Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Eco News does story on Marks for Harbor Commissioner.

Great article by Eco News. I am humbled by their portrayal of me.

Richard may not be what you think of when you picture an environmentalist. For nearly 30 years, Richard was a heavy equipment operator at the Samoa Pulp Mill. He was also a union organizer for the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers and President of Local 49. But he is also a deep lover of Humboldt Bay and has been one of its most important champions. Richard is a Kin to the Earth.
After working for years next to Humboldt Bay at the mill, Richard shifted to working on behalf of the Bay. First elected to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District in 2009, Richard now serves as Chairman of the Board. In his work on behalf of the Harbor District, Richard safeguards the bay. Most notably, Richard was instrumental in the cleanup of his former place of employment.
First, the Harbor District purchased the mill site and three million gallons of caustic liquors stored onsite. The liquors, once used to break down wood chips into pulp, were stored in old, rusting tanks—so rusty that rainwater leaked in, slowly filling up the containers until they were ready to burst. The threat was so real that once the EPA saw the problem, they made cleanup of the site its top priority. With overflowing, corroding tanks, time was of the essence. Next, the Harbor District coordinated a massive cleanup with the EPA—700 trucks, each hauling 2,500 gallons, carried away the hazardous chemicals to be safely reused by another pulp plant in Longview, Washington. Richard takes no greater pride than knowing that the harbor is healthy.
According to Jennifer Kalt of Humboldt Baykeeper, “the acquisition of the former pulp mill was a risky proposition. But Richard was so determined that he was clearly not going to take no for an answer, and the District bravely plowed ahead where no other government agency dared to tread.”
The Harbor District is working on additional cleanups of contaminated soil and debris and rehabilitating old mill buildings for a modern business park. On top of the renovated buildings is a massive solar array—the largest in the county—able to power 750 kilowatts. Already 18 businesses have taken up residence in the old mill, helping to generate income for the Harbor District. Once near bankruptcy, Richard and company have brought the District back to financial solvency. “Cleaning up the former pulp mill site is one of the Harbor District’s greatest achievements,” said Surfrider Foundation’s Jennifer Savage. “But it’s only one of a long list of ways in which Richard made the Harbor District better.”
Richard just went through a tough reelection fight but emerged with a decisive victory, taking home some 62 percent of the vote. (This was especially comforting, as Richard’s opponent ran against the Harbor District’s cleanup work.) Richard put a lot of miles in, knocking on doors in the past election. By his count, he totaled over 3,000 doors. And he did it in fashion, rocking pink and robin’s egg blue sneakers.
Reflective of his dual nature—both salt of the earth union organizer and beloved environmentalist—Richard’s campaign endorsements were a study in contrasts. Both Mike Wilson (a bleeding heart liberal, in my words) and Greg Dale (a “conservative Republican,” in his words) sing Richard’s praises.
Says Dale, “Richard Marks is one of the best public servants I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with.  He not only listens to all sides of an issue, from all parties, he follows up by educating himself and others on the issue before making a decision. His genuine good will, honesty, professionalism and pleasant demeanor come through in all circumstances and through his influence, makes us all better humans. I’m proud to call him a mentor and friend.”

When Richard isn’t saving the bay, he’s probably playing (or writing about) softball. Richard is the President of the Mad River Softball Association. He even maintains a blog—where he writes about the local leagues (and local politics, food reviews, rankings of worst bands, and a random smattering of other things that
strike his fancy).

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Fastest Sea Level Rise on west coast happening on Samoa Peninsula!

Students from Humboldt States Environmental Science Department did a presentation on Sea Level rise at the Samoa Peninsula Fire Hall on Saturday December 9th in Fairhaven. They used best available science to come to their conclusions. Between Global warming and the affects of our local subduction-zone issues, the Samoa Peninsula water table is rising 4.73 milliliters a year or for you old timers like me, .186 inches a year. That is the fastest sea level rise rate on the entire west coast! This will cause havoc to ground water tables and lead to septic tank failures that are imminent in Fairhaven and will cause pollution to our bay.

Currently there are 181 parcels in the town of Fairhaven and 63 homes. There are 180 residents living at about 10 ft above sea level. The Wiyot tribe used to occupy this area until the property was bought by George Fay in 1875. The unincorporated town was formerly named Rolph after California Governor James Rolph.  The town had more than 500 timber industry jobs in its past doing plywood and pulp production. There are currently about 100 jobs providing newsprint, soil and other niche businesses.

A newly formed Community Service District for the Peninsula will provide water services, delivery of power, Sewage service and a Parks and Recreation department. Currently the Samoa Peninsula Fire District is looking for financing a creation of a emergency tsunami evacuation Berm in Fairhaven for the safety of the residents and the current workers.

Solutions to issues to shoreline loss could be soil replenishment through dredge spoils if the correct sand grain size matches up with the current habitat. This would have to be a long term goal as permitting and actual dredging seems onerous all around the bay. Other thoughts are retreating and letting nature take the lead. Nourish replenishment included with new sand to form a living shoreline was brought up, as well as wooden fences designs to capture sand during wind storm events. HSU is also hoping to do more studies for solutions in the future.

Hope you found this information useful.