

How Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant water tunnels, along with legislation in Congress, could ultimately spoil the last of Northern California’s wild and scenic rivers. …the big water prize in California is the major rivers on the North Coast – including the Eel, the Smith, and the Trinity – that are protected by … Read more

Tunnel Vision Part One: Delta in Peril

How Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant water tunnels could devastate the largest estuary on the West Coast. Nearly everyone in California drinks freshwater from distant rivers or streams. The East Bay taps the Mokelumne River in the Sierra foothills; San Francisco pumps its water out of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park; … Read more