You overlooked a vitally important topic in your Cannabis Issue (March 16). It also goes missing from marijuana regulations and discussions of "best practices." That topic is location.
When the first step in establishing a marijuana grow is to chop down a swath of forest, or bulldoze a meadow or mountainside, you are degrading and fragmenting habitat and harming wildlife, no matter what your subsequent practices are or whether you receive a permit. There is no mitigation for fragmentation.
This is the most environmentally destructive aspect of the "green rush." Every photo of these grows, whether permitted or black market, shows the ring of forest they were carved out of. The photos you published of the Mad River area in 2014 and 2016 are horrifying. To pretend that the thousands of new grow sites and roads aren't inherently damaging to habitat and wildlife is delusional.
Humboldt's forested mountains are an ecologically inappropriate location for a major agricultural industry. The expressed urgency to bring these grows "into compliance" is inadequate. At Habitat Forever, we want the industry gone. It is time to move the industry out of habitat. Then we can get on to the important work of cleaning up and letting these grows return to contiguous native habitat.
We need to remember that we are in the midst of the largest extinction event since the Cretaceous extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, with habitat loss the leading cause of extinctions. Forty percent of the Earth's land mass has already been converted to agriculture. Under these circumstances, developing and degrading Humboldt's habitat is inexcusable. Marijuana can be grown almost anywhere. There is nothing special about Humboldt, for growing marijuana, except for the political climate. It's time to protect Humboldt's habitat. To learn more, go to www.habitatforever.wordpress.com.
Amy Gustin, Ettersburg
As I sit in front of the Hooven building, waiting for the school bus 100 feet away, I can't help thinking that the cannabis Issue, like many of us, is not saying the hard things to say. What I've come to realize in 23 years of working with the cannabis industry as a sustainable environment expert, is that "safe access" needs to be for the user, grower, community, environment and economy.
Also, 20 years of regulation that has been trying to reinvent the wheel, rather than adopt existing applicable agriculture industrial and development codes, has become so expensive that we have price fixed the black market to remain lucrative. The 20-percent Timber Production Zone mandate does nothing to ensure that the 80 percent remain a viable accessible resource. We have not properly protected our Agricultural Zones to ensure local sustainable agriculture, which will soon send our food prices skyrocketing in reflection of the land costs. Very few farmers or businesses making $1,000 a pound on one acre will grow 200 acres of blueberries at $5 a pound to equal that revenue.
Similarly, the Industrial Zone land price increases are chasing out all other industry when the fact is, not all Industrial Zones are right for all industry. Remember, I'm waiting for the children to load a bus 100 feet from a facility that could potentially process 35,000 pounds of cannabis a year. These are the facets of the cannabis industry bubble that we're creating that are not sustainable, that will fail and burst the bubble affecting all of us in some way.
Arcata's Medical Marijuana Innovation Zone is a great example of an industrial solution, a specific zone that mitigates the specific needs of the cannabis industry, while protecting the viability of all other industries and our community. The same principals need to be implemented in Agricultural Zones to protect the sustainability of our food and environment. We can make this work sustainably for all.
Boyd Smith, Arcata