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Posts Tagged ‘natural resources’

2010 was a difficult year for most people I know, and for me personally.  I was sick, our car was stolen right out of our driveway, I lost a beloved cat to illness,  I had unexpected (and unentertaining) expenses, work has been very slow, etc.  I stopped writing on my blog early in the year, and we might as well count 2010 as a write-off in terms of blogging.  Even on my more personal journal I hardly wrote anything except to share a few links.  So here’s to hoping 2011 is better for all of us, especially all my unemployed or underemployed friends.

A couple of good things did happen, particularly my starting to teach at Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering Department again.  I taught a Solid Waste Management class in the fall, and I was lucky to have a very good group; I really loved my students.  The days I was teaching became the days I most looked forward to in the week.  (But I’ll tell you, teaching brings in very little money for the amount of work it requires.)

Still, I enjoy it and it provides for diversity of income.  I was offered two classes for the spring semester, and I lucked out again by being offered two of my favourite topics.  I will be teaching an Environmental Impact Assessment class and a Water Quality and Environmental Health class, both of which I am very familiar with.  It’s going to be a great big load of work, but what great subjects!  I thought I would take the opportunity to blog about some of the issues we cover because I think they are of general interest.

I’m also going to try to vary my approach to lectures.  I’ve been relying a lot on slides, handouts, prepared lecture notes, etc., but I would like to try more discussion and less “bullet points”.  So I’m revising the notes I’ve used before; the material is still fine, but I want to present it more dynamically.  That said, I will still post the occasional slide presentation for discussion.

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This month’s job openings at SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologists, Inc.:

  • Consulting Biologist (CEQA Expert) (Eureka)
  • Materials Testing Laboratory Manager (Willits)
  • Mid-level Civil Engineer, California PE (Willits)
  • Senior-level Civil Engineer, California PE (Redding)
  • Temporary Field Botanist/Wildlife Biologist (Eureka)

Good positions, good benefits, fun company to work for, great co-workers, wonderful area to live in.

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Humboldt County General Plan Update news: notice received Monday from the Planning Division of Humboldt County Community Development Services:

Housing Element “Town Hall Style” Planning Commission Meeting

Humboldt County Draft General Plan — Land Use Element

April 30, 2009

The Humboldt County Planning Commission will host an informal public workshop on the Draft Land Use Element beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 2009 in the Board of Supervisors chambers, Humboldt County Courthouse, Eureka. The workshop is intended to provide a forum for an open dialogue between the Commissioners, planning staff, and the public. A format similar to a “town hall” meeting will be used to discuss the draft policies contained in the Land Use Element and the Plan Alternatives.

This meeting follows two staff presentations to the Planning Commission on the Draft Land Use Element. During the April 16, 2009 Planning Commission meeting, the Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts for Sections 4.2 (Growth Planning), 4.3 (Urban Lands), 4.4 (Rural Lands) and the Land Use Classifications were introduced to the Planning Commission. During the April 23, 2009 Planning Commission meeting, the Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts for Sections 4.5 (Agricultural Resources), 4.6 (Forest Resources) and 4.7 (Public Lands)were presented. This upcoming meeting is open to discussion of all the proposed policies and plan alternatives for the Draft Land Use Element.

Background on the Land Use Element and Key Issues:

The Land Use Element provides for the distribution, location and extent of uses of land for housing, business, industry, natural resources, open space, recreation, and other uses. It guides decision makers, planners, and the general public in fulfilling the ultimate pattern and character of development within the unincorporated areas of the county. The policies of the proposed Plan represent a legislated balance between the individual rights of property owners and the health, safety, and welfare needs of the community.

Background on the Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts:

The Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts explain what the major issues are for these sections and list the goals, policies, standards, and implementation measures for Plan Alternatives A, B, C and D in one chart for comparison purposes. Copies are available on the GPU website at www.planupdate.org and will also be available for viewing at the Humboldt County Library (all branches), Kinkos and the Community Development Services Department front counter. Also available is a “Users Guide” that explains the format of the charts and how they will be used by the decision makers in their deliberation process for ultimately adopting a new General Plan for the County.

For further information, or to be placed on the email list to receive notices of workshops, please contact Martha Spencer by email at mspencer@co.humboldt.ca.us or by telephone at (707) 268-3704 or Tom Hofweber at 268-3738.

Recap of the four alternatives:

  • Plan Alternative A accommodates growth by promoting infill and by focusing growth in urban areas with adequate services. The alternative increases protection of resource production lands, and is considered the “environmentally superior” alternative. This alternative is generally more prescriptive, and has more detailed and specific policy sets associated with it.
  • Plan Alternative B (Proposed Plan) balances protection of resource lands with the need for residential development through focused development, appropriate urban expansion, and incentive-based clustering policies to encourage conservation of resource production lands.
  • Plan Alternative C is a higher growth and less regulatory alternative providing additional residential capacity. This alternative, particularly in rural areas, increases the amount of land planned for residential estate and rural residential uses. This alternative is generally less prescriptive, and has policy language that is more flexible.
  • Plan Alternative D — the No Action Alternative — is the existing 1984 Framework Plan.

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Here are a few sites I want to gush about, as educational resources, as entertainment, and as serious technical and scientific resources. Not only can they be used in the classroom, or browsed for the sheer enchantment of discovery, but they are pure gold for for professionals in the environmental fields as well.

NatureServe Explorer

A huge online database of species, NatureServe Explorer is a collaboration between natural heritage programs and conservation data centers operating in all 50 U.S. states, 11 Canadian provinces and territories, and 20 member programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. The database provides information on the conservation status of species throughout the territory covered, their vulnerability, ecology and life history, etc., and provides techinal references to learn more.

Lifemapper

The visual tool Lifemapper is the work of a University of Kansas team with support from all over the world. It uses an advanced geographical database to display where species are found and documented, and to predict where we might expect to find them. This tool also allows users to create Google Earth maps with the data. Note: You need to supply the scientific (Latin) name of the species to search.

ITIS

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System, or ITIS, provides taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world. ITIS is a cooperatice project between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. Hey, here is a good place to look up scientific names so you can query Lifemapper!

PLANTS Database

Created and maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the PLANTS national database contains life history, range, and taxonomic information, photos, native/non-native status, and much more. It can be searched using either common names or scientific names.

FishBase

Another product of international scientific cooperation, the FishBase information system provides images, life history, distribution, taxonomic status, and much more for over 31,000 fish species. It can be searched using either common names or scientific names.

BirdWeb

Much more subdued, regional, and low-tech, BirdWeb is nonetheless a work of love and excellence, offering carefully gathered information and on-the-ground observations. It’s the work of the Seattle branch of the Audubon Society, and the information it contains is useful for a large part of our ecoregion.

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GodwitGodwit Days will be upon us April 16 to 22 — a week of birding and art in and around Arcata.

The marbled godwits arrived a little while ago already, along with American avocets, black oystercatchers, willets, several kind of plovers, etc. Birding has been good at the Arcata Marsh and along the shores of Humboldt County.

The 14th annual Godwit Days event offers over 110 bird-viewing activities regionally, many of them free and many more very inexpensive, as well as an Art Fair in Arcata.

I’ve met people who come from all over the country, paying a pretty penny despite not being rich, to fly here and see these birds for a few days. And we get to see them so often we take them for granted.

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The Humboldt County General Plan Update is marching ever onward. Notice received Thursday from the Planning Division of Humboldt County Community Development Services:

Notice of Release

Release of the Plan Alternatives for the Humboldt County 2009 Draft General Plan

April 2, 2009

The Key Issues and Plan Alternatives Comparison Charts for the draft General Plan Update (GPU) for Sections 4.5 (Agricultural Resources), 4.6 (Forest Resources) and 4.7 (Public Lands) are now available to the public. Public hearings by the Planning Commission will begin on April 16 and April 23, 2009 with staff presentations on key issues and comparison of the alternatives for the Land Use Element (see attached draft Planning Commission hearing schedule) and public testimony on these sections will begin on April 30th.

The Key Issues and Plan Alternatives Comparison Charts explain what the major issues are for these sections and list the goals, policies, standards, and implementation measures for Plan Alternatives A, B, C and D in one chart for comparison purposes. Copies are available on the GPU website at www.planupdate.org and will also be available for viewing at the Humboldt County Library (all branches), Kinkos and the Community Development Services Department front counter. For further information, or to be placed on the email list to receive notices of workshops, please contact Martha Spencer by email at mspencer@co.humboldt.ca.us or by telephone at (707) 268-3704 or Tom Hofweber at 268-3738.

The new comparison tables are in three separate PDF files of 22, 26, and 10 pages respectively (86 to 205 kilobytes). They complement the four tables released on March 18 for Sections 4.2 (Growth Planning), 4.3 (Urban Lands), 4.4 (Rural Lands) and 4.8 (Land Use Classifications). Happily, the first four tables have also been split into four separate files, easier to download than the original chunky single-file release.

Recap of the four alternatives:

  • Plan Alternative A accommodates growth by promoting infill and by focusing growth in urban areas with adequate services. The alternative increases protection of resource production lands, and is considered the “environmentally superior” alternative. This alternative is generally more prescriptive, and has more detailed and specific policy sets associated with it.
  • Plan Alternative B (Proposed Plan) balances protection of resource lands with the need for residential development through focused development, appropriate urban expansion, and incentive-based clustering policies to encourage conservation of resource production lands.
  • Plan Alternative C is a higher growth and less regulatory alternative providing additional residential capacity. This alternative, particularly in rural areas, increases the amount of land planned for residential estate and rural residential uses. This alternative is generally less prescriptive, and has policy language that is more flexible.
  • Plan Alternative D — the No Action Alternative — is the existing 1984 Framework Plan.

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The Crescent City Daily Triplicate announced on Saturday that an appropriations bill that just passed the U.S. House of Representatives included $1.6 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge Crescent City’s harbour. The bill stills needs to pass the Senate vote and be signed by President Obama before the Corps officially gets this money.

The project would allow the Corps to improve critical spots in the navigation channel, making it safer for commercial and recreation vessels. Dredging is something that needs to be done periodically in this and other harbours, to keep the deeper parts of the navigation free from the silt and sediment carried off by streams and runoff. A large proportion of the sediment is mobilized by spring melt, carried off into streams and all the way to the sea. There is also the effect of currents which can keep moving the harbour bottom sediment.

Naturally, dredging also has impacts on the ecosystem and natural communities that populate the harbour floor. Specific programs are in place to streamline the environmental review; it’s different, for example, to maintain an official navigation channel, from proposing a project that would require the dredging of natural areas not normally impacted. In essence, some of the known impacts of dredging the channel are already studied and accounted for, and the environmental review for a specific project is made more straightforward by addressing only what is new and site-specific.

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