Friends of the Eel River File Lawsuit VS Humboldt County Board of Supes Today Over Cannabis Ordinance

greenhouse marijuana

Multiple greenhouses of marijuana on a graded flat from an incident in July 2017 where the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant. Numerous environmental violations were found. [Crop of a photo from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office]

Press release from the Friends of the Eel River:

Friends of the Eel River (FOER) has filed suit against the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for failing to adequately protect our native fish and waters from the impacts of cannabis cultivation. In early May, Supervisors approved a Cannabis Cultivation Land Use Ordinance that would allow 3,500 cultivation sites to be permitted without the careful analysis necessary to insure those operations will not have significant impacts on Humboldt County’s watersheds and wildlife. Adverse watershed impacts associated with marijuana cultivation include increased sediment from roads, stream crossings, and grading activities; dewatering salmon-bearing streams; and introduction of toxic pesticides and fertilizers.

Friends of the Eel River’s Conservation Director Scott Greacen said: “The impacts of Humboldt’s cannabis industry are driving salmon and steelhead extinct in our watersheds. The County has gone ahead with permitting even more operations without doing the work needed to understand, much less minimize, those impacts.”

The County’s ordinance is environmentally and economically unsustainable. As of May 30th, the State of California has already issued 3,664 cultivation licenses statewide, which could produce more than three times the projected total state demand for weed. The 770 licenses Humboldt County has already issued under its 2015 medical cultivation ordinance can alone supply half of estimated statewide demand. So Humboldt County’s proposed “cap” of 3,500 permits could produce twice as much cannabis as the entire state of California is likely to consume. With actual legal sales well behind initial projections, and prices for cannabis continuing to drop, the mismatch between the new legal market’s demand and the old black market’s massive overproduction keeps growing. Humboldt County’s preferred solution to the enormous black market marijuana industry it has allowed to take root is to give permits to as many operators as it can convince to take them ­– an approach that tries to wish away the economic and ecological limits the legal industry must face.

“With marijuana legalization, Humboldt County has a real chance to build a sustainable cannabis industry. Instead, the Supervisors have moved to prop up yet another boom and bust industry. As was the case with the old-growth logging industry a generation ago, the boom times of the Emerald Triangle’s weed industry are over, and the bust is upon us. If we are to break the cycle, we must not only minimize the industry’s ecological footprint but also plan for a future that embraces diversified, sustainable economic development instead of short-term gain,” said FOER Executive Director Stephanie Tidwell.

The lawsuit was filed in California Superior Court on June 6, 2018.



  • looks like a common sense lawsuit to me… I suppose that means the politico’s will disagree.

  • It seems to me, that the Board of Stupidvisors, eyes have rolled back into their pointed heads & Dollar Signs have appeared!!!

  • I’m not sure Humboldt County alone can control the downward spiral in prices due to how easy it is to supply the market.
    The water controls for licensing are far stricter than any other commodity.

  • Veteran's friend

    Estelle’s comments in the current INDEPENDENT are quite telling. She is in abject denial of the impacts of the county regulations on business AND enviornment.
    She actually thinks (or at least says) everything will be fine😠

    • Estelle is delusional and stupid or just a complete sell out. I know she used to be a local but it would be great if fortuna and sohum elected someone better next time. If Cliff were in office the last few years he would have been a voice of reason on the issue of cannabis.

    • I would imagine everything will be fine for Estelle unless we find out the full extent of what’s been going on behind the curtain. Questionable free travel on private planes, secret plans for Potter Valley Project, what else?

    • Estelle “Getty” is interested in nothing except making herself look better!!! She promised a lot at the Town Hall Meeting we had here in Bridgeville a couple of years back, the ONLY thing even halfway useful was we finally got a resident deputy back on 36!!! Other than that , which was already scheduled to happen we got ZIP!!!

  • Ferndale Friend

    Growers are laughing at Greacen’s morally righteous BS. Three decades of helicopters and law enforcement couldn’t stop them, so how does he think his lawsuit is going to change anything, except cost the county a bunch of trouble, and keep everyone in the hills on the down low, like they’ve always been? Market forces are what is shaping the industry, not lawsuits. Greacen is not only wasting his time, he is contributing to the problem. When pot becomes so legalized that it only fetches $50/lb like any other medicinal herb, it will no longer be profitable to grow in the hills, and the problem will solve itself. So if Greacen really wants a solution to the environmental problem, he should support solutions that increase the trend towards legalization and normalization, not lawsuits that will just drive more growers back to the old ways.

    • The lawsuit and the organisation itself does seem to have more than a touch of schizophrenia. It wants to “support” the Eel as a “Wild and Scenic River” and it want to create a “Sustainable Cannabis Industry”, an apparent conflict as taking water to grow pot is never good for the river. Better that the destruction of current grows but never a positive good. So it seems like an uncomfortable compromise between supporting members who make their income from pot, funding the organization, and acknowledging that in reality it damages the environment no matter how well done.

  • Thank you FOER…

  • Onceawookawkaysawook

    People who trust any politician are in need of reallignment. Try psychedelicssand get ready for the true paradigm shift in your own brain

  • Alt Right For Life

    I’d like to see no permits issued and let the grass be grown in Central Valley.

    The path to building a future for the area should be a drug free plan.

    The marijuana industry has brought nothing positive, only crime and destruction.

    It’s long overdue for a full clean out of riff raff.

    • Yeah, try growing sin semilla in the central valley. One male plant could ruin hundreds of acres at once.

      • Alt Right For Life

        The brick at $20 is coming back, like it or not

        It’s been over and when the brick drops, you’ll recall this silly post of guidance.

        • 20 dollars can still get you a kilo of 70’s-quality weed, it’s called shake. People pay for quality.

  • this being the second or 3rd lawsuit yet to be settled. Calaverass county had that “Law suit” problem for a little while. Then they reversed all decisions and claimed NO one could grow, any at all, ever and it’s done over there,,,watch out Humboldt. Gotta go beyond Estelle also, just sayin.

    • local observer

      you ever been out mountain ranch road? new image and mega grows right off pavement. your comment needs an LOL. the foothills are just as packed as Humboldt. and I would assume the supervisors are no different. I always wanted to race frogs.

  • Interesting, and I hope you’re able to post a link to the filing. My first inclination is to ask whether there is any realistic hope of the county getting anything like 3500 permit applications. People are dropping their permits now, and I don’t see any lines at the Planning Department asking for new ones. Will the suit solve a problem that doesn’t exist? On the other hand there are an estimated 7500 or more black market cannabis gardens in the county now. Maybe a suit to compel the county to shut them down would have more of a beneficial effect on the environment than a suit to lower the present unrealistic cap on permits. Still, good for them for filing the suit. The county needs to realize how interconnected everything is, including cannabis regulations. It should do it’s regulating to minimize bad side effects as well as produce income for itself. Maybe we should all get together and work on determining what a sustainable cannabis economy that doesn’t have serious adverse effects on the environment, would look like.

    • Ed you want them to shut down your bread and butter the last 30 years. Seems kinda rude and hypocritical to say go after the “black” market grows. Never took you for a racist, and also, those folks paid your way. And all the dope smokers that like country Joe.. come on man. Some of us used to look up to you. Now you’re just a slave to the man

      • Guess you don’t want you’re illegal grow shut down.

        • Po ick ur battles

          Damn right. If my 25 plants that my doctor says I can have is illegal, then your darn right.

      • Racist? To shut down rogue growers, growing on land that does not belong to them? Very odd choice of words. I would call that out right deflection on what is trying to be addressed here.

    • Way too many over restrictive regulations as it is…. atleast treat it fairly like the wine ppl have it n their over regulated as it is. “Environmental” is the excuse to over step and limit us on our property rights. If they wanted this to realy work they’d limit to something responsible like within acouple hundred lb per spot and actually permit people ( not out of existence)

    • What I heard from out Whitethorn way is $30,000 fines for unpermitted green houses. Hard to hide from Google Earth.

  • The state is always society’s enemy. In the same way that the state cannot plan the economy, the state furnishes no machinery for arriving at justice. It kills rather than rights wrongs. It ruins lives instead of righting them. It cares nothing about victims and instead makes more of them. The state attempts to make more criminals rather than stopping crime. Making peaceful behavior illegal and doing nothing about corporate crime. This is not about incompetence or bad policy at work, this is intrinsic to the game of state-administered justice itself.

  • “Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.”

    Bottom line – this is out of the Supe’s. jurisdiction. Show that their rules are set up to make sure no justice can be attained.

  • Ha! The Environmentalists ruined the logging and ranching industries in Humboldt county. Now they are going after the Marijuana grows, they must have overlooked who there donors are. Time to grab the popcorn it’s about to get interesting!

  • Why can’tt we limit crops to say…200 plants MAX. That would help everyone, not just the mega grows….just too logical and sound planning I guess? Nah…it’s greed😠

    • Humboldt Hillsman

      A plant number limit would be stupid. Canopy size is the only relevant way to limit growth. You could get 15 pounds off 200 plants or 2000. However with a given canopy size the yield and environmental effects will be relatively consistent.

  • It doesn’t matter what u do or say shits gonna get out of hand all the time ever year and everyone’s gonna bicker no matter what about the criminals, environment, greed, this that and everything in between just know no matter what there is no cure to the problem just ride it out and wait and see what the future holds!

  • So if I were to open a new company let’s say a beer company should I be denied a permit to manufacture and distribute my product because some other company already made enough beers for everyone? Keep in mind people that a beer brewery is allowed to use all the water it needs between may and October while a cannabis farm is not allowed any. What if the Coors brewing company sued to put a cap on breweries simply because they decided that they could handle production for the whole country so there was no need for other breweries? Would we call that a free and fair market or a rigged one? Here in America the quality of your product is supposed to determine your level of success. This is what creates a healthy and diverse economy. The environmental stipulations required for permitting are plenty rigorous as anyone who has attempted the process will tell you. They most certainly are not “pushing permits on whatever operators they can convince to take them”. That’s straight bullshit and FOER knows it. I was next to their booth at benbow the other day for hours. I saw people hanging out there all day that I know for a fact have large grows right on the eel. I’ve seen their properties. Don’t believe the hype. Do your research

    • Notbuyinit ~ I agree and disagree. It depends on your demographics and if you have the water to support your project and it doesn’t adversely affect or degrade the water quality and aquatic habitat. i.e. Mad River vs South Fork Eel or the Mattole. And it depends if you are using a private water source with a 1600 agreement with CDFW or using a water district municipality. Using your “beer brewery” analogy, as an example, is the Gyppo Ale Mill that wanted to be located in Redway; and the RCSD denied their application for water and wastewater, in part, because they could not provide water & wastewater for Gyppo without overburdening their capacity and system:

      I just wish FOER treated everyone equally across the board, not pick and choose who they sue or who they don’t, by who has the deepest pockets or look the other way if it would benefit them somehow from not opposing them. The only ones who win, are the attorneys. Hypocritical is the best way to describe it…

      I have been making public comments and using attorneys for decades, to argue similar issues FOER is claiming with this lawsuit. It took years and going through dozens of attorneys to find two honest ones who are not in it for a big payday…

      • The ordinance is very strict about requiring a 1600 permit to obtain a cultivation permit. It’s one of the most basic parts of the ordinance. The 3500 permits they are issuing came after a study to determine what watersheds could allow and mathematically divided to which watersheds have the water to handle it with some areas being denied completely. They most definitely are not “giving permits to whatever operators they can convince to take them” which I’m sure FOER is well aware. The process is very intensive and very selective. Like I said I would encourage any bandwagoners to do some research and find out the truth. I’m sure as with anything else most people would rather take the opinion they’re given over taking the time to form an intelligent and informed one

        • Yes, you are correct. My problem with 1600 agreements (Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreements) there is no public notification process, public comment period or standing under CEQA during the 1600 agreement process. Just like new water/sewer applicants or developers entering into agreements with community services districts, i.e. Will Serve letter. There is no public disclosure until after its approved, with no appeal process, unless you sue them and have standing under CEQA.

          An example is the new “SoHum Inn” Hotel and Dispensary in Garberville. It was approved by Humboldt County and the Garberville Sanitary District (GSD) in May 2017. It was Categorically Exempt from CEQA, according to the staff report and never publicly noticed locally by either the applicant, Humboldt County or GSD; and did not allow public discussion or comments. This project will be using an 8 in waterline, as approved by GSD. But yet, during this whole non-public process, no one ever required the applicant or developer to provide a water supply/consumption and demand analysis or study of potential impacts on surface water for this project, aka South Fork Eel River. Do people in Garberville forget where their water comes from and they don’t have an unlimited water supply?

  • Glad I can grow my 100 sq. ft. for personal use and not be all frustrated and pissed off all the time. Seems like a decent supply for me and my friends, and good vibes all the way around.

  • Friends of the Eel River’s Conservation Director Scott Greacen said: “The impacts of Humboldt’s cannabis industry are driving salmon and steelhead extinct in our watersheds. The County has gone ahead with permitting even more operations without doing the work needed to understand, much less minimize, those impacts.”

    So with that being said, what about all the smaller cumulative impacts to the “watershed” that impact “salmon and steelhead”. Cumulative impacts refers to two or more individual effects that are considerable when taken together, or that compound or increase other environmental impacts, i.e. festivals on the river. If you add up all the festivals and after parties that take place in and on the South Fork Eel River every year, when the river is at its lowest flow and highest temperatures that are stressful and lethal to “salmon and steelhead”, as well as approved and permitted by Humboldt & Mendocino Counties. Why didn’t FOER ever once oppose, argued, appeal or submitted comments to any of these approved and permitted events on the river?

    How do these events benefit the “watershed” and “salmon and steelhead”? Added together, its a net-loss for the river and habitat, do to added water consumption and questionable un-metered water diversions.

    I’m in the midst of making public comments, opposing a couple of these festivals with Humboldt & Mendocino Counties, using some of the same arguments as I just mentioned above. And in the staff report and Plan of Operation for the Northern Nights Music Festival, there was this statement:

    “Commitment to Local Schools, Non-Profit Organizations and Economic Boost. Non-profit and community organizations that benefit directly from Northern Nights Music Festival include Piercy Volunteer Fire Department, Southern Humboldt and Northern Mendocino school districts, The Eel River Recovery Project, Salmonid Restoration Federation, EPIC, The Eel River Clean-up Project, Friends of the Eel River, KMUD Community Radio, Southern Humboldt Community Park, the Surfrider Foundation and Healthy Planet US. In 2015, a detailed Economic Impact Analysis was conducted and demonstrated that Northern Nights increased local economic impact of over $2,000,000 in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties.”

    Now I ask you, how does FOER “benefit directly” from this event? And to be be fair, the Mateel makes the same claim for Reggae on the River. Only one word comes to mind, maybe FOER can explain this conundrum…

  • Blue Slide yesterday @ 1:47,

    The first summer Estelle was a Supervisor I went to the Fortuna Vets of Foreign Wars Bldg., Thursday mornings for about two months to chat with her. I had questions about oaths and the bond that sets atop and is supposed to be of public record prior to taking office. My last visit with her ended when she told me, “My hands are tied.” Translation unconscious order follower.

    I have a copy of a Supe’s meeting from December 15, 1992 when the top talking head at that time advised the Supes. to relinquish their bonds back to their Surety (in Arcata), and all corporate governmental service employees since then are under “The County” insurance umbrella. However, after I filed my lawsuit regarding marihunie (March 25, 2016), I went to Risk Management to see if they had informed their insurance policy holder that they are in jeopardy of being charged. I was told No.

    “The County” umbrella policy cost in 2016 was close to a million a year. I asked for a copy. It isn’t in the material world. The gal at her desk ask me what I wanted to know about it, plugged in the password to access the policy out in the ethers, and printed the three pages I wanted. What is not covered is disloyalty.

    Clendendon was on board when the fraudulent Measure Z was passed “Countywide.” (filed March 15, 2016).

  • I like stars @ 2:18 yesterday,

    Tuesday at the Supervisor’s performance in a public meeting, one of the speakers referenced the Supes. making trips in private planes to L.A. Bohn has mentioned his trips to the District of Criminals and Sacramento. Bass made a trip to D.C., just over a year ago. I have a question. What in the world would Humboldt County Supervisors be doing on these trips? On our dime. Does anyone remember granting authority to express our power in the abyss?

  • Dan Fuller @ 11:00 pm,

    Estelle’s comment nearly two years ago at the Bridgeville town hall meeting you reference, says it all: “We’ll get you, one way or another,” referencing what she dubiously refers to as the Black Market. That’s called coercion. Then Sheriff D., at the same meeting, threatened to bring in the “Feds”, (wienie), then went so far as to plant a phony bust in The Redwood Independent (front page) within weeks, where seven different agencies ‘just happened to be’ in Miranda at the same time on a Saturday morning.

    “Black market” – is brokering debt instruments -counterfeit currencies and “derivatives,” that cause unnecessary suffering. It has served to quash business and growth.

  • Ferndale Friend,

    Give up the “legalized” mantra. Ain’t gonna happen. I agree with you, the free market is made of free people -and should be setting their own rules. The problem is that there’s a central planner setting rates at all.

    Can we please delete the word “industry” from our vocabulary? There’s nothing positive about that word. ‘Manufacture’ and the sicko word ‘industry’ in real estate law are one-in-the-same. If we want freedom we’re going to have to choose a language that better serves us.

    As far as filing lawsuits goes; to adopt an attitude of defeat before freedom loving men and women have exhausted all potential remedies for this mind-control is inexcusable. It’s time for this horrendous lie about nature to end. What litigation docs can accomplish is Public awareness of the fraud, records your ‘I am not a U.S. Citizen slave of 14th Amendment’ status into the public records (cuz, the Order Followers on the 5th floor won’t record it), puts lots of names on the blinking digital manifest screen at the ship’s dock (commercial vessel in dry dock displaying their four-colored flag -complete with a pirate dressed in a black robe), and from then on, the Supes. show signs of being nervous just by your presence. “Why can’t she be like the rest of the herd and not bother looking up the word ‘Ordinance’ ?”

    “Ordinance” -it designates a local law of a municipal corporation, duly enacted by the proper authorities, prescribing general, uniform, and permanent rules of conduct relating to the corporate affairs of the municipality. Morris v Town of Newington. Black’s 6th.

    “. . . an ordinance which makes the peaceful enjoyment of freedom which the Constitution guarantees contingent upon the uncontrolled will of an official – as by requiring a permit or license which may be granted or withheld in the discretion of such official – is an unconstitutional censorship or prior restraint upon the enjoyment of those freedoms.”
    Staub v. Baxley 365 US 313 (1958).

  • There is no water shortage. Water is renewable.

    It’s not fear, debt and scarcity. It’s fraud, deceit and illusion. (F.E.A.R. – false evidence appearing real). Ya might want to look up the word ‘income.’ Don’t look for it in the Internal Revenue Code – it isn’t there.

    While here on planet Earth we have two choices – the truth, or the lie.

    • Move to the burbs

      Except that water is trapped in concrete everywhere. It is not renewable. There is a fixed amount on the planet. The more we build the more we lose. Eat more psychedelics.

      • You can lead a horse to water . . .

        “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you think you know, but don’t. ”
        -Mark Twain

      • “Water is trapped in concrete everywhere?” Nice try bill bye the science guy. Ask Nestle where the water is

  • Supes must be personally held accountable for destroying the environment!

  • Yep, there’s nothing new under the sun. The devastation on all levels was inevitable and predictable. The Controllers and their supporters are equally guilty. You can’t join in the fraud without being a part of it.

    My two filed cases (marihunie TAX and Meas. Z TAX), were scheduled at the same time on the same date June 1, 2016.

    After returning all mail from one of eighteen talking heads, unopened and marked “Refused for Fraud”, on the public record, at Supe’s meetings; “I do not want any telephone calls or (public) mail in my (private) mailbox from any foreign BAR card members. You are being sued in your personal capacity(s).”

    Come Showtime, not ONE of the twenty-three listed names of wrongdoers made it to court. Reinholtsen, masquerading as a judge, refused to enter my document into the case –a Notice to Cease and Desist. What’s that tell you about Order Follower Bailiffs and Court Clerks?

    Basically, we have two choices; [edit] or form our Grand Jury. A real Grand Jury (missing, misled since 1956), hears criminal trials. Not ‘arraignment,’ ‘conference meetings, or pre try-all in Oz.

  • In a real irony, the Gmome a known black market grower who refused Code Enforcement on his land will now inherit a lawsuit that forms the very basis of protection of streams.

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