Three North Coast conservation groups have called for the resignation of Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Kevin McKenny, claiming he knowingly violated regulations on draining wetlands.
KHSU reached out to Kevin McKenny for a response to the news release from the three groups.
Eureka, Calif.—EPIC, the Northcoast Environmental Center, and Humboldt Baykeeper call for the resignation of Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Kevin McKenny. As reported by the Lost Coast Outpost, in a Notice of Violation dated January 9, 2018, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board placed Mr. McKenny on notice that he violated numerous federal and state laws. He is accused of grading within a floodplain, removing riparian vegetation, placing slash and waste into riparian areas, and draining a federally recognized wetland adjacent to Third Slough, a Humboldt Bay tributary just outside Eureka city limits. Mr. McKenny has acknowledged his “mistake.”
But this is more than a mistake. From the site inspection report, it appears that Mr. McKenny deliberately sought to drain the wetland with the apparent intent to develop the site. Further, Mr. McKenny appeared to use heavy machinery to fill other areas of the wetland. Mr. McKenny was previously warned that his activities violated the law, yet he continued his harmful actions.
The allegations against Mr. McKenny are serious. His conduct is not befitting an individual on the Planning Commission, particularly as the County moves to enforce violations of the its cannabis land use ordinance. Therefore, our organizations call for his immediate resignation. Should Mr. McKenny fail to resign, we ask that the Board of Supervisors remove him from his position.
It is estimated that 90% of the wetlands in Humboldt County were destroyed before their importance was understood and protections put in place. Wetlands improve water quality by filtering polluted runoff and provide critical wildlife habitat.
Mr. McKenny knows that draining, grading, and filling wetlands require permits from at least four agencies—including Humboldt County. The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to protect public health, safety, and welfare. We deserve Planning Commissioners who understand and respect local, state, and federal environmental protections.