Sue Leskiw: Reward For Catching Bench-Buster – September 14, 2011
ARCATA MARSH – On August 3, retired Humboldt State ornithology professor Stan Harris was taking his daily walk around the Arcata Marsh with his son Michael. When they reached the south side of Klopp Lake, they found something amiss: someone had chopped out the slats and one arm from a memorial bench. Doc Harris reported the damage to the Interpretive Center staff. (Photos of the mangled bench appeared in the Aug. 10 edition of the Eye.)
Coincidentally, Doc Harris once was on a trip to the Galapagos with the person memorialized with the bench: Rosalind Novick, a pediatrician who passed away from breast cancer in 2000. The bench, which was underwritten by the Corbett family, was one of the first ones installed at the Marsh (circa 2002).
Novick’s former partner, Lan Sing Wu, says that the two moved to Arcata in 1977 and became involved with the local Audubon chapter, helping to plant trees around the oxidation ponds, build bird blinds, and lead Saturday morning bird walks at the Marsh. Another friend recently bought a FOAM life membership for Lan Sing and Rosalind, whose names are being added to the plaque in the lobby of the Interpretive Center.
City staff responded to Doc’s report and discovered that stained wood from the bench had been transported to the steps near the Klopp Lake picnic tables and used to make a campfire. The damaged bench was quickly removed and will be replaced as soon as inmates at the High Rock Conservation Camp can build a new one.
According to Doc Harris, this is not the first memorial bench at the Arcata Marsh to be vandalized. He remembers damage inflicted on a bench on the west side of the Log Pond that is dedicated to Frank Ferguson, a retired elementary school teacher. And at least one brass plaque attached to another bench has been stolen.
In response to these events – and other acts of vandalism at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary – Friends of the Arcata Marsh (FOAM) has set up a fund to reward those who report tips that lead to successful prosecution of lawbreakers at the Marsh.
Up to $250 will be paid for information given to the Arcata Police Department that results in conviction for vandalism, destruction of public property or similar illegal acts within the boundaries of the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.
Anyone having information on the Novick bench destruction or other vandalism at the Marsh is asked to call APD at (707) 822-2428 and leave a message for Ranger Kevin Stonebarger.
Sue Leskiw is president of Friends of the Arcata Marsh.