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Environment

News about energy and the environment

James Gathany, via Wikimedia Commons

Debug Fresno is a pilot project aimed at developing a technique to control a nasty species of invasive mosquito known as Aedes aegypti. It involves releasing millions of mosquitoes infected with wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacteria, in three test areas in Fresno and Clovis. It may seem like a paradox, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the overall A. aegypti population, and techniques like this have succeeded in other parts of the world.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Summer is approaching in the San Joaquin Valley, and that means it’s not only the season for sunscreen and paletas, but also mosquitoes—something local authorities are working on. For the last two years, the Fresno area has been the site of an experimental mosquito control program. And it’s back again. Here we examine the project’s latest, scaled-up season, and why it appears to be working.

Central Sierra Historical Society

In recent years, the forests of the Central Sierra have changed dramatically. Drought, bark beetles and climate change have helped to kill millions of trees across the region, and years of fire suppression have also contributed to an unhealthy ecosystem in many areas. Now the Central Sierra Historical Society Museum at Shaver Lake has launched a new website and museum dedicated to the changing forest. We talked with retired forester John R.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley has improved dramatically over the last few decades, partly thanks to a set of sweeping clean air laws passed in the early 2000s. Over the last few years, however, one major polluting practice has risen steadily. And although it’s unclear if the increase has had an impact on air quality, advocates are concerned it will if the trend continues. We report from a family farm outside Fresno on what’s being done about open agricultural burning.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

The winter of 2016 to 2017 was extreme. Not only did it put an end to an extended drought in most of California, it delivered far more rain than average, and even set some rainfall records.

The state experienced a different kind of extreme in 1862, when the state was pounded by storm after storm over a short period of time, which caused what some called megafloods—the likes of which we haven’t seen since.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

This past Sunday, April 22, was Earth Day. But did you know that the day before was the birthday of conservationist John Muir, or that the day after was the day widely believed to have been the birth and death of William Shakespeare? These may seem like unrelated occasions, but one special event brought all three together in Yosemite National Park.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno has long relied on groundwater to meet its needs, but a new surface water treatment plant is slated to begin operating this summer. While the city faced complications with their last treatment plant, they’re hoping the lessons learned help solve problems before they start.

Fresno’s new Southeast Surface Water Treatment Plant is huge, and built to do one thing: Treat water from the Kings River, and send it out to Fresno residents.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley struggles with environmental pollution. Hundreds of thousands of residents are served with water that’s unsafe to drink, and all of us live under seasonal clouds ozone and particle pollution in the air. Water and air problems are regulated separately, but one contaminant bridges both domains. This story examines why nitrogen is such a persistent problem.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In 2011, dozens of California’s State Parks were set to close due to sharp budget cuts in Sacramento. Seven years later, the budget crisis is over and most parks have recovered—though only after undergoing a quiet but significant reformation.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new public opinion poll from Fresno State indicates that a majority of valley voters would support new anti-air pollution regulations. The survey from the university's Institute for Leadership and Public Policy found that 53 percent of registered voters said they would support more restrictions on residents and businesses to improve air quality in the region. Forty percent of respondents indicated that they would not support more restrictions.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It’s the second week of March which means burning restrictions are no longer in effect throughout the San Joaquin Valley. But though the smoggy days of winter are hopefully behind us, there’s still a lot to talk about. Later this week we’ll be hosting a panel event on the future of our air quality. That's happening Wednesday at Valley Public Radio’s broadcast center.

Creative Commons user Pmk58

California has a new water problem, but it's not drought, and it's not endangered fish. Instead it's a roughly 20-pound creature that's described as an "invasive swamp rodent" called the nutria. It's already causing problems in Merced County wetlands and state officials worry the pesky and prolific rodent could further destroy already fragile ecosystems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta and threaten the state's network of canals and levees.

Valley Public Radio

This winter has been an especially bad one for air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.  With long stretches of high particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5), staying informed with accurate info about air quality forecasts and current conditions is important for your health. We took a look at some popular apps for both iOS and Android devices that provide air quality information.

Florence Low / Department of Water Resources

The process of bringing running water to over 700 homes in East Porterville is now complete. The State Department of Water Resources made the announcement today, bringing an end to a saga that gained national attention during California’s most recent drought. Hundreds of homes in the unincorporated area east of the City of Porterville had their private wells go dry during the drought.  Many residents were forced to turn to bottled water, or water delivered to their homes by trucks.

CA WaterFix

The California Department of Water Resources has announced it will scale back Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build two water tunnels beneath the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Under the proposal released today the California WaterFix would be broken up into two phases. The first phase would include only one tunnel with a capacity of 6,000 cfs. A second, smaller tunnel with a capacity of 3,000 cfs could be added at a later date.

The Valley Air District has issued a health cautionary statement amid a weather pattern that could contribute to another round of elevated particulate pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. The district says stagnant air conditions may result in warmer temperatures, but residents should take care to avoid heavy outdoor activities during periods of elevated particulate matter concentrations. Particulate pollution, which is also known as soot, is harmful and has been correlated with asthma attacks, bronchial infections, heart attacks and stroke.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

The 2016-2017 water year was one of the wettest on record in California. While all that water in the system was enough to officially end the state’s drought, its impact on endangered species is another story, especially when it comes to the Delta smelt. A survey conducted in October 2017 by state and federal agencies found only 2 of the fish, the lowest number on record.

National Weather Service

The recent rains mark the first big storm to hit Central California this rainy season. But are they enough to hold off the dreaded "d-word" of drought? We ask Fresno-based meteorologist Sean Boyd about the short and long-term outlook, and about the recent two week stretch that left valley residents breathing some of the worst air in twenty years. 

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

The San Joaquin River is the second largest in California. Last year, it was listed by an environmental group as the second most endangered river in America. Recent years of drought haven’t taken their toll, but an exceptionally wet 2017 spelled optimism for many involved in the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. While significant obstacles to bring back the river’s salmon remain, there’s also progress swimming right below the surface.

Nearly 40 years ago, back when Peter Moyle was a professor at Fresno State, the San Joaquin River was different. 

Westlands Water District website

Growers in the Westlands Water District hope congressional approval of a deal with the federal government could resolve a long-standing problem on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley - drainage. However final approval of the deal reached in 2015 remains both elusive and controversial.  

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