McLaughlin talks with passerby Rosalina Acevedo

McLaughlin talks with passerby Rosalina Acevedo

Photo By Tom Angel

Enviros say vernal pool rule not cool: As expected, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final rule published Aug. 11 excluded thousands of acres in Butte County from being designated “critical habitat” for 15 species of endangered or threatened plants and crustaceans.

“It’s a joke,” said Barbara Vlamis, executive director of the Butte Environmental Council. “What it means for the species is some of them could become extinct.”

“Butte County gained a lot of critical habitat,” said James Nickles, spokesperson for the USFWS. While the USFWS pointed out that the 858,846 acres designated statewide is 15 percent more than the area named in 2003, it’s still much less than the 1.7 million acres the service proposed in 2002.

That proposal came after BEC sued to force the USFWS to designate habitat in areas it had previously excluded. The service used the opportunity to do a more-detailed economic analysis that trumped its own biologists and found that designating critical habitat would cost $740 million in the form of lost development opportunities.

West Nile strikes mystery man: The elderly man who died recently of West Nile Virus was the fifth California resident to succumb to the mosquito-borne illness this year, according to the Butte County Department of Public Health. There have been 174 infections statewide including seven in Butte County. Of those, five survived bouts with West Nile Fever, one had no symptoms and one, the elderly man who died, was already in poor health due to other chronic diseases.

Details of the recent death, such as where the man lived, how old he was, when he died and what else he might have been suffering from, are being withheld to protect his family’s privacy, a health department spokeswoman said.

The department is urging residents to protect themselves—especially infants and the elderly—against mosquitoes. For outdoor community events, the department can provide a “repellent station.”

Nosocomephobia: Ed McLaughlin isn’t trying to scare you to death, just get you thinking, he says.

The Avenues neighborhood activist has seized upon a passage in the draft environmental impact report for the proposed hospital expansion that reads, “Older departments and functions, such as surgery, emergency, the Women’s Center and inpatient beds are functioning poorly …”

To McLaughlin, that means one of two things: Enloe is unsafe, or its EIR is not to be trusted and the hospital should expand elsewhere .

He handed out copies of that page of the EIR outside Enloe Medical Center on Aug. 16.

After speaking with several nurses, McLaughlin thought better of freaking out incoming patients and opted to give fliers only to employees and to patients who were emerging from the hospital.