Bear Extraction starts project to support community nonprofits

Eel River Recovery Project, Mateel are first recipients

The Eel River Recovery Project is one of two beneficiaries of a new fundraising donation campaign sponsored by Bear Extractions in Arcata. The company wants to work with local cannabis farmers to destigmatize the industry and improve growing techniques to lessen environmental impacts. (Eric Stickwell — Contributed)
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A local cannabis company has launched a donation drive to support local charities and nonprofits called “Project Humboldt Thrive” to put the spotlight on local groups working to improve their communities.

Bear Extraction House in Arcata announced the project earlier this month and the first two beneficiaries are popular and important organizations in Central and Southern Humboldt County: the Mateel Community Center and the Eel River Recovery Project.

Bear Extractions is a cannabis company focused on creating oils and resins as well as getting locally grown organic cannabis flower to the market. For Bear Extractions CCO Taylor Lefevre, this is just the first step in what is hoped will be a long and successful campaign.

“This is just phase one, and we want to interact with farmers in every watershed that’s being impacted,” Lefevre said on Friday. “This has sparked a lot of interest and I was a bit surprised by this. We’re building our campus in Arcata and I see a big change for the industry. It will take hard work and it will be difficult to transition the industry but if we do we’re going to see a lot more jobs around here.”

To participate, licensed cannabis cultivators who work with Bear Extraction can easily designate a percentage of profit to donate, and Bear Extraction will match the donation up to 5% or $10 per pound.

The Eel River Valley was chosen due to the number of cannabis growers in the region.

“We’ve seen so much environmental degradation and it’s been hard to watch for someone who grew up here,” Lefevre said Friday. “What I am trying to do is get the legal cannabis industry to help rebuild communities devastated by the ‘green rush’ and to destigmatize the industry and the economy in this area. I want to be a part of showing we’re good people and we care. We have got to do something for the communities. I think the bulk of cultivators we’re dealing with are located in the Eel River watershed.”

In addition to raising funds for the Mateel Center, which lost its biggest annual fundraiser with the cancellation of Reggae on the River, Bear Extractions is also supporting ongoing projects with the Eel River Recovery Project.

The Eel River Recovery Project has an event Aug. 31 to promote the best agricultural practices in the Eel River Valley and the event will feature scientists, forestry experts and local farmers.

“The event next Saturday is all about water conservation and how we can work on water conservation as a community,” said Patrick Higgins, managing director of the Eel River Recovery Project. “For us, Indian harmony-based practices are the best way to go, we pay attention to Native Americans and their tribal knowledge and the tribes will tell you if you’re good to nature, it will reward you. We want to see the cannabis industry in harmony with nature again.”

Higgins said providing useful information to people in the industry is the best way to get them to amend their techniques so that it lessens the environmental impact. The coordination with Bear Extractions provides a good opportunity to spread that message.

“Our thing is if people aren’t using the best practices, get them better information,” Higgins said. “Bear Extractions is printing best practices brochures. If we can use money from Bear Extractions to educate cannabis growers and get some of them to convert to organic and to prevent pollution and conserve water, we are moving in the right direction.”

The resurrection of the Mateel Community Center is a personal issue for Lefevre who is a Southern Humboldt native and who “grew up going to Reggae on the River (and) mom was a volunteer every year.” Its success is the focus of the donation project.

“We think supporting the Mateel Community Center is a step towards a better future for Humboldt,” Lefevre said in a news release.

The Mateel is more than happy to welcome the help provided by Bear Extraction, according to board president Dusty Hughston.

“Due to increased expenses and falling event attendance, our signature event, Reggae on the River, took a nosedive, leaving us with debt and then, ultimately, cancellation of the festival, which was heretofore our main money-maker,” wrote Hughston. “We welcome this program and, being in the heart of the cannabis country, we think the farmers will want to support it as a way of giving back.”

For more information about “Project Humboldt Thrive,” go to https://www.bearextraction.com/project-humboldt-thrive.

Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.

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