Well-liked Southern Humboldt Man Discovered Dead

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Oct. 14 @ 7:04 a.m. /  News

Rainbow Mountain Walker, volunteering and loving life. 1949-2014 [Photo provided by Kim Sallaway.]

A popular Southern Humboldt man, Rainbow Mountain Walker, born Marion Lee Williams, was discovered dead yesterday not far from his rural home. Friends became worried something was wrong when Walker, a well-known community volunteer and former Vice President of a local chapter of Kiwanis, failed to turn up for a planned motorcycle ride Saturday. On Sunday, a friend stopped by Walker’s home and discovered Walker’s vehicle was still there as was his cell phone. The home was in disarray but Walker was gone. A search party was organized for early this morning. According to his daughter, Walker’s remains were discovered where they had been dragged from his home by a large animal possibly a bear. The cause of death is being investigated by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.

Walker is survived by his son, Justice, a student at UC Davis, and his daughter, Liberty, who lives in Eureka.

Never a Shirker:” Walker volunteered regularly for many organizations. He worked with Tan Oak Park, a Leggett based non-profit dedicated to supporting people with AIDS. He was a member of Kiwanis for the last nine years where he served as a board member and vice president among other jobs. 

He was a familiar face at Reggae, the Redwood Run and Mateel events where he was a regular volunteer. He was known for spending long hours helping raise money for local organizations. Friend and local photographer, Kim Sallaway, described Walker as “never a shirker” that was “first in, and last out” whenever there was a job to be done. 

Open-hearted:” Walker was known for his warm smile and willingness to reach a hand out to those in need. One of his earliest and most enduring passions was advocating for the homeless. For over twenty years, Walker served Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner to veterans rarely missing an event. His daughter Liberty described him as “an open-hearted, caring person who wanted to help everyone out… . He wanted to see his community do better.”

Adventurous: An avid motorcycle rider, Walker belonged to the Eureka Chapter of Old Coots on Scoots. 

Memorial: Friend and fellow Kiwanis member Danielle Young explained that a memorial is in the works. The plan, she said, is to hold it at the Mateel, “tell good stories about Rainbow and wear funny hats just like he told [his daughter] he wanted.”

Fundraiser: An account today was set up to help defray funeral expenses, bills, etc.  Donations can be made at the Community Credit Union of Southern Humboldt, Account number 17455.

Rain, Showers, Wet Stuff

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Oct. 14 @ 6:32 a.m. /  News

Graphic from the US National Weather Service in Eureka’s Facebook page—if you don’t follow it, you should.

 The US National Weather Service in Eureka is predicting “[b]rief heavy rain is possible today followed by chances for thunderstorms with small hail this evening and tonight. A brief lull in the rain is expected on Thursday before the next storm system arrives late in the week only to be followed by another system early next week.”

Most of the rain is predicted after 11 a.m. today so you’ve got time to rush around, cover the woodpile and dig out the rubber boots. Make sure the kids are wearing rain gear before they head out the door this morning. Might even want to plan steaming, hot stew for dinner. Fall’s settling in.

Who’s got plans for building a fire, turning up the heater, or at least snuggling up with the dog tonight?

Two SoHum Residents Arrested With Traveling Trim Trailer

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Oct. 14 @ 6:01 a.m. /  marijuana

Arcata Press Release:

On 10/14/2014 at about 1:00am, an officer with the Arcata Police Department conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle towing a U-Haul trailer for an equipment violation in the 1300 block of Sunset Ave.

While speaking with the occupants, the officer smelled the strong odor of green marijuana emanating from the U-Haul trailer.  During the subsequent search of the trailer, officers located 39 plastic tubs and contractor bags containing an approximate 200 pounds of harvested marijuana.  A large amount of money was also located inside the vehicle.

The occupants of the vehicle, Garberville residents Anthony David Wellington (age 34) and Margaret Noel Soucy (age 40) were taken into custody for H&S 11359 - Possession of Marijuana for Sales and H&S 11360 - Transportation and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility.



Heading Through Willits Tonight? Expect Delays

Kym Kemp / Monday, Oct. 13 @ 3:14 p.m. /  News

Caltrans just announced,

WILLITS, Ca: Traffic Advisory: Due to urgent work site needs, a lane closure will be in effect starting at 6pm and will last into the night tonight. If you are traveling on 101 south of Willits please expect delays of up to 30 minutes.  

When Problems Strike Marijuana Gardens, Do Growers Stay With Organic Solutions or Do They Turn Elsewhere?

Kym Kemp / Sunday, Oct. 12 @ 2:47 p.m. /  marijuana

Marijuana plant that the grower said was experiencing broad mite infestation.

To spray insecticides, pesticides or miticides on cannabis and possibly poison the harvest, or not to spray and possibly lose your crop and your livelihood? That is a dilemma faced by many marijuana growers each year. Most pot growers say their plants are organic, but when their garden is threatened, how do they really respond? Do they apply non-organic solutions? Does criminalizing cannabis make good farming practices difficult?

This summer, much of the greenery in the garden of a cannabis farmer we’ll call Chris (not the grower’s real name), was turning brown and it wasn’t just the leaves. “On a lot of my flowers, the pistils were prematurely stunted. There were branches with shriveled buds and lots of prematurely brown hairs,” the Emerald Triangle grower explained. The leaves, she said, went prematurely yellow and died. (See photo above.) According to Chris, some of the plants looked perfectly healthy one day and four days later had completely withered away.

Until recently, when problems struck in marijuana gardens, even long-time growers had a difficult time finding solutions. Cannabis farmers who often work alone and in secrecy can be faced with diseases and pests that they don’t know how to fight. Fearful of turning the eyes of law enforcement or thieves toward their patches, they don’t want to ask for help, and unlike farmers of other valuable crops, they don’t have government or universities working to help them. In the past, they have had to rely on word-of-mouth solutions from fellow growers. That is changing now. Access to the internet and a new crop of local businesses are helping growers produce healthier plants using science that benefits the farmer and the end consumer. 

Chris, the Humboldt grower with the shriveled buds, talked with fellow growers and did research on the internet in order to identify the cause of the stunted buds. In the end, she decided the affected plants had a broad mite infestation.

Sometimes the internet and other growers can help a cannabis farmer make an accurate diagnosis, but other times they don’t. Broad mites, russet mites and fusarium (known issues affecting cannabis) have similar symptoms but are not treated the same way, explained Kevin Jodrey of Wonderland Nursery in Southern Humboldt. Getting exact diagnoses from lab tests can help the growers improve their situation this year, he said, and teach them to put in place healthy practices that will reduce the chance of having repeat problems in ensuing years.

As 2016 and the possibility of marijuana legalization approach, Joanna Berg, part owner of Dirty Business, a new Arcata based firm that tests cannabis and other plants for various diseases and pests, as well as analyzes soil, explained growers need to step up their game and become more scientific about their farming procedures. “Getting real information and improving practices is an important strategy for our future,” Berg said.

Berg and Jodrey both recommend getting samples of plants that look unhealthy into a lab. When a grower sees a problem, Jodrey said, “first thing to do is get [the plant] tested.” Tests can take several weeks to get results but often a consultant can make recommendations almost immediately.

Jodrey explained that there has been a big increase in issues with mites and fusarium in the last few years. “People can move so freely about,” he said, which makes it more likely that diseases and pests hitchhike on from one garden to another. And there is more marijuana being grown, making it easier for pests to move from an unhealthy garden to the neighbor’s healthy one.

But to Chris the grower, how the plants contracted the problem was not the biggest worry. She needed to know how to salvage her harvest. Unlike many growers, Chris was lucky. The small piece of property she owned was paid off. But, a bad harvest could mean that all the money already invested in the garden was lost. “I put every last penny into this garden,” she explained. Now she was worried about how to make money from plants that might be dying. Other growers are often faced with losing their home and vehicles if their harvest fails.

Online marijuana forums insisted that the only solution to broad mites was to spray Avid, a powerful insecticide/miticide used legally on ornamental plants but not considered safe for food products. Legally the substance (and many others like it) can only be used on plants for which it has been approved. Cannabis is not one of those plants. Anecdotal evidence suggests that being exposed to Avid can lead to serious symptoms and the warning label cautions that if inhaled call “a poison control center or doctor” or “[i]f person is not breathing, call 911 or ambulance… .” The label also cautions, “This pesticide is toxic to fish and wildlife.”

Chris was concerned about possible side effects but decided that Avid must be applied. It was just a business decision. “Either you use that or you lose everything,” she reasoned.

Chris asked someone to go to the garden store and pick up the needed items. Soon the individual called her up. The woman was very upset. Other customers and the store clerk had convinced her that applying the substance would poison not only the marijuana but the person applying it. After listening and considering the options carefully, Chris chose not to use Avid or any non-organic solution.

According to both Jodrey and Berg, Chris made the right decision, though they understand the temptation to use such substances. Berg said, “A broad mite infestation can take down a whole crop… . This is people’s livelihoods. People get into a panic. They reach for something strong that will knock [the mites] back.”

Beyond that, Jodrey explained there is pride involved. “Nobody wants to admit their plants are dying. Their ego is directly connected to their garden. It’s not just profit.”

However, Berg explained the downsides of using “heavy-chemie pesticides.” When growers begin doing this, she said, “I think they are shooting their whole community in the foot.” There are several reasons for not using these substances, but one of the obvious concerns, she said, was that the growers often don’t correctly apply the substances. This can lead to the pests building up a resistance. Then, “they get really, really resistant buggers in there, and that’s no good.” 

By late summer, Chris the grower was hearing rumors from neighbors that the broad mite infestation was spreading through much of the Emerald Triangle’s marijuana gardens. Any farmer faced with losing a season’s worth of labor might be afraid. In an underground economy where it is difficult to get solid information, fear can turn to panic. Chris’ belief that the broad mite infestation was of epidemic proportions wasn’t supported by either Jodrey or Berg’s experience. However, both indicated that a larger number of growers than usual had experienced issues with not only broad mites but also russet mites and fusarium.

Nonetheless, with limited access to good information and only reports from fellow farmers to go on, Chris believed that gardens across the Emerald Triangle were being destroyed by broad mite. By September, Chris was fatalistic. “I’m honestly preparing to lose everything,” the she explained. Though Chris later realized that it wasn’t true, initially she thought every plant in the garden showed signs of broad mites. Chris began planning how to keep the property if the plants didn’t produce salable buds. “It means that I get a trim job. Then I move to the Bay Area and try to get a job down there,” she explained.

Chris worried that “if a lot of people are getting this [infestation], the scramble for jobs is going to be insane. I don’t see how I’m going to get a trim job. The likelihood that I’m going to find enough employment to live around here is low.” She also worried that the only growers with harvests would be those who had used a heavy miticide. “The other issue is do I want to work for people who sprayed their plants with Avid?” she asked. After a pause, she admitted wryly, “I’m trying not to be hysterical… .”

Eventually, like many other farmers with broad mite infested plants, Chris used an OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved product to fight the infestation. “It stopped [the mites] in their tracks,” she wrote in an email to the Outpost. “At the end of the day I lost maybe 1/3? Not too bad and I didn’t have to use the poison!” 

Both Berg and Jodrey say that the best way to prevent problems with marijuana is not to wait until problems begin to show. They say it is best to start with nutritious soil and sturdy plants. “The linchpin is how are you feeding your plant,” Berg explained. “How are you creating a healthy plant.” 

But if growers do get broad mites, other pests or diseases, many feel they need to resort to using substances like Avid. Chris believes that pesticide use might be wider than believed. Everybody says they don’t use pesticides, she pointed out. “They say they grow pure organic. People don’t want to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I use Avid.’” 

According to one study of pesticides and cannabis, up to 70% of buds can be contaminated. According to the abstract of the study, “Determination of Pesticide Residues in Cannabis Smoke,” published in the Journal of Toxicology

Recoveries of residues were as high as 69.5% depending on the device used and the component investigated, suggesting that the potential of pesticide and chemical residue exposures to cannabis users is substantial and may pose a significant toxicological threat in the absence of adequate regulatory frameworks.  

One of the problems, Jodrey said, was that the state government tells medical marijuana growers, “You must be pure but we will not help you with the purity.”  Medical growers are expected to provide a clean product to the dispensary, but unlike other forms of agriculture there is no government regulation or information available to help the cannabis farmer achieve the desired end product.

But both Berg and Jodrey say testing and appropriate responses to the threat can help the grower achieve a healthy plant and a healthy end product for the consumer. Last year, Berg said, “I had a client that lost part of his crop to broad mites… . We got him a management plan… . He is changing a lot of his farming practices. He is doing more holistic farming. He is having the best year ever now.”

18-Year-Old Dies in Tragic Accident Last Night

Kym Kemp / Saturday, Oct. 11 @ 5:49 p.m. /  News

California Highway Patrol press release,

On October 10, 2014, at approximately 11:00 p.m., Joel Sanchez Sosa, age 18, of Kelseyville was driving a 2007 Hummer H3 southbound on US 101, south of Stafford Road Undercrossing at an unknown speed.  For reasons still under investigation, Mr. Sosa failed to maintain control of his vehicle and he allowed his vehicle to turn off the roadway and towards a steep embankment. 

The vehicle first collided with a mile post marker and then two trees.  Mr. Sosa, who was properly restrained and sustained fatal injuries as a result of this collision.   The passengers were both restrained and one sustained major injuries and the other sustained minor injuries.  Both passengers were transported by ambulance to Redwood Memorial Hospital.  DUI is not a factor and the US 101 was not closed.

The California Highway Patrol - Humboldt Area responded to the scene and is conducting the investigation.  Personnel from the Redcrest Volunteer Fire Department, Scotia Volunteer Fire Department, Cal Fire, Humboldt County Coroner, and City Ambulance also responded to the scene.   

Prescribed Burning Projects in Six Rivers National Forest

Kym Kemp / Friday, Oct. 10 @ 1:44 p.m. /  News

Six Rivers National Forest press release:

As weather and fuel conditions moderate from the hot and dry conditions of summer, Six Rivers National Forest staff will begin prescribed burning projects on the forest. These projects are part of Forest Service efforts to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations that contribute to extreme fire behavior should a wildfire occur. Several prescribed fire techniques are planned, including understory and hand-pile burning, and will be completed as fuel moistures and weather conditions permit.

Each prescribed fire follows a prescribed fire burn plan that outlines a set of logistical and environmental conditions to meet specific resource objectives. Environmental factors include fuel moisture, humidity, temperature, wind speed/direction and smoke column dispersal and direction. In addition, the forest works with the National Weather Service and the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District to maintain compliance with state and federal burning regulations for the North Coast area.

Following is a district-by-district look at the burns planned for this fall:

Smith River NRA-Gasquet District

Total: 568 acres

Understory burns:

282 acres in the Elk Camp Fuel Break Project, located northeast of Gasquet, near the North Fork Loop Road,

97 acres in the Big Flat Project, located near the community of Big Flat, and

3 acres in the Pappas Flat Project, located near Gasquet, off Forest Service (FS) Road 17N49.

Pile burning:

46 acres within the Coon Mountain Meadow Restoration Project, and

140 acres within the Big Flat Project.

Smoke will be visible from the town of Gasquet on Highway 199, and South Fork and French Hill Roads, but should not affect travel on Highway 199.

Orleans/Ukonom Districts

Total: 500 acres

Understory burns: 450 acres within the Hazel Vegetation Project, near Deer Lick Saddle south of Orleans and the Klamath River.

Pile burning: 50 acres at forest administrative sites (Ti Bar Station, Oak Bottom and Orleans).

Smoke may be visible along Highway 96 and various county roads, but should not affect any travel routes.

Lower Trinity District

Total: 80 acres

Understory burns:

14 acres within administrative sites, including the Salyer Work Center and Greys Falls Campground, to protect the important and valuable Forest Service infrastructure, and

35 acres to improve bear grass collection near East Fork Campground, Horse Mountain and Sims Mountain.

Pile burning:

11 acres along Mill Creek Road, east of Hoopa,

5 acres on South Fork Road, near Hennessy Ridge Road, in Salyer,

5 acres on Friday Ridge Road, near Brush Mountain Lookout, and on FS Road 7N13, and

10 acres on Lone Pine Ridge, FS Road 7N30A.

Smoke will be visible from Highway 299 or 96 in the Salyer and Willow Creek areas, but should not affect any travel routes.

Mad River District

Total: 190 acres

Understory burning:

15 acres in the Van Duzen Vegetation Management Project, located between the Van Duzen Road and the Mad Ridge Fuelbreak on Mad River Rock Road, and

60 acres south of Ruth Lake in Beaverslide Timber Sale and Fuel Treatment Project, on Forest Service Road 27N34.

Pile burning:

50 acres on South Fork Mountain (Blake Mountain area) on FS Route 1,

50 acres in the Little Gulch Timber Sale area south of Ruth on Cobb Ridge, and

15 acres within administrative sites, such as the Mad River, Ruth and Zenia compounds, and developed campgrounds in the Ruth Lake, Mad River and Zenia area.

Smoke may be visible from the State Hwy 36 and the communities of Mad River, Hettenshaw Valley, Zenia and Ruth, but should not affect any major travel routes.

For more information, contact Interagency Fire Chief Mike Minton at (707) 441-3535.