Humboldt Currents Fall 2013

Casey AllenHumboldt Currents, Marine Protected Areas

The Humboldt Bay Artificial Reef Project suffered yet another setback with the resignation of our environmental consultant, citing his busy schedule. The HASA reef committee hopes to have a replacement very soon. The good news is the project is moving through phases with students at HSU. At least one student who used the reef project in the Environmental Impact Assessment class is moving on to grant writing. The project is popular among HSU students because it allows them to work on a real life project and not something hypothetical.

The halibut study conducted by HSU student Liz Perkins and sponsored by HASA, SeaGrant, and the Harbor District came to a close with Liz sampling 270 halibut. That number exceeded expectations and was achieved by the cooperation of sport fishers and charter captains – not to mention all the hard work by Liz. She is now aging the otoliths which will be verified before the data is analyzed. The results should be available sometime in December and a full report will be in the 2014 Winter newsletter. We all expect to discuss the next phase of the study based on this year’s results. We would like to express our thanks to all who contributed to this study. It is another example of a community that knows how to work together to find the answers that will protect the resource for the benefit of all.

From the North Coast MPA Monitoring Enterprise team:
“In early August, we received MPA monitoring proposals covering a broad range of topics across the whole North Coast region, for a total request of over $11 million. Over the past two months, the Baseline Program partners have been coordinating and managing the peer review of these proposals. All proposals were first reviewed by independent, external, subject-matter experts who assessed each proposal against the evaluation criteria listed in the RFP, including scientific and technical merit of individual proposals, partnerships and local expertise, and alignment with the Baseline Program purposes. We then convened a review panel, consisting of additional scientific, technical and local experts to review all proposals, consider the input received from the peer reviews, and recommend projects for funding. 
Over the coming weeks, the management team will work with project leads on selected proposals to modify objectives, work plans, and budgets in response to the results of the review process. We anticipate announcing the final set of projects selected for funding after Thanksgiving.”
If approved at least three of the proposals will enlist the participation of HASA members.

From Jimmy Smith and Hank Seemann:
“Humboldt County (working with GHD, Inc.) is approximately 2/3 through the design and permit process for the proposed boat ramp replacement at Fields Landing.  The target is to be awarded construction funding from Department of Boating and Waterways in 2014, and to construct in spring of 2015.  The goal would be to start in April and reach completion by the end of June to avoid most of the major salmon season.  Permitting hurdles or lack of funding could delay the timeframe target.

The current design expands the usable width of the ramp from 32-33 feet to 36 feet (two 18-foot lanes).  The slope would steepen from 9% to 15%.  The bottom of the ramp will be higher (to reduce debris accumulation) and extend out further toward the channel.  Floats will go from 6 feet to 8 feet wide.  Guide piles (three on each side) will be replaced.  The ramp will be constructed in two parts.  Dozers will advance a “push slab” for the lower part, and the upper part will be cast in place concrete.  Work will include new retaining walls and RSP.  Estimated cost is $1.8 million.

The County submitted a 65% design package to the Department of Boating and Waterways in June for review.  We received DBW comments in October concurring with the proposed design.  Based on that approval, draft permit applications were submitted to NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Coastal Commission, and State Department of Fish and Wildlife in early November, to verify the County’s approach dealing with avoiding, minimizing, and mitigation impacts to sensitive species and habitats, in particular eel grass.  Feedback from the resource agencies is expected by the second week of December so that we can incorporate or revise the plans and environmental documents as necessary to address their comments and submit the final permit applications and finalize the design.  We expect to request funding from the Department of Boating and Waterways in spring of 2014 and have all the environmental permits by the summer of 2014.  Mitigation and monitoring requirements from the agencies will be extensive.”