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Humboldt Bay found to have highest sea level rise rate in California

Humboldt Bay
Humboldt Bay
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According to California's 4th Climate Change Assessment, Humboldt Bay has the highest sea level rise rate in California, surpassing both global and regional averages. This finding prompted Humboldt County to conduct a grand jury report regarding the local response to sea level rise, which the Eureka City Council reviewed during their weekly meeting this evening.

The report identified various local stakeholders including businesses, residents of the unincorporated coastal communities in the county, and the many plants and animals that rely on the Humboldt Bay ecosystem.

Eureka Principal Planner Cristin Kenyon is in charge of the city's response to the report.

"I really think every taxpayer is a stakeholder because whatever we do to adapt at the coast is going to cost everybody money," she said.

King Salmon and other coastal communities have already begun to see the effects of the sea level rise, with recent flooding affecting residents' livelihoods, and lowering property values. This issue is one that the local environmental advocacy group Humboldt Baykeeper has been trying to fight for about 15 years.

"If you can't drive to your house and you can't flush the toilet and you can't get electricity, it's not really worth having a house in a vulnerable area like that," Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt said.

Another major concern is the nuclear waste site which currently sits about 40 feet above sea level. "That can potentially mobilize contamination, pushing it off sire into the bay or onto other adjacent sites, and expose people to contamination that's below the surface today," Kalt said.

According to Kalt, higher sea levels are inevitable at this point, but there are actions the community can take to make sure they are prepared when the levels reach a certain point. For Humboldt County, these actions may include infrastructure planning, finding new locations for the waste contamination sites that are currently near the bay and rebuilding highways.

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Updates on Eureka's response to the report, along with other countywide responses, can be found online at the Humboldt County website.

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