News

Stormwater Capture: California's Untapped Water Supply

Jun 25, 2015
Curtis Jerome Haynes / Capital Public Radio

When it rains in California, millions of gallons of water runs down city streets, into storm drains and out to the Pacific Ocean. But with the state in its fourth year of drought, it can’t afford to waste it. Some cities are capturing that rain by soaking it up like a sponge. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento on what may be California’s next big “untapped” water supply.

It’s a busy morning in a San Fernando Valley neighborhood. On Elmer Avenue people are hopping in their cars and garbage trucks are making their rounds. Look to the northeast, you can see mountains.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The Smithsonian Institution is honoring California labor activist Dolores Huerta with a special exhibit opening next week. 

The National Portrait Gallery’s One Life series has honored 10 notable Americans everyone from Elvis Presley to Martin Luther King Jr. And now, Dolores Huerta.

The museum is honoring Huerta for her years of activism and her role in founding the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez. Huerta is the first Latina in the series.

Flickr user https://www.flickr.com/photos/djwaldow/4868263565/ / Creative Commons

A proposed new ballot measure in California would tax bottled water sales. If backers gather enough signatures to put the initiative on the ballot, voters would be asked to place a tax of 5 cents per ounce on bottled water sold in the state. The measure would also require bottled water to contain a label identifying the product as “not drought friendly.”

Google

For years, Google users have relied on the company's popular "Street View" technology to get a sidewalk level view of shops and restaurants. Now that concept is going vertical, with a unique 360-degree digital trek up Yosemite's El Capitan with some of the world's top climbers.

The top attorney at California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board has a new job. On Wednesday Governor Jerry Brown appointed  Sylvia Torres-Guillen to a new job as special counsel in his office.

Torres-Guillen had served as general counsel for the ALRB since 2011. In recent years the board has been at the center of controversy over a case involving Fresno’s Gerawan Farming and the United Farm Workers union, including a disputed 2013 decertification election.

Federal Agency Provides $150 Million For Drought Projects In California

Jun 24, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A federal agency is providing $150 million to help California deal with the on-going drought.

Most of the money, from the U.S. Agriculture Department, will be used for U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed restoration projects in the Sierra Nevada.

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird says those projects will benefit the 25 million Californians that rely on Sierra supply for drinking water. And also the irrigation needs of agricultural users downstream in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.

This week on Valley Writers Read, we hear a story by local author Hope Nisly titled "Seasons of Doubt." The story is mainly about personal behavior and philosophies.  Here is a young, very traditional Mennonite girl enrolled in grammar school who meets Summer, another girl with many surprising and often contrary views.  The story tells us what happens when Summer writes an essay entitled “Why I Am An Atheist”?

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The job site is a busy place these days as work crews are busy doing site excavation and grading for the foundation of our new building. Work crews are in the process of digging up dirt under the site of the new building and then compacting the soil using a machine called a "sheep's foot" roller. This ensures that Valley Public Radio's new home has a strong foundation for the future. 

KVPR/Jeffrey Hess

A free public science education center is officially open in Northwest Fresno. The Highway City Science Center is moving into a community center that has been closed for 5 years since deep Recession era budget cuts.

The center is moving into one of the most underserved areas of Fresno off highway 99 in an area known as Highway City.

It will host science programing for children and adults, such as a fully assembled whale skeleton and electrical workshop.

Manuel Hernandez with the Fresno Parks Department says the center is a huge boost to the area.

John Chacon / CA Department of Water Resources

Even before California's drought, many small unincorporated valley communities have dealt with drinking water that's polluted with nitrate, arsenic and other contaminants. As water levels in many wells have dropped, the problem has only grown more severe. 

Now a new provision in the state budget could offer help to some of those communities, in some cases potentially forcing large water districts to consolidate with smaller ones. Advocates like Laurel Firestone of the Community Water Center in Visalia say this could help many communities in their quest for clean water. 

Regulations Would Allow Quick Removal of Drought-Killed Trees

Jun 23, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s drought has killed so many trees that the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is adopting emergency regulations to remove them. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the board is concerned about the growing threat of wildfires.

Twelve and a half million trees are dead, most of them in southern California and the southern Sierra Nevada. That’s four times more than all of the tree die-off in 2014 and it doesn’t include many of the hardwood species that are also likely dying.

Flickr user Matt Grant - https://www.flickr.com/photos/gr8matt/4041717588/ / Creative Commons

One of the most popular tourist attractions on California’s Central Coast has been closed due to structural safety concerns. FM89’s Jason Scott reports on what is being done to repair the attraction and how the closure will impact tourism along the central coast.

The Avila Beach pier was closed to the public on Friday because of structural concerns regarding the maximum weight capacity. The closure was prompted in part due to an increasing number of people who have flocked to the pier in recent days to see some humpback whales feed.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about drought, a case about raisins, Yosemite and more. First, Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg reports on how drought is changing what's grown in California. Valley Public Radio's Diana Aguilera reports on a in special reading program in Fresno where children read to dogs.

Ezra David Romero

Historical movements, wars and disasters around the globe have created signature sounds in music. Think freedom songs like “We Shall Overcome,” Prince’s “Baltimore” and even Beyonce’s song “Halo” after Haiti was rocked by an earthquake. The Golden State is in its fourth year of drought and songs about a drying California are now emerging. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on drought for the station. He joins Valley Edition Host Joe Moore to talk about what he calls drought music. 

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Parents often wonder how they can get their children to read and at the same time have their kids enjoy doing so. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, one library in Clovis is inspiring children to open up books with the help of a four legged friend.

“So who’s going to read first today? This is Atlas,” says Mary Catalano.

Catalano is at the Clovis Regional Library with her yellow Labrador named Atlas. The nine-year-old dog is laying on the ground surrounded by kids. 

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The contract to run concessions in Yosemite National Park - everything from gift shops to the Ahwahnee Hotel - is the largest in the National Park System. And soon, a new company could be running those amenities, with a new contract worth an estimated $2 billion. 

Last week Yosemite officials announced that Aramark has been selected to be the park's new concessionaire, replacing Delaware North, which has run operations in the park since 1993. The move sparked a flurry of discussion about what the move means for park visitors. 

Is California's Animal Welfare Law Creating Better Conditions?

Jun 22, 2015
Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

In 2008, Californians passed a law by a two-thirds majority to give egg-laying hens more space to move around. Farmers have had the last seven years to comply. Proposition 2 (the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act) went into effect this January. 

Farmer Frank Hilliker was against Proposition 2 from the beginning. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to stay in business when the law passed.

But, the long time egg producer has come around.

Why The Price Of Eggs Is Skyrocketing

Jun 22, 2015
Creative Commons - Flickr user geishabot

Egg prices have soared this spring for a lot of reasons. Lesley McClurg breaks down why you’re paying more. 

The cheapest price for a dozen conventional eggs is $3.50 at Raley’s in Sacramento. 

That’s about 75 cents more than the national average – which is at a record high $2.62. 

So, what’s driving the premium on California eggs?

First, there’s the drought. John Segale is with the Association for California Egg Farmers. 

Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson http://www.flickr.com/photos/lancejohnson/5703722259/

Talk to most education leaders about the biggest challenges and opportunities in America’s public schools and the issue of so called STEM courses is sure to come up. It’s a fancy acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. According to the US Department of Education, job growth in STEM fields is projected to outpace the rest of the economy, in some areas like software and biomedicine, by more than double.

President Obama says STEM is a big education priority, in a speech to education leaders in 2010:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The U.S. Supreme Court is ruling in favor of a Fresno raisin farmer that it is unconstitutional for a government-backed agricultural board to claim control of a third of his crop.

The ruling is a blow against a program that authorizes growers to join together to prop up market prices.

The justices say the scheme violates the Fifth Amendment by allowing the government to take the raisins without providing just compensation. The court ruled that, just like land, raisin growers must be compensated for any product taken by the government.

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