Yesterday [Dec. 6], partners collaborating in efforts to enhance the habitat values of lands contributing to the Pacific Flyway in the Sacramento Valley gathered at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area to recognize the work that had occurred during the past year. For the first time in several years, the Flyway was not suffering from conditions related to the most recent drought.
At the height of our state’s historic drought in 2014, more than two thirds of California voters cast their ballots in favor of Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond to fund water quality, supply, treatment and storage projects. Three years later, the drought has ended – at least for now.
What has caused the record number of valley fever cases in California? El Nino and other winter storm phenomena are most likely to blame, according to the best available information on the disease. Stanislaus County’s almond harvest dust is off the hook.
Tom Ward plays the long game when it comes to business. As the owners of Ward Ranch, Ward and his family grow Christmas trees year-round for the holiday season. … But the California drought in recent years — and the winter storms that battered much of northern California — cost tree growers.
California’s management of water for is not working for anyone. Environmental advocates argue that state and federal regulators have set water quality and flow standards that do not adequately protect fish and wildlife, and have not enforced these requirements when they are most needed. Farm and urban interests claim that these regulations have been ineffective and cause unnecessary economic harm.
In January and February, no less than 125 million gallons of rain fell upon my 200-acre farm, located off Highway 80 between Dixon and Davis. Our soil, blanketed with an annual winter cover crop of mixed grass and legumes, absorbed all of those 24 inches of rain. Not one single gallon left our property.
For almost a half century, the Clean Water Act has protected many of America’s rivers, lakes and bays from harmful pollution. But still too many of our nation’s waters remain at risk. That’s why, a few years ago, through an extensive public process involving rural communities and industry, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new rule, the Clean Water Rule (also known as the Waters of the U.S. Rule), to further protect precious sources of drinking water.
In her writings, [Maria] Brower likes to focus on the overlooked parts of history, which is why her most recent book covers the subject of ranches and agriculture in Nevada County. She said there have been no books published on the subject, even though agriculture has been and continues to be the county’s largest product, behind mining and lumber.
The Bureau of Reclamation has released final environmental documents for a pilot project for Widren Water District that would allow the district to convey up to 1,000 acre-feet of reverse osmosis treated groundwater through the Delta-Mendota Canal and potentially store it in San Luis Reservoir. The pilot project is part of a larger effort aimed at reducing dissolved minerals like salt and selenium in a 97,000 acre area known as the Grassland Drainage Area.
Groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley – producer of half the state’s agricultural output – has averaged roughly 1.8 million acre-feet annually since the mid-1980s. Even before the start of the most recent drought in 2011, a few San Joaquin farmers recognized the dire need for sustainable water management and started individually pioneering a groundwater recharge practice that has since gained statewide traction.
Marijuana growers who plan on growing cannabis on private land next season will encounter new state requirements to address the crop’s impact on California’s creeks and streams. … The State Water Board recently adopted interim policies that will affect the license, including checks on a grower’s water rights, restrictions on the diversion of water for irrigating cannabis crops, and site-specific requirements to control runoff into local streams from growing operations.
Some lively exchanges punctuated a Fresno, Calif. meeting of wine industry leaders that opened with a look at the challenges posed by drought and the prospects for on-farm water recharge and closed with a pep talk from a sports legend.
“Plastic!” said Dale Huss, gesturing in frustration out the window of his pickup truck at the berry fields sprawling over rolling hills, as strawberry plants peeped out from plastic tarps stretched over raised earthen rows. Strawberries are one of California’s most profitable crops, especially in the Monterey Bay area. But the plastic row covers that protect berries from cold and pests also increase water runoff and erosion on hillside fields.
Lundberg Family Farms was one of three finalists for the prestigious California Leopold Conservation Award. Named for the late environmentalist Aldo Leopold, who died in 1949, the award honors California farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources.
In Nebraska alone, 57 percent of the original PSFP [Prairie States Forestry Project] plantings have been cut back or lost altogether. To many, “FDR’s trees” are simply no longer necessary. Yet many agroforestry officials, noting a bleak climate-change forecast for the Plains and the ongoing conversion of prairie to cropland, worry farmers may be tearing out their last line of defense when they need it most.
The last great hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change may lie in a substance so commonplace that we typically ignore it or else walk all over it: the soil beneath our feet. … Now scientists are documenting how sequestering carbon in soil can produce a double dividend: It reduces climate change by extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and it restores the health of degraded soil and increases agricultural yields.
A team of researchers and Marysville rice farmers initiated a study this week in Yuba County to see if introducing fish to a flooded rice field could both reduce methane emissions and allow for a new reliable protein source.
In an effort to provide more time to reconsider a definition of “waters of the United States,” and to prevent ongoing court cases from interfering in that process, federal agencies have proposed to delay the effective date of a controversial WOTUS rule by two years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army have been working to revise a 2015 WOTUS rule written by the agencies during the Obama administration.