Pointing to declining agricultural water use, Cape Town officials moved Day Zero back nearly four weeks, to May 11. Day Zero is the day when water service will be shut off to most homes and businesses because of critically low reservoirs.
In the United States, the largest single source of public conservation funding comes from an unexpected piece of legislation: the farm bill. Although the bulk of the farm bill focuses on commodity subsidies and nutrition assistance, the most recent version allocated more than $5 billion in annual funding for various conservation programs. The farm bill is also a venue to set policy and pilot new programs that grow conservation on working lands in order to balance production of crops, timber, and livestock with environmental quality.
Many Western reservoirs are full, and downpours have triggered floods and deadly mudslides in parts of California. But all that water isn’t enough to save the West from another drought. Most of the region has slipped back into the drought conditions that have plagued it on and off for the past two decades—alarming water managers across several states.
I’m [Mark Arax] going to Kern County, just shy of the mountains, to figure out how the biggest farmers in America, led by the biggest of them all, are not only keeping alive their orchards and vineyards during drought but adding more almonds (79,000 acres), more pistachios (73,000 acres), more grapes (35,000 acres), and more mandarins (13,000 acres). Even as the supplies of federal and state water have dropped to near zero, agriculture in Kern keeps chugging along, growing more intensive.
The Rice Radio podcast, which is produced by Kurt Richter, recently took an in-depth look at the work being conducted in the Sacramento Valley to enhance salmon recovery. The podcast includes interviews with fisheries biologist Dave Vogel, Les Canter and Roger Cornwell with project proponent River Garden Farms, RD 108 General Manager Lewis Bair and NCWA President David Guy.
There is a new way to put water back in Colorado’s parched rivers. After more than a year of back and forth with Pitkin County officials, the nonprofit Colorado Water Trust announced Tuesday a pilot agreement with a Carbondale rancher to increase streamflows in the Crystal River during dry years.
The starting pistol has yet to be fired in the race to see what will become of the 157-acre San Geronimo Golf Course property, but a couple of contestants have already bolted out of the starting blocks. … One of the main objectives in acquiring the property is to protect endangered central coast coho and threatened steelhead trout in San Geronimo Creek and its tributary, Larsen Creek.
California’s mountainous headwater forests are in crisis, and an all-hands-on-deck approach is needed to improve their health. … Resource conservation districts (RCDs) are one of several locally governed entities that can play an important role in helping landowners improve forest health. RCDs are authorized by the state to perform a variety of resource and land management functions, including forest stewardship, fuels management, and watershed planning and management.
Lani Estill’s family ranches on thousands of acres in Modoc County on the border of Nevada and California. Her operation, Bare Ranch, sits in a place called Surprise Valley. It’s a beautiful almost forgotten place “Where the West still lives” — that’s the county’s motto.
The drought could be crippling but the wine will be good. That is the happy conclusion of a study published today in the journal, Science. … That means farmers may not need to water their vineyards as much as previously thought during a dry spell.
Think of California’s smog problem and you probably think of tailpipes and smokestacks. A startling new study led by UC Davis, however, says the fertilizer in farm soils is a major contributor to smog in California.
As work to restore the San Joaquin River continues, scientists are seeing promising signs that salmon can thrive in the river as hatchery fish reach new milestones. A recent breakthrough came in fall 2017, when spring-run Chinook salmon created their nests, called redds, in the deeper and colder parts of the river below Friant Dam.
This past weekend at the International Sportsmen’s Expo in Sacramento, Ducks Unlimited Chairman and Sacramento Valley landowner and conservationist Paul Bonderson was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame.