The otters are coming!

At least two of the artfully decorated creations will be in Fortuna next year as part of the otter trail, included in the North Coast Otter Art Project.

The North Coast Otters Art Project is a public arts initiative that proposes to place 100 otter art sculptures in galleries, hotels, restaurants, stores, visitor centers, and other public places in five northern California counties, including Humboldt County, where Humboldt State University is conducting a long-term river otter study. The art project is a collaboration between the HSU wildlife department and the Ink People Center for the Arts.

One of the two otters in Fortuna will be located at the new Gene Lucas Community Center, located on the McLean Campus off Newburg Road. This otter sculpture was created by Paintings by Dakota Daetwiler. The second otter sculpture will be placed at the Fortuna River Lodge and Conference Center and was designed by James Rose Art. A third otter was designed by local artist Erin Cooper and is currently looking for a home. The cost to host an otter for next summer’s otter trail event is $500. Interested Fortuna and Eel River Valley businesses can contact the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce for more details.

Local artists have decorated the life-size standing otter with unique designs. The otter sculptures stand 3-feet tall and weigh 10 pounds. They will be displayed on 4-foot tall redwood cabinets and will include a plaque identifying the name of the otter, the artist who created the design, as well as the sponsor and host information.

It is anticipated that both community members and visitors will follow the otter trail next summer during the months from June to September.

The goal is to merge citizen art and science to increase awareness in the natural world, with the otter sculptures as the visual representation. It is conceived as a treasure hunt, complete with otter naturalist activities and prizes. At the end of the summer, the otter sculptures will be auctioned off, with proceeds to be used for the ongoing otter study and student internships with community-based watershed projects.

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