The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. That day, I attended East He Bay High School, where I planted a tree and heard several speeches. This movement has grown and achieved remarkable success, especially with respect to old-growth redwood forests. Many environmental groups (such as the Sierra Club) became well-funded and therefore politically powerful. No one doubted their commitment to protecting our watershed.
But that idealism has faded considerably. No environmental organization in Humboldt County has publicly expressed support for Measure A, and many have voiced opposition.
This measure has two main purposes. The first is to limit the total area used by the water-intensive cannabis industry. Second, this restriction would be specified in the county plan, limiting the Board of Supervisors’ policy making.
Why is there a limit on planted area?
In late summer 2021, the South Fork of the Eel River was no longer connected to the rest of the river, something that had never been observed before. Regardless of the importance of cannabis’ role in the county’s economy, the health of our watershed must be a more primary concern. With each growth, straw is inserted into the slope to suck out any moisture that may flow into an adjacent stream. Considering our country’s characteristic summer drought, it is not hard to imagine that converting forests to agricultural land would reduce the flow of the Eel and other rivers. There should be a limit on the number of straws.
Why limit the board’s freedom to make cannabis policy decisions?
Because we cannot trust supervisors to make indifferent policies on this issue. The county has been asked to make necessary adjustments to the water ordinance at multiple public meetings over the years, but none have been done. Consider two of our current supervisors, Michelle Bushnell and Rex Vaughn. Mr. Bushnell owns marijuana cultivation land. She has already been charged with at least one offense of misconduct. Mr. Born’s son owns one of the largest farms in Humboldt.
Why are local environmental groups refusing to help? It’s hard to imagine that they are opposed to the Hoopa Valley Tribe, who wholeheartedly supports Measure A to protect the environment. It’s heartbreaking to think that the idealism of the first Earth Day is gone and that environmentalists are more focused on their career prospects than on conservation.
I vote for Measure A.
David Green is a resident of Eureka.