Is it too difficult to plant in Napa, or not difficult enough? That’s now a matter of considerable controversy, as county residents prepare to vote in June on Measure C, a ballot initiative that would curb further vineyard development on Napa’s hillsides to preserve oak trees and water sources.
Using measurements from Earth-observing satellites, NASA scientists have tracked changes in water supplies worldwide and they’ve found that in many places humans are dramatically altering the global water map. … Their findings in a new study reveal that of the 34 “hotspots” of water change in places from California to China, the trends in about two-thirds of those areas may be linked to climate change or human activities, such as excessive groundwater pumping in farming regions.
Farmer Steve Murray is learning just how fortunate he is to have orchards in the Edison-Lamont area rather than somewhere else in the southern Central Valley. Thanks to his property’s relatively high elevation, Murray’s cherry trees weathered the unusually warm winter and the hard freeze that hit in late February. Other growers weren’t as lucky.
Access to precise, real-time data about the amount of water in the Sierra Nevada snowpack has become more critical than ever, California water managers say, in order to assist them in making informed decisions about an ever-less-predictable supply of water. That’s why water managers came to a panel discussion about advancements in snow-measurement technology during an Association of California Water Agencies conference in Sacramento last week.
Amid all the excitement around marijuana legalization in America, another newly legal crop has received comparatively little attention: hemp. And yet hemp may prove to be even more transformative, especially in the West’s arid landscapes. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that is not psychoactive.
Farm to table isn’t as simple as it sounds, thanks to the federal government. Federal rules control most of the action, particularly regarding food safety. But an unusual left-right congressional coalition hopes to change things.
Last week a diverse group of stakeholders celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Lower Yuba River Accord—a historic agreement to improve conditions for the river’s endangered fishes, maintain water supplies for cities and farms, and reduce conflict over competing uses for water. Here at the PPIC Water Policy Center we frequently refer to the Yuba Accord as a model for modern water management in California.
Warden Jeff Moran of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife went out to the lake, along Oakdale Road in northeast Modesto, Friday afternoon. He said he had received a call that the tilling of the fields surrounding the watering hole was “running over goslings.” State law prohibits the harassment or destruction of nests or chicks for most kinds of birds, including baby geese — also known as goslings.
This spring in California several orchards around Solano and nearby counties sported a new look: lush carpets of mixed grasses growing as tall as 3ft beneath the trees’ bare branches. By summer the scene will change as farmers grow and harvest their nut crops, but the work of the grasses will continue unseen. Cover cropping, an agricultural technique as old as dirt, is taking root in California.
California’s Salinas Valley, one of the world’s most productive farming areas, faces a groundwater emergency. The problem is seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers, which are the region’s lifeblood. The issue has been understood for a long time.
The last time water was this scarce in the Klamath Basin, a rugged agricultural area straddling the California-Oregon border, farmers clashed with U.S. marshals and opened locked canal gates with blowtorches so they could irrigate. … Now the stage is set for another round of conflict on the Klamath River, the result of a dry winter and a court ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco.
There’s a budding industry that’s trying to solve the problem of the limp lettuce and tasteless tomatoes in America’s supermarkets. It’s full of technologists who grow crops in buildings instead of outdoors, short-cutting the need to prematurely harvest produce for a bumpy ride often thousands of miles to consumers in colder climes.
Residents of Carpinteria say they feel lucky to live in what they consider a slice of paradise. But change is in the air. And sometimes, they say, it stinks. That’s because marijuana has become a new crop of choice in the farmlands surrounding this tight-knit community of 14,000, which has long helped fuel the U.S. cut flower industry.
The Department of the Interior last week distributed a one-page framework for a long-term agreement aimed at resolving water issues in the Klamath Basin. Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on water and western resources, spent Monday and Tuesday meeting with Basin stakeholders about the one-page document, including water users and Klamath Tribes on Tuesday.
Western burrowing owls, valley elderberry longhorn beetles and giant garter snakes are among the dozen species protected under the 50-year conservation plan local governments will consider for approval over the next two months.
Freezing temperatures just as cherry blossoms began to break likely reduced this year’s crop, with farmers in different growing regions reporting lighter yields. Harvest in the southern San Joaquin Valley started in late April, according to the California Cherry Board, which said it expects the state’s cherry season will run through early June.
The federal Farm Bill has a powerful impact on the cost of farming—both organic and non-organic. A version of the bill introduced by the House Agriculture Committee would cut existing programs for organic farmers and increase their costs, while at the same time continuing to use taxpayer dollars to artificially lower the costs of non-organic food. Organic farmers shoulder expenses that their conventional counterparts push onto the public, like the costs of keeping air and waterways clean and protecting wildlife.
Reduced flows to the Klamath River have resulted in a die-off of between 500 to 1,000 fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates below the Keno Dam. The reduced flows to the Klamath River were issued to charge the A canal in preparation for water delivery to Basin irrigators, according to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office.
UC Riverside researchers believe they’ve figured out how bacteria spread a deadly disease that has wiped out 70 percent of Florida’s orange crop and is threatening to lay waste to California’s citrus industry.