Stretching along the eastern edge of the state, the Sierra Nevada
region incorporates more than 25 percent of California’s land
area and forms one of the world’s most diverse watersheds.
It features granite cliffs, lush forests and alpine meadows on
the westside, and stark desert landscapes at the base of the
eastside. Wildlife includes bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bear
and mountain lions, hawks, eagles, and trout.
The majority of total annual precipitation – in the form of rain
and snow – falls in the Sierra Nevada. Snowmelt from the Sierra
provides water for irrigation for farms that produce half of the
nation’s fruit, nuts and vegetables, and also is a vital source
for dairies, which have made California the largest milk producer
in the country.
In addition, Sierra snowmelt provides drinking water to Sierra
Nevada residents and a portion of drinking water to 23 million
people living in cities stretching from the Bay Area to Southern
Wildfires in the wilderness are part of the ecological
cycle. Wildfires in ‘not-so-wild’ places are not, however,
and are called Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) fires. These have
been increasing in both frequency and intensity. For example,
2018 was the most destructive and costly fire season in
California history. As shown in Table 1, the state’s top three
wildfires that year exceeded $10 billion U.S. in financial
Wildfires and smoke have ravaged large parts of California, sea
level rise is threatening the golden coast’s viability and
drought is looming in the future. … But for the first
time in four years action on climate change is gaining momentum
on the federal level — President Joe Biden signed multiple
executive orders related to the crisis in his first week in
office. Meanwhile California has held ground on climate
policies as the Trump Administration rolled back environmental
rules and regulations.
Ten days ago the state set new heat records and brush fires
broke out. Burn areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains rekindled.
Then, over the last three days, a 2,000-mile-long filament of
water in the sky burst over the areas that last week sat brown
and smoking. Snow fell on peaks and even some lower hills in
the Bay Area. The California Department of Water Resources
Central Sierra snow measurement station jumped from 42 percent
of average to 62 percent of average.
We are now past the halfway mark in California’s normally
wettest winter months, and the wet season to date has been
anything but. Most of the state has received less than half of
its average annual precipitation to date. Coming after a very
dry Water Year 2020 these conditions are concerning. More
precipitation will certainly occur in February and March, but
will it be enough to erase the state’s large
Earth’s crust may feel rigid beneath our feet, but it responds
elastically to temperature gradients, atmospheric pressure, and
hydrological loads. Everything from heavy rain and snow to
human activities like groundwater pumping can deform the crust
on seasonal scales. Researchers are particularly interested in
such deformations when they occur near plate boundary zones,
like in California, where they can influence seismicity
A storm that pounded Northern California with rain, snow, wind
and mud rolled southwards on Thursday, prompting flood warnings
and threats of mudslides in areas burned bare by wildfires. An
atmospheric river of moisture from the Pacific Ocean was
expected to dump 1 1/2 to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain in
Southern California from Thursday night into Saturday, with
winds up to 50 mph (almost 81 kph), according to the National
Weather Service. But threats also remained in portions of
central and Northern California.
One week, it’s fires; the next, it’s feet upon feet of snow. In
the middle of January, high winds and dry conditions sparked
wildfires throughout California. Now, an atmospheric river is
taking aim at the state with a huge amount of water. In the
Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe region, forecasters are calling
for between three and six feet of snow by the end of this week.
This kind of dramatic shift from fire to fire hose is something
California is already used to. But the tick-tock between
extremes — or what climate researcher Daniel Swain calls
“precipitation whiplash” — will only become more exaggerated as
the climate crisis plays out, now and in the near future.
Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow bands of moisture that
ferry precipitation across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast
and are key to California’s water supply…. While
atmospheric rivers are necessary to keep California’s water
reservoirs full, some of them are dangerous because the extreme
rainfall and wind can cause catastrophic flooding and
damage. Their presence has been likened to the West Coast
version of the hurricane hazard posed to the southeastern
Record-breaking wildfires in 2020 turned huge swaths of Western
forests into barren burn scars. Those forests store winter
snowpack that millions of people rely on for drinking and
irrigation water. But with such large and wide-reaching fires,
the science on the short-term and long-term effects to the
region’s water supplies isn’t well understood.
San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental
leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the
environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable
water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But
Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn
the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive,
visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values.
San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley
rivers that feed it are in steep decline… -Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State
Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
The biggest storm of the season is barreling down on Northern
California. The Sacramento region could see up to 3 inches of
rain this week – perhaps doubling the amount of rain we’ve
received for the entire winter season – as an extreme storm
arrives Tuesday afternoon. The cold, wet system will bring
dangerous winds to the region, localized flooding and up to 80
inches of snow – yes, that’s nearly 7 feet – to the summits on
Interstate 80 and Highway 50.
Winter weather is finally arriving in Northern California. And
after weeks of dry, warm conditions and growing drought
concerns, it’s coming in hard. Forecasters say a sizable storm
— the first significant atmospheric river event to hit the
greater Bay Area this winter season and likely the biggest
storm in at least 12 months — will soak much of California
starting Tuesday night, continuing Wednesday, and bringing wet
roads, downed trees, power outages and the possibility of
Warm temperatures. High winds. Wildfires. In January. Many Bay
Area residents were caught off-guard this week by the
unexpected chain of weather events that left them patching up
fences and clearing wind-whipped debris. The week started out
feeling more like late summer fire season than a midwinter day.
A combination of unseasonal heat, low humidity, lack of
rainfall and predicted offshore winds created the perfect
recipe for a wildfire, triggering a rare red flag warning late
High winds, dry vegetation and unseasonably warm weather fueled
several wildfires in Northern California on Tuesday as hundreds
of residents were forced to evacuate, state fire officials
said. Fire crews were working on multiple fronts to contain at
least five active fires that ignited within the CZU Complex
Fire burn area in Santa Cruz County. Several nearby
neighborhoods were evacuated and firefighters struggled to gain
access because of hazardous tree conditions from the previous
blaze, according to state fire officials.
California is enveloped in balmy weather that’s more like
spring than mid-winter — and that’s not a good thing. We have
seen only scant rain and snow this winter, indicating that the
state may be experiencing one of its periodic droughts and
adding another layer of crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and
economic recession. The all-important Sierra snowpack,
California’s primary source of water, is scarcely half of what
is deemed a normal depth. -Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.
While they remain hopeful the rest of winter will provide much
more rain and snow, water resources managers in the Sacramento
Valley are preparing for the potential for a dry year. While
the prospect of a dry year is always jarring and challenging,
we have confidence in the experience and knowledge that our
water resources managers gained in 2014-15, and the strategies
this region has implemented since that time to prepare for a
At the height of what should be California’s rainy season,
PG&E Corp. is warning it might need to shut off power to
thousands of customers to reduce the risk of a wildfire.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said it could impose a “public
safety power shutoff” … in portions of nine counties —
Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, San Luis Obispo,
Santa Barbara, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. By Sunday,
PG&E scaled back the planned blackout down by 15,000
customers to approximately 6,100 in Fresno, Kern, Madera,
Mariposa and Tulare counties.
Chinook salmon have spawned for millennia in Auburn
Ravine Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River in
Northern California northeast of Sacramento, but
biologists have been uncertain if salmon could get past the
Chaparral Cascades. … Now there is proof that salmon can
get through the cascades to spawn upstream. A local resident
noticed salmon spawning about 375 yards upstream from the
Chaparral Cascades on November 5, 2016 and preserved video
proof of that…
The halfway point of meteorological winter is Friday, Jan. 15,
and while that might seem like the light at the end of the
tunnel for those tired of snow and cold, many cities still
average more than half their season’s snowfall after this date.
Winter in meteorological record-keeping is from Dec. 1 to Feb.
28. But for some parts of the nation, snowy conditions are
still possible deep into March and even April.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District is seeking input as
they update the groundwater management plan for the greater
South Lake Tahoe area. Groundwater is the primary source of
drinking water for more than 90% of the public and private
water systems located throughout this area. Seeking input from
beneficial uses and users of groundwater ensures the region’s
Groundwater Management Plan assess current groundwater
conditions, reflects local groundwater concerns and offers an
appropriate long-term management plan to ensure our community
has a sustainable source of clean water supply.
The $227 billion budget proposed on Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom
includes $4.1 billion in spending on a suite of environmental
initiatives meant to fight climate change, gird California
against devastating wildfires, reduce smog, and bolster the
adoption of clean vehicles on the state’s roads.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection announced that
$1 million in Clean Water Act grant funds provided by the U.S
Environmental Protection Agency will be used to complete 11
projects, including two in Lake Tahoe, to reduce “nonpoint
source pollution” and improve water quality across the state.
In the Tahoe Keys—a neighborhood of houses and artificial
lagoons with easy boat access to Lake Tahoe, one of America’s
least polluted lakes—the water is not blue but a murky mass of
green, filled with invasive weeds. Dogs have died from swimming
in the canals, which is prone to toxic algae blooms. Activists
want to wall the Keys off from the lake. The neighborhood
association is proposing to tackle the problem with herbicides,
which have never been used before in Lake Tahoe.
Tuolumne Utilities District efforts to acquire water rights and
infrastructure from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. were slowed by
the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but TUD’s general manager
said that negotiations with the utility giant are “still on
track,” and he is optimistic an agreement could be reached this
Even as research touted the benefits of prescribed fire more
than a half-century ago, the practice was long held back by
misguided forest management policies, a legacy of injustice
toward Native Americans and a more nebulous, deep-seated
cultural resistance to flames and smoke. Finally, the tide is
turning — slowly. California took a huge step forward this year
when it reached a landmark deal with the federal government to
reduce fire risk on 1 million acres of forest and wildlands
annually, including through prescribed fire.
The first snow survey in California was ambiguous. While
it showed the mountains just southeast of Lake Tahoe contains a
snowpack that is approximately average for this point of the
winter, the automatic snow sensor network shows an impoverished
snowpack throughout the Sierra, particularly in the southern
reach of the range.
Placer Land Trust has permanently protected a 185-acre addition
to the Laursen Bear River Preserve north of Auburn, making the
total preserve 546 acres. The expanded Laursen Bear River
Preserve, along with other adjacent preserves, creates a block
of more than 8,000 contiguous acres of protected lands in the
Bear River and Raccoon Creek watersheds.
After six months of strategic forest treatments, partners of
the French Meadows Forest Restoration Project (Project) are
wrapping up their second season of implementation work. Located
in the headwaters of the Middle Fork American River, in the
Tahoe National Forest, the Project aims to restore forest
health by reducing high-severity fires across 28,000 acres of
critical watershed, and to study the effects of forest
treatments on ecosystem health.
Crews began work this month in the marsh system of Taylor and
Tallac creeks in the Southwest portion of the Tahoe Basin to
remove aquatic invasive plants from an abundant and impacted
marsh ecosystem, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced.
Joining a growing list, Turlock and Modesto Irrigation
Districts filed a Petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission asking that the commission find that the State of
California has waived certification under the Clean Water Act.
… The Districts are seeking a new FERC license for two
hydropower projects on the Tuolumne River, the Don Pedro
Project and the La Grange Project.
A Kernville hatchery that has served local anglers for almost a
century will soon close down again 20 months after it reopened
following three years of renovations. The Kern River Hatchery
… must close for repairs Dec. 1 mainly because a 50-year-old
pipeline that delivers water to the facility needs to be
The North Yuba Forest Partnership has entered into an agreement
to receive $1.13 million to plan future forest health and
wildfire resilience treatments within the North Yuba River
watershed. This funding originated from the US Forest Service’s
The Paradise Irrigation District was told on Thursday morning
that the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
agreed that the district’s request that its Reservoir B
Replacement project qualifies for Federal Emergency Management
Agency funding as it relates to the Camp Fire. The reservoir
was damaged in the fire.
The rule change, which goes into effect Thursday, gives Forest
Service officials authority to use loopholes called categorical
exclusions to bypass NEPA requirements. Categorical exclusions
are projects deemed to have no environmental impact, and as the
rule is written, they can be applied across the nearly 200
million acres of forest that the Forest Service
manages…Forests are a source of drinking water for more than
150 million people.
Meadows in the Sierra Nevada are critical components of
watersheds. In addition to supplying water to over 25 million
people in California and Nevada, meadows contain large
quantities of carbon belowground. … A new study led by
researchers at the University of Nevada Reno demonstrates for
the first time that meadows throughout the region are both
gaining and losing carbon at high rates.
PG&E Corp. named a new CEO on Wednesday, hiring a Michigan
utility executive to run California’s largest utility as it
confronts the state’s mounting wildfire risks following a stint
in bankruptcy. Patricia K. “Patti” Poppe, who has been CEO of
Michigan-based CME Energy Corp., will take over Jan. 4.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic turbulence forced
the state legislature and Governor Newsom to make tough
decisions this year about which issues to prioritize and which
to sideline. … Despite the challenging circumstances, several
high-priority bills covering safe drinking water and wildfire
risk reduction were enacted.
The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new
license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba
River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the
State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by
making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and
federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s
requirements to obtain what is called a water quality
The creation of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency 50 years ago
challenged us to bring people together to pull this majestic
lake back from the brink. Today, TRPA is the backbone for 80
organizations and thousands of property owners working toward
the common goals of clean water, a healthy watershed and
Cold weather is headed toward Northern California, with
forecasters warning of severe weather in the Sierra Nevada as
the first snow of the season touches down on the peaks, and
frosty temperatures in the Sacramento Valley. NWS
meteorologists predict that 2 to 7 inches of snow could
accumulate at higher elevations.
As California contends with its worst wildfire season in
history, it’s more evident than ever that land management
practices in the state’s forested mountains need major changes.
… Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20
million acres it manages in California, 6 million to 9 million
acres need to be restored.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a “major change” in
the weather across the Bay Area on Friday and through the
weekend, with temperatures dropping, winds kicking up and the
potential for rain.
DWP officials said the undertaking of a new spillway gate
structure to control flow from the lake through Rush Creek and
into Mono Lake will be one of the largest environmental
restoration projects in the Mono Basin.
The California State Water Resources Control Board and a group
of environmental organizations each have filed a petition for
review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of
FERC orders finding that the Water Board waived its authority
under section 401 of the Clean Water Act to issue a water
quality certification in the ongoing relicensing of Merced
Irrigation District’s Merced River and Merced Falls Projects.
Kendra Atleework’s new memoir Miracle Country, published in
July by Algonquin Books, maps the region of Eastern California
where William Mulholland stole the water and terraformed the
SoCal landscape into the place we now know.
Recognizing the central role that atmospheric rivers play in
both flood risk and water supply – two of Yuba Water’s core
mission areas – the agency is investing in new research and
tools to better understand, forecast and manage for these
Vastly increasing the number of these low-intensity, carefully
managed fires is key. Experts say it reduces dangerous levels
of highly combustible fuel and underbrush built up over more
than a century of trying to snuff out most every forest fire.
The conditions set by that longstanding federal and state
policy are now worsened by climate change, with fires growing
larger, more frequent and more destructive.
Adrian Harpold and his team are conducting a field study on the
impact of wildfire on the Illilouette Creek watershed in the
Yosemite wilderness area in California. They’re looking at how
much water makes it to streams for people and downstream
agriculture after a fire, and how much water stays in the
At the October meeting of the California Water Commission,
Aaron Fakuda representing Temperance Flat Authority and Bill
Swanson, Principal Engineer with Stantec discussed the
project’s status with the Commission.
Water Desk Director Mitch Tobin talks to Noah Molotch, Director
of the Center for Water Earth Science & Technology (CWEST) at
the University of Colorado Boulder, about the importance of
snow to our water supply and what the future may hold for the
American West’s snowpack.
Five California Conservation Corps (CCC) crews are assisting
Butte County Public Works and Department of Water Resources in
making sure that the watershed is protected from potential rain
water run-off from homes burned in the North Complex Fire.
For months, leaks have been springing in the pipes under homes
in Folsom, causing costly repairs for hundreds of homeowners.
City officials think they may have finally found a culprit:
Folsom’s water is just so pure.
Grant funding was just made available to begin to address the
hurdles being faced by Paradise residents trying to rebuild —
due to the lack of a sewer in the town. Residents have
expressed frustrations with the process for approving permits
to move through the septic process in order to rebuild, and a
grant organized by North Valley Community Foundation represents
Even if mean annual snowfall decreases, an increase in the
intensity of snowfall events could prevent snow ablation, or
the loss of snow due to melting, sublimation or evaporation.
… In this study, Marshall et al. (2020) analyze spatial
patterns in snowfall using both observational data from snow
networks across the Mountain West [from the Sierra Nevada and
Cascade Mountains to the Rockies] and outputs from climate
A first-of-its-kind study in California has laid bare the
staggering scale of pollution from plastic microfibers in
synthetic clothing – one of the most widespread, yet largely
invisible, forms of plastic waste. The report, whose findings
were revealed exclusively by the Guardian, found that in 2019
an estimated 4,000 metric tons – or 13.3 quadrillion fibers –
were released into California’s natural environment.
Several years into the research at the California Critical Zone
Observatories, a multiyear drought lasting from fall 2011 to
fall 2015 hit the state, causing massive tree death in the
southern Sierra, while in Northern California there was
essentially none. The massive die-off in the Sierra was a
wake-up call for land managers and researchers alike…
The [Butte] county’s Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Wolfy
Rougle said there is indeed reason to worry about preventing
toxic runoff quickly, particularly with the magnitude of the
North Complex fires’ destruction, and the county’s resources
are stretched thin…So small nonprofit organizations typically
have boots on the ground to do the work with concerned
residents, like the Camp Fire Restoration Project.
Droughts usually leave individual trees more vulnerable to
subsequent droughts. “Compounding extreme events can be really
stressful on forests and trees,” says Anna Trugman, assistant
professor in the geography department at the UC Santa Barbara.
She compares the experience to a person battling an illness:
You’ll be harder hit if you get sick again while you’re still
Prescribed burning … targets brush, grasses, and other
accumulated vegetation, along with dead and downed trees, to
improve ecosystem health and reduce the fuels that power
wildfires. … “We’re trying to encourage a cultural shift in
our relationship with wildfire,” says Sasha Berleman, a fire
ecologist who runs a prescribed burn training program based in
the San Francisco Bay Area. “Fire isn’t going away, so let’s
change how we’re living with it.”
The Forest Service’s use of herbicides and pesticides has
raised occasional alarm from environmental groups, which point
to the chemical’s potential to harm wildlife or water supplies,
or to have long-term effects on people who apply them. In some
regions, they say, scarcely a tree-planting project occurs
without the use of chemical herbicides.
Volunteer citizen scientists working with the League to Save
Lake Tahoe conducted surveys of Donner and Spooner lakes to
detect aquatic invasive species, and restored native wetland
habitat in Johnson Meadow in September. Both efforts are aimed
at preserving the Tahoe-Truckee region’s unique ecology.
EPA and California may recover $32 million in cleanup costs
from a massive hazardous waste spill in the Sierra Nevada
foothills that released toxic amounts of arsenic into local
groundwater supplies, a federal appeals court ruled
Monday. In a divided ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals said the United States and California were not
liable for the costs of cleaning up the Lava Cap Mine Superfund
site in Nevada City, Calif.
In California’s Placer County, an unusual partnership between a
county water utility, the U.S. Forest Service and
environmentalists is taking on the work to prevent catastrophic
fires on more than 11,000 hectares in the northern Sierra
Nevada Mountains. The partnership arose from the ashes of
2014’s King fire.
U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34
million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a
threatened trout species to return to some of its native
spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century.
Construction of the side channel with fish-friendly screens is
a major step toward someday enabling Lahontan cutthroat trout
to make the same 100-mile journey — from a desert lake
northeast of Reno to Lake Tahoe atop the Sierra — that they did
before the dam was built in 1905.
The Georgetown Divide Public Utility District reported Sept. 23
that its release of 2,000 acre-feet of water from Stumpy
Meadows Reservoir to be transferred to the Westlands Water
District has been successfully completed.
If you look closely in the waters of Deer Creek, near Nevada
City, Calif., something strange may catch your eye; lying in
globules amongst the gravel is quicksilver, or liquid elemental
mercury. Carrie Monohan, head scientist for the Sierra Fund,
lives next to Deer Creek, and became concerned about mercury
contamination in the waterways when she pulled liquid mercury
from the water in a turkey baster.
Southern California Edison crews will be able to restart some
releases from lakes in the San Joaquin River watershed after
the Creek Fire overran much of the area through September. …
Those releases, which flow into Millerton Lake, mean farmers
from Fresno to Arvin will be able to continue irrigation.
According to river flow data, there is currently almost no
water flowing into Walker Lake, a common condition. Today,
where the riverbed meets the lake is an ooze of mud. The lake
is all but biologically dead. But a decades-old public trust
lawsuit made a move forward in its glacial process through
federal courts last week, and advocates are hopeful Walker
Lake, a cornerstone of the regional economy and ecology, can
one day be revived.
Four days before dry lightning ignited this year’s statewide
wildfire siege, state and federal leaders signed an agreement
to vastly expand vegetation management in California. This
signals progress towards shared management of forests to reduce
the risk of large severe wildfires and improve their resilience
to the changing climate. … But are current funding sources
enough to keep pace?
When Jay Rowan learned in late April that trout in California
hatcheries were exhibiting strange symptoms, he had been the
hatchery production manager for California’s Department of Fish
and Wildlife for less than a month. Already forced to rejigger
operations after the coronavirus lockdowns, Mr. Rowan began to
worry that a second crisis was on the way.
Among the people forced to flee the Creek Fire were workers who
keep the vast network of hydroelectric dams running. Eric
Quinley, general manager of the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation
District, worried some of his table grape growers might not get
enough water in the future to finish up the growing season.
Lawyers representing Mineral County and the Walker Lake Working
Group announced this week they intend to take a water rights
case with broad implications back to federal appeals court to
ask whether Nevada can adjust already allocated water rights to
sustain rivers and lakes long-term.
When the Creek Fire erupted on Sept. 5 and chewed through the
forest toward Southern California Edison’s Big Creek power
system, little did anyone know how that might affect grape
growers in Delano nearly a month later.
Behind the apocalyptic wildfires in California and Oregon,
another ominous trend is creeping across the globe: Everywhere
in the world, trees are dying, with the biggest trees going
first. Entire forests are threatened worldwide.
Climate change is driving the scale and impact of recent
wildfires that have raged in California, say scientists. Their
analysis finds an “unequivocal and pervasive” role for global
heating in boosting the conditions for fire. California now has
greater exposure to fire risks than before humans started
altering the climate, the authors say.
While more than half of California’s forests fall under federal
management, the U.S. Forest Service consistently spends fewer
dollars than the state in managing those lands to reduce
wildfire risks, a Reuters data analysis reveals. The relative
spending by federal and state forest authorities undermines
President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to blame deadly
wildfires on a failure by California to clear its forests of
dead wood and other debris.
The Calaveras River Habitat Conservation Plan finalized this
week includes commitments by the Stockton East Water District
to improve conditions in the Calaveras River for steelhead. In
turn, the Water District gets assurances that it can continue
distributing water to irrigators and others without violating
the Endangered Species Act….These changes will be implemented
under the first plan of its kind in the Central Valley of
What is all this smoke from wildfires doing to Lake Tahoe
itself? I called Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC
Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, to find out.
Schladow is part of a group of scientists that measure and
track Tahoe’s clarity. … To answer my question, Schladow gave
a standard scientist’s response: It’s complicated.
When the Creek Fire exploded to 160,000 acres in just 72 hours,
ripping through a jewel of the Sierra Nevada just south of
Yosemite National Park, California and the world looked on in
horror and surprise. But the stage had long been set for the
megablaze, one of a half-dozen transforming millions of acres
of Golden State landscapes to ash. Droughts supercharged
by climate change dried out vegetation, aiding its transition
Wildfires started burning in California early again this dry
season—more than two million acres have burned so far. Larger
and larger wildfires are occurring as new heat records are
being broken each year. Firefighting efforts have leaned
heavily on aerial spraying of fire retardants, but their
environmental and health effects [including on fish and
waterways] are little studied …
Scientists at Salo Sciences, a startup that works on technology
for natural climate solutions, began creating the tool after
interviewing dozens of experts in California about the state’s
challenges with wildfires: They need more detailed, up-to-date
information about the forests so they can better predict how
fast and in what direction fires will spread…
The Sierra Nevada provides more than 60 percent of California’s
water supply and sustains a globally important agricultural
region. Quantifying the water-related benefits can be critical
in showing the true value and cost-benefit of forest
management. But until now, there hasn’t been enough locally
relevant data to incentivize restoration projects.
Every September for the last 22 years, the South Yuba River
Citizens League has hosted a Yuba River Cleanup with the help
of the California Coastal Commission. This year, the river’s
need for some tender, loving care has only grown as the region
reckons with more visitors, more single-use plastics and less
accountability amidst the pandemic.
One of the most severe examples is the San Lorenzo Valley Water
District, which serves parts of inland Santa Cruz County, in
central California. More than 7 miles of an HDPE plastic water
supply pipeline were destroyed in the CZU Lightning Complex
Fire, according to Rick Rogers, the district manager.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all
sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to
sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself,
development and other land use changes have left only a tiny
fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by
scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical
streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the
Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.
Less than two years after the most destructive fire in
California history tore through Paradise, the same region was
under siege from a second monster firestorm that quickly grew
to more than 250,000 acres, sweeping through mountain hamlets
and killing at least three people. … Across the state, 28
major wildfires have prompted more than 64,000 people to
Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
said yesterday they secured a public hearing on legislation to
ease some regulatory hurdles for forest management projects…
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will take up
the bill, S. 4431, next week. The “Emergency Wildfire and
Public Safety Act,” would also allow the Forest Service to
declare emergencies in certain areas affected by wildfire,
allowing for restoration with less-extensive environmental
While California’s climate has always made the state prone to
fires, the link between human-caused climate change and bigger
fires is inextricable, said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist
at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Groups in the Tahoe Basin are using new technology to fight
invasive species and decreasing lake clarity. Researchers at
University of Nevada, Reno and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
have been testing a UV light equipped vessel to control aquatic
invasive plants in the Tahoe Keys.
Americans support far more aggressive government regulation to
fight the effects of climate change than elected officials have
been willing to pursue so far, new research shows, including
outright bans on building in flood- or fire-prone areas — a
level of restrictiveness almost unheard-of in the United
States…in California and elsewhere, officials continue to
approve development in areas hit by fires.
As wildfires roar across Northern California, a team of Union
Pacific Engineering employees are on the front lines, battling
hot spots along tracks, bridges and tunnels. Their equipment of
choice? A water train consisting of two rail cars, each holding
12,500 gallons of water and a pumper. The crew has been out in
force recently on UP’s Canyon Subdivision near Quincy, Calif.
Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th
annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared
priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. … There is a
long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to
restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake
Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of
collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit
CU Boulder will collaborate with five other universities and
two federal partners to better understand how water, trees,
soils and rocks interact and change each other in the fire- and
drought-prone landscapes of the American West. The team has
chosen five locations in Colorado and California to test a
variety of hypotheses about water in the critical zone. And not
only from a physical perspective, but also from ecological and
A Monday proposal from the U.S. Forest Service would severely
limit the agency’s ability to call off any oil drilling slated
for its lands by the Bureau of Land Management, which tees up
leasing in federal forests. … The proposed rule removes
specific references within Forest Service policy to review
environmental consequences of drilling and also eliminates the
requirement to provide public notice before new oil activity
Laurie Huning, a hydrologist at California State University,
Long Beach, said snow droughts have been understudied relative
to other types of drought, which is why she and her colleague
Amir AghaKouchak sought to create a framework for monitoring
and describing the phenomenon around the world.
Michael Wara, a climate and energy expert at Stanford
University who’s advised the state Legislature on wildfire
issues, said the state is still grappling with a legacy of
spending money on fighting fires instead of on forest health,
such as thinning overgrown brush and removing millions of
drought-killed trees, building fire breaks around communities
and intentionally setting fires when conditions safely allow
At ACWA’s virtual conference held in July of 2020, a panel
comprised of agencies described the experience of the American
River region in evaluating climate impacts on their watershed
in a new cutting-edge study and the comprehensive suite of
projects designed to address increasing threats from more
frequent and intense floods, fires, and droughts.
After more than two years, another big El Dorado Irrigation
District project is complete as renovations and improvements to
the El Dorado Forebay Dam and Reservoir are finished and the
Despite opposing views among board members and objections from
the public, on a 3-2 vote the El Dorado Irrigation District
Board of Directors voted Monday to approve piping the Upper
Main Ditch, also known as the El Dorado Canal.
Men and women from Native American tribes in Northern
California stood in a circle, alongside university students and
locals from around the town of Mariposa. … For the next two
days, the group would be carefully lighting fires in the
surrounding hills. Also sprinkled through the crowd were
officials from the state government, which a century ago had
largely prohibited California’s tribes from continuing their
ancient practice of controlled burns.
With all permits in place, on Aug. 20 the Georgetown Divide
Public Utility District announced the State Water Resources
Control Board Division of Water Rights approved the temporary
transfer of up to 2,000 acre-feet of GDPUD’s water to the
Westlands Water District. The transfer of the water began Aug.
19 and is expected to continue until Sept. 23.
Kristen Averyt, PhD, is Nevada’s first State Climate Policy
Coordinator and offered a 42 minute presentation on climate
change and what it means for the environment and economics of
the Lake Tahoe Basin, region, and planet. On this edition of
the Wild Hare we take you on a tour of Dr. Averyt’s comments…
Under the plan, California agencies and the U.S. Forest Service
will use brush clearing, logging and prescribed fires to thin
out 1 million acres a year by 2025 — an area larger than
Yosemite National Park every 12 months, and roughly double the
current rate of thinning, which already is double rates from a
few years ago.
The snow along the mountains of Nevada’s Great Basin trickle
down when the spring turns into summer. This produces a flurry
of wildlife and natural resources in our area ponds, rivers,
and lakes. … Along the majestic Truckee River, fishermen
would collect thousands of trout from the late 1800’s to the
1900’s. Eventually, this would cause the near extinction of our
state’s native species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
We know there are ways to actively manage our Western forests
to improve water quality, provide for jobs, reduce the cost of
firefighting and increase forest resiliency. Now we have new
tools to assess how proper management of watershed vegetation
can increase water yield.
The State Water Board and environmental conservationists have
filed lawsuits against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to protect the
Yuba and Bear river watersheds…
Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency in order
to help California respond to the fires burning across the
state amid an extreme heat wave that brought more warnings
about power outages on Tuesday. More than 30 wildfires are
burning across California, including nearly a dozen that
started in the last two days…
Tuolumne Utilities District doesn’t believe differing opinions
about finite resources, like water, are “battles.” Differing
opinions are simply the result when you ask any group how to
prioritize the use of a finite resource when need outstrips
A correct analysis of the state’s water supply is always
important, but especially during drought years. A new bill
introduced by Rep. Josh Harder and Sen. Dianne Feinstein on
Friday hopes to improve the state’s water management by
establishing an airborne snowpack observation program.
The key to controlling the numbers of Lake Tahoe’s invasive
Mysis shrimp, which have been linked to a decline in clarity,
might be as simple as rewarding the family dog with a treat. A
team from UC Davis Graduate School of Management have
identified the shrimp as an ingredient for high-end dog treats
and are currently in the early phases of developing an initial
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced it will no longer be
conducting higher water flows for whitewater recreation on the
Feather River during the weekend of Aug. 22-23, saying in a
press release the cancellation came as a result of the COVID-19
After a massive loss of fish at three hatchery facilities in
the eastern Sierra and Southern California this summer, the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife has implemented an
updated stocking plan to continue putting trout into waters
that are popular with anglers.
The new tool is a light fixture called an array mounted under a
working barge, which trolls the marina dousing the plants on
the bottom with UV-C light, a short-wave electromagnetic
radiation light that damages the DNA and cellular structure of
By the 2070s, climate change will reduce snowpack and increase
extreme rainfall in the Sierra Nevada and California’s
reservoirs will likely be overwhelmed. That’s according to a
new study by UCLA climate scientists, who predict that run-off
during so-called atmospheric rivers will increase by nearly 50
percent, leading to widespread flooding across the state.
After timber harvest or fuel reduction thinning operations,
sediment delivery to nearby streams and waterways can increase,
potentially affecting water quality, drinking water supplies,
habitat, and recreational opportunities. To effectively reduce
these adverse effects of harvest, foresters first need to know
the precise causes of sediment increases.
In California, many of the wildfires occur in the Sierra Nevada
mountains, which are the source of 70% of California’s water
resources. Understanding the feedbacks and implications of
disturbances on the hydrological cycle can help watershed
managers plan for future scenarios with wildfires and climate
Forest-management actions such as mechanical thinning and
prescribed burns don’t just reduce the risk of severe wildfire
and promote forest health — these practices can also contribute
to significant increases in downstream water availability. New
research from UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute
provides the tools to help estimate and verify those changes.
A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water
was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered
to pay $5 million in fines for illegally storing and
transporting hazardous waste, federal prosecutors said. The
waste was produced by filtering arsenic out of Sierra Nevada
spring water at CG Roxane LLC’s facility in the Owens Valley.
Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated when the spillways failed
at Oroville Dam in 2017, an infrastructure disaster that cost
around a billion dollars to repair. Three years later
scientists say events that partially led to the incident could
become more frequent. It comes down to how and when snow and
Environmental engineers at the University of California, Irvine
have developed a new framework for characterizing snow droughts
around the world. Using this tool to analyze conditions from
1980 to 2018, the researchers found a 28-percent increase in
the length of intensified snow-water deficits in the Western
United States during the second half of the study period.
Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water
pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were
common. … After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed
widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence
suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination
of burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials.
Lake Tahoe’s fluctuating clarity got worse last year during an
especially cold and wet winter as sedimentation, algae growth
and a tiny invasive shrimp continued to pose restoration
challenges for the famed clear water of the mountain lake
straddling the California-Nevada line.
In the midst of a hot July after late rains this season, the
outlook for reforesting on the ridge will depend on the efforts
of private landowners, local forest scientists say. With this
help, residents of the ridge could see a new type of forest
replace what was lost in the Camp Fire.
More money for the Paradise Irrigation District was announced
Tuesday to help with Camp Fire recovery. The Federal Emergency
Management Agency awarded $3,440,574 to the Paradise Irrigation
District for damages as a result of the fire in 2018.
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is experiencing low water pressure
reservation wide due to high water usage and minimal storage
and pumping capacity. … With temperatures rising, and more
community members staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
water usage has gone up significantly.
Forest-management actions such as mechanical thinning and
prescribed burns don’t just reduce the risk of severe wildfire
and promote forest health — these practices can also contribute
to significant increases in downstream water availability. New
research from UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute
provides the tools to help estimate and verify those changes.
A Kern County water agency is facing a wall of opposition
against its plan to harvest up to 12,000 acre feet of water
from the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella and
bring it to valley farms and homeowners in northwest
The El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors opened the
utility’s checkbook at the July 13 meeting and unanimously
voted to spend close to $9.5 million on a long list of capital
improvement projects. Leading the way, the most expensive
project approved was $4.56 million to recoat and inspect
Reservoir 2 and 2A water tanks.
When it was measured last year, the clarity of the lake was
about 80 feet. … But, consider this, about 20 years ago, the
clarity of lake was 100 feet. That’s the trend scientists are
trying to reverse.
What was extraordinary was the unusually deep snow recorded in
the northern Sierra Nevada mountains before the storm event.
Subsequently, several records were set for how much snowmelt
occurred during the atmospheric river. The melt took place
because of unusually warm and wet conditions, and it increased
water available for runoff by 37 percent over rain alone,
straining the capacity of California’s second-largest
Over the next 3 weeks a group of League to Save Lake Tahoe
citizen scientists will outfit their clothes driers with
special filters to capture particles from dryer vent emissions.
Dr. Monica Arienzo of the Desert Research Institute explained
that unexpected results from a remote snow sample led to a
curiosity in dryer emissions.
Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors Thursday authorized
staff to move forward with a new design of an estimated $225
million secondary spillway at New Bullards Bar Dam, marking an
important step forward for the agency’s largest project to
reduce flood risk since the dam was built.
There are just 12 parking spots near Yankee Jim’s, a sliver of
crystal clear water on the North Fork American River, about 35
miles west of Lake Tahoe, but last weekend California State
Parks and Placer County authorities counted more than 300
vehicles parked near the rugged roads surrounding a one-way
bridge overhead. … Authorities said the scenic area has
exploded in popularity thanks to social media postings.
This new technology is an improvement on the existing bubble
curtain, providing more air and a much stronger application of
it. It also includes sea bins that will act like garbage cans,
collecting the fragments that are knocked free by the bubble
In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale
of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American
River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with
the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the
first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been
Saturday and Sunday, PG&E will raise the water level on the
North Fork of the Feather River, which goes from Quincy to
Oroville. … But this year, it seems the whitewater levels —
thanks to the coronavirus — aren’t raising excitement.
For the past five years, Monty Currier, a California Department
of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, has been working
to rebuild the fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir after
the PG&E impoundment went dry in 2015 from the
combined effects of maintenance work and the drought. The
unfortunate fish kill presented Currier with something of a
In June 2018, scientists first noticed that aspen trees around
the basin were looking more defoliated than usual… “It was
concerning because, from a landscape diversity perspective,
aspens are so priceless in terms of what they contribute up
here,” said Will Richardson, executive director of the Tahoe
Institute for Natural Science.
The Upper Truckee Marsh in South Lake Tahoe once covered 1,600
acres and is now around 600 acres. It suffered in recent
decades because of cattle ranching, channelizing of the river
and the development of a neighborhood called the Tahoe Keys in
the 1950s and ’60s.
Ben Ewing is an environmental scientist for CDFW’s North
Central Region. Based out of the region headquarters office in
Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, Ben serves as the district
fisheries biologist for Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and Lake
Agencies in California, Washington, and British Columbia are
collaborating. In a 2018 memorandum of understanding, the three
agencies pledged to share data and innovations. The group is
also exploring ways to offset the costs of forest management.
For example, they’re looking for markets for wood from the
small trees and branches that are cut when forests are thinned.
California’s wild weather swings, from pounding rain to drought
and from fires to floods, are widely expected to worsen as the
climate warms. A new study shows just how severe things might
get, and it’s not pretty.
In November 2019, a diverse group of nine organizations, known
as the North Yuba Forest Partnership, announced its commitment
to using best available science in planning and implementing
forest restoration at an unprecedented pace and scale within
the North Yuba River watershed. Today, the group released an
online interactive story map highlighting the ecological and
human values within the watershed…
Fadji Maina and Erica Siirila-Woodburn from Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory explored how a watershed could be impacted
by wildfires. Specifically, the scientists investigated the
Cosumnes River watershed in California.
A group of wildlife biologists in Northern California took
another step in the conservation effort of the threatened
Foothill yellow-legged frogs on June 30, releasing 115 of the
frogs into the Feather River in Plumas National Forest.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release
marks the first release of captive-reared, Foothill
yellow-legged frogs into the wild.
Headwater forests are critical to California’s water supply, a
fact made plain by recent state funding
decisions…California’s water storage is concentrated in the
alpine snowpack that accumulates during the wet season and
releases water during the dry months. That snowpack is in
As federal and state decision-makers evaluate the options [for
addressing the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic],
they should consider putting Californians to work on improving
the health of the state’s headwater forests. This approach
would alleviate economic hardships while reducing wildfire risk
and generating a suite of other benefits for forest-based
communities and the state.
Several California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fish
hatchery facilities in the Eastern Sierra and Southern
California are battling a bacterial outbreak that has the
potential to cause significant losses to both hatchery and wild
The $202 billion budget signed by Governor Gavin Newsom Monday
evening includes the $7.3 million promised to the Paradise
Irrigation District to help sustain it following the
devastating Camp Fire. The funding is considered critical to
providing clean water to residents for rebuilding efforts. The
money was not included in the Governor’s May revise budget
proposal but was included in the final spending
Within weeks of Bay Area Concrete losing its battle before the
Hayward Planning Commission, PG&E had hired the company to
build and run a dump outside of Paradise, 180 miles to the
north. Trucks began dumping potentially toxic slurry at the
disposal site, which did not require environmental review as an
emergency project and helped speed cleanup operations.
he Northern Sierra Partnership, a coalition of land trusts
based in Palo Alto and funded in large part with donations from
Silicon Valley technology leaders, purchased the 2,914 acres
located about two miles north of Truckee. The purchase is part
of a multi-year effort to protect 100,000 acres or more between
Lake Tahoe and Mount Lassen for wildlife, public recreation and
While there are numerous factors that can lead to increased
wildfire risk, a growing body of scientific evidence finds that
climate change is a wildfire “threat multiplier,” amplifying
both natural and human risk factors. But how climate will
influence western communities and ecosystems varies
considerably. Two recent studies in California and the Pacific
Northwest help to bring some of this into better focus.
The historic lighthouse at Rubicon Point was born out of
organized advocacy work in the early 1900s. The Lake Tahoe
Protective Association formed in response to a proposal to cut
the rim of Lake Tahoe at the Truckee River. The proposal was
floated by the Truckee River General Electric Company in 1912
as a means to keep water flowing out of Tahoe even when the
lake level dipped too low.
Degraded meadows and their streams can be rehabilitated using a
“pond and plug” technique to restore the floodplain function.
This strategy aims to elevate groundwater levels in the dry
season by spreading large flows across the floodplain. The pond
and plug treatment improves water quality, soil moisture, and
wetland vegetation – improvements that are extremely beneficial
to birds and other wildlife.
San Francisco’s water department, known for sourcing some of
the best supplies in the West, is building its first nature
center to commemorate its watersheds. The $27 million facility,
which broke ground this spring, is taking shape on city-owned
land in Alameda County, near the town of Sunol. The center is
designed to extend the tribute paid by the Sunol Water Temple,
a 110-year-old monument honoring local creeks…
Last week, on the flanks of Mount Lassen, the partnership of
the Western Rivers Conservancy and the Lassen National Forest
completed a project that protects a crucial 1,150-acre
property, and a significant branch of South Fork Antelope
Creek, a rare stronghold for salmon and steelhead in the
Sacramento River system.
Each year millions of liters of fire-retardant chemicals are
applied to wildfires across the nation. The use of these
retardants could have significant effects on downstream
nutrients. The aim of this study will be to determine which
nutrients are likely to increase in concentration in areas
affected by wildfire in the western U.S., and whether the use
of fire retardants may exacerbate the situation.
The snowpack from the Sierra Nevada provides crucial water for
California and western Nevada each year as the snow melts.
Skiers and boarders get fired up about the quality and depth of
the snow. Hydrologists and anyone who relies on Sierra snowmelt
are more concerned with how much water is in the snowpack —
it’s called the SWE (snow water equivalent).
Roland Knapp, research biologist at the University of
California Sierra Nevada Aquatic Laboratory, explained that a
fish-less habitat along with increased resistance to chytrid
fungus can allow populations to rebound and increase. Knapp’s
research findings have shown the frogs being able to adapt to
the disease over time. … “I have a lot of hope. I wouldn’t
have said that 10 years ago.”
El Dorado Irrigation District staff is making preparations to
minimize impacts to its system in the event of more PG&E
public safety power shutoffs this year. EID has 168 electrical
service connections with PG&E. In 2019 the largest power
shutoff event affected 125 of those connections. The outages
compromised EID’s ability to pump water and wastewater, provide
fire protection, generate hydroelectric power and operate the
Sly Park Recreation Area.
Oil, logging, mining, and grazing will be the priorities of
national forests and grasslands, with expedited environmental
oversight, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told the U.S.
Forest Service Friday. His memo announced a “blueprint for
reforms” that refocuses the Forest Service to produce products
and services from the 193 million acres of forests, grasslands,
and wilderness areas it oversees.
Unlike in recent years when researchers were able to point to a
dominant factor affecting lake clarity like drought or
higher-than-average precipitation, 2019 saw a range of
influences on Tahoe, including lake mixing for the first time
in several years, sediment, algae, and climate warming. Those
factors, according to the University of California, Davis Tahoe
Environmental Research Center, combined to cause a roughly
8-foot decrease in average clarity from the previous year’s
Billions of invasive Mysis shrimp, introduced in the 1960s as a
food source for native trout, live in Lake Tahoe, where they
have almost eaten to extinction the native zooplankton that
historically helped keep the lake blue and clear.
In a ruling published last week, a California Superior Court
made a sweeping ruling against Inyo County’s attempted eminent
domain takeover of Los Angeles’ land and water rights. The
years-long pursuit by Inyo has effectively been sent back to
the drawing board and will require not only a complete restart,
but also comprehensive environmental review, in order for Inyo
The Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors
approved an agreement allowing the Dutch Flat Mutual Water
Company (Dutch Flat Mutual) to consolidate with PCWA… The
agreement allows for the extension of PCWA’s distribution
system into the Dutch Flat community, effectively connecting
current Dutch Flat customers to PCWA’s Alta Water System.
The proposals from the Bureau of Land Management would
eliminate a 15-day protest period afforded to the public to
comment on timber sales and other forest management decisions.
BLM said the comment period they are proposing to cut is
repetitive, as people can already submit their thoughts when a
project is undergoing review under the National Environmental
A recent study published in the journal Science helps explains
why, revealing that the south-western US is in the grip of a
20-year megadrought – a period of severe aridity that is
stoking fires, depleting reservoirs and putting a strain on
water supplies to the states of the region.
Anticipating where a fire is likely to ignite and how it might
spread requires information about how much burnable plant
material exists on the landscape and its dryness. Yet this
information is surprisingly difficult to gather at the scale
and speed necessary to aid wildfire management. Now, a team of
experts in hydrology, remote sensing and environmental
engineering have developed a deep-learning model that maps fuel
moisture levels in fine detail across 12 western states
Guaranteeing a second year of backfill funding from the state
for Paradise Irrigation District will take “tough negotiations”
with the governor’s office, local lawmakers and leaders said in
press conference Tuesday morning. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest
budget proposal reverts $7.3 million originally set aside for
PID to the general fund, amid other cuts related to the
economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extraction methods that these operations use today are not
drastically different from processes that miners employed in
the California gold rush in the mid-1800s. Today we see history
repeating itself in places like the Peruvian Amazon, where
small-scale gold mining threatens to leave behind long-lasting
social, economic and environmental consequences.
Northstate lawmakers and local leaders gathered in Paradise,
Tuesday, urging Governor Gavin Newsom to reconsider proposed
state budget cuts that would impact the Paradise Irrigation
District. … Earlier this month, Newsom proposed cutting the
second year of backfill funding to the district meant to help
them stay afloat after the Camp Fire decimated the ridge’s
Governor Newsom slashed $7.3 million from his May revised
budget, which officials say was promised to Paradise Irrigation
District after the Camp Fire. … Losing this money could
jeopardize being able to maintain their daily operations, like
fixing leaks, customer service, and employee wages.
Though the last couple of weekends have seen wet weather, it
hasn’t been enough to keep up with the yearly average in time
for summer in California. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is
tested regularly by employees of the California Department of
Water Resources, has yielded some grim results so far in 2020
in terms of snow-water equivalent.
Taking the opportunity to bring in some extra revenue, the
Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Board of Directors
approved the sale of up to 2,000 acre-feet of water to
Westlands Water District at a price of $350 an acre-foot.
As forests in California and the Western U.S. are hit by rising
numbers of fires and disease outbreaks related to climate
change, some experts argue that using dead and diseased trees
to produce biomass energy will help to restore forests and
reduce CO2 emissions.
South Feather Water & Power Agency proposes to transfer the
water from July through November 2020 to participating agencies
of the State Water Contractors and the Central Valley Project
(CVP). The transfer would involve up to 5,000 AF of water
previously stored in Little Grass Valley Reservoir under Permit
1267, and up to 5,001 AF of water previously stored in Sly
Creek Reservoir under Permit 2492.
Northern California will have its most soaking rain from this
storm into Monday. Through Tuesday, with the cold upper-level
air in the jet stream trough overhead, showers and
thunderstorms, some possibly with small hail, can be expected
in Northern California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s many proposed budget cuts include the
cancellation of a second year of backfill funding for the
Paradise Irrigation District, worth $7.3 million. … The
district lost 90 percent of its customers following the Camp
Fire and has been depending on the backfill funds while it
repairs damage to its system and slowly increases customers
The return of drought to California has been widespread—58% of
the state now experiences some level of dryness, according to
the U.S. Drought Monitor—with extreme drought concentrated in
4% of the state, primarily in the northwestern region of
Siskiyou, Trinity and Humboldt counties.
An intense, long and dangerous fire season is projected.
Degraded north state watersheds threaten California’s water
supply and reliability, and northern rural counties rank among
the highest in the nation for unemployment. This combination of
risks is daunting, but if addressed together can yield benefits
and outcomes far greater than addressing each problem
The event was the first weather balloon launch from a Yuba
Water Agency site near Beale Air Force Base. But it will not be
the last. During atmospheric rivers, scientists plan to release
a balloon every three hours from this point to collect data.
And the more data, the better, because understanding the
structure of these storms can help with forecasting and flood
A $4.1 million contract for the long-awaited dredging of
Phoenix Lake reservoir, identified as necessary more than 15
years ago, has been awarded to Steve Manning Construction, Inc.
of Redding by the Tuolumne Utility District. … Phoenix is the
primary drinking water source for Sonora, Jamestown, Scenic
View, and Mono Village.
The University’s Adrian Harpold recently led a team in
developing a modeling tool to focus on the issue of water
quantity. The tool predicts how different approaches to
thinning the forest impact snowpack accumulation in Lake Tahoe,
which controls how much water is available for downstream
communities such as Reno.