Mad River Union
ARCATA, April 1 – The Forest Management Committee (FMC) ground briefly to a halt last Thursday at the unexpected appearance of a strange creature in the sea of empty chairs at the rear of Council Chamber.
The committee is accustomed to looking after rare and threatened species in the woodlands under its jurisdiction, but until now, not at City Hall.
The animal, later identified by specialists as a male specimen of the “public” species, walked in and took a seat as astonished committeemembers tried to process the unprecedented event.
Initial shock and awe gave way to confused glances around the table as the FMC tried to regain its bearings.
“What is it?” whispered member Ivanka Scroggins. “Maybe it’s one of those Bird Box things we aren’t supposed to look at.”
“What do we do?” asked member Dolph Dingo, his voice trembling.
Tapping into his extensive knowledge and experience with wildlife, Environmental Services Director and staff liaison Skunk Cabbage urged calm.
“It’s OK,” he told the committee. “They usually don’t attack unless provoked. Just don’t make any sudden movements, and don’t run.”
Unfortunately, member Ross Weevleton made inadvertent eye contact with the creature, which it mistook for an invitation to make noises characteristic of its species.
“Hi,” the “citizen,” as it was later identified, said. “I’m just here to ask about a trail.”
Paralyzed with confusion, the committeemembers looked to Cabbage, who, a model of calm under pressure, riffled through a copy of the Arcata Municipal Code to see how to handle the situation.
By then though, the citizen had gotten tired of waiting to speak, and left.
The city is forming a task force to better understand how to handle any future instances of public participation in city advisory committees, however unlikely.