Environment

News about energy and the environment

California fire officials are already preparing for a hot fire season despite the ample rain and snow the regions received. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.

 

Jeremiah Wittwer with Fresno County Cal Fire says there’s a lot of extra grass and brush growing in the region because of the rain. He says come summer when the vegetation dries out there’ll be a major fire hazard.

 

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Today, we’re taking advantage of the season and venturing out into the snow. We’ve gotten a lot of it this winter, so it’s the perfect opportunity for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Or at least snowball fights.

A native New Englander, Kerry loves the winter—as long as she’s bundled up and warm. Ezra: not so much. But as far as winter activities go, snowshoeing is his jam. And who doesn’t love seeing their breath in the air and hearing ice crunching under their feet?

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California’s received record levels of snow and rain so far this year. And in Northern California there are signs that the drought may be coming to an end. There are full reservoirs, record snow levels and flooding. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports even though there are these indicators, places in the Central Valley remain in extreme drought.

All this talk of the drought nearing an end has me wondering whether this is just wishful thinking. UC Davis Water Expert Jay Lund says that depends on where you live.

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The tiny community of Monson in Tulare County received some good news this week. The State Water Resources Control board awarded $1.2 million to help solve the area’s long term water problems. The area's dealt with high levels of nitrates for decades and the drought dried up lots of wells that people depend on for drinking water.

Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley represents the area. He says funding due to the drought is answering the communities longtime water problems.

Ezra David Romero

In this episode, we’re venturing to a different kind of destination.

It’s not exactly outdoors…but there’s no heating or air conditioning. 

It’s musty, damp and that’s what some people love about it. Often the only light source is the light you bring.

We’re going underground. In this episode we’re exploring the world of spelunking. But people who do this don’t actually call it that. They refer to the activity as caving.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The valley’s fruit and nut trees need cold temperatures in the winter in order to go to sleep and wake up healthy in the spring. New research suggests that in as little as 30 years, it may be too warm in the valley to grow these trees due to climate change. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that the agriculture industry is taking the issue very seriously.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A report released this week argues the consequences of the drought have been more pronounced in some communities than others.

The analysis from the Pacific Institute and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water says water shortages, hikes in water rates and fishery declines have been concentrated in low-income and disadvantaged communities. Additionally, Laura Feinstein with the Pacific Institute says those effects extend beyond the central valley, even to typically wet areas on the North Coast and Central Coast.

National Weather Service, Hanford.

California has been hit hard by storms over the last week. There's been flooding, rain at high elevations and national park closures. To tell us more about what to expect in the coming days we were joined by National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Rowe on our program Valley Edition. To listen to the interview click play above. 

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Lost Lake Park just below Friant Dam in Fresno County was closed to the public on Monday due to flooding. But federal scientists say the flooding was controlled and not historical—and it provided an opportunity for scientific study.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey on Monday visited Lost Lake Park, where water has risen seven feet since last week. They’re here to measure the water’s flow rate, which will help calibrate the automatic sensors and gauges that monitor the river here 24 hours a day. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

This weekend’s string of heavy rain has put a lot of pressure on families and local officials to respond to the threat of flooding, especially in mountains. Residents in some communities have even been forced to evacuate to escape the rising tide.

Many a normally small, peaceful mountain creek has now been transformed is now a broad fast moving river.

The days of heavy rains have caused the Madera County Sheriff to order mandatory evacuations in some of the low-lying areas of the town of North Fork south of Bass Lake.

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