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Environment

News about energy and the environment

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

California’s historic drought may be over, but scientists are still hard at work assessing its impact on the ecosystem. Perhaps nowhere is that work more interesting, or important, than with the Sierra’s Giant Sequoias. These ancient trees have weathered drought, fires and floods for millennia. But how did they fare in this most recent dry spell, and what can their health tell us about other problems in the forest?

Google / Aclima

An online tool from tech giant Google is giving California residents a new look at ground level air pollution in their neighborhoods. The company announced this week new air pollution data collected by its fleet of Google Street View cars.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

One of the most widely used insecticides in America is the subject of a regulatory battle. Earlier this year the Trump administration chose not to move ahead with efforts to ban chlorpyrifos, first put in place by the Obama administration.  Now, California is in the process of tightening its own regulations of the insecticide, and that has some farmers searching for answers.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new proposal from the National Park Service would result in a big hike in Yosemite National Park entrance fees during the popular summer months. Under the proposal, which also applies to 16 other parks including Sequoia & Kings Canyon, the entrance fee between May first and September 30 would be $70 per vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person. The funds would be used to improve facilities, infrastructure, and visitor services, with an emphasis on deferred maintenance projects.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s been a while since the last Outdoorsy episode. A lot has happened. Kerry got married, put together a big series of health stories, and Ezra has some big news of his own.

This is his last episode with Outdoorsy. He’s leaving Valley Public Radio for an environment reporter job with Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. He says he’ll miss this area, but he’s psyched to explore the outdoors in places like Lake Tahoe. We’ll miss Ezra a lot, but we’re excited for him. And before he goes, we had to get him into the outdoors one more time for us.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The fires burning in Northern California have now grown to over 200,000 acres and have killed more than 40 people. Closer to home the area off Highway 41 near Yosemite is recovering from the Railroad Fire that threatened communities, resorts and even a large grove of giant sequoias.

But perhaps the most iconic feature at risk of being lost was the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

Homeowners Near Yosemite Are Struggling To Stay Insured

Oct 17, 2017
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

With fires burning across California devastating entire communities, homeowners are beginning to file claims with their insurance companies. But in the mountains of eastern Madera County, many homeowners say they’re losing their insurance during a time when they could need it most.

Frank Ealand lives in an area near Coarsegold in the foothills of eastern Madera County that insurance companies call a fire prone zone. He says in the past three years his homes have gone without insurance after being dropped by companies three times.

Isolino Ferreira/Flickr / License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Over the past month we’ve brought you stories about how online short-term rental sites are changing the communities near Yosemite National Park. The booming vacation rental market is creating a shortage of places for locals to rent for the long-term and in some cases contributing to the area's homeless problem. And now the growing lack of long-term rentals is causing a hiring issue in Yosemite.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Thursday’s massive rockfall in Yosemite National Park has rock climbers on alert. It’s the second major fall within 48 hours on El Capitan – one of the world’s largest granite monoliths, standing over 3,000 feet above Yosemite Valley. 

The formation is popular among climbers, like Alec Wright from Eugene, Oregon. He was one of the first people on the scene after the rocks fell.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Thirty years ago, a bird native to California was on the brink of extinction. Known for its impressive size, the California condor has been the target of recovery efforts ever since. Now, as biologists prepare to release more birds into the wild in Kern County, the recovery program is gaining new momentum.

 

Deadly Yosemite Rockfall Shakes Park Community

Sep 28, 2017
Tom Evans / Yosemite National Park

UPDATE:

A second giant rockfall's been reported out of Yosemite National Park. Thursday afternoon, at around 3:20 p.m., a large portion of rock fell off of El Capitan, a giant rock formation in the park popular among rock climbers.

 

Park officials say it was larger than Wednesday's slide and that one injured person was helicoptered out. Climbers who saw the fall say it was like watching a four story apartment building slide right off the mountain.

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers are relying more and more on technology to help them manage their crops and often that means working with unmanned aerial systems. Using drones to make two dimensional maps of orchards isn’t anything new, but one agricultural researcher – Ali Pourreza – in Central California is taking existing drone technology to the next level.

“I thought, okay, two-dimensional imaging has been around a long time and it's helped a lot, but right now we have the capability to make 3D models,” says Pourreza.

Fresno Housing Authority

The City of Fresno is getting a closer look at the projects hoping to get a slice of $70 million in cap-and-trade money that the state has set aside for the area. A meeting Wednesday meeting is one of the final steps before the city submits its plans to the state. 

The potential projects seeking funding are wide-ranging, from a 15-story apartment building on Fulton Street to electric car chargers, and a new park in Chinatown. All of the proposed developments are either in downtown, Chinatown or Southwest Fresno. 

Westlands Water District website

Last week was a bad one for one of California Governor Jerry Brown’s biggest priorities – the project known as California WaterFix. The board of the Westlands Water District voted 7-1 to reject a proposal to participate in, and help pay for the $16 billion twin tunnel project. That vote has left many asking whether the project has a future. 

Visitors to Yosemite leave behind 2,200 tons of garbage per year. That is equal to 3,919 dumpsters full of trash.
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park has a trash problem. The more than 4 million people who visit every year and those that live in Yosemite leave 2,200 tons of garbage there annually. The park service is working to decrease the amount of that trash that ends up in the Mariposa County Landfill.

To find out more about the park’s Zero Landfill Initiative, FM89’s Ezra David Romero  interviewed Yosemite National Park Ranger Jodi Bailey and Wildlife Biologist Caitlin Lee-Roney. Listen to that interview by clicking play above. 

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